Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I mentioned a second and final note of optimism I witnessed on the way out. As we were boarding the C-17, a long line of new Iraqi soldiers marched by from a nearby training facility. As they saw American soldiers our way, they began to wave and give thumbs-up signs. Not only did we wave back, but I must admit I swallowed pretty damn hard not to choke up.

I hope it's not too long before we can leave their country in their hands entirely... and I hope everyone of them kills a terrorist before the terrorist kills him.

Rounding out yet another theme of the trip, that of women in the military, Capt Jennifer King flew us safely to Qatar, even re-negotiating with Bahrain from out over the Gulf, when it looked like they were denying us clearance to fly over. Excellent flight, smooth landing, and then it was well & truly time to go home ... and be the DC bureaucrat again.

Flight out to Qatar was a C-17, much bigger & better than the C-130 we barrelled in on during the night a week before.... Actual seats!

Finally, out to Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), where by the way I watched a number of commercial flights land and take off, without incident.... That was one of two last optimistic signs I saw on my way out of Iraq.

Seen from Flintstones land: across the way, the unfinished "Victory over America Palace," which would have been huge. U.S. bombs had quite an impact, but it's nice the construction cranes are still there, an appropriate though rusty symbol of the corrupt foundation Iraq is building on now.

The elevator has been "remodeled" extensively. What was once an extensive sound-system has also been smashed.

Any comment superfluous, cheers to the succinct perspicacity of the USAF Special Operations Command.

Downstairs, some rooms still have attractive tiled murals.

Lots of rumors about how Uday, Qusay, and Pops used to use the place... but "Criminal Number One," as soldiers refer to Saddam, isn't talking. There's a rumor that he himself was obsessed with the Flintstones cartoons and watched reruns every day. That one I'm not buying.

The compound had a number of bedrooms, party decks, shower rooms, screened-in living rooms... well-designed and reminding me of some of the fancier Silicon Valley exec homes in the hills of Los Gatos or Woodside.

The walls are covered in graffitti, added by US and coalition soldiers, who originally liberated the place and now visit it, not needing hallucinogenics to get a "weird trip" vibe from the surroundings.

One can't escape the staggering irony, that all of Babylonia has been occupied by American forces - and the relics of corrupt totalitarian rule (like this odd spot) are simply relics, of a stone-age gone by...

At the corner of Flintstone Lane and Yankee Road, on the outskirts of what is now Camp Slayer, lie the ruins of what probably was a cute little retreat for the chosen few...

Okay, last day in Iraq - time to exceed all possible limits on Plausible Metaphors for the Iraqi situation. Yes, a visit to "Flintstone Village," the beyond-odd playground resort built by Saddam for Uday, Qusay, and children of them and other elites back in the heyday.