Such a list is of course compressed, and it tends to exaggerate the dangers of the time. For civilians at the CPA, as for soldiers not immediately engaged in shooting, the war was mostly just sound and aftermath, and for long intervals it was nothing at all. Some from the Green Zone continued to go out into the city, and the nation beyond, and as much for enjoyment as for work. Yes, there was war, but it was still reasonable, for instance, to sit at the sidewalk cafés in the central city. Indeed, though it was wise not to establish patterns, you could continue to do this through the fall and winter and into the spring, at which point sitting at the cafés became no longer reasonable at all.
The shock to the Green Zone was severe, therefore, when the Rashid was hit again, and this time hard. The attack happened on Sunday, October 26, 2003, at 6:08 A.M., when most of the residents were still in their rooms. Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon official responsible for much of what had gone wrong in Iraq, was visiting Baghdad on a typically quick tour at the time, and was staying at the Rashid on the twelfth floor. It is not known how good the attackers' information was, or if he was the target. Also staying at the hotel was an acquaintance of mine, an Australian military lawyer named Michael Kelly, who is in some ways Wolfowitz's antithesis—a calm and confident soldier who understands the complexity of the world and is respected for the balance of his judgment and his knowledge of international law. Readers may recognize that he shares the name of The Atlantic's former editor and correspondent, who seven months earlier had been killed in combat near the Baghdad airport. The Australian Kelly had arrived in Baghdad immediately afterward, with Jay Garner's ORHA, and he had stayed on in Iraq, traveling the country extensively, helping to set up independent Iraqi courts, and advising Paul Bremer on the legalities of the initiatives sent his way; people said he had done some of the best work at the CPA.
Kelly had a room to himself on the Rashid's seventh floor. At dawn on October 26 he rose and went into the bathroom to shower and shave. At about the same time, Iraqi guerrillas maneuvered a blue enclosed trailer into position about 1,300 feet away, on a street just outside the Green Zone's walls, within full view of the hotel. The trailer held rockets in launch tubes, arranged in rows and oriented to fire rearward. The guerrillas unhitched it, raised the rear door, and drove away; they were seen by an Iraqi policeman down the street, who did not understand their intentions, and might not have wanted to interfere anyway. Immediately afterward the rockets fired in sequence, having been triggered by either a timer or a remote control. Perhaps twelve of them launched successfully, and just as many "cooked off" in their tubes from the resulting heat. Such wastage was a standard technical problem for Iraqi insurgents, who tended to build their tubes too close together, and to brace their smaller launch platforms inadequately. Still, the rockets in the air were enough. One or two of them flew low, and blew a hole into the Green Zone wall, but as many as ten flew straight and true and slammed into the face of the hotel. They hit between the third and eleventh floors, sparing Wolfowitz but killing one man and wounding fifteen others, some severely.
Kelly was shaving when the rockets came in. The room next to his, which was unoccupied, took a direct hit and was destroyed. Kelly never mentioned this to me, but it was known to his friends that before escaping he finished shaving and dressed. He was steady by nature, and understood the reality of the attack: if you were not already dead or injured, you were probably safe. "No worries, mate!" he liked to say. But when he emerged into the hallway, he realized that the Rashid had suffered a serious blow: the hallway was thick with smoke, dust, and the smell of cordite, and when Kelly climbed down the stairwell it was slick with blood all the way to the ground floor.
The arm of a twenty-four-year-old woman hung by a thread; she was rushed to the Green Zone hospital, a specialized combat facility, where doctors heroically sewed the arm back on. Other injuries were nearly as bad. So this time, after all, there were worries, mate. And indeed, the man who died was Kelly's friend. He was a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel named Charles H. Buehring, age forty, who worked at the Palace in public affairs, and still counts today, nineteen months after the onset of war, as one of the highest-ranking American officers killed in Iraq. His room in the Rashid was on the eleventh floor. Kelly said that at the start of the attack Buehring had rushed with his M-16 to the window to fight back, and that he had been hit there.
