- Planet Erstwild - 20111027 - Amir, the Hair Mechanic

Obama has announced a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by year's end. Neocons like Frederick Kagan, who clamored for and helped push the country into the shock and awe invasion in March 2003, are saying withdrawing now would be a "gift" to Iran. Other commentators say the Iraq invasion itself, poorly thought out and contingency-plan adverse as it was, was Iran's gift.

Amir shares his persepctives as a former Iraqi soldier who joined an uprising against Saddam Hussein after the First Gulf War, only to be taken prisoner by U.S. forces, before gaining refugee status and then becoming a U.S. citizen. He is saddened by the devastation in Bhagdad, formerly a beautiful city that still struggles, almost a decade later, with lack of electricity, spotty water and heaps of uncollected trash. He says most Iraqis are glad to be free of an occupying force. He owns a shop called The Hair Mechanic in Chicago.