Friday, January 4, 2008

The Illusion of Security

A chair at a roadside checkpoint sits abandoned. Iraqis put cardboard on them at night to keep themselves warm.

The city of Baghdad is teeming with checkpoints. They're on almost every intersection, and one would like to think that it's all part of a highly coordinated master security plan. The truth of the matter is that they're not. They're haphazard, disparate points that give the illusion of security, nothing more. Anyone with an automatic weapon and some semblance of a uniform can stop traffic at will and make a show of "checking" credentials. Most checkpoints are maned by; Iraqi Police, U.S military, Iraqi National Guard, private security, Iraqi Army, Concerned Local Citizens (U.S-backed militia), and Minister of Interior (Iranian-backed militia). You can imagine the ensuing confusion pulling up to one of these, especially at night.

There's no telling who's manning these impromptu traffic stops. For all anyone knows it may be an insurgent looking for someone to "pick on". Pulling up, opening the car's armored door, and announcing to the world that you're a westerner is never fun, and in many instances not very healthy either.

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