Thursday, October 14, 2004

Inside the Green Zone

Although the Green Zone (since June 28 formally called the International Zone) has been regularly subjected to generally harmless mortar attacks, a much more destructive attack occurred today as two bombs--one in the bazaar and the other in a restaurant--were detonated within about five minutes of each other. Preliminary reports indicate that three American civilians--employees of DynCorp, a Defense Department contractor--were among those killed in the attacks.

Life inside the Green Zone--and beyond in Baghdad--is the subject of William Langewiesche's fascinating cover story in the November issue of The Atlantic Monthly. "Welcome to the Green Zone: The American Bubble in Baghdad" (full story available to subscribers only) is worth reading not only for its description of life in the Green Zone but for its nuanced account of American successes and failures in Iraq.

Langewiesche devotes a bit of attention to traffic in Baghdad--a symptom of a certain return to normalcy in the city, but, simultaneously, a problem that Americans have been ill-equipped to handle. One vignette in particular is worth passing along. Langewiesche writes,

A Kurdish friend of mine witnessed an argument between two drivers after one of the innumerable smashups, during which one man shouted, "What kind of driving was that?!" and the other shot back, "This is a democracy now, and I can drive as I please!"