Thursday, August 23, 2007

With the Lights Out

From the New York Times, on militias seizing the electrical grid in Iraq:

Because of the lack of functioning dispatch centers, Mr. Wahid said, ministry officials have been trying to control the flow of electricity from huge power plants in the south, north and west by calling local officials there and ordering them to physically flip switches.

But the officials refuse to follow those orders when the armed groups threaten their lives, he said, and the often isolated stations are abandoned at night and easily manipulated by whatever group controls the area.

This kind of manipulation can cause the entire system to collapse and bring nationwide blackouts, sometimes seriously damaging the generating plants that the United States has paid millions of dollars to repair.

Cities close to the generators refuse to share power -- payback for the Saddam era, when Baghdad lit up while the rest of the country was dark.

But in the metropolis, "with summer temperatures routinely exceeding 110 degrees, and demand soaring for air-conditioners and refrigerators, those blackouts deeply undermine an Iraqi government whose popular support is already weak."

Imagine any American city or region, in the middle of your fifth summer with no refrigeration, no A/C, no lights for most of the day. Imagine the dissatisfaction that would creep -- no, storm -- in, with the government, with the contractors, with the army, with the bastards across the country mqaking this happen.

Imagine trying to open a business, or operate a shopping district. Everything has to be in the daylight, and everything has to be open, to meet and buy, sell, goods, clothes, food, bread. These markets become targeted. Life during wartime. Was Vietnam like this?

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