The Idiom

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Palace

Mr. Democracy writes:

I just took a last stroll around the Embassy grounds. The Palace. For five years off and on, I've been roaming its gaudy marble hallways. When I first got to Iraq, there was no concertina wire, 20 foot high concrete barriers or reinforced air lock guarded by surly Central Americans. I can remember when I would saunter up to one of the two specialists standing at the wrought iron gate, flip my RTI ID at them (not even a government issue!) and wander on in. I remember those ridiculous giant Saddam heads perched on each of the four outside towers, and Saddam's chair in the “rocket room.” Afternoons by the pool. Lattes at the Greenbean. War is hell. I saw President Bush give thanks to the State Department employees for their work there – on the same day I witnessed Saddam in the dock, observing his trial for an afternoon.

So much has changed over five years. I think of all the people I've seen come and go over time. A few even, who did not return home.

The war is ending. By the time I return to Baghdad, the Palace will once again be under the control of Iraqis. Everyone will have moved to the new Embassy down on Al Kindi Street. I'll probably never roam those halls again. I've not had a normal life. But I've witnessed some amazing things.

Five years.

Who would have thought it would last so long?

Who would have thought it'd ever end?


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