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Nov 21, 2007

Baghdad Rebirth Slightly Fishy


One can't help but welcome the bright, well-illustrated reports -- arriving yesterday in both the NYT and Newsweek -- of normalcy returning to Baghdad.  (Apparently, the fish restaurants along the Tigris are helping lead the way.) 

Still, I hope you won't mind my sarcasm.  Both reports largely attribute the calm to the ethnic cleansing and physical partitioning that now distinguishes many city neighborhoods.  If Baghdad can be brought back to life -- still a substantial "if" at this point -- similarity to its previous self is likely to be more in name only.

(revised 11:30 PST)

(Joao Silva for The New York Times.  November 2007.  Baghdad. via


Good to see the Fish Business back, and an increase in security. For most people, some kind of security is their greatest wish.

Regarding chances of Baghdad ever being similar "to its previous self": Not likely, same as for Iraq.

Refer to a bastardized version of the Powell Pottery Barn Rule: "Knock the crap out of a country and society, and you will have stinking crap raining down on your head for years and years."

This may be a rule that goes back several thousand years right there in Mesopotamia. Knocking the crap out of country is usually not satisfactory; generally it goes better if you kill everybody and then salt the earth.

Cockroaches and carp will survive.

Someone out there is pushing this Bagdad recovery message hard... and ignoring the rest of the country. It smacks of political propaganda to me. We used to receive more information... Kurds succession, pipeline sabotage, al Sadr and his "firebrand" retoric, numerous outlying towns that were raided by troops or victims of mass ethnic atrocities. Did this suddenly all stop or did the coverage of it? Now it is Bagdad as Success Story, 24/7.

Carp-roasting as a cottage industry, leading the way for an economic resurgence. Good thing they rely on woodfired ovens and not gas or electric. Clean water not even required. I suppose the roasted rat shop next door was not profiled due to American preference for fish over rodent.

Long way to go: NYT links to largest park, Tip Line, etc. turn up references to "corruption everywhere," "illegal forces," and the low number of calls answered.

Several trainers from Ireland work in the Tip Line, where nuisance calls outnumber genuine ones by four to five! Furthermore, of the 1,000-3,000 calls coming in each week, only 59 are answered! One spokesman hopes to double to 120 answered soon, because the new building, outside the Green Zone gives them the capacity. Guess all they need is the manpower and a means of filtering or fending off crank calls.

The first take - good news - then reading the article - Iraq really needs a miracle I thought !

Bingo, a childhood Sunday school memory was triggered by those two fishes above and ".. the disciples were only able to find 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and...these came from a single boy in the crowd..Jesus blessed the food, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, who distributed it to the people present - 5000 not counting women and children - all of them being fed. The Gospels also state that after the meal was over, the disciples collected the scraps, filling 12 baskets.

Leaving aside Bush's association with the Almighty and before he fills his gob with some gobbler this Christian holiday he might consider the 1/4 of children malnourished and order a Halliburton cronie to address:

"Rations have been reduced by 35 percent, and of the 5 million Iraqis who depend on them (about a fifth of the country), two million are having trouble receiving the rations because they live in high-risk"

Iraq's Laboratory of Repression : “The Bush administration is turning Iraq into a test tube for modern techniques of repression, from sophisticated biometrics that track populations to devastating weapons systems that combine night-vision optics from drone aircraft, heat resonance imaging and deadly firepower from the sky to kill suspected insurgents.

These high-tech capabilities, when mixed with loose rules of engagement that allow U.S. troops to kill Iraqis at the slightest sign of hostility, have contributed to what U.S. generals and a growing number of American journalists are hailing as ‘an improving security situation’... Americans rarely get a glimpse of this emerging police state, except when it gets a positive spin.

YouTube => Wish You Were Here : So you think you can tell... Heaven from Hell ?

Holocaust Denial, American Style
By Mark Weisbrot, AlterNet.
Posted November 21, 2007.

Institutionally unwilling to consider America's responsibility for the bloodbath, the traditional media have refused to acknowledge the massive number of Iraqis killed since the invasion.

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