Sunday, March 19, 2006

Beyond Words

Tomorrow (Monday) is the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, an anniversary nobody seems to be celebrating. Good news from Iraq has become more and more scarce over the past few months, while the constant flow of bad news has gone unabated. Iraqis have very little to be happy about today, and I can't say I blame them.

Over the past two years, I have become friends with a number of Iraqis who I've met through blogging. One, I have already met in person. For a few others, I feel confident I'll get to meet in the not too distant future. If it were not for these friends, it would be somewhat easy for me to tune out the news about Iraq, to put it aside and just go on with my own life. But, it is more difficult to do this when I personally know people affected by it. Like my friend Hassan, who has been stuck in his house for the past three weeks, or Najma, hnk, and Sunshine, who had a mortar round hit their school in Mosul and had an uncle of theirs mistakenly shot by American troops. Perhaps my friends Baghdad Treasure and 24 Steps to Liberty have had it the worst - as professional journalists in a war zone, they have had the unpleasant job of gathering facts and writing articles about all the death and gloom around them. Is it any wonder these folks have been miserable lately?

As for me, I am simply beyond words. Like many people here in the United States, I felt optimistic three years ago about American troops going to liberate Iraq, and felt good that we were doing something positive. Right now, I am just sad about how things have turned out. I know the United States meant well with much of what it did with Iraq, and I know they have stayed the course over the past three years out of a genuine desire to leave Iraq in a better situation than they found it in. But, despite all the lives lost, and three years of hard work, it is quite obvious that there is still a long road ahead, and that Iraq is really no better today than it was three years ago.

Back in December, I wrote that I was still bullish about Iraq's long-term prospects. I still do feel this way, but I think it may take a bit longer to get there due to some of the recent setbacks. On the long term, I think Iraq will be very successful, but I feel bad for the people who are living there in the present, and I am concerned for the wellbeing of my friends.