can’t see the forest

Good Fences Make Good Fences: The “Great Wall of Adhamiya”

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As Raincoaster noted, “Because it worked so well with Mexico.

The Guardian reports:

The US military is building a three-mile concrete wall in the centre of Baghdad along the most murderous faultline between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The wall, which recognises the reality of the hardening sectarian divide in Baghdad, is a central part of George Bush’s final push to pacify the capital. Work began on April 10 under cover of darkness and is due for completion by the end of the month.

The highly symbolic wall has evoked comparisons to the barriers dividing Protestants and Catholics in Belfast and Israelis and Palestinians along the length of the West Bank.

Captain Scott McLearn, who is based at Camp Victory, the US base on the outskirts of Baghdad, said Shias “are coming in and hitting Sunnis, and Sunnis are retaliating across the street”.

Although Baghdad is full of barriers and checkpoints, particularly round the Green Zone where the US and British are based along with the Iraq government, this is the first time a wall has been built along sectarian lines…

…Residents of Adhamiya had mixed feelings. Ahmed Abdul-Sattar, a government worker, said: “I don’t think this wall will solve the city’s serious security problems. It will only increase the separation between our people, which has been made so much worse by the war.”

It is news to me that walls can “recognize” anything. I thought they just, you know, divide things. If we’re going to personify this particular wall, can’t we say that it—oh, I don’t know—vaingloriously celebrates the “hardening sectarian divide?” Or anything a little less passive, really?

The other day I ran across a soundbyte of Bush cockily explaining his strategy for negotiation with the Democratic Party on the matter of the Iraq War—a term I hesitate to employ since it is, and always has been, a military occupation as a means to specific socioeconomic ends for wealthy investors. As wars generally are. What Bush said was something like this: “Well, you know, let’s, uh, um, give our troops the funding they need, and, uh, then, uh, you know, we need to give our generals the flexibility to act, and, um, then, maybe, if there’s any time, we can debate Iraq in the background.” His message was uncharacteristically clear: Welcome to Coffee Talk. I’m the decider. Talk amongst yourselves.

But even what flurries of serious discussion emanate from Capitol Hill are dominated by play-by-play minutia. I have yet to see either Reid or Pelosi publicly ask serious questions about the rationale for the war. Democrats seem obsessed with pulling US troops from Iraq merely because they seek the political capital associated with this idea among their constituencies, which is precisely parallel to the Republican fixation on “victory” in this “great ideological struggle of the 21st Century.” Both viewpoints are grounded in grandstanding and are hardly cognizant of the reality of what actually is happening in Iraq. Those Democrats that are busy making names for themselves appear disinterested in establishing and enacting the role that should be played by the US in helping to rebuild and empower (on its terms, not ours) the country we have devastated through liberation. I have yet to see a major media outlet address the turmoil and bloodshed in Iraq as the inevitable result of a unilateral military occupation by a foreign power. No, in the realm of public discourse, the absolute hell that continues to unfold throughout Iraq is merely the product of a silly civil war among backwards people we can’t possibly hope to understand—because of their stunningly unAmerican cultural beliefs, mind you, not because of our own inability to relate to shock-and-awe domination at the hands of a frighteningly self-righteous superpower.

I agree with The Guardian that, whatever else it is, the “Great Wall of Adhamiya” is eerily symbolic. It’s a concrete representation of the role of mass media in the modern democracy—a separator between the people and their right to self-determination.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sabrina said, on 5/11/07 at 6:16 pm

    My first thought was of the Berlin Wall.

  2. amucx dlzekh said, on 1/2/08 at 9:59 pm

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