Wolfowitz was one floor higher. When he arrived in the lobby, he was unshaven but dressed. Some reporters wrote that he was visibly shaken, but this seems too poetic or wishful to have been true. More believable were the reports that he was stubborn and resolute. At an impromptu press conference he said, "We're not giving up on this job." Although it was possible to feign uncertainty over his definitions, people understood precisely which job he meant. He also said, "They're not going to scare us away." He then visited a police station and the hospital, and went out on an armored "reconnaissance" patrol. When he left that night and flew back to Washington, his press people asserted the obvious—that his departure had long been scheduled, and that it did not reflect his personal concern for safety. Their assertion was made in the larger context of superficial needling by reporters, and was itself rather silly. But relations with the press were growing very thin.
Kelly told me that the attackers escaped in part because the Green Zone wall had protected them from pursuit. A joke went around that they would wait to attack again until the section damaged by their rocket was repaired. The Rashid was evacuated. With typical competence, the site managers at Kellogg Brown & Root quickly found emergency accommodations for the hotel residents in nooks and crannies throughout the Green Zone. That same day in Baghdad a deputy mayor came home from an international conference in Madrid, where countries had pledged to donate reconstruction funds to Iraq. When he got to his house, he told his family that he was going to turn Baghdad into heaven. But in the evening he went out to a café, and while he was sitting there playing dominoes, two gunmen shot him dead and walked away. The next day, October 27, was the first day of Ramadan. Within forty-five minutes four car bombs exploded in the city, including one against the headquarters of the International Red Cross. Thirty-five people died, and at least 200 were wounded. The Green Zone was mortared. Four days later there were riots in the city. A Chinook helicopter loaded with soldiers was shot down, and soon afterward a Black Hawk was lost. Iraq seemed to be unraveling fast. Within days the Red Cross reduced its staff, Doctors Without Borders moved its headquarters to Amman, and the United Nations completed its withdrawal of non-Iraqi employees from Baghdad.
The Rashid attack marked the start of an escalation that became known as the Ramadan Offensive. It led to the near doubling of American military deaths due to hostile fire—seventy dead soldiers in just the month of November. Paul Wolfowitz had said that Americans would not be frightened away, and if he meant Americans as individuals, he was mostly right. Quite a few civilians did flee Iraq, but most opted to tough it out. For some it was even an exhilarating time. Inside the Green Zone there was a sense of emergency and siege. Rumors were rife of an imminent assault, during which 600 diehard fedayeen would come over the Green Zone walls. People had Vietnam's Tet Offensive in mind. New "force protection" rules were put into effect, severely limiting access to the city. There was talk of "sleepers" in the slums on the inside. Even the Iraqis working for the CPA were suspect. Palace defenses, already strong, were made stronger still, so that the Palace became the Green Zone's Green Zone, as it remains today. A "town hall" meeting was called to allay fears, but it had the opposite effect. Work was disrupted. Mortars and rockets came in every night now, almost all of them falling into the Green Zone's open spaces. One of the biggest rockets landed in the Palace parking lot and took out twenty-six cars, mostly SUVs. Many people camped in the Palace basement because they felt safer underground. Duck and cover: you couldn't get farther from Iraq and still be there. Americans were not running away, but as a collective they were certainly giving ground.
Something similar happened in Washington, D.C. The President's advisers realized that the occupation strategy had failed. Concerned that the ongoing debacle in Iraq could cost George W. Bush the 2004 election, suddenly only a year away, they exhibited fast reflexes and strong instincts for self-preservation. Duck and cover. Though this was vehemently denied, in the fall of 2003 responsibility for the occupation was eased away from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his Pentagon brain trust and placed in the hands of the White House staff—particularly National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Henceforth the big decisions were apparently driven not by ideology or geopolitical considerations but by domestic political calculation—including, no doubt, a cold assessment of journalistic dynamics and the American public's attention span. Gone was the presumption of a long-term occupation, the very basis of action at the CPA until that time. The idea now was to limit American casualties, or the perception of them, and to "accelerate" the handover of sovereignty to Iraq by the end of June—an adequate four months before the U.S. elections. Bremer's freedom of operation would not be restricted so much as radically lopped off; he could come home before the summer, cool down at his new house in Vermont, and maybe write a book. Iraq would no longer be his problem, and by extension it would be less of the President's. The Green Zone would become an "embassy." And with Iraqi sovereignty would come some measure of Iraqi responsibility and blame.
