• Memories of Baghdad

    December 31, 2019

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    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq


     

    Watching events in Baghdad with sad interest. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, once the world’s largest, is now nothing except a symbol of our multi-decade failure in that country. It sounds like most of the civilians are already evacuated. There were once some 5,000 in that compound at the peak of Occupation.
     
     
     
     
     

    I hope the protesters don’t trample the huge green lawn we planted as a monument to our hubris. When I was in Iraq the ambassador organized lacrosse games out there. It took millions of gallons of water to keep that lawn green. What were we thinking?

    I remember that entrance way into the Baghdad Embassy you see in the videos well. When I came into the Embassy from the field as a “State Dept” person I used another way in, just for us.
     
     

    But when I came in from the field with the soldiers I was embedded with, State made us go through the gate you see on the videos being breached, the “public” gate, and submit to a full security screening. It was a way for State to say fuck you to the soldiers and assert their fake alpha male status. I remember asking the Embassy RSO security officer what the security status was, and he replied “WiFi’s down in the lounge, Iraq is pretty much the same.”

    If any of those soldiers from 2ID are watching the video, I am sure they are thinking these same things.

    The soldiers had their rifles taken away at the gate “for security” and one time a fight almost broke out when one refused to surrender his weapon at first. On that trip I also smuggled a female trooper into the Embassy beauty salon where she got her nails and hair done. She couldn’t stop laughing about how the Embassy women could go there daily, and said it was the first (and only) time she felt clean in a year.

     

    Ah, that street where the protesters are massed. On one visit the Embassy security goons decided the armored MRAP vehicles we arrived in had parked too long inside the Embassy and had to leave NOW. They were waiting for me, and I was running late. Embassy security told the soldiers to park outside on that street and when I arrived at the inside gatehouse they’d re-clear the vehicles into the compound, I’d jump in, and we’d return to the real war. The soldiers were in a hurry (and pissed off at how they were treated) and so called me on the only communications device we had in common, local Iraqi cell phones. They said it would take too long to re-clear and told me just to come outside the walls and board the truck. I felt like the baddest of bad asses pushing past the Embassy guards to just step out of the compound alone and walk the maybe 20 yards to the vehicle.

     

    I also remember those tall apartment buildings you see in the background of the videos, the ones outside the Embassy walls. They were part of the Green Zone, the huge area inside Baghdad once sealed off from the population by Saddam, then by the U.S. occupation forces. Those apartments were once gifted to Saddam’s lower-level toadies. The U.S. chased them away in 2003, and the apartments were issued to new toadies of the Iraqi puppet government (I’m guessing a decent number were the same people, toadies are pretty adaptable.)
     
     

    That area had a few small shops, and led to the naughty parts of the Green Zone, the many fortified compounds run by various “other” agencies, contractors, media organizations, British and Australian I-don’t-know-what-they-do folks, and the like. It was inside the Green Zone but outside the Embassy fortress walls, so existed as a kind of gray zone. I remember just after I arrived being driven by a contractor colleague all through the area. We even stopped at a semi-convenience store for him to buy cheap smokes and I felt like Lawrence of Fucking Arabia and Colonel Kurtz all at once. Later in my tour I’d make fun of people who thought they were cool traveling basically across the street from the Embassy but since people made fun of me once for doing the same thing it was all part of karma balancing.

    Good times.
     


     
     

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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      The Green Twilight Zone

      Pile the bodies high at Fallujah
      Shovel them under and let me work—
      I am the grass; I cover all.

      And pile them high at Ramadi
      Shovel them under and let me work.
      Two years, ten years, and tourists will ask:
      What place is this?
      Where are we now?

      I am the grass.
      Let me work.

      12/31/19 5:14 PM | Comment Link

    • Michael Murry said...

