Baghdad Betty One Year Later
Jude Wanniski
March 22, 2004


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude
Re: Not Feeling So Good

Every now and then I check out this 24-year-old Iraqi lady who writes a personal account of life in Baghdad when she has something to say and when the power is on. She worked as a techie in the Saddam government although I don't recall her ever saying she had fond memories of it, but she seems to be getting closer to that of late. I was directed to her site by an Iraqi in exile in Liverpool who was an opponent of the regime and who knows and vouches for her. I dubbed her "Baghdad Betty" just to give her a name, as she is otherwise anonymous. She responded in an e-mail, or I would not have known she is only 24. Her "blog" is entitled:

Baghdad Burning

... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...M.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The War on Terror...

I'm feeling irritable and angry today. It's exactly a year since the war on Iraq began and it seems to be weighing heavily on everyone.

Last year, on this day, the war started during the early hours of the morning. I wasn't asleep… I hadn't slept since Bush's ultimatum a couple of days before. It wasn't because I was scared but because I didn't want to be asleep when the bombs started falling. The tears started falling with the first few thuds. I'm not very prone to tears, but that moment, a year ago today, I felt such sorrow at the sound of those bombs. It was a familiar feeling because it wasn't, after all, the first time America was bombing us. It didn’t seem fair that it was such a familiar feeling.

I felt horrible that Baghdad was being reduced to rubble. With every explosion, I knew that some vital part of it was going up in flames. It was terrible and I don't think I'd wish it on my worst enemy. That was the beginning of the 'liberation'… a liberation from sovereignty, a certain sort of peace, a certain measure of dignity. We've been liberated from our jobs, and our streets and the sanctity of our homes… some of us have even been liberated from the members of our family and friends.

A year later and our electricity is intermittent, at best, there constantly seems to be a fuel shortage and the streets aren't safe. When we walk down those streets, on rare occasions, the faces are haggard and creased with concern… concern over family members under detention, homes raided by Americans, hungry mouths to feed, and family members to keep safe from abduction, rape and death.

And where are we now, a year from the war? Sure- we own satellite dishes and the more prosperous own mobile phones… but where are we *really*? Where are the majority?

We're trying to fight against the extremism that seems to be upon us like a black wave; we're wondering, on an hourly basis, how long it will take for some semblance of normality to creep back into our lives; we're hoping and praying against civil war…

We're watching with disbelief as American troops roam the streets of our towns and cities and break violently into our homes... we're watching with anger as the completely useless Puppet Council sits giving out fat contracts to foreigners and getting richer by the day- the same people who cared so little for their country, that they begged Bush and his cronies to wage a war that cost thousands of lives and is certain to cost thousands more.

We're watching sardonically as an Iranian cleric in the south turns a once secular country into America's worst nightmare- a carbon copy of Iran. We're watching as the lies unravel slowly in front of the world- the WMD farce and the Al-Qaeda mockery.

And where are we now? Well, our governmental facilities have been burned to the ground by a combination of 'liberators' and 'Free Iraqi Fighters'; 50% of the working population is jobless and hungry; summer is looming close and our electrical situation is a joke; the streets are dirty and overflowing with sewage; our jails are fuller than ever with thousands of innocent people; we've seen more explosions, tanks, fighter planes and troops in the last year than almost a decade of war with Iran brought; our homes are being raided and our cars are stopped in the streets for inspections… journalists are being killed 'accidentally' and the seeds of a civil war are being sown by those who find it most useful; the hospitals overflow with patients but are short on just about everything else- medical supplies, medicine and doctors; and all the while, the oil is flowing.

But we've learned a lot. We've learned that terrorism isn't actually the act of creating terror. It isn't the act of killing innocent people and frightening others… no, you see, that's called a 'liberation'. It doesn't matter what you burn or who you kill- if you wear khaki, ride a tank or Apache or fighter plane and drop missiles and bombs, then you're not a terrorist- you're a liberator.

The war on terror is a joke… Madrid was proof of that last week… Iraq is proof of that everyday.

I hope someone feels safer, because we certainly don't.