Live and learn. I had no idea that one needs more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees — the equivalent of an entire company —, attack helicopters circling overhead, soldiers to redirect traffic from and restrict access to the area, and sharpshooters posted on nearby roofs, if one wants to visit an outdoor market in Indiana. Oh, and better wear bulletproof vests as well. Sounds implausible? But what else can one conclude from Representative Mike Pence’s comment that a Baghdad market which he visited last Sunday as part of a US delegation led by Senator John McCain, was “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime”? The security measures described above were the conditions under which the delegation was able to walk around “freely” through Shorja, the city’s oldest and largest market.
Never mind that at least 61 people were killed and many more wounded in that same market on February 12. Never mind that at least 60 people, most of them women and children, were killed last Thursday in another section of Baghdad’s markets, or that gunfights between militants and the Iraqi security forces erupt frequently in the area. Rather, the American politicians enjoyed drinking tea, haggling with merchants, and the freedom to “mix and mingle unfettered” (Pence), according to the New York Times.
Remind me to stay away from Indiana.