      2

      Oh, yes. Memories of U.S. government “service.” In my case, The Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (1969-72). A narrative work (still in progress) …

      http://www.themisfortuneteller.com/index.html

      I found a combat action ribbon in my service jacket many years after I returned to civilian life. I think I got it for surviving one or more mortar attacks on our remote ATSB outpost about two kilometers from the southernmost tip of Vietnam where I languished for over a year. I never got a glimpse of whomever took those shots at us from time to time, usually after our local SEAL team went out into the countryside to harass whatever peasantry hadn’t fled the saturation bombings of 1968 or the massive defoliation of the countryside.

      Anyway, I still have some pictures and profane thoughts to accompany them …

      12/31/19 7:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      Latest rant from our peace presidunce doing his Baghdad Bob impression:

      “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”

      Thank God we have a peace presidunce.

      Happy New Year. Nice touch.

      12/31/19 9:50 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      The very definition of insanity. Trumpie to send thousands of troops…to their deaths.

      Speaking of insanity: Australia is burning. Good thing they are digging up all that coal so it doesnt catch fire.

      01/2/20 8:40 AM | Comment Link

    • Edward said...

      5

      I have to ask, to what extent is the “embassy” actually an embassy? It sounds more like an American Vatican city-type enclave illegally annexed from Iraq. They had to call it an embassy because a colony would be illegal.

      01/2/20 10:18 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      6

      Michael Murry- that’s quite a saga-your military years. Have you pondered why you were so such a hard ass back in ’66? A stern unloving father perhaps?

      01/2/20 11:05 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      PVB I suspect that America’s likely fatal hubris is due to not having experienced the devastation that occurred “over there” in WWII. As far as I know no German, Italian or Japanese remains were found on US soil and shipped back to their native country. Sometimes good fortune is the worst thing in the long run.

      01/2/20 4:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      JP,

      You got that right. But what about the remains of the 10,000,000 of your own people whose deaths Stalin ordered? You would have thought it would have kept you guys out of the Afghan graveyard. Hubris got a short memory.

      01/2/20 4:51 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      9

      Bauer- sadly, I have no “people”. My father said that when the Pooles circa 1937 decided it would be best to move on (the sheriff was honing in on their encampment) that they called the dogs and pissed on the fire. I have no dogs and the thermostat could easily be set to 50 degrees so my wife and I could split this hood.

      01/2/20 7:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      Wow, The shit is flying in Baghdad. Peter better update his views on our peace presidunce.

      01/2/20 10:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      And dont forget to tell US how this ends.

      01/2/20 10:30 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      Just wait for Pompee speech at the UN justifying war with Iran.

      01/2/20 10:55 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      13

      “Polls looking bad for Trumpie. Watch him start a war with Iran to get elected.”

      01/3/20 7:54 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      14

      Trumpie: Mission Accomplished…for Israel and Saudi.

      01/3/20 9:50 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      15

      There should be a law that this dumbass country cant get fucked in another war until it creates a memorial on the National Mall for the last one. And we are running out of space there.

      01/3/20 10:11 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      Home Alone in the White House

      Spoiled brat finds he has no friends willing to help when he pisses off some real bad guys.

      While some idiots still think Trumpie is the peace presidunce, consider the lunatic’s record: twice bombed the Assad regime in Syria; reduced Mosul and Raqqa to rubble; vetoed a congressional attempt to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi bombardment of Yemen; and overseen a fivefold increase in drone strikes throughout the region and beyond.

      Wait, there is more:

      THE UNITED STATES has now effectively declared war on Iran. This is no longer a “cold” war or a “shadow” war. It’s a war-war. And here’s what so terrifying about it: The current commander-in-chief of the U.S. military as it readies for open conflict with Tehran is the guy who last week accused Canada’s prime minister of cutting him out of a Canadian TV version of “Home Alone 2″; who regularly retweets QAnon, Pizzagate, and white nationalist accounts on Twitter; who believes that Ukraine is in possession of a nonexistent Democratic National Committee server; who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax; who wants to use nuclear weapons to stop hurricanes;

      So what is the EndGame?

      Trumpie: Whatever it is it will be over fast.

      Just snap your fingers, fool.

      01/3/20 2:12 PM | Comment Link

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