Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Iraq Update

[From Katrina, currently in Iraq, doing contractual oversight work, including billing reviews, for a U.S. contractor rebuilding Iraqi water, oil, electrical, and irrigation systems at waterside facilities and branch systems.]

I've had a day full of comparing contracts with ____, a Turkish lawyer and two US lawyers specializing in foreign trade agreements with ECOSOC, WTO and GATT resolutions to assure that we don't get caught up in trade and investment agreements that need to be reworked down the line. I also have 282 line-items for payment on nine different contracts, all of which are spread out over several hundred miles that I have to verify for two companies and five different government agencies, and three different governments. That work has to be completed by anywhere from two days to three months. But in three months there will be another 282 items that have landed on my computer for me to do the same thing with.

And while all that's going on, I have to consider that some people sincerely believe that all I'm really doing is sitting here getting rich off of blood money, and that the work I'm doing is a total waste. I have to read while people talk about agencies with the best and most sophisticated recon and intel resources in the world as if they were just gigantic groups of overfunded idiots without a clue, and act as if they could do better from their own easy chairs. I have to swallow how everyone over here is just some worthless trash because some of our soldiers die every day, while those same people never seem to notice the people who leave the areas of fighting, get blown up while just going about their business, and never lay a hand on or say an unkind thing to a US soldier. We're all either victims or idiots, and if we'd only listened to the supreme intelligence, we'd never be doing any of this.

There's a lot of strain over here for me, and much more for those I work with, and other contractors, and especially our troops and those of other countries, including those from Iraq. That strain gets compounded by armchair warriors and political and military geniuses who actually have enough ego to believe they know everything while so many other better trained, better informed, more experienced, and frankly sharper individuals and organizations go about dealing with the reality of the situation, instead of some back-seat formulated dream. But the truth is, if they were that good, they'd be on the payroll already. Like me.

And all that has kind of been getting me down more recently. I actually had gotten so depressed that I felt like I was just working to see everything torn down from the inside. But it finally dawned on me that the difference between me and those who cannot find anything good about anything we're doing here is that I'm actually doing something. I'm involved here, even when I leave. I'm a part of something being created, and I've continued to be despite the difficulties. I'm not running. I'm not being turned away by the stress or the difficulties. I'm working with good people who are being protected by good people who are in turn being supported by ourselves. And those who cannot see the worth, or be a part of it, are the ones who really won't matter in the end. It's not us that will fail, or won't count.

Frankly, I'd love to be out of here, with our business all settled down like it was a couple of years ago. But hey, this is honest work, it's meaningful work, and it's a part of history. I'm proud to be a part of it.