16 December 2007

Come Visit the Green Zone, Take it Easy on the "Hero" speak

Come Visit the Green Zone: Where Concertina Wire and Creepy Saddam Architecture Thrives

There was an interesting article from AFP about the notorious walled-off portion of Baghdad, the Green Zone (or the IZ). It was one of those "human interest" pieces that talks about the ups and downs of jogging around the emerald city. Being the total loser that I am, I don't exercise because it would cut into my smoking and blogging time. But, I do like wandering around once in awhile if I'm not too busy, and the article discusses some of the more interesting parts of the IZ.

But the excesses of the executed despot are hard to avoid -- the bullet-holed helmets of Iranian soldiers killed in the war embedded in the tarmac, the huge reviewing stand from which Saddam would glare down at his troops on the parade ground, the stadium-sized Tomb of the Unknown Martyr.

The Iranian helmets are scattered around the hands of the crossed-swords monument, and are befitting Saddam's despotism. They were going to take down the hands that hold up the swords (since it was Uncle Saddam hands), but the Iraqi government decided not to. I guess Saddam's daily parade would involve marching over the Iranian helmets that are embedded in the tarmac. That Saddam guy, he was a real class act.

The AFP article also discusses the Saddam heads that are now sitting in a tucked away parking lot, but they used to grace the roof of the Republican Palace which you can see in this wiki.

The route passes a "junkyard" which contains two oversized giant busts of Saddam lying face down in the dirt plus a statue of him cast in bronze made to look like an Assyrian king, sword in hand and a fierce look on his face.

Also, I liked how the article made light of the horrendous ratio of guys to girls:

The two women, who asked that their names not be published, said that the main problem with running in the Green Zone was that they had to put up with men harassing them -- some even stopping their cars to proposition them."We always run with a guy," said one woman, a press affairs officer wearing shorts and a Lycra running vest. "Men stop us all the time--it's very annoying."

Yes indeed, the IZ is a total sausage fest and reminds me of going to parties at the engineering frat in college. Most women get meaner and more confrontational as the weeks progress, since they are constantly approached by meatheads in cargo pants with 6 figure incomes. As a military guy, I cannot compete with this economic largesse, so I pretty much just mind my business when I'm around ladies.

One thing that I found a little absurd was one of the runners in the Green Zone talking about "being a hero":

"Very few embassy staff run out in the IZ," said David from behind dark glasses, and perspiring while jogging up onto the July 14 bridge for a view of the Tigris and some relief from the never-ending blast walls. "When I tell them I have been running in the IZ they will think I am a hero."

Alright, David, let's not get carried away here (he must be a State Dept guy). Just because you courageously hit the deck when the occasional mortar gets lobbed in doesn't qualify you as a "hero". Let's reserve the hero comments for guys and gals out in the field engaging in combat and unknown danger, which you'll find aplenty here on Thunder Run. The first week I was here, a truck bomb went off across the Tigris river and I damn near crapped my DCUs, did that make me a "hero". I don't think so.


Anonymous said...


Quit smoking and get out there and run. It will impress the ladies. I'm waiting for grandchildren, you know.