Politically the plan worked remarkably well. To be sure, there were challenges along the way: the televised images in March of the mutilated corpses of four American contractors in Fallujah, and the political requirement to bear up and respond militarily; the frustrations of the resulting Marine Corps siege; the mutinies of the new Iraqi forces; the various episodes of sustained fighting ever since; the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib; the difficulties of assembling an Iraqi government to which the mantle of power could be passed; the very need to return to the United Nations for help, and with smiles in the form of gritted teeth. But having gone through all that, by the end of this summer it was possible to see the slow fading of media coverage, and an important part of the American electorate turning away.
At the end of November of 2003 the Ramadan Offensive faded, and Iraq settled down for the winter months. Though the insurgents still fired mortars into the Green Zone, and continued to explode deadly car bombs in the city, the frequency of the attacks diminished. The residents began to move from their emergency quarters into the new trailers around the Palace, and to dance again at the Rashid. Life seemed almost normal, though "normal" still meant living in a state of siege.
Like the bombings in the city, the mortaring of the Green Zone occurred in distinct phases over time, whether in the mornings, or evenings, or late at night. Rockets were relatively rare. But the mortar attacks were so predictable at any given time that people working in the safety of the heavy-roofed Palace had office pools going on when the rounds would come in. The explosions were loud but brief and usually quite small, with destructive power that was concentrated, and therefore localized. Because of the presence of American helicopters on patrol overhead, the mortar rounds were not "walked" to targets by forward observers but fired hurriedly at the Green Zone in the blind. The insurgents pulled up on the Baghdad streets, sometimes in full view of Iraqi crowds; they set up their tubes, shot off maybe two or three mortar rounds, and then packed up and disappeared. A person in the Green Zone would have been extremely unlucky to get hit by one, and with the possible exceptions of a Gurkha guard and an Iraqi electrician, each rumored to have been killed, across the entire duration of the CPA no one knew of any civilian who had even been grazed.
By spring the trick was to avoid getting caught up in the Palace procedures. An attack would come banging in and quickly end. After a delay of several minutes—a silence meaning that the danger was past—an alarm would go off, followed by a public-address system known as the Giant Voice, which said, "Take cover! Take cover!" The rules then required people to troop down into the basement, where they had to wait until some anonymous official could summon the bureaucratic courage to have the Giant Voice issue an "All clear!" This usually took about an hour. The rules were enforced by Marines who were supposed to keep an eye out for stragglers. At some of the busiest offices people responded to the sound of explosions not by fleeing but by locking their doors from the inside. The best thing about the Giant Voice, it was said, was that it often failed, leaving people at peace with the war. Reactions were the same at the residential trailers, which were enclosed by sandbagged walls but had thin metal roofs offering no protection from high-trajectory rounds. Huge culvert pipes and heavy concrete boxes had been laid on their sides nearby to serve as shelters, but they were not much used. On a few occasions explosives landed close enough to the trailers to knock fixtures from the ceilings, and this did arouse comment. Usually, however, when the mortars came in, people didn't even bother to get up.
One of the real stars of the occupation was a soft-spoken and thoughtfully conservative young lawyer named Brett McGurk, now serving at the embassy, who had clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and worked at the CPA directly under Paul Bremer, in a busy office that included the Australian Michael Kelly, among others. These people worked particularly hard—seven days a week, usually from early morning until late at night. McGurk told me that somehow they had gotten hold of a DVD of The Cannonball Run, an old comedy starring Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett, which is said to have its charms. He said that for five months they joked about needing to sit down and watch this stupid thing, and finally one night they did.
A new man, recently arrived, was working in an adjoining room. McGurk said, "So we were watching Cannonball Run when four rockets hit. Boom boom boom boom. And the new guy stuck his head in and said, 'I hear explosions!' We turned and just looked at him. Like, 'Dare you interrupt this movie?'" McGurk laughed. "He came back in the morning and said, 'Did you guys find out where those rockets hit?'
