"Having spent a fair amount of time in occupied Iraq, I now find living in the United States nothing short of a schizophrenic experience. Life in Iraq was traumatizing. It was impossible to be there and not be affected by apocalyptic levels of violence and suffering, unimaginable in this country.
But here's the weird thing: One long, comfortable plane ride later and you're in Disneyland, or so it feels on returning to the United States. Sometimes it seems as if I'm in a bubble here that's only moments away from popping. I find myself perpetually amazed at the heights of consumerism and the vigorous pursuit of creature comforts that are the essence of everyday life in this country -- and once defined my own life as well.
Here, for most Americans, you can choose to ignore what our government is doing in Iraq. It's as simple as choosing to go to a website other than this one.
The longer the occupation of Iraq continues, the more conscious I grow of the disparity, the utter disjuncture, between our two worlds.
In January 2004, I traveled through villages and cities south of Baghdad investigating the Bechtel Corporation's performance in fulfilling contractual obligations to restore the water supply in the region. In one village outside of Najaf, I looked on in disbelief as women and children collected water from the bottom of a dirt hole. I was told that, during the daily two-hour period when the power supply was on, a broken pipe at the bottom of the hole brought in "water." This was, in fact, the primary water source for the whole village. Eight village children, I learned, had died trying to cross a nearby highway to obtain potable water from a local factory.
In Iraq things have grown exponentially worse since then. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that 70% of Iraqis do not have access to clean water and 80% "lack effective sanitation."
In the United States I step away from my desk, walk into the kitchen, turn on the tap, and watch as clear, cool water fills my glass. I drink it without once thinking about whether it contains a waterborne disease or will cause kidney stones, diarrhea, cholera, or nausea. But there's no way I can stop myself from thinking about what was -- and probably still is -- in that literal water hole near Najaf."
Read on Dahr Jamail's article at TomDispatch.com. Jamail goes on to quote emails from his friends in Iraq which offer sobering insight into their daily lives.
Living a comfortable life in a rich city in the Middle East not far away from Iraq, I can definately relate to Jamail's schizophrenia.