Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Txgiving with an Iraqi General

In The New Yorker's column, "Talk of the Town", there's a very interesting little piece about an Iraqi General touring the United States. A family had answered an ad in the newspaper to host foreigners during Thanksgiving, but had no idea they'd end up with a General who had served in Saddam's army for 30 years:
This was his first trip to America. He’d been nervous about coming, because the America he’d seen in movies looked like a nation of bloodthirsty savages (a perception that Saddam’s propagandists had been happy to reinforce). It was a shock to him that he had not been shot at during his weeklong trip. “You are a civilized country,” he said over and over.
Remember, he's an educated relatively well-informed Iraqi. His impressions are likely not uncommon in the international arena about Americans. Shoot (pun intended), it's the impression American's get about themselves!

Later in the day he was asked about Iraq:
When you return to Iraq, what will your biggest problem be?” a guest asked.

“Do I have to answer that question?” the general said. “I am enjoying myself too much to think about that right now.” He did admit that he was dreading the stomach-churning corkscrew landing that his plane would be forced to make at the airport in Baghdad.
Still? Gee, I thought the Bagdad Airport area was under control?
Someone brought out a camera and tried to take a group picture. The general edged away. “I have to ask—is this for publication?” he said.

“It’s for a family album,” the photographer said.

“Good,” the general said, moving back into frame. “Because if certain people in Iraq were to find out I am in America . . .” He drew his index finger across his throat.
And he's a general. I would imagine he avails himself of some of the better security measures. But, no pictures please.
The general planned to spend his last night in America in New York City, where he had a ticket to see “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.
Sounds a little like he'd rather stay here in the United States.

Wouldn't you?


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