Commentary: Iraqis try to rebuild lives six year after U.S. invasion

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

There will be no celebrations here today for the sixth anniversary of the United States invasion of Iraq.

The positive might be that there don't appear to be any large-scale protests about continued American presence either. In the capital, people are very involved in trying to rebuild their lives.

They're too busy to reflect on the meaning of U.S. troops rolling across their desert, toppling their dictator. They're also too busy to reflect on the fact that despite huge strides in the past year, personal safety still lags well behind where it stood under Saddam Hussein.

The sidewalks lining Baghdad's constant rush-hour streets are a jumble of colors today, a marked change from the pre-invasion years. It's a positive sign.

But look at what is selling. For blocks on end, electronics stores stack their best-selling items on the sidewalks: generators (in orange and blue and red and purple, but, still, generators). Not everyone in this city of 6 million has one, but everyone who can afford one does.

Above the color explosion on the street is a thicket of wires running from telephone pole to street lamp, and to apartment after apartment, home after home, business after business. The wires bring auxiliary power from the generators to people wanting lights, or fans, beyond the 10 hours of electricity Iraq can provide on a good day.

After those hours, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are now adapting to the idea of heading outside to connect power for their home, or neighborhood. Iraqis note that the generators, while colorful, are poor quality. They'll have to be replaced once a year, at least.

When the sidewalks aren't packed with generators, they are filled with water, boxes of water and water cooler bottles. Stacked like squared-off hedges, and also colorful, they're constant reminders that even the basics for life are difficult.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.

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