"And it was, like, 'No.'
"Then we went back to digesting Cannonball Run."
This is a reality rarely conveyed to Americans back home. The American press in Baghdad reports on the Green Zone attacks minimally, without description or context, leaving readers to think in terms of World War II or Vietnam. Moreover, many staff members upon returning to the United States tend to indulge in innocent exaggerations about their lives on the front lines. Thus in local papers all through the nation the distinction between combat units and the CPA has been blurred, and it is the idea of sacrifice and risk that has emerged.
McGurk once described his frustration at trying to break through the public image for the sake of his family's feelings during a recent quick trip back to Connecticut. He had found it difficult to convince his mother that he needed to extend his tour in Iraq to continue his work there, which he found extraordinarily interesting. She was terribly worried about his safety of course, and was tracking all the news reports. She knew right away, for instance, when a rocket had hit the Palace. McGurk recognized that he probably sounded either reckless or slightly warped by his months in Iraq when he pointed out that this had amounted to a superficial hit, hardly more than a scratch on the face of the building, and that no one had been injured. To me after he returned he said, "You try to explain, the Green Zone's big, and a rocket, the odds of it landing on you are so slim. But you can't explain it to someone who isn't here, and doesn't have the context." His mother could not be reassured—what mother could? But McGurk's assessment was right. He had no desire to get killed in Iraq, and he knew with reasonable certainty that he would not. He was doing good work, and learning a lot. Though he never said this to me, he was one of those in the Green Zone—the serious operators—who might have wished that others there would stop with their self-dramatizations. But they would not. Many were doing little there anyway except living an adventure in their minds. They were mirror warriors. They were shadowboxers.
One twist in the Green Zone's culture is that even as the residents learned not to overreact to the inbound rounds, they grew increasingly fearful of the enemy that was firing them. By early spring violence in Iraq was again on the rise, and the force-protection rules for venturing out were ratcheted up further. The rules varied depending on nationality, employer, and branch of the CPA, and people were largely self-policed, but most residents took the restrictions as good advice: you were supposed to have a reason for going into Baghdad or beyond, and to travel only in multi-vehicle armored convoys with armed guards. In other words, you were supposed to mount an expedition. And why bother? A more prudent choice was to stay in the zone and require the Iraqis to come to you if for some rare reason you really needed to deal with them face-to-face.
But there was always a counterculture, too, made up of CPA rebels who were determined to maintain contact with Iraq, and who were willing to break the rules to do it. They simply got into cars, usually with a translator, and drove out through the gates to do their jobs. Such behavior was of course frowned on by the officialdom left behind. But the rebels tended to be strong-minded people doing practical work, and they kept at it despite the obvious dangers, for a very long time. Then, last March 9, three of them traveling together were killed.
The best known of the victims was an American woman named Fern Holland, age thirty-three, who worked for the CPA as a lawyer specializing in women's rights. Holland was blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful—and an answer to anyone who believes that the CPA hired only right-wingers. She was a devoted liberal, fiercely committed to improving the world, and quite typically altruistic and brave. Indeed, she had something of a missionary's zeal. In 2000 she had quit her law firm to join the Peace Corps, and had gone off to Namibia, where she had stayed for eighteen months, promoting women's rights. After a stint back in the United States to study international law, she had moved to the hellish lands of West Africa—Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—where she had worked for a charity called the American Refugee Committee, investigating the sexual exploitation of women and children. She had arrived in Baghdad in the summer of 2003, and after a stint investigating mass graves, had begun to set up women's centers around the country. She was known for defying the CPA rules, for insisting on driving herself, unarmed and unguarded, in a small Korean-made sedan. She refused to wear Islamic dress, which would have made her less conspicuous on the road, and normally she did not even don a head scarf to cover her hair.
