12 July 2006
‘Pretend you live in Iraq. The day starts, as it usually does, with you wondering what will happen because of the bombings and killings the day before. Several members of a Shiite family were mowed down by gunmen in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad yesterday, and three others were shot to death in an ice cream shop. A Sunni cleric was shot to death yesterday, and several people died when a Baghdad mosque was bombed. Four children were killed by mortars in the capital. Outside Baghdad, three US Marines died when their convoy was bombed in al-Anbar.
You hear about all this - Shiites killing Sunnis, Sunnis killing Shiites, the mosque getting bombed and the Marines getting killed - and you know what you knew the day before, and the day before that: someone, somewhere is going to try to exact revenge today for the mayhem of yesterday. It could be Shiite revenge, Sunni revenge or American revenge, but the arc always arrives at the same spot. Someone is going to die today, and you hope it isn't you.
You attempt to go about your business, but that is hardly a simple task. Every neighborhood you pass through is barricaded and patrolled by "neighborhood governments" who are armed to the teeth and murderously distrustful of outsiders. Kidnappings happen all the time. Islamic fundamentalists, once a rarity in Iraq, now patrol the streets doling out punishment to anyone deemed to be dressed improperly.”