Seeing how this all started with one person's account of their perception of the conflict I thought I'd share another (from October 2004 - took ages for the Guardian to post it on their site):
Iraq is stuck in a cycle of violence and despair to which no one can see an end ... sorry, am I boring you?
Tuesday October 19, 2004
Here I am, back in London, sipping vodka-martinis, reading a very nice book, lying on the sofa and working very hard to forget the past two months in Baghdad.
I'm trying, but all people do here is ask me the same questions over and over again: "Is it really bad down there in Baghdad?" "Is it like what we hear in the news?"
Two months ago, I would have said, "It's not that bad", but now I answer: "No, it's ******* worse."
From here, Baghdad and its violence seems unreal; a million light years away. Apart from the usual ducking down every time a door slams, there is nothing to remind me of the horrors there. In any case, even when, during London dinner parties, people ask me about Baghdad, they wait impatiently for me to finish my why-Iraq-is-so-messed-up lecture, before launching into a conversation about a bloke called Harry who cheated in some exam and how property prices are going to collapse.
When you open your newspaper in the morning and read about the 35 Iraqi kids blown up the day before by one of Baghdad's many suicide bombers, the real misery, bewilderment and fear of the people there will never be captured nor translated into words. Over here, it's just another day, another suicide bomber.
The levels of fear, anxiety and violence that Iraqis experience on a daily basis pass unreported for two reasons: a) because the reporters themselves are besieged by the same anxieties and fears inside hotel compounds surrounded by concrete blast walls and checkpoints; and b) because Iraq equals war equals destruction, and a car bomb is not breaking news anymore.
For a few months after the fall of Saddam's regime, Iraqis became aware that they could actually live without fear. They might even have planned for their and their children's futures, something totally unimagined when war, persecution and execution were the norm. The first couple of car bombs soon shattered that initial relief; that, and when it became obvious that the long-awaited peace and prosperity promised by the Americans was not coming any time soon.
Living under Saddam, most people knew the rules of the game. They knew how to survive: keep a low profile; cross the street if you spot nasty-looking Mukhabarat officers; don't think about politics (actually, better if you don't think at all).
But the situation now is so volatile, the people have lost that sixth sense for surviving. What are the new rules? No one knows. Is it not to be seen with the Americans? Is it not to get a job with the new police and security services? Is it not to work with the new government at all? It's certainly good to avoid driving into areas filled with IEDs? But where are they exactly?
How can the Iraqis be expected to lead their daily life, let alone build a democracy, when they leave the house not knowing if they are ever coming back?
The fear is not generated just by car bombs and mortars. It is the whole atmosphere of lawlessness and anarchy that engulfs Iraq right now. The real problems facing the average Iraqi family are things such as corruption, banditry and kidnapping for ransom. It's worse if you are a doctor, professor or businessman; then it is not only the resistance that are after you as a potential collaborator, but also a wide range of gangs and looters, too.
That's even without mentioning the American factor. You're in line for a very bad day if an IED exploded an American vehicle close to your house and it turned out that one of your cousins is a Sunni officer.
It seems that both the insurgents and the Americans have agreed that violence is the best way to take each other on. To solve Iraq's problems both want to kick each other out of Iraq. Neither know what the Iraqis want.
The Iraqis themselves seem unable to comprehend what is happening; most are totally disenchanted with American efforts - if any exist - to help rebuild the country. These feelings are exacerbated by the American actions on the ground and are, in turn, translated into hatred - in the best case, mere apathy - towards the Iraqi government and its US backers. The insurgency feeds on this hatred. With more hatred comes more violence, with more violence more Iraqis die and with more death, the economic disaster continues. The cycle goes on and on and no one seems to be able to break it.