I can buy anything. If I have to agree to take oil or gas to Dubai, I’m going to do it. I’m not here in Iraq for the excitement. I want to make money; I’m like you … . This embargo is going to end. I need an order. I need it now." It was one of those blunt realities which idealists, especially those moved to actions by human suffering, refuse to believe. Too crass to be true. Too pragmatic to face.
It happened two years ago. I was in Baghdad, in one of the five star hotels where businessmen stay, and talk. You find no humanitarian oriented social activists in the lobby here. "Too many secret service agents," they say. Few journalists hang around here, either. But I was meeting a friend. Behind me sat two men, facing each other, and apparently unaware of me. They talked freely, although in low voices. My back was to them, and I leaned forward over the coffee table in order to write down verbatim what I heard. I didn’t look at the men, but I could recognize from their accents that one was an Iraqi. The other was a US businessman. He did most of the talking, was very blunt, and spoke without formalities.