On the day she was killed, she was traveling as usual with her Iraqi translator, another women's-rights advocate named Salwa Ourmaishi, age thirty-five, whose late sister had lived in Nebraska, and who had spent several months in the United States before returning home to Baghdad, just before the American invasion. The women picked up a third CPA employee in the city of Karbala, about fifty miles south of Baghdad. He was a former Marine named Robert Zangas, age forty-four, who had entered Iraq with the invasion, had left in September of 2003, and three months later had returned to Baghdad as a civilian to work in public affairs. In Karbala he had spent the day at one of Holland's centers, conducting a workshop on the concepts of a free press for aspiring women journalists. There was a police station across the street, where Holland and Ourmaishi were known. The trio set out for the city of Hillah, to the south, with Holland behind the wheel. The end was then near: at some point between Karbala and Hillah a group of men armed with AK-47s forced them off the road, and at close range gunned them down. Soon afterward four Karbala policemen and two Iraqi civilians were identified as the killers, and arrested for the crimes—an allegation that the Karbala police denied. A few months later, during this summer's battles around Najaf, the accused men escaped (or were released) from the prison there, and of course they disappeared.
Within the CPA news of the slayings came as a shock. Soldiers and contractors had been killed during the occupation, as had Iraqi collaborators, but Holland and Zangas were the first (and ultimately only) American civilian CPA officials to die by hostile fire. There was a moralistic told-you-so quality to the reaction that followed, because of Holland's blatant disregard of the force-protection rules. But it was also admitted that the bulletproof glass of an armored car will shatter under the impact of a few closely spaced rifle rounds, and that the betrayal implicit in any sort of police attack poses special dangers even for armed convoys. More profoundly, the attack seemed to stem from terrifyingly alien minds: if the lovely and sensitive Fern Holland could be at the receiving end of such homicidal rage, then imagine the greeting awaiting ordinary American men should they ever show themselves beyond the Green Zone walls. The CPA recoiled once again, and took another step back from Iraq. Fern Holland's women's centers were turned over "early" to the Iraqis, which means in practical terms that they were probably doomed. Back in the Green Zone, many of the people who had been willing to go out and do their jobs decided henceforth just to put in their time. This was known in official language as complying with the force-protection measures. People pointed out that technically you could be fired if you did not.
But there was more to the story than that. A smart and energetic reporter for the Chicago Tribune named Aamer Madhani was based in Baghdad at the time. Madhani had traveled extensively through the dangers of Iraq—unarmed, unguarded, in ratty old cars—and he knew that many apparently random attacks had hidden histories behind them. Now he drove down to Karbala and began to ask around. What he eventually discovered was that Holland and Ourmaishi, having dropped the ex-Marine Zangas off at the women's center that morning, had proceeded to a village where one of their "clients" lived. Madhani drove to the village. The client was an old woman with a farm, whose husband had left her years before, and who ever since had been bullied and ostracized by her neighbors. During the Saddam years a local Baath Party member had come onto her land and built a house. After the fall of the regime she had tried to get this man to leave, and he had refused. The judge and the mayor had taken his side. Ultimately Fern Holland had gotten involved, and having exhausted other means of persuasion, had arranged for a bulldozer to come in. On the morning of the last day of her life Holland had supervised the razing of the house.
Madhani wrote this up in a 3,000-word feature that was co-authored with staff reporters in the United States and published by the Chicago Tribune ten days after the attack. For lack of evidence, the article avoided asserting the existence of a definite link between the bulldozing and the murders, but that possibility was now clear. The U.S. investigators assigned to the case must have discovered it too, though they could not talk about their findings. But even after the Tribune report appeared, most residents of the Green Zone seemed not to have heard. One might think someone would have taken pains to spread the word, since even a potential motive beyond blind hatred and war might have helped to ease people's anxieties, and encourage continuing contact with Iraq. But there was a problem in the Green Zone with the lack of local news. People watched Fox and CNN for what they were worth, and they saw plenty of reporting from Iraq (offering many their only view of the country), but they suffered a nearly complete blackout from the Green Zone itself. What the residents needed was a good hometown paper, independent and pugnacious, an uncensored Occupation News. Instead they got Stars and Stripes. Even in internal communications simple information was guarded and compartmentalized, often for political reasons posing as "security," or for no reason at all. Real events were known to have happened, but their resolutions were never explained. For instance, when an Arab TV crew was arrested at a gate, had explosives really been found packed into the cameras, or had the dogs simply been reacting to the chemical traces of a battle legitimately covered? Or Fern Holland—is it true that she got into the middle of a land dispute? So tense and politicized was the CPA that it was considered bad form even to ask. Residents were left to contemplate innumerable plausible rumors that could not be verified and yet would not fade away. Had there been a firefight out by the crossed-swords monuments on Saddam's parade ground? Had there been a drive-by shooting? A bomb found in the convention center? In the Governing Council building? In the Palace itself? People lived in a fog, and could never be certain of what was happening around them. It was partly as a result that they were so easily spooked.
