Green Zone goes way of Baghdad

Senator McCain ventured to a market five minutes outside the Green Zone, accompanied by a company of (100) soldiers in Humvees, and five helicopters, to be able to say it was safe for an American to walk about Baghdad. When asked incredulously if he was kidding about a neighborhood in Baghdad being improved by the troop surge, McCain replied “I’ve just come from one.”

While Iraqi merchants later could express only disbelief at McCain’s misrepresentation of their worsening plight, he told stories about the market sellers being so “grateful” they wouldn’t accept payment for the trinkets the military souvenir shoppers had sought. Can you think of an opposite reason they might not want to take money from Americans, or been seen taking the money? One merchant recounted US General Patraeus buying a one dollar item with a twenty dollar bill, telling the seller to “keep the change.”

Are things getting better in Iraq, or specifically Baghdad, where the increased US presence has pushed the resistance operations into the countryside? The car bombs may be fewer, but they’re bigger.

The real answer came last week, buried on Friday and repeated nowhere. Last Friday an American soldier together with a private mercenary contractor were killed INSIDE THE GREEN ZONE. Several others were wounded. The Green Zone’s been subjected to increased rocket attacks, but last week’s deaths mark the first. Where the Green Zone used to be the safe-haven Twilight Zone operating in virtual isolation, even disregard, for the mayhem in Baghdad, its occupiers now have to adopt battle stations. Everyone is mandated to wear their armor, even crossing to the cafeteria. No one’s allowed to congregate outside in groups any longer and the much photographed palace pool is now well off limits.

Has Baghdad become safer, as Senator McCain contends? Not even the Green Zone.

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