I'll admit I have been neglecting some of the more important issues, especially China, the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, environmental issues. Hopefully I'll find time to delve into the complexities that they present, especially as I find myself more and more aware of how people view the world in light of the changes they bring on.
So, without further ado...
There has been good news in Iraq. Sectarian violence is down, the number of civilians killed is down three months in a row to 718 in November, and people in the cradle of civilization seem to be peeking their heads out of their doors and starting to even get on with their lives.
Of particular note is a famous Baghdad book market, the al-Mutanabi Street book market, has reopened from a 2006 suicide bombing that killed many and wreaked devastation upon one of the city's main cultural centers for intellectual thought. A $5.7 million reconstruction project is underway to rebuild the bookstores, shops, and repave the street into a pedestrian-only zone. Some of the scholars who ran bookstores - and suffered from loved ones who died in the bombing - are quite dedicated and optimistic since the violence has gone down and progress has been made towards rebuilding.
Someone should start a wiki; it is fascinating to learn about the resurgence of such an important aspect of the lives of these people - whom we barely know anything about. When I first started hearing about the reconstruction projects following the so-called "end of the war," I was highly skeptical that it would be of any use at all, since there was a high - and growing - amount of violence in the country.
However, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the Iraqi and Afghani people, and wish them the best of luck towards rebuilding their nations and bringing them into the modern era. Although I am very for us withdrawing as soon as we can, at the same time I can't help but notice that without these kinds of efforts by the Iraqis and our troops to try to help rebuild their country, it would probably be a total loss by now - even if Rumsfeld's post-invasion plan was a total bag of shit.
Now, if only they can avoid a total meltdown and civil war in the future, things just might work out in the long run.