Gathan Beaga

Karbala

Holidays in the Axis of Evil: another very interesting episode this evening as a ballsy British bloke Ben Anderson and his producer make a camcorder documentary in Iraq.

The bit that stuck most in my mind was the unbelievably beautiful mosque / tomb of Imam Abi Abdillah al-Husain in the city of Karbala, all tiles and colour. I looked at it and wanted to visit it, like any tourist. Then, quarter of an hour later on the same channel the news showed some American Marines backing off from an angry crowd determined to prevent the soldiers reaching that same holy site.

It was a strange moment where my comfortable travel porn was beginning to be interrupted by reality: armchair travel (see nice and interesting things, lovely hospitable people and their children) meets current affairs (see those same lovely things get shot at and people and their children shredded by cluster bombs).

We don’t have the television on very much anymore for that very reason – it’s just too upsetting. The deaths of children in particular make me feel almost physically sickened – with a small one of our own there is very little emotional distance to be had.



Anyway, the documentary did made me think that there’s more hope for Iraq than for North Korea (shown last week): the obvious wealth of the country in resources and human talent will enable it to find its own peace (if it is allowed to by its “liberators”). Even so, the key must be to finish the war quickly, and with the least bloodshed possible. (But why now, and why Iraq? I still don’t understand.)

And on that rather lame and muddled note, I shall close.