Friday, April 20, 2007


How Did We Get Here?

In her second volume of dispatches from Baghdad Burning, Riverbend makes the observation that her country of Iraq no longer exists, and probably never will. As she notes, even 'the Vichy government that rode in on American tanks' can no longer maintain that illusion.

What they will have, she suggests, are semi-autonomous regions run by gangsters working for US oil companies amidst the chronic criminality fomented by fanatic clerics and their militias--the worst of all worlds. While Riverbend accepts the permanent destruction of her country as a given, she wonders what it will be like in a religious fundamentalist state beholden to no one but religious zealots, drug dealers, and arms merchants. Like Afghanistan, she suspects.

As a Western-educated, secular young woman, she concedes she has little to look forward to other than an end to bombings, kidnappings, and brutal beatings of her family and friends for no reason at all. I expect she will eventually join the four million Iraqi refugees who've already left or become internally displaced.

Which brings me back to her assessment of an America where many of her generation were attending college prior to the unleashing of shock and awe on their entirely innocent families as pretext for de-nationalizing Iraq's vast oil reserves. Her bewilderment at an America that would tolerate such aggression and even reward the perpetrators with a second term to continue the massacre of her people is understandable.

What effect the now-entrenched criminilization of American public institutions will have on our own country is something I doubt many Americans have begun to ponder. As the civil corrosion accelerates, will we even bother to collectively wonder how it all came to pass?


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