THE last American combat soldiers in Iraq shuffle through a half-empty base as they prepare for the one-way journey to the Kuwaiti border. Some recall their exploits during many tours of duty over the past seven years, charting their fortunes with language that has become common currency on television back home. The shock and awe of the invasion was eclipsed by insurgents using IEDs. Backed by contractors who erected blast walls around a green zone, the soldiers eventually inspired an awakening among Iraqi tribes that, aided by a surge of extra troops, in time brought something like order. In the soldiers’ telling, the names of places that were little known before the war have acquired the resonance of history: Najaf, Sadr City, Abu Ghraib.

最后一批美军战斗部队缓步穿过半空的营房,准备开赴科威特,不再回来。他们如数家珍地讨论着过去七年里,自己在战场上的九死一生,一些人也回忆起许多任务中的丰功伟绩,这些战场这些任务这些丰功伟绩,已经通过电视,在美国家喻户晓。甫入伊拉克的那份惊奇与敬畏,不久就被叛乱分子的简易炸弹掩埋了。美军雇佣工程队在绿色地带建起了防暴墙,继而大量增兵,终于唤醒了伊拉克的部族,带来了一定的秩序。士兵们的话题里那些战前鲜为人知的地名,如今写入了历史:纳贾夫,萨德尔城,阿布格莱布。

Some 50,000 American troops will stay on in a support role, to “advise and assist” the Iraqi forces that are now supposed to be in charge of the country’s security. Nonetheless, August 31st marks the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the combat mission that began with the invasion in March 2003. As a sign of America’s changing role in the country, the State Department will now assume some of the responsibilities that were previously undertaken by the Pentagon. Chief among them is the training of Iraqi policemen, a key to keeping the peace. Consular offices will be opened across the country to replace military bases. Since the State Department does not have its own forces, it is hiring private gunmen. They will fly armed helicopters and drive armoured personnel carriers on the orders of the secretary of state long after the last American soldier has gone home.

约50000美国部队将会留下来做配角,“顾问和协助”如今应该已经接管国家安全的伊拉克部队。尽管如此,始于2003年3月的战略入侵,伊拉克自由行动在8月31日将正式结束。作为美国在伊拉克角色转换的标志之一,国务院将接管之前五角大楼的部分职责。其中主要任务是对伊拉克警察的训练,以保和平稳定。全国范围内将开设领事处,取代先前的军事基地。由于不掌兵,国务院将使用雇佣兵。在美军撤出后很长一段时间,这些雇佣军都将受命于国务卿,在伊拉克驾驶军用直升机和武装运兵车。

For their part, the people of Iraq never learned to trust, let alone like, the Americans. Yet public opinion has shifted remarkably in recent weeks. After countless American warnings of their imminent departure, all met with stubborn Iraqi insistence that the “occupiers” would never leave, the penny has suddenly dropped. They really are on their way out. But instead of feeling joy, Iraqis have begun to worry. “We’re not ready to go it alone,” says Wesam, a junior army officer. He, like many others, fears a return of sectarian war. That points to the fragility of much of what the American army can claim to have achieved since 2003.

至于伊拉克人民,他们从没信任过美国人,更不用说喜欢了。然而,最近几周公众舆论骤然转向。美国无数次提醒他们即将撤出,伊拉克人仍然固执地认为“侵略者”永远不会离开,如今他们才猛然惊觉。美国人真的要走了。伊拉克人没有欢欣鼓舞,反而开始焦虑起来。“我们还没准备好独立运作,”低阶军官威塞姆说。他和许多人一样,害怕教派战争再度爆发。2003年以来美军自称已经达成的目标,是多么容易得而复失,由此可见一般。

On the positive side, they conclusively ended the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. Only his deputy, Izzat al-Douri, escaped capture and punishment in a war-crimes trial. American soldiers were flexible enough to change tactics in order to defeat an insurgency that threatened to overwhelm them; their emphasis on recruiting local allies proved superior to the unadulterated fire power they had used at first. They avoided all-out civil war and cut short the brutal reign of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born jihadist, who was hunted down and killed.

