Thursday, July 10, 2008

Baghdad's Landscape after the War

The War in Iraq is still on going but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. If the Iraqi government and allies manage to defeat al Qaeda's axis then the long road of recovery can finally be attended to with full attention. One question that, while on one hand seems trivial yet does have implication, is how Baghdad's landscape and "culturescape" memorialize the fighting. How it does will have an impact on future generations.

Before we continue on about Baghdad's path let us look at some possible routes.
  • Berlin and other West German cities: World War II was hard on German cities. Many of these cities suffered complete destruction. The Nazi Era was so shameful and the war so hard for Germans that the landscape was rebuilt pre-1933 (new building was modern, though) while the people became progressive, always trying to avoid the past.
  • Berlin and other East German cities: Cities in the east were destroyed too. Instead of looking back on the past the landscape was meant to bear the marks of the war. Old cathedrals were left damaged as monuments to Nazi/Ally aggression while monuments were dedicated to the common bond of the Russian and German worker. The people gobbled up a new propaganda looking to place blame on others. Eastern Germany remains a mess today.
  • Northern Ireland has a unique route. With the Troubles over the war landscape has become on of adaption, not avoidance or destruction. The Euro party scene has taken over the infrastructure of war and murals fight the battle between past and future.

Baghdad is not completely in ruins. There are some hard hit neighborhoods, the relatively untouched Green Zone, many places with some damage but not alot, then there are the outskirt slum shantytowns that are in need of basic infrastructure. Obviously modern-style, building up is in needed for a major capital city with so many people so keeping things the in ruble ala East Germany is a very unlikely possibly unless al Qaeda wins and wishes to make Baghdad an example of Western aggression against Islam. Going back to the past is not an option as neo-Babylonian style reminds the Shia and Kurds of its use by Saddam's Baathist Party.

The only real question left then is what to do with the walls. Walling off neighborhoods helped keep rival groups out of sight and mind. There presence has impacted how people get around the city and how they think of the city itself i.e. separate communities rather than one giant, collective mass. The walls may stay to serve as security, they may remain but become art pieces like the Berlin Wall, or they may remove as Baghdadis learn that they are all citizens.

Landscape of a city does not make culturescape but there is a interrelationship. If Baghdad improves to a good but not well state a Northern Ireland-style of adaptation but keeping walls in place "just in case" is probable. If things turn out well though the landscape and culturescape will be like West Germany where the war is over in all regards.


Anonymous said...

"Eastern Germany remains a mess today."
How can the author estimate todays circumstances so wrong?
maybe it would be more suitable to make a difference between the situation shortly after the fall of the wall, and now, almost 20(!) years & billions of aid money later.

regardless to this critique, i have to compliment on this blog!keep it going!


Catholicgauze said...

I was referencing the cultural situation in eastern Germany today. For example, the Left's ("ex-"Communist) and Neo-Nazis sway in politics.