not the stone age, but pretty nearly

We've thrown Baghdad back at least 100 years.

We can't even find the government which we claimed was the objective for the death and destruction we have visited upon Iraq, and I won't mention our failure to track down the weapons of mass destruction we claimed were the major immediate threat to U.S. security, but we have been remarkably successful in destroying the entire infrastructure of the capital city of five million people.

Baghdad's public facilities once were of first world standard. Today the city has no electicity, no water, no sewage or trash collection, no police, no telephones. Thirty-five of the city's thirty-eight hospitals are closed because of looting or arson.

Eleven days after US forces occupied the city and four days after their engineers were supposed to have begun working around the clock at the power plants, the lack of amenities is fueling the anti-American feeling in the streets. "They did the destroying, why can't they repair them?" is the most common question.
Why? Our guys have been too busy securing the oil production facilities which are going to pay the big U.S. corporations to whom the White House is awarding lucrative post-war construction contracts.

The country is well rid of a dictator, but it was done in a way and at a cost whose legitimacy and worth is arguable at best. But for Iraquis, more important going forward is the identity of the forces which authored the change and the fact of their continued presence as occupiers. We have robbed Iraqis of their pride and they may not forgive us.

For more on the pulse of Iraq, see another commentary in today's Independent, "A DANGEROUS GROUNDSWELL OF RESENTMENT IS BUILDING UP ON THE STREETS OF BAGHDAD."

Then came one of those moments that you live through with every nerve of your body vibrating. I saw young men breaking away from the main crowd and running toward a street corner. There was some shouting. Then I spotted American helmets bobbing above the crowd. "Look, buddy, I've got the gun – now back off," a voice shouted. An Iraqi man was confronting an American soldier. "Go ahead and shoot me. Go ahead," the man said. A woman shouted into my face: "It's about our pride. Its just about our pride."