也有积极的一面,他们彻底终结了萨达姆·侯赛因的暴虐统治。只有其副手,伊扎特·易卜拉欣·杜里逃脱了抓捕,未被判战争罪。为应对声称要吞没他们的叛乱分子,美国士兵灵活地改变了战略;他们重点募集当地盟友,事实证明,战斗力优于早先单纯的部队。他们避免了全面内战,终止了阿布·穆萨布·扎卡维的残忍统治,扎卡维是出生于约旦的圣战主义者,最终被寻获并清除。

Furthermore, a more open society has taken shape in urban Iraq. Safia Souhail, a member of parliament, holds regular salons where discourse is free and often contrarian. On the streets too, politics is discussed openly, even among strangers. Iraqis are no longer afraid to say what they think. Where once there were only whispers, a cacophony of shouted curses now assaults political leaders. The press is nominally free, though highly partisan and often harassed by officials. Religious freedom is generally accepted, even if some minorities still complain of discrimination. Alcohol cannot be sold at certain times, in deference to Islamic hardliners, but is available nevertheless.

此外,在伊拉克城镇,一个更加开放的社会已经初具雏形。萨菲亚·苏海勒,国会成员,定期举办沙龙,让人们尽情发表反对演说。在街上,人们也能公开讨论政治,甚至参与者都是陌生人。伊拉克人不再害怕表达自己的看法。曾经只有低语的伊拉克,如今充斥着对政治领袖的大声攻讦。媒体名义上是自由的,虽然趋炎附势,而且常被官员骚扰。宗教自由被广泛接受,虽然一些少数派仍在抱怨歧视。为尊重伊斯兰强硬派,酒类只能定时供应,但还是买得到。

Iraq is also much more open to the world thanks to America’s intervention. Travel is unrestricted, imports are plentiful, internet connections have gone up from 4,500 to 1.6m and the number of mobile phones has risen from 80,000 to 20m.

由于美国的介入,伊拉克也更加对外开放。旅游无限制,进口充裕,网络接入由4500上升到160万,手机用户也从8万飙升至2千万。

Yet freedom is still not universal in Iraq. Women and gays suffer discrimination, and there is little they can do about it. Across Iraq the rule of law is usually a distant aspiration rather than a solid achievement. Justice is no longer arbitrary, but judges can still be bought and the pace of trials is often glacial.

但是伊拉克仍有自由的盲区。女性和同性恋者仍然受到歧视,而且对此无能为力。在整个伊拉克,法治只是遥远的理想而非切实的成就。司法不再蛮不讲理,但法官仍然可以收买,而审判进程极度缓慢。

These gains have come at a terrible cost. About 150,000 Iraqis as well as almost 5,000 American and allied soldiers lost their lives. More than 2m Iraqis fled the country, many of them desperately needed professionals who are building new lives elsewhere. They despaired of a country in which many residents still don’t have access to basic services. Although American taxpayers have spent more than $700 billion, drinking water is scarce, health care and education are inadequate, electricity is available only for a few hours a day and petrol often runs out. Many say life is harder than ever.

这些成就代价惨痛。约15万伊拉克人以及近5000美国和盟国士兵牺牲。超过2百万伊拉克人背井离乡,其中许有多国内急需的专业人才,却在国外扎根。他们对这个国家绝望了,国内许多人的基本需求都得不到满足。虽然美国纳税人花费了7千亿美元,饮用水仍然匮乏,医疗保障和教育系统残缺,一天只能供电几小时,汽油也经常短缺。许多人说日子从没这么苦过。

This lack of services has crippled the economy. Manufacturers cannot survive without power; this condemns the non-oil private sector to irrelevance. The Americans have tried to boost business by financing the construction of markets across the country. They also gave seed money to entrepreneurs. But about half the Iraqi workforce is still without a full-time job. The Iraqi government is barely able to collect taxes and spending is financed almost entirely from oil money.

