"if it's good news, it must be someone else's"

Friday, July 20, 2007

280. a polaroid moment

after listening to american iraqi ambassador ryan crocker answer questions from members of the senate foreign affairs committee about progress in iraq, it occurred to me that the problem at hand is so much more complex than our american lens allows us to see, and therefore, a real solution impossible to imagine.

i am reminded of a national geographic special viewed a decade ago. an anthropologist, studying a remote african tribe, handed the tribal chief a polaroid picture he had taken of the chief.
the expressionless chief looked at it upside down.
the anthropologist corrected it.
the chief looked behind it, sniffed it and handed it back.
he was perplexed and unimpressed.
a stone would have been more meaningful.

the iraqis have been handed a democracy polaroid, and it is meaningless. not because iraqis are stupid but because we are.
we knew little about them when we undertook this grand journey and we haven’t learned much since.
and as long as we continue to think about this on our terms, we will thrash about, confused by and impatient of perceived iraqi complacency.
it is so broken all the way around.
isn’t it?

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