Monday, March 19, 2007

My Turn is Coming, My Turn is Coming

Read this:

Ahmed took two taxis to the Green Zone, then walked the last few hundred yards, or drove a different route every day. He carried a decoy phone and hid his Embassy phone in his car. He had always loved the idea of wearing a jacket and tie in an official job, but he had to keep them in his office at the Embassy—it was impossible to drive to work dressed like that. Ahmed and the other Iraqis entered code names for friends and colleagues into their phones, in case they were kidnapped. Whenever they got a call in public from an American contact, they answered in Arabic and immediately hung up. They communicated mostly by text message. They never spoke English in front of their children. One Iraqi employee slept in his car in the Green Zone parking lot for several nights, because it was too dangerous to go home.

And this:

On the morning of October 13th, an Iraqi official with U.S.A.I.D. named Yaghdan left his house in western Baghdad, in search of fuel for his generator. He saw a scrap of paper lying by the garage door. It was a torn sheet of copybook paper—the kind that his agency distributed to schools around Iraq, with date and subject lines printed in English and Arabic. The paper bore a message, in Arabic: “We will cut off heads and throw them in the garbage.” Nearby, against the garden fence, lay the severed upper half of a small dog.

George Packer's "Betrayed," in this week's New Yorker, describes how the American government failed virtually every Iraqi who welcomed their coming and was willing to work with the Americans to build the country. With the possible exception of Seymour Hersh's exposure of Abu Ghraib, I think it is the best piece of reporting I have ever read about Iraq.


Brandon said...

There was a good story on This American Life on the very same topic earlier this month -- March 22, By Proxy. It's frustrating to understand how these diplomatic opportunities keeping being blown in such phenomenal ways.

Brandon said...

I meant to say March 2. That's when the episode aired, in case you want to search for it on their site.