Freedom is on the march.
So, to paraphrase the Wizard of Oz, pay no attention to those doubters behind the curtain.
California's Senator Barbara Boxer recently visited Iraq along with some of her Senate colleagues: Boxer wants deadline for leaving Iraq by John Wildermuth San Francisco Chronicle 03/30/05. They were in for some surprises:
Boxer spent eight days in Iraq, Kuwait and a handful of other countries as part of a seven-member Senate delegation. She returned to the Bay Area Sunday.
It was a relief to be driving in a car that wasn't armored, she said.
The pervasive security that surrounded not only the Senate delegation, but also the entire U.S. zone, was the biggest shock for Boxer.
The senators flew from Kuwait to Iraq in an Air Force C-130 that took evasive maneuvers on takeoff and landing. In Iraq, they weren't allowed to drive from the airport. Instead, the senators wore helmets and flak jackets as they flew by military helicopter from the Baghdad airport into the U.S. zone, with door gunners on constant alert for an attack by insurgents.
Even on the ground at U.S. headquarters, the senators were surrounded by armed guards and traveled by armored car. Embassy employees and other Americans aren't even free to travel through the supposedly secure Green Zone, but spend most of their time inside the embassy compound, Boxer said.
When the senators went to visit the Iraqi Parliament building in a tightly guarded part of Baghdad, security officers were checking under staircases and in empty rooms as the delegation moved through. When Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, went to the bathroom, she was joined by a female guard, toting a machine gun, Boxer said.
In the Bush administration, they call this "success."
But it sounds like the Iraqi tourist industry may still be slow for awhile, though.