Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fishing in Baghdad

When I was taught about the Fertile Crescent in elementary school, Mesopotamia and all that, I never imagined this story from ABC International.

Fisherman Mohammed Hussein told ABC News that he used to discover more than 10 bodies a day floating in the Tigris River where it flows by the Baghdad neighborhood of Al Rashdia.

"We used to fetch them out," he said, "but now there are so many we leave them. Otherwise, there would be no time for fishing."

Absolutely gruesome.

From Today in Iraq, Monday, October 9

What have we done?

The whole world knows that the strongest power in Iraq is the United States of America. Like it or not, the strongest power must always bear responsibility for whatever happens.

If there is a problem in a restaurant... cold food, somebody smoking in the non-smoking section, sexual harassment of the staff, somebody's disruptive kid ruining the dining expeience for everyone in the dining room...it is the manager who is expected to fix the problem. If he can't fix it, then who else will?

What's so hard to understand about that?

I guess I'm too simple-minded to understand. But it seems to me that as long as the US continues to insist on being in charge, we can expect to get full credit for everything that happens, whether or not we have any power to ameliorate the problems. If the situation were imporoving, it might be different. But the situation is not getting better by anyone's judgement. It continues to get worse.

As a restaurant manager I could get someone hot food to replace cold food, or politely remind a guest that there are ash trays over in the smoking section if he would like to be seated there to enjoy a cup of coffee with his cigarette, or take an employee to the bulletin board and explain to him that what he said was not only impolite, but illegal, and if it happens again he will lose his job. Worst case scenario, if a meal was ruined because an undisciplined child was disruptive, I could always apologize and comp the meal. At least a guest need not pay for a bad dining expeience, no matter whose "fault" it was.

But this is different. When people are dying, there is no gesture that will make family members feel better. And after all is said and done, no amount of good intentions will ever compensate their loss.

And they will forever hold responsible whoever claims to be in charge.

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