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01 August 2004

Baghdad Burning

Riverbend is back! And what excellent timing. I wanted to post something from someone outside the Green Zone, to balance my sister's post. Because while, as I said, I basically agree with all that she said, to be fair, she is in a relatively protected situation. And her letter does not really address the thing that this blog has been about - a truthful and unflinching attempt to apprehend the lives of other people in often appalling situations. Such as those described by Riverbend today.
"I get emails by the dozen from people crying out against the abduction of foreigners. Endlessly I read the lines, 'But these people are there to help you- they are aide workers…' or 'But the press is there for a good cause…', etc. What people abroad don’t seem to realize is the fact that everything is mixed up right now. Seeing a foreigner, there’s often no way to tell who is who. The blonde guy in the sunglasses and beige vest walking down the street could be a reporter or someone who works with a humanitarian group- but he could just as likely be ‘security’ from one of those private mercenary companies we’re hearing so much about.
"Is there sympathy with all these abductees? There is. We hate seeing them looking frightened on television. We hate thinking of the fact that they have families and friends who worry about them in distant countries and wonder how in the world they managed to end up in the hell that is now Iraq… but for every foreigner abducted, there are probably 10 Iraqis being abducted and while we have to be here because it is home, truck drivers, security personnel for foreign companies and contractors do not. Sympathy has its limits in the Iraqi summer heat. Dozens of Iraqis are dying on a daily basis in places like Falloojeh and Najaf and everyone is mysteriously silent- one Brit, American or Pakistani dies and the world is in an uproar- it is getting tiresome."
I think, or I hope, this also explains why I pray for my sister's safety even though she is in a place with powerful security and armed guards, not to mention air conditioning and cinnamon rolls and coffee. Because she is there trying to do good work, and it is necessary for Iraq to get through this time of being "mixed up", and the more Brits and Americans of good will and high moral character can be there to help, the better. Even though I agree with Riverbend that greater priority should not be given to deaths of Americans over the far more numerous deaths of innocent Iraqis, everyone gives greater priority to family. So my thoughts and sympathy and prayers are with both my sisters, Cindy and Riverbend.

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