have we made Iraq "A land fit only for flies?"

What does Baghdad look like today?

The strongest account I've read succeeds where even pictures have failed.

An excerpt:

And then you drive back, through the centre, and see what has happened to the ministries and powerhouses that used at least to keep some of the country alive, and realise that they have not merely been looted but invaded, lobotomised, trepanned. The Americans are hardly in evidence, and soon it will be dark again, and the guns will begin again: and you can't help but wonder how, when we managed to get the surgical excision of Saddam so right, we have apparently managed to get everything else so wrong in this country. An old and an interesting country, and one in which everyone has been unfailingly, unaccountably courteous and helpful, apart from the ones who are trying to shoot you. They welcomed me into one mosque for Friday prayers, this know-nothing Westerner whose country had just helped bring their city to a halt, careful as they washed their feet not to use too much water. Prayers were all-male: women have stopped coming out for the moment.

Others offered me their bottled water, as they always offer it to each other. It is sweet to see the way in which old men unembarrassedly hold hands on marches, quick to pull each other out of the way of traffic (or perhaps it's just in case they're hit by one of the cacophony of toots: they laugh, here, about their drivers' propensity for the horn, and call it 'Baghdad music'.) A kindly and spectacularly ravaged people, and I'm not sure quite what's about to happen to them.

. . . .

Baghdad has turned into Afghanistan faster than Afghanistan. As I write this, the UN weapons inspectors are going back in to see whether the looting of the city's main nuclear power station has given Baghdad a radioactive water supply. Could this really imaginably be, in the minds of those who went to war for even the best intentions, the preferred legacy? A land where all the children smell of petrol? A land fit only for flies?

[thanks to Anees]

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Published on June 11, 2003 1:42 PM.

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