Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Life in the Emerald City

Do you all remember that line in the film Network when Peter Finch screams that he's "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore"? That's all I could think of as I watched the Democratic debate on CNN/You Tube the other night. Several political blogs have written scathing critiques of former Senator Mike Gravel, one saying that he resembled a "mad dog." But my heart broke for him. He's angry and frustrated, as so many of us in this country are, and he can't seem to get the point across that yes, our young men may be dying in vain.

If your blood pressure is even remotely near borderline you're going to want to stay away from the book I'm just finishing up on my mp3 player. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran will make any thinking person very angry! A former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, the author writes with much empathy for the few naive staffers who actually signed on to work in Iraq with humanitarian goals in mind. Yet, his descriptions of the mind-boggling carelessness (read, lack of planning) and the actual cruelty of the Coalition Provisional Authority under the inept direction of Paul Bremer, is appalling.

In a particularly upsetting episode Chandrasekaran tells how, within the Green Zone, peopled with Iraqi workers, Americans ate pork every night at a sumptuous buffet served in the palace. Iraqi customs were either ridiculed or ignored in the worst possible ways.

Another incident describes how 100's of job applications from American students of the Middle East, who actually spoke the language and understood the culture, were dumped in the garbage in favor of unqualified and massively inexperienced political "friends of W" who held good Republican values. Pentagon officials actually asked in job interviews how potential employees voted and what their opinions were of policies such as Roe v. Wade. Is this legal? Not in most worlds, but apparently the government has a loophole.

Most distressing is reading about the tremendous influence that Dick Cheney personally had on every single person hired to "fix" Iraq. Just imagine the scary wizard of Oz behind his curtain in Dorothy's Emerald City and you'll have the picture. I imagine that by now everyone knows that Cheney's Halliburton had all the major contracts for work in and outside of the Green Zone. Even the laundry contract was awarded to them. Of course, it took over two weeks for staffers to get their clean clothes as everything was "outsourced" to Jordan. Go figure.

As upsetting as this book is I really think it needs to be required reading for any voter worth his salt. But you've been warned - take your blood pressure pills first!

1 comment:

Infobabe said...

The problem with books like "Life in the Emerald City" is that only people who already in the choir are going to show up for choir practice having studied the sheet music. Everybody else denies there is even a choir or songs to sing. I read "Tempting Faith" by David Kuo and found it very interesting. He even apologizes to Sen. Clinton for his attacks. Fascinating look at the inside of the administration from someone who became disillusioned.