The clearest example I know of occurred soon after Fern Holland was killed. Late one night behind the Palace an Army captain working for the CPA was returning to his trailer when he was stabbed in the face, neck, and torso. A guard heard the noise, and the assailant fled into the darkness. An internal alert was issued, rousing the entire Green Zone and causing a full-scale lockdown. The victim was taken to the hospital. Word went out that the assailant appeared to be an Iraqi—and by implication a terrorist. The Palace and the trailers were thoroughly searched, and over the next few days roving patrols of Gurkhas checked the grounds, and new lighting was installed throughout the trailer camps. People were urged to walk nowhere outside the Palace without escorts.
All this amounted to a big disruption of the sort merited only by genuine danger. It is also simply a rule of fortress life that infiltration is much to be feared. People therefore felt personally involved. Word eventually came down that the victim was stable, and that he would recover. But that was the end of it. The captain was never publicly named. He must have been flown out, because he was not seen again. More to the point, no further word was given about the Iraqi assailant. What did he look like, for instance? Had he come over the wall? Through a gate? From the slums on the inside? And how had he escaped? Or was there an Iraqi at all? Had the captain been drinking? Had there been a fight? Was there an old-fashioned love triangle involved? For all these questions the rumor mill provided answers, but tentatively. And this was not fun. Many people were too uncertain to concentrate much on the larger mission, whether it was running or rebuilding Iraq. Progressively through the spring, past June 28, when nominal Iraqi sovereignty came, and into the summer under the new embassy regime, the Green Zone kept seizing up with fear.
But there is an encouraging side, too: among the crowds of ineffectual officials, bureaucratic obstructionists, and delusional politicos rotating through the Palace, there were always a handful of smart and experienced people who were bearing up well, often despite their own misgivings, and they were carrying the CPA. For instance, there was a grandfatherly retiree who went daily into the city, quietly and alone, and helped to establish the first functional banks. There was a Coast Guard officer who came to Baghdad late, but rescued the CPA's Ministry of Transportation from its shambles, and got the southern ports in order. There was a motorcycle cop from Florida who did risky and effective work getting the Baghdad police back onto the streets. There was another American who strove to clear barricades and debris. There were people from the U.S. Department of Justice performing miracles to establish an independent Iraqi judiciary. There were crews out upgrading the national electric grid, despite attacks. There were civilian security men out taking fire and saving lives. There were others.
At the top of the pyramid, with good fortune for the United States, was the besieged legal team on which Brett McGurk and Michael Kelly worked. This was the Office of the General Counsel, headed by a U.S. Army lawyer named Scott Castle, who proved to be quite brilliant and capable. The office was dreaded within the CPA, because it blocked so many pet programs. The programs were blocked because they were illegal under international law, because they were inappropriate for a country like Iraq, or because the Iraqi Governing Council itself objected. They were all the well-intentioned Maryland traffic codes that had somehow passed through the Green Zone labyrinth and were inbound for Paul Bremer's signature. Because of the small-town character of the Green Zone, rejecting them was often awkward for the staff. At one point, for instance, an official originally from the U.S. Department of Labor submitted a proposed new Iraqi labor law that he seemed to have been working on for months: it was a wild document, ninety pages long, and full of such minutiae as requirements for specific companies, including staffing levels, the placement of doctors and nurses, and the management of breast-feeding breaks. How do you say to someone you live with that his work is that far out of touch? Word was sent through back channels, gently. In the end the law was whittled into a provision against child labor.
