I had dinner here in Mexico City with a reporter who was about to return to Iraq, where he has already been twice in 2003. The impression that I’d gotten from following the news in the U.S. is that the situation in Iraq is improving very gradually. The progress is hard to see like the rising of an exponential function near 0 but eventually it might take off sort of like the diode equation around 0.6 volts even though actually the curve is the same.
The reporter, who’d spent a couple of months on the ground in Baghdad already, was much more pessimistic: “Iraq isn’t a country; it is three countries: a Kurdish north, a Sunni center, and a Shiite south. These people all hate each other and would like nothing more than a civil war so that they can all kill each other. The only thing that is stopping them right now is the fact that 95% hate Americans, maybe 10% enough to try to kill Americans personally.”
He was not looking forward to returning. “I’m afraid, to tell you the truth. I’ve worked in Kabul and been in the middle of skirmishing warlords in Afghanistan but Iraq is a lot scarier.”