Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Baghdad is a city of around five and a half to six million people. It's hard to say exactly, of course, with violence and chaos swirling around it and the region in a flux of war, but roughly six million seems to be close enough for government work, as the old saying goes. That makes it about the size of the metropolitan areas of cities like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Miami, Houston, Toronto, or Madrid. I doubt anyone reading my blog has been to Baghdad itself so I've thrown up a lot of options in the hope that everyone reading along has been to at least one of those cities and thus will have a sense of scale.

More than 1500 violent deaths were reported by Iraqi officials in Baghdad in August. More than 60 bodies of people who had been tortured and killed were discovered around Baghdad in one 24-hour period, more than 120 such bodies in one week. It's sometimes hard to get to the real numbers, the real tragedy happening to innocent people, especially when the United States tries to keep the numbers down with statistical tricks, like not counting civilians killed by car bombs or mortar attacks (only counting victims of events like drive by shootings or torture and execution). Still, The top US military spokesman in Iraq said Wednesday that murders and executions are now the number-one cause of civilian deaths in Baghdad.

Please imagine the bodies of 120 people who had been tortured and executed turning up on the streets of Houston or Miami or Boston. Imagine roving death squads in the streets of Philadelphia or Detroit. Imagine militia checkpoints, indistinguishable from legitimate government security check points, where your heritage and religious affiliations are put to the test by people who will kill you if you're on the "wrong" side. What would we call this if it were happening in our cities? Would we be blaming our government for not keeping our cities safe? Would we believe that our military had things under control?

May 1, 2003 President Bush declared "Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended". Exactly two years ago, The Washington Post quoted everyone from former intelligence agents to Secretary of State Colin Powell admitting that things in Iraq were looking worse even then. One source said outright, "There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments." In June 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney famously claimed the insurgency in Iraq was in its"last throes, if you will". Though tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, Cheney maintains that he is "absolutely convinced we did the right thing in Iraq."

Baghdad Burning is the blog of a 27 year old Iraqi woman who has been posting from Baghdad since August of 2003. She wrote a post on August 5th titled "Summer of Goodbyes". She wrote that as of June she could no longer safely leave her house without a head scarf, could no longer driver herself or be seen without a male relative as escort. She wrote of threats, armed Islamists, and people fleeing their homes, neighborhoods, even the country. She's not written since. Where is she? What has happened to her in the nearly two months since her last post? Thirteen months ago I expressed my dismay that the new Iraqi constitution did not offer more protections for women. It was foolish of me to be concerned over the wording of the Iraqi constitution...naive of me to think that there was a chance in hell of it being put in place as law. I wrote: These things weigh on me. I'm ashamed to see the result America's "help" and "liberation" have held for the daughters of Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, the situation in Iraq even more dire for innocent Iraqis. We should be ashamed of what our government has wrought.


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Anonymous James Wallis Says:

Did you see the report that 25% of Iraqi children are growing up with stunted or malformed bones due to malnutrition? Just one more shocking statistic, in a sea of them.

Prof. Juan Cole's blog will keep your anger sharp.

Anonymous Anonymous Says:

This site has been helpful to me to keep things in some sort of twisted perspective. What a mess. Kris


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