But the office was not just defensive in nature. Working under Scott Castle, and ultimately under Bremer himself, the lawyers there essentially drew up a new nation, helping to create a temporary constitution to serve as a practical structure for the soon to be sovereign government, working with the United Nations to shape the first election plans, and ultimately delivering a hundred basic laws, known somewhat unfortunately as "Orders," with which an Iraqi government could start to work. The Orders have been much criticized. They suffer from an ad hoc quality, the same lack of a coherent plan that has hindered America in Iraq from the start. Moreover, some of the Orders in the area of economic reform seem to have been driven by conservative zealotry, and are of questionable legality anyway: despite resistance from London, which was reluctant to violate a clear ban on economic restructuring that is imposed by international occupation law, Washington and its then ally Ahmed Chalabi drove through the reforms on the basis of a UN resolution that after the American bombing campaign and invasion had called for economic reconstruction in Iraq, and the establishment of conditions necessary for growth and stability. Some of the Orders are also almost comically disconnected from the foreseeable realities of Iraq. The Copyright Order comes to mind, as does Order 81—the Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety law. But in those cases certainly no damage was done. And, quibbles aside, the Orders overall constituted serious and important work—certainly the best that the Green Zone has produced. They are the CPA's legacy, after fourteen months of a difficult occupation—a set of tools that might somehow be used by the Iraqis in the upcoming fight to stave off troubles worse than any yet seen.
The birth of the American-made Iraq, last June 28, was a striking experience for the American officials involved. Though Iraqi sovereignty was weak, and did not extend to control over U.S. officials or troops, it was immediate, and more real than cynics on the outside believed. The Green Zone, however, remained unchanged. One week later I went to a July 4 party at the pool on the Palace grounds. Chairs were arranged on a lawn. The evening was hot. There was food and drink, and an Army band played songs. A car bomb had exploded that afternoon in the central city, but it seemed long ago and far away. A video of fireworks played on a big screen, with the volume turned off. Everyone expected that mortars might come in, but for some reason none did. Helicopters patrolled overhead.
It was a strange time in the Green Zone. Paul Bremer was gone, and the Palace had become an embassy. Now the Green Zone was to be called the International Zone—a descriptive enough name, which in a year or two might actually stick. CPA employees had been shipping out for weeks, crossing paths with State Department strangers shipping in. About half of the old crowd was leaving. As a measure of the new one, it was said that men could be seen wearing ties in the Palace hallways. There was some hope at the time that an infusion of worldly diplomats might somehow loosen the Green Zone up and allow people to engage with Iraq. Months later now, in the fall, it has become clear that this was not to be—that the new regime is perhaps even more tense than the CPA, as U.S. elections approach and the fighting in Iraq surges.
In any case, at the July 4 party it was diverting to spot a few men wearing dark suits and good shoes. They kept together a little cautiously. But others were having a good time. There were hundreds in the crowd now, maybe more. Many wore a T-shirt of Uncle Sam saying "Bring It On!" Many were middle-aged and slightly overweight. Many were young. Some wore bush hats. I spotted surprisingly few guns. Some people jumped in and out of the pool, or lolled around in the water on children's floats and duckies, drinking beer. At some point the band played "God Bless America." Later a Green Zone choir stood in a little open-air pagoda and sang all four military service songs, for the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marines. You could see who was (or had been) in what service by those standing at attention, and maybe even getting a little emotional. I felt a twinge for the Coast Guard man, though I don't know if the Coast Guard has a song. By this time there was a lot of drinking going on. People began dancing on the lawn. Voices were loud. Slowly, as the night went on, the party got wild. I saw no Iraqis there at all. I walked through the crowd looking at the characters, wondering as I had before what this enterprise was all about. Everyone there would have had a different answer, based on background, motivation, and experience here on the ground. So maybe there was no answer at all. Maybe you just had to assert the obvious: that this was a war, that this was the Green Zone, and that this was America.