Washington – A Gated Community
In a recent article Pepe Escobar states: “we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards.”
Escobar called this guarded enclave the “Blue Zone.” Mr Escobar went on, “The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined.”
Escobar continued, “Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone. Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves. And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force.”
In my search to find out more about the Green Zone, I came upon an article in the New York Times written by Michiko Kakutani. It was a book review of Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s, Imperial Life in the Emerald City Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. On October 13, 2006, the review appeared under the title, Behind Baghdad Walls, Rosy Plans in the Green Zone. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/books/behind-baghdad-walls-rosy-plans-in-the-green-zone.html
Rajiv Chandrasekaran book is not about the city that the Wizard made famous. No, it was written about the same Green Zone that Escobar writes. The headquarters for the American Coalition in Iraq, the occupational government area following the United State’s 2003 invasion.
Washington – The Coalition
After reading these articles, I could not help to think of the Washington “Coalition”.
Chandrasekaran described the Green Zone as, the walled-off, heavily guarded enclave, centered around the republican palace, the buildings of government that shielded the Iraq’s previous leader, Saddam Hussein. A fantasyland, a place where members of the Coalition lived cut off from the grim realities of Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.
“From inside the Green Zone,” Mr. Chandrasekaran writes, “the real Baghdad — the checkpoints, the bombed-out buildings, the paralyzing traffic jams — could have been a world away. The horns, the gunshots … never drifted over the walls. … Wild West lawlessness that gripped one of the world’s most ancient cities swirled around the walls, but on the inside, the calm sterility of an American subdivision prevailed.”
Mr. Chandrasekaran, portrait of the Green Zone is a simile for Washington. All of it’s ineffective decision making; its reluctance to listen; its inability to allocate resources and staff productively; its willful ignorance of culture and history; its obliviousness to realities of the country, were all on display in the Emerald City.
Mr. Chandrasekaran describes the Coalition as a bunch of handpicked cronies from the past that bungle issues of the present. They ignore facts to make decisions that contribute to a burgeoning insurgency and a growth of ethnic and religious strife. The American hubris, idealism and denial have resulted in skepticism, resentment and anger directed at the Coalition.
Mr. Chandrasekaran points out that cronyism riddled the coalition. That the selection of senior advisers followed a similar pattern: “A well-connected Republican(Democrat) made a call on behalf of a friend or trusted colleague. Others were personally recruited by the President …” Lower level jobs were often filled with a similar attention to political allegiance: “Two C.P.A. staffers said that they were asked if they supported Roe v. Wade …”
Mr. Chandrasekaran also addressed the coalition’s attachment to micromanagement. “The education advisers were going through textbooks line by line to determine what should be expunged. The health-care team was studying every single prescription medication used by the Health Ministry. Americans … were vetting every single … diplomat.”
In the end, Mr. Chandrasekaran writes, “the Iraqis believed that they should have been free to chart their own destiny, to select their own interim government and to manage the reconstruction of their shattered nation… good advice and ample resources — from a support corps of well-meaning foreigners, not a full-scale occupation with imperial Americans cloistered in a palace of the tyrant, surrounded by … blast walls.”
He concludes, the last thing needed — or wanted — was a bunch of Americans trying to dictate the shape of the country’s future from within the walls of a gated community known as the Emerald City.
Phil Ochs sing about the destiny of this gated community – or is it the Coalition’s version of January 6th?