November 15, 2008

Safe passage

Michael Totten is on his way back to Iraq:

I haven’t spent any quality time in Baghdad for over a year. The first time I visited Iraq’s capital was shortly after General David Petraeus unleashed his surge of counterinsurgency forces. It was impossible to determine whether or not he would succeed at the time. Sometimes the surge seemed a smashing success in the making. Other times Iraq looked despairingly broken beyond repair. The country was still so mind-bogglingly dysfunctional it was sometimes hard for me to believe it was real.

A year ago I went to Fallujah and had to spend a day in Baghdad’s Green Zone filling out paperwork to get myself credentialed. While waiting to be processed I sat outside on the lawn next to the Iraqi parliament building and listened to a 45-minute fire fight just on the other side of the wall in the Red Zone. The BRRRRRAP of automatic AK-47 fire was punctuated by the sound of explosions. Police car sirens wailed, and I remember feeling relieved that at least the Iraqi Police were rushing toward, instead of away from, the fight. I remember hearing a car bomb explode two miles away. It sounded like it exploded mere blocks away. Baghdad in 2007 was still not a place you would want to be.

I’m told the city will be unrecognizable to me now. I know this is true. It is beyond controversy at this point that the war has wound down. But I still have a slightly difficult time believing it on a gut level. News reports from Iraq have been so few and far between lately that I can’t help but picture the old Baghdad in my mind. My experience hasn’t yet caught up with reality. This trip will remedy that.

I'm looking forward to reading what he discovers there.

Posted by Karol at November 15, 2008 11:00 AM | TrackBack
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Well, there are at least two of us.

Posted by: Casca at November 15, 2008 09:32 PM

I just came back from a gathering of at least 40-50 others. :-)

Posted by: Karol at November 15, 2008 11:40 PM

I know Karol, but we are but a remnant.

Posted by: Casca at November 16, 2008 03:23 AM

...and I left that gathering after waiting for you for about 40 minutes after the time you set.

Posted by: Tatyana at November 16, 2008 07:28 AM

I'm sorry. I'll try to be more prompt next time.

Posted by: Casca at November 16, 2008 10:14 AM

Casca, you let your pre-divorce self go on auto-pilot? Don't automatically say "I'm sorry" when you're not to blame.

I don't particularly care for Mr. Totten's correspondences - he's too "liberal hawk" for my taste. Read a few - and especially his replies to commenters - and it was fed up pretty quickly.
But I did wanted to see Karol - and congratulate her personally with the upcoming nuptials...

Posted by: Tatyana at November 16, 2008 10:20 AM

I'm sorry, Tatyana, I got there about 40 minutes late. Couldn't get a cab in the rain.

Posted by: Karol at November 16, 2008 10:31 AM

I walked in the old woman with chronic back have a drink with you...and you were not there!
[here. Ain't I the best in inducing guilt?]

Posted by: Tatyana at November 16, 2008 10:49 AM

*regards Tatyana in awe* Wow, and I thought my mother was bad.

I think the problem I have with our current Iraq strategy is that we seem to be laying the groundwork for making things untenable for our forces soon. Between the SOFA that's been posited (I keep seeing conflicting reports on this, so I'd love if someone hears a no kidding reliable article and passes it along) and U.S. Attorneys apparently having the power to start prosecuting contractors I don't see how we _maintain_ the security situation. If every contractor ups and leaves or stops providing security (and thus this gap has to be filled by US troops), I think there's going to be fraying around the edges.

Now, I'm hearing excellent things about the Iraqi Army, so that gives me _some_ hope. General Petraeus going to CENTCOM and General Odierno taking over gives me even more. However, I still can't shake the feeling of sands running out the hourglass and so much time having been wasted.

Posted by: James at November 16, 2008 11:18 AM

Thank you, James. My son agrees with you. Although he's a champion in making irresistible puppy faces - as counter measure.

Posted by: Tatyana at November 16, 2008 12:43 PM

James, the sand ran out on Nov 4th.

Tat, pre-divorce? I'm definitely post-divorce. I don't remember much russian, but old woman + bad back + walking in the rain = staroochka. That would be a great name for a blog. I'll bet you were wearing six inch heels too.

Posted by: Casca at November 16, 2008 12:55 PM

Very close Casca - starooshka is the proper term. I didn't know you knew Russian. Very awesome.

Posted by: Petitedov at November 17, 2008 10:32 AM

Старушка из избушки. Скрипучей избушки. Так оно и есть, собственно.

Про старушку и каблуки - как раз прoчитала вчера в LJ.

Posted by: Tatyana at November 17, 2008 11:39 AM
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