Monday, July 20, 2009

You know, uh, except for the IEDs...

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has spent a good deal of the last year doing his best to embarrass my state and my alma mater, went to Iraq this weekend. He figures everything's cool.

Perry said as he returned to Baghdad Saturday night from Camp Taji aboard a Blackhawk helicopter, he could not see the city as one that has been at war.

“Baghdad looked like Austin, Texas. Lights were on everywhere. Traffic is moving through the streets,” he said.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Marine and four members of the Iraqi security forces were killed yesterday, and a bomb blast shook Stubb's BBQ during a Willie Nelson set.

Oh, no, wait: I just made that last part up. Baghdad is not, in fact, like Austin in any meaningful way.

Iraqis are more mixed about the success of the American military enterprise in their country.

Iraq's Kurds, a longtime target of Hussein, unequivocally regard the Americans as liberators and have said they are welcome to remain indefinitely in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. There are others who resolutely regard the American troops as illegal occupiers and find even their reduced presence in the Iraqi countryside intolerable.

"I would like to ask: Thank America for what?" said grocery storekeeper Riad Jaafar, 53, when told of Maliki's plans. "It is true that some people say they ousted Saddam, but now it is clear that things were better under Saddam."

Many Iraqis express a somewhat more benign view of the experiences of the last six years.

"I'm not sure they did anything good for us, but they came many miles and brought a lot of equipment with them, and to anyone who offered you this kind of service, you have to say thank you," said Wissam Wadhi, 42, who owns a toy shop in the much-bombed Baghdad neighborhood of Karada.

"I want the soldiers to go home, but I want American companies to come and reconstruct here. They have a responsibility to do that," he added, expressing a widely held view that the U.S. should play a larger role in rebuilding.

This from a story about how PM Maliki plans to make a visit to Arlington National Cemetery this week to express gratitude for American sacrifice during the war. This a scant three weeks after celebrating the departure of U.S. forces from Iraqi cities as the "victory" of his government over the "occupiers."

The moral of the story, I guess, is that politicians are the same everywhere, even if cities aren't.


  1. RA, your comment is almost certainly underappreciated by everyone who's not from Texas. Figure I ought to help them out.