Friday, November 23, 2007

Relative progress and reality clash in Iraq

By Libby

Fester and I have been talking about the relativity of progress in Iraq for the last couple of days and as Cernig pointed out earlier, the lull of violence was broken in a major way yesterday and today was just as bad.

Bombers struck a pet market in central Baghdad and a police checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul on Friday, killing 28 people in two of the deadliest attacks in weeks.

Unsurprisingly, among the dead and wounded was the tenuous hope of Iraqis that this time, the peace would last.

"Today, the market was very crowded and we were happy about that," said Amir Aziz, a 22-year-old pigeon vendor who was wounded by shrapnel. "The Iraqi security officials have deceived us by their statements that the situation is 80 percent better. People believed them and began to go out thinking that it would be safe. I think that the situation will become worse again."

Damien Cave, Baghdad correspondent for the NYT assesses the current situation and the right wing spin on it.

A lot of bloggers seem to be slicing and dicing it mainly into a story purely about improvements. They are indeed significant, but for Iraqis, it’s far more complicated. A lot of people I talked to described the current moment as — in all likelihood, but hopefully not — the calm before another storm. And when asked, no one said that life in Iraq today is what it was before the American invasion.

Damien notes that on the streets of Baghdad, improved isn't the same as good and in the end what we think almost doesn't matter.

Most Iraqis don’t pay much attention to American opinion, or media. They’re too busy trying to survive. It’s Americans who appear more likely to grab a piece of the picture that we report and declare that it supports a specific political view. Sometimes, I feel like the reality is often far more complex than people want to hear.

I think that's all too true. The average Jake isn't even thinking about it, unless they know someone in the military. The military families can barely cope with the worry of having a loved one in the middle of it, much less struggle with any moral dilemmas and the fringers can't deal with any narrative that disrupts their ongoing need to somehow prove that they were right all along in supporting the debacle.

Meanwhile the more pragmatic observers sift through the myriad reports in a exhausting attempt to make some sense of the nuance. I know I get tired of it. I can hardly bear to think about how awful it must be for our troops and the Iraqis to have to live under these conditions. Every morning I wake up and wish it was over so I didn't have to think about it at all.

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