• Somebody Stop Me Now

    November 22, 2013 // 14 Comments »

    I just can’t keep doing this.

    I try to stop, maybe go a few days, but then I’ll be feeling a little sorry for myself, maybe a little lonely and I say, just a quick one, just one web page, and then I’ll quit. I’ll pop over to say the US Embassy in Baghdad site, for example, you know, just for a quick look, and then before I know it the room is spinning around me, I can’t find my shirt and somehow the clock is showing 5 am and I have to explain to a seven year old why daddy never went to bed last night. Again. My wife just rolls over; she already knows.

    I want to stop– really– but then this happens and I can’t. Here’s just a taste of the hell I live in through because of the Embassy press releases I binge on:

    Ambassador Stephen Beecroft hosted a business roundtable with the representatives of several U.S. companies operating in Iraq. Although the local market presents certain challenges, there is an increasing number of substantial U.S. companies making strategic investment commitments in Iraq.

    Then it spirals out of control for me. I frantically look for any reference, just a link maybe, to any of these “several (substantial) U.S. companies operating in Iraq.” My hands shake on my mouse as I Google madly, trying to find just one name of one company that participated in this roundtable. I find none.

    My thirst grows. I return to Google, eyes now blazing, looking through the world’s media for any mention of this roundtable outside of the Embassy’s own press release. I find one: Iraq-Business News. But even as my hand steadies and the electrons start to flow into my brain, there is no relief. The article is just a word-for-word republishing of the embassy press release, with ads selling some sort of flim-flam “How To Do Business in Iraq” consulting reports.

    My last hope fades as I re-read the line from the embassy press release “Although the local market presents certain challenges…” Challenges? Like open civil war, car bombs, al Qaeda, bribery, hatred of Americans, need for 24/7 armed security, kidnappings, murder for hire and an almost complete lack of infrastructure, banking and transportation? What mad mind summarizes that as “certain challenges?” What sick, sick person thinks anyone will be persuaded by such pathetic words? Are they doing this to break me? Are there gray men and women in the embassy in Baghdad writing this, knowing I’ll read it, State’s slow revenge on me?

    I pound the keyboard into plastic bits, the tiny pieces mimicking what has happened in my head. I tell myself this is it, I can’t– won’t– do this to myself again. I will quit cold reading Embassy press releases, not just from Iraq, but from Afghanistan and all the others. I will start writing instead about, I don’t know, gardening, or something to do with kittens, and re-find my soul.

    I dream of gin-scented tears to run down either side of my nose and allow me to conquer myself. But then I reach for the mouse. Someone on Twitter has posted a link to another press release and I close my eyes and click, click, click once again, knowing I am doomed to repeat the cycle. I no longer have the choice. I love embassy press releases.

    (My sincere apologies to any reader wrestling with real substance abuse. I hope you can appreciate the attempt at humor and if not, sorry for the offense.)

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq

    Promoting Commercial Opportunities in Iraq

    June 3, 2011 // Comments Off on Promoting Commercial Opportunities in Iraq

    I’m not a credentialed member of the media, just a wage slave at State, so I cannot attend this forum promoting commercial opportunities in Iraq. Might be a bit of a hoot, as everyone tries to pretend it is business as usual in Mesopotamia.

    As a contrarian point of view to what State is dribbling out the side of its mouth (below), The Economist offers:

    Iran is a hard place to do business because of sanctions. Iraq, its neighbour, is a hard place to do business because of everything else.

    From the State Department: (links added to help clarify points)

    On Friday, June 3, Secretary Clinton will lead the Department of State in hosting a Business Forum with senior executives from major U.S. corporations from across our economy to discuss opportunities in the new Iraq. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides will also moderate discussions between senior officials from the Departments of State, Treasury and Energy and the corporate executives. Senior Iraqi government officials will deliver remarks as well.

    Secretary Clinton’s remarks to the forum will be open to credentialed members of the media at approximately 10:30 a.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State.

    After years of civil conflict and economic isolation, Iraq is eager to develop its economic potential. As the United States transitions this year from a military-led to civilian-led partnership with Iraq, the State Department is leading a broad interagency effort to support U.S. companies looking to do business there.

    While businesses entering the Iraqi market continue to face hurdles, including a greatly improved but still difficult security environment, some positive developments, such as rising oil revenues, expected double-digit domestic economic growth, significant investments in infrastructure, and a stable democratic government point to the conclusion that Iraq represents a unique business opportunity with benefits for the United States and Iraq.

    Oh yeah, wonder if they talked about today’s Iraqi suicide bombing, with 21 dead?

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq