Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What a mess

Today I listened to This American Life episode "By Proxy" (#327). I was deeply moved by Ira Glass's interview of "Basim" in "Act Two"; but I wasn't moved to action or filled with love for my fellow man. Is there a word for when one is already disillusioned and surprisingly becomes even more so?

I won't summarize the interview; I do strongly recommend you listen for yourself. But what I found moving was that this Iraqi interpreter for the US Army is clearly a good man, trying to do the right thing. But tragically he had to leave Iraq for his and his family's safety, even though he realizes that there's no hope for Iraq if everyone like him leaves.

It's even more clear from listening to his story just what a mess the USA has made in Iraq. It's unlikely, but I hope that someone who has some power to change things there (I'm thinking Robert Gates or David Petraeus or someone with their ear) will hear this.

I remember hearing about Colin Powell warning George Bush before the invasion about the "Pottery Barn rule": if you break it, you buy it. "W" certainly has broken it real good, but his successors are the ones who will pay for it and have to fix it. And that's going to take a very long time.

This American Life is undoubtedly my all-time favorite radio program. It's consistently excellent, and not infrequently outdoes itself. I've paid to be able to download it from Audible.com for the last 4 or 5 years, but recently they've made a free podcast available. Don't miss it; every week.

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