Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
It's hard to smile when there's no water. It's hard to applaud when you're frightened. It's hard to say, "Thank you for liberating me," when liberation has meant that looters have ransacked everything from the grain silos to the local school, where they even took away the blackboard.
That was what I found when spending the day in Umm Qasr and its hospital, in southern Iraq. Umm Qasr was the first town liberated by coalition forces. But 20 days into the war, it is without running water, security or adequate food supplies. I went in with a Kuwaiti relief team, who, taking pity on the Iraqis, tossed out extra food from a bus window as we left. The Umm Qasr townsfolk scrambled after that food like pigeons jostling for bread crumbs in a park.
This was a scene of humiliation, not liberation. We must do better.
We are so caught up with our own story of "America's liberation of Iraq," and the Arab TV networks are so caught up with their own story of "America's occupation of Iraq," that everyone seems to have lost sight of the real lives of Iraqis.
(...)America broke Iraq; now America owns Iraq, and it owns the primary responsibility for normalizing it. If the water doesn't flow, if the food doesn't arrive, if the rains don't come and if the sun doesn't shine, it's now America's fault. We'd better get used to it, we'd better make things right, we'd better do it soon, and we'd better get all the help we can get.