Over the last 18 months, U.S. military and political leaders have had to deal with a restive population of unemployed young men, looting, a devastated infrastructure and a violent insurgency.
Those same military and political officials have said things that strike commentator Connie Rice as curious -- and so she has paraphrased them into another top 10 list.
This time: Top 10 things said about Baghdad that you'll never hear said about Watts or other U.S. ghettoes...
(10.) "Isn't it great that Iraqis are now free to flood their streets with tens of thousands of protesters in open demonstrations?"
You especially won't hear this one said about Manhattan. John Ashcroft of the U.S. Department of Justice is right now hunting down and interrogating Americans planning to protest the Republican convention in New York City -- so I guess the tens of thousands of Republican Convention protesters can march freely in Baghdad, but not Central Park.
(9.) "There's no physical security without economic security."
Who would ever have thought this version of "no jobs, no peace" would come out of the mouth of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Someone needs to Humvee him down the street to his backyard, and give him a mike -- so he can repeat this to the underclass of Washington, D.C. The new Republican call to action: No jobs, no peace!
(8.) "Iraqis cannot recover from 40 years of Hussein's savage brutality overnight; it will take decades."
How about 400 years of American savage brutality called slavery that the state of Mississippi didn't vote to end until February of 1996? If 40 years of Iraqi brutality is hard to overcome, why do we act like 400 years of American brutality is irrelevant ancient history?
(7.) "Political quotas will facilitate fairness and the political viability of the future Iraq."
All proposed Iraqi political structures have quota-guaranteed seats for Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites and women. So let's get this straight: Quotas guarantee fairness in trade and Iraqi politics when the establishment needs fairness -- but back home, the mildest affirmative action is unfair?
(6.) "We're confiscating thousands of guns to reduce violence and killing in Baghdad."
Just when Congress and President Bush are ending the assault weapons ban in time for the Christmas shopping season, we're making Baghdad safer by snatching guns off the streets. The NRA needs to invade Mosul.
(5.) "We probably alienated thousands of Iraqis by doing hundreds of midnight home invasions looking for a few insurgents."
Can you hear in the echoes of this statement the mistakes of "urban policing?" Mass brutalization and alienation of the community in the pursuit of a war on drugs and gangs, that has reduced neither? Don't hold your breath waiting for that same admission to be said in this country...
(4.) "Conditions is Abu Ghraib under Hussein were unimaginable to Americans -- desperate pleas scrawled in excrement on the walls, crammed cells, torture, humiliation and unjust executions."
Unimaginable? Has President Bush never seen 60 Minutes? The military lawyer who recently said this about Abu Ghraib needs a tour of California's prisons and Illinois' death row -- a place where half of its residents were innocent. And what planet was Bush on when American abuses of Iraqi prisoners hit the fan?
(3.) "We have to put ourselves in Iraqi shoes, and become culturally sophisticated enough to win the only battle that counts: the one for Iraqi hearts and minds."
Now, without laughing hysterically, picture this being said about the U.S. urban underclass...
(2.) "You have to expect a people who are suppressed and denied opportunity to erupt on occasion."
Since we will never hear this said in the United States, I am going to make a banner out of this statement by Donald Rumsfeld and fly it up the flag pole after the next U.S. riot.
(1.) "Men without jobs feel emasculated and desperate -- that's why our number-one mission is to get Iraqis into jobs."
Do you think that delegates to the Republican National Convention will travel up to Harlem to repeat this statement to the 49 percent of black men a new study shows were without jobs in 2003?