Dairy Queen and Barbed Wire: The New Reality of US Occupation

by Charles Simic
from The New York Review of Books Blog

simicBack in September, I read an article in The New York Times about an American base in Iraq that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It describes a U.S. military installation in the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad that houses 28,000 American troops and has a busy airport, two power plants, two sewage plants, and two water treatment plants that can purify 1.9 million gallons of water a day for showers, swimming pools and golf courses, and eighty to hundred buses any given moment crisscrossing the area on fifteen bus routes.

Joint Base Balad, as the place is called, is surrounded by towns and villages that lack working electricity, proper sanitation, and transportation. The Iraqis who live in them are not permitted to enter the base for security reasons, except in one designated area enclosed by barbed wire and blast walls, where they are free to sell pirated movies, discounted cigarettes, and electronics. more

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