ginmar: Market day
Another awesome post from ginmar, serving in Iraq. This time, reflections on the concept of wealth, and some hopeful news:
Thereâ€™s a noticeable difference in the police, in the Iraqi National Guard, in the people on the street. People are noticeably more effusive now; waving enthusiastically, blowing kisses. The biggest difference is in the police and the Iraqi National Guard … the ING is doing things I wouldnâ€™t have imagined being possible, after the past four months. I saw them abandon their posts, and I could understand it, because theyâ€™re still poorly-armed, and they donâ€™t have body armor. Some of them are still unarmed. But it sure makes a difference when itâ€™s their own country theyâ€™re fighting for, and it shows. Before, the Mahdi Army would attack police stations and the police would run after token resistance. Now theyâ€™re fighting back and standing their ground.
There is plenty of dreary truth to temper this optimism — notably, crushing poverty — which ginmar has seen before in Russia, and the fact that the enemy targets civilians. That latter dark cloud seems to indicate a silver lining:
More and more, itâ€™s civilians that the Sadrs and the Zarcawis are aiming at, and civilians donâ€™t have body armor or helmets. Every soldier who dies here is accompanied in death by civilians who were deliberately targeted by either religious fanatics or cold-blooded opportunists who arenâ€™t even Iraqi. And now the Iraqis are taking matters into their own hands.
But where’s the heavy-duty reconstruction? The roads, the bridges, the electricity, the jobs and ultimately the economic stability that helps a newly democratic government survive? She cites Abraham Lincoln in her conclusion, which makes me wonder if Iraq will be more like post-war Georgia and Alabama than post-war Germany and Japan. (Lincoln wanted to spend a great deal on reconstruction, to “bind the nation together” again, but this ambition died with his assassination.)