Book Review: Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Gerry Loftus

Imperial LifeGerry Loftus, the Avuncular American, reviews Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy’s blog.

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it is worth revisiting that first year of the U.S. occupation.  The Green Zone of Chandrasekaran’s title has come to symbolize the entire Iraq venture, the enclave where America tried to graft its national narrative and institutions onto a Middle Eastern society, and then was surprised at the transplant’s rejection.  In the immediate aftermath of the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue, it is a time of striking images and—in some corners of the neoconservative world—heady dreams of remaking the Middle East in America’s mold.  It’s the world of the Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA, under “viceroy,” “proconsul,” “presidential envoy,” or simply, as his official title said, Administrator L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer.

Enter this world with Rajiv Chandrasekaran and prepare to… laugh.  You know you shouldn’t, but some of his vignettes on the heights of hubris on the Tigris are so outrageously funny that you might weep.  As you should, for the absurd tragicomedy of life in the Green Zone is rendered here as nowhere else.  Funny but never flippant, Chandrasekaran was The Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief before, during, and after the invasion.

Read the whole thing at either the USC CPD blog blog or at Gerry’s blog.  Also at Gerry’s blog are some additional comments posted almost exactly five years after Amb. L. Paul Bremer was selected for his position in Iraq.