Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Another Note on Iraq

We all know the degree to which conditions have worsed in Iraq since the invasion. Still, comparisions of then and now can be poignant. Here's one reporter, writing in 2005 about his decision to buy a house in Baghdad in September of 2003:

One afternoon in September 2003, I went out with my girlfriend, Jen, my translator, Muhamed, and my driver, Ahmed, and we drove around Jadiriyah looking for TO LET signs. They were everywhere.

At first, we approached only homes with TO LET signs, but we soon discovered that any homeowner would eagerly invite us in and offer to rent us his home.
And now:

Richard Houghton III and Patrick McDonald, two former military men, have published an informal "Visitor's Guide to Baghdad's International Zone" (the "Green Zone" is only a nickname), which has become a popular download. It offers advice like this:

Many of the places mentioned in this booklet are off-limits to the casual traveler....As with many facilities in Iraq, entering any compound or guarded building must be done with extreme caution. Guards, whether military or civilian, can shoot first then ask questions....While traveling you should at all times observe the force protection posture of the facility or base you are entering and be aware of ingress and egress routes, shelters, and safe areas wherever you go. The biggest threat in the IZ is indirect fire and missile and mortar attacks. You should plan accordingly before venturing out.
And remember, this is the safe part of Baghdad. The rest of the city -- the "Red Zone" -- is completely off-limits to anyone except armored vehicles and military patrols. "You'd be out of your mind to go out there," says one press employee.
Such change, in only 3 1/2 years.

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