28 February 2011

An Open Letter to Baghdad's City Council

Came across this absolutely amazing article from Reuters about a week and a half ago; but doing the outprocessing dash across post prevented me from posting on it earlier. Fairly sarcastic responses to some of the better quotes; I couldn’t help myself.

"The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste," the statement said.

Deliberate ignorance? Not sure about that. Most of us weren’t DELIBERATELY stupid; it was far more innocent and unintentional… this I can assure you. However, I do apologize for upsetting your discerning taste for architecture and urban planning by attempting to prevent scenarios like this. Beautiful city? Right, I’m sure it was just like Florence prior to March 2003.

"Due to the huge damage, leading to a loss the Baghdad municipality cannot afford...we demand the American side apologize to Baghdad's people and pay back these expenses."

Ok, I’ll take the bait.

Dear Baghdad, (let’s get this out of the way up front) I am sorry we were ever in your country. Be that as it may, I am sorry we had to set up so many Hesco and concrete barriers to protect you from each other… especially in Baghdad. I understand you are still targeting each other daily throughout most of the country, but we were unable to Hesco your ENTIRE country; instead only the areas we felt were most critical, volatile or dangerous at the time of emplacement. Unfortunately for you, most of Baghdad was akin to a level of Doom 3D and required massive amounts of dirt and concrete to separate one side from the other’s death squads. Timeouts just weren’t working anymore…

I’m also sorry that many of the locations of Joint Security Stations, checkpoints, etc., are right on roads, markets, or right in the middle of formerly volatile and deadly neighborhoods. Many of these locations were directed by YOUR security force leadership, but that obviously does not negate our responsibility at maintaining the pleasing aesthetics of your fair city. Yes it was our money that funded the security improvements to protect not only our warfighters, but yours, but that doesn’t excuse us either. But most of all, I am sorry we did everything we could think of to keep AQI out of the Shia neighborhoods, and the Special Groups out of the Sunni side of town at night. And I am also very sorry that we fortified the building that these politicians were sitting in when the Baghdad city council drafted this absurd statement. Oops, our bad. We’ll come pick those dirt and concrete barriers protecting you up first ok?

As far as a payback goes, great idea, we’ll subtract it from the $50 billion(ish) we’ve already spent there on reconstruction. Now you only owe use $49 billion. Pretty good deal, eh? Or you could just quit misappropriating the wealth from your massive oil reserves and pay for the removal of this dirt and concrete yourselves. Just one of many options.

The statement made no mention of damage caused by bombing.

Really? I seemed to have missed that during all the absolutely ridiculous finger-pointing from the Baghdad city (or possibly beladiyah too?) government. I wonder what the reconstruction bill for AQI or JAM would look like for Baghdad.

The heavy blast walls have damaged sewer and water systems, pavement and parks, said Hakeem Abdul Zahra, the city spokesman.

Hakeem, maybe if you built anything in the last century even remotely close to internationally accepted building standards this would not have happened. It’s a possibility I think we should not throw out. Oh, also refer back to the $50 billion(ish) we’ve already spent trying to rebuild your country and the significant amount of corruption at all levels of government that has seriously degraded our reconstruction efforts from day one.

Baghdad is badly in need of a facelift. Electricity and trash collection are sporadic, streets are potholed and sewage treatment plants and pipes have not been renovated for years.

Much of this statement is true, Baghdad as a whole is likely worse today aesthetically and structurally than it was eight years ago. It definitely does not mean we have not attempted to not only fix what we’ve broken but also modernize a lot of the stuff that was broken before we even got there; especially in Baghdad and even up north in Diyala. But, at least they have the right to voice absurd statements like this one today. And the right to not seat a national government for 9 months, which effectively paralyzed Provincial and below governments (which I experienced firsthand for most of 2010), who were leery of unintentionally crossing whatever master eventually was seated in Baghdad.

Time to take the lead and hold someone other than US Forces-Iraq accountable.

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