Michael Totten has a wonderfully detailed, powerfully honest account of the surreal nature of Baghdad today - still a wreck but not a total war zone, dark as a forest at night, in a lull whose future is unknowable. Money quote:
I stayed outside and talked to Sergeant Pennartz who stood watch on the porch.
“I sure hope this holds,” he said, “because we're going to pull out soon. I think it's a mistake. This country is going to need help for years. But at the same time I really really really don't want to come back here. That's how a lot of us feel. We don't want to pull out, but we also don't want to be here. I just hope the peace holds so we don't have to come back and fight for the ground we already won and abandoned. Again.” ...
“On the surface everyone will tell you Sunnis, Shias, we don't care, we're all Iraqis,” Sergeant Pennartz said. “But talk to them for a while and they'll tell you what they really think. Do you know what those Shias did? Et cetera. Some Sunnis say Shias were never in Iraq until the Iran-Iraq war. Some are totally ignorant and say they’ll never live next to Shias.”
We eventually climbed back in the Humvees and headed back toward the FOB. On the way I saw orange trees covered in dust behind crumbling walls. Wild dogs ran in the streets. Iraqi Police officers huddled around a fire to keep warm like bums around a burning trash can in The Bronx.
“Sometimes,” Lieutenant Dimenna said, “during the worst of the rainy season, the sewage here gets up to ankle level.”
Visit his tip-jar.
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