Sunday, May 21, 2006

Chronicling the Death of a Nation

Riverbend, who keeps the Baghdad Burning blog, is a great chronicler. This must be the first time in history the death of a nation has been so richly electronically documented, in real time.

Reading her diary is not unlike watching a baby die before our eyes due to lack of medical supplies in an Iraqi hospital, near the end of a documentary titled "Iraq's Missing Billions":
ALI COMMT: he problem is the doctors caring for Zehara have virtually nothing to “make the best of”. They have no ventilators, no adrenaline, not even a cheap but essential medicine like vitamin K. Even the cannula being used on Zehara had to be bought on the black market by her father.And now he’s gone into town again – this time looking for vitamin K.Only the grandmother is here.Then Zehara starts to deteriorate – she is gasping for breath. Her father has still not returned. But it is too late.


THE DOCTOR: Where is the mother of this child? This child has passed away.

ALI VO: And then the father comes back .

FATHER: I just went to get this for her, they told me to bring it. It’s vitamin K as they don’t have it here

ALI VO: If this hospital had had the correct equipment and the right drugs, Zehara should have survived.

FATHER: She saw nothing in her life. . . . We all return to Allah.

FATHER: No, no, poor child. This box is too small. Go and get another one.

UNCLE: From where?

FATHER: From the pharmacy.

ALI VO: The next day, Abbas, Zehara’s brother, died too. This is not the new Iraq we were promised when the coalition invaded our country.

An Iraqi friend of mine recently got hold of this documentary on video, and she did a showing. Only a handful showed up. I was one of the few, and so was an Iranian friend of mine. That's when I made up my mind about what should be Western leftists' priority. It's too late to save modern Iraq. The dead cannot be resurrected. But modern Iran is still alive. It's time for triage.

How long will Riverbend remain in Iraq? She has education, so she has means to live as an exile elsewhere. It is brave and patriotic of her to persist in Baghdad. I wonder if she, too, will be eventually forced to abandon Iraq or die with it.

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