Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What have you done with him?

Who are you, and what have you done with our Spotty?

What ever are you talking about, grasshopper?

Oh, you're not fooling me! I know you're not the real Spot!

Don't be foolish, grasshopper.

If you are the real Spot, how can you explain a couple of things: that you endorsed two candidates for DFL endorsements, and more important, you haven't said boo about Katie in weeks and weeks?

Ah, grasshopper, Spot takes your point. Uncharacteristic, really. As to the first point, Spot fell into a fit of conviction for a couple of candidates, only one of whom, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, is still a candidate. As to the the latter point, Spot has no defense. But how about if Spot discusses Katie's column from Sunday, right now?

Yay! It is you after all, Spotty!

First of all, grasshopper, it really hasn't been that long.

It seems that way when you're looking forward to it.

All right; Spot is sorry.

Sunday, Katie told us the story of an Iraqi ex-pat who wants us to continue the war. Spot will let Katie set it up for you, boys and girls:

Fadi Fadhil -- Freddie to his friends -- is probably marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war's launch with closer attention than the average Minnesotan.

Fadhil, an Iraqi citizen living in Minneapolis, served as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Baghdad, his hometown. From April 2003 to February 2005, he guided American soldiers through some of their most challenging days.

Lt. Col. Michael Baumann, commander of a battalion task force with the 5th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, with whom Fadhil worked, calls him a vital "cultural bridge." Baumann, of Lakeville, moved heaven and earth to bring Fadhil to Minneapolis in 2005, after his life was threatened.

Freddie is an interesting story. Imprisoned by Saddam Hussein - for refusing to be a Baathist, according to Katie - released about the time the Baghdad fell, Freddie saw a US officer and a Muslim cleric talking or arguing on a street, and as an English speaker, Freddie went up to the two and offered to help.

What does this tell you, boys and girls?

That Freddie is a do-gooder?

No, grasshopper; Freddie is actually the hero of this little story. But this is an example of the kind of preparation that was done for the occupation of Iraq. The Administration didn't think much of civil affairs; our soldiers are warriors after all. The guy who hired Freddie as an interpreter on the spot, says as much:

Lt. Col. Michael Baumann, commander of a battalion task force with the 5th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, with whom Fadhil worked, calls him a vital "cultural bridge." Baumann, of Lakeville, moved heaven and earth to bring Fadhil to Minneapolis in 2005, after his life was threatened.

Of course, Freddie might have been other than a boy scout, but there was no way for Lt. Col. Baumann to have known one way or the other. One has to wonder whether everyone who offered to help really intended to be helpful. But Freddie did, and good for him.

But here's Spot problem with Freddie. He fled the country in 2005, but now he says this:

Fadhil will be telling Minnesotans he meets at [Vets for Freedom] tour events that Baghdad is now a far safer and better-functioning city than it was when he left in 2005. "Baghdad has taken huge steps toward where Iraqis want it to be," he says.

What is Freddie not, boys and girls?

An eyewitness to what Baghdad is like now, Spot?

Right, grasshopper. Freddie would make a laughable witness on two grounds: he has no first-hand knowledge, and he's a little, well, biased in favor of his former employer and life saver. Here's another view of the "facts on the ground" in Baghdad as military types like to say:

Over the course of five years, Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq, has been transformed from a metropolis into an urban desert of half-destroyed buildings and next to no public services, dotted by partially deserted, mutually hostile mini-ghettos that used to be neighborhoods, surrounded by cement barriers reminiscent of medieval fortifications. The most prominent of these ghettos is the heavily fortified city-inside-a-city dubbed the Green Zone, where Iraq's most fearsome militia, the United States military, is headquartered. It is governed by the Americans and by the American-sponsored Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

Here's was Nir Rosen - who is an eyewitness to rather more recent conditions - had to say in a chilling Rolling Stone article:

It's a cold, gray day in December, and I'm walking down Sixtieth Street in the Dora district of Baghdad, one of the most violent and fearsome of the city's no-go zones. Devastated by five years of clashes between American forces, Shiite militias, Sunni resistance groups and Al Qaeda, much of Dora is now a ghost town. This is what "victory" looks like in a once upscale neighborhood of Iraq: Lakes of mud and sewage fill the streets. Mountains of trash stagnate in the pungent liquid. Most of the windows in the sand-colored homes are broken, and the wind blows through them, whistling eerily. House after house is deserted, bullet holes pockmarking their walls, their doors open and unguarded, many emptied of furniture. What few furnishings remain are covered by a thick layer of the fine dust that invades every space in Iraq. Looming over the homes are twelve-foot-high security walls built by the Americans to separate warring factions and confine people to their own neighborhood. Emptied and destroyed by civil war, walled off by President Bush's much-heralded "surge," Dora feels more like a desolate, post-apocalyptic maze of concrete tunnels than a living, inhabited neighborhood. Apart from our footsteps, there is complete silence.

But that doesn't stop our Katie, fawning bootlicker that she is, from trotting out the story of Freddie as spokesman for "the surge is working." Katie, never a critical thinker, doesn't put the smallest energy into finding out if Freddie has any idea what he is talking about.

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