With Petraeus On Patrol

March 11th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: With Petraeus On Patrol

March 10, 2008 By Liz Sly, Tribune correspondent
BAGHDAD--Gen. David Petraeus, the man in charge of the Iraq war, is fond of going walkabout in neighborhoods that have become safer as a result of his surge strategy, and he likes to take journalists along with him.
So on a recent sunny morning, a gaggle of us a U.S. TV crew, an Iraqi TV crew and one newspaper correspondent set off for a tour of an area not far from the Green Zone that was until recently a stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
The first stop was the Zawra soccer stadium where local district council members were launching a children's soccer tournament aimed at promoting reconciliation between the sects. It's the kind of thing U.S. generals love, an affirmation that things appear to be working out, and Petraeus was delighted to learn that the competition was called "The Love Cup."
Small boys milled about on the soccer pitch while local dignitaries lined up to have their picture taken with Petraeus. An aide to the general, a strapping blond in full military gear, tossed a couple of soccer balls at the crowd from her backpack. Disappointed boys harassed the rest of our party repeatedly after that.
One boy aged around 9 tugged at my arm with particular urgency, pointing to his face. He had a big, jagged scar running from his eye to his chin, and another from his cheek down his neck. He recounted how he had been blown up a year ago by a car bomb right outside the stadium. Though his scars have healed, it's clear the psychological trauma has not.
After that we walked to a nearby market. The road was rutted and garbage was piled high along the median strip. There weren't many people around, but that could have been because all the approach roads were sealed off by Humvees, barbed wire and phalanxes of Iraqi and U.S. soldiers. Walkabouts by U.S. generals in Baghdad aren't exactly spontaneous affairs.
Nonetheless, most of the shops were open, and there were fresh fish and oranges in the market. A baker handed Petraeus a piece of flat, round Iraqi bread, piping hot from the wood-fired oven. Stopping in a small pharmacy, he seemed most impressed to find that an American brand of shampoo was on sale.
"Look," he said. "They've got Head and Shoulders."

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