Sunday, May 11, 2008

Baghdad before and after - Updated

By Libby Spencer

I think about Iraq a lot. Sometimes when I'm reading about the occupation, which I do for hours every week, I'm struck by a profound sadness that I never traveled there before the invasion. I always wanted to see the antiquities of Baghdad but many of its ancient treasures have been destroyed or ruined in the "liberation" so even if peace ever inflicts itself again on that city, it won't ever the same.

Not having a guidebook handy, I decided I wanted to see what it looked like before our bombs arrived. I discovered it's not that easy to find photos of Baghdad before the invasion. These were the best I could find. As you can see it was once a green and beautiful place.

baghdad before the invasion


Now, not so much. It's a broken city. [Click on the photos to enlarge them. I can't copy them full size.]

baghdad after

There's more shots from this photograher at this album and others have posted more. Iraq was beautiful before the 'war.' None of this will ever be the same.

I think a lot about the people of Iraq. I look at the shots at the last link, of ordinary people smiling, the kids with innocence still intact in their eyes and it breaks my heart. I haven't been able to get through the whole nine minutes yet. I find it physically painful to think of all those normal comfortable lives forever disrupted for the crass ambition of politicians.

Two weeks before the invasion Bahgdad was a happy place. The people smiled on the lighted streets, filled with sidewalk vendors and laughing party goers. An American traveler was safe to wander them at will. Now you need a flack vest and an armed guard to leave the Green Zone.

Two weeks before the invasion, the Tigris river was blue. Today it's a different color. The lights don't go on in the city at night. The remaining vendors stalls are nearly empty and no one laughs in the streets. This is the legacy our tax dollars have bought.

They tell me freedom isn't free and I believe it. We've paid dearly in blood and treasure in its name. But when we count up the cost, let's include the Iraqi people's loss in the price. It's been significant.

Update: Armed Liberal mocks my empathy and accuses me of romanticizing Saddam's regime. Spare me the horror stories. I suppose I could spend a half an hour assembling links in response but what would be the point? The warmongers lost any ground to argue about Saddam's brutality the day our government became a state sponsor of torture.

These pictures speak for themselves. The millions of displaced Iraqis who lost their homes and livelihoods and the families of the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed suffered a great loss. No matter how you feel about the occupation, it's only common decency to acknowledge it and hiding behind Saddam's atrocities to excuse our own mistakes is pure cowardice.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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