如此匮乏的物资拖垮了经济。没有电就无法生产;这也将非石油私营部门打入冷宫。美国人试过通过给全国的市场建设提供财政来刺激经济。他们还给企业家提供种子基金。但伊拉克仍有一半的劳动力没有全职工作。伊拉克政府收税都举步维艰,政府开销几乎全由石油收入支撑。

Leave us to bicker
你们走了,我们就吵个没完

The biggest failure of all is political. Building a state with a democratic government and institutions that work was central to President George W. Bush’s vision of the new Iraq. The country has ended up with a travesty of good governance. Positions in the bureaucracy are awarded on the basis of family or sectarian allegiance rather than merit. Partisan interference so mars elections that no Western diplomat will call them “free and fair”. The watchdog Transparency International reckons that corruption is endemic.

最大的失败是政治。乔治·W·布什总统对新伊拉克的愿景,其核心就是一个拥有民主政府和有效职能部门的国家。模仿优秀政府,结果却只是东施效颦。官职的任命,靠的是裙带关系或者教派勾结,而非真才实学。党派干涉严重玷污大选,以至于没有西方外交官会称其“自由公正”。监察者国际透明组织认为腐败是普遍现象。

More than anywhere else in the world, Sunnis and Shias still fear each other in Iraq. Trust even between moderates is minimal, and national reconciliation non-existent. Five months after inconclusive elections, Iraq still has no new government. Parties are deadlocked in negotiations. The most obvious coalition partners are the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, a moderate Shia whose block won 89 seats in the 325-member parliament, and Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister who is mainly supported by Sunnis and controls 91 seats. Yet the two men dislike and distrust each other so much that they rarely speak.

在伊拉克,逊尼派和什叶派忌惮对方,超过了忌惮全世界其他势力。双方的温和派也难以互相信任,全国性的和解更是痴心妄想。五个月的无果大选过后,伊拉克仍然没有政府。党派间谈判陷入僵局。最显然应该结成政治同盟是总理努里·马基利和前总理伊亚德·阿拉维,前者是温和什叶派,其党派共获得了国会325席中的89席;后者主要的支持者逊尼派控制着91个席位。然而,两人互相鄙弃狐疑,几无沟通。

The prime minister could instead strike a deal with the next smaller block, a mix of mostly Shia religious parties dominated by the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, a hardline cleric. But Mr Sadr too distrusts Mr Maliki. Mr Maliki’s only quasi-ally, the Kurdish block, has too few seats to secure him power.

总理马基利可以退而求其次,和第三大团体达成协议,该团体是由强硬派牧师穆克塔达·萨德尔的追随者主导,主要是什叶宗教党派的混合体。但萨德尔也不信任马基利。马基利唯一的类同盟就是库尔德团体了,但其过少的席位难以保证他上位。

Attention is now focused on an American proposal that would allow Mr Maliki to keep his job and make Mr Allawi the head of a powerful new national security council. The Kurds and Mr Sadr’s followers are being encouraged to join as well. The result would be government by committee, a recipe for further deadlock, but perhaps the least bad plausible outcome. Corrupt party hacks would further carve up the ministries, but at least Iraq would have an elected government.

美国的新提议吸引了不少目光:马基利保住自己的总理职位,而阿拉维担任新成立的权力部门,国家安全委员会的主席。库尔德人和萨德尔的追随者也将受邀加入委员会。此举结果将是一个委员会政府,虽然会导致更多的谈判僵局,这可能还是最轻的副作用。腐败政党的枪手会进一步瓜分职能部门,但至少伊拉克会有个民选政府。

None of this would matter quite so much if the country were secure, but Iraq is still under siege. The insurgency is weakened but not defeated. Violence is down by 90% from 2007, but al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have staged a comeback in recent months. Officials and policemen are assassinated almost daily. The number of dead is increasing again, to nearly 500 in July. On August 25th a series of bombs throughout the country killed over 50 people and injured hundreds more. “Al-Qaeda can probably keep this up for a while,” says an American general.

如果国家安全,那这些并无大碍,但伊拉克仍在遭受袭击。叛乱活动在减少,但并未停止。暴力活动比2007年减少了90%,但近几个月,与基地组织联系紧密的暴力集团正在策划东山再起。几乎每天都有官员和警察被杀。死亡人数再次上升,7月达到了近500人。8月25日,全国范围的一系列炸弹袭击造成超过50人死亡和数百人受伤。