It’s about 12:30 AM on Friday morning and on CNN there’s live coverage of a huge number of Iraqi soldiers, ex-soldiers really, walking south toward Baghdad along an open two-lane road. The landscape looks like it might in the eastern, flatter part of Colorado or New Mexico. What’s being reported is that these were Iraqi conscripts who were stationed in positions in the north and as the Iraqi army dispersed and disintegrated they just hit the roads and headed south. They deserted. Their officers deserted them. Various other possibilities. They’re walking toward Baghdad, which is more than one hundred miles away, and then they think down toward southern Iraq where they’re originally from. Many of them are sandal-clad or even bare-footed. They don’t seem to have water or food or money. Mostly, they’re wearing civilian clothes.
It’s not even clear how much of this is true, or just who these men are. But whoever they are, there are hundreds, actually thousands of them walking south down a road toward Baghdad.
There’s all sorts of talk now of who was right and who was wrong about this or that, what will come next, and so forth. But watching this you just see the magnitude of the whole situation, the number of people on the move, displaced, with new hope, with no plan.
It’s not an analogy. But the image it brings to my mind is of slaves at the end of Civil War who headed out onto the roads looking for relatives who they’d been separated from.
It defies analysis or quips or quick insights (imagine that for TPM!). In their own way these are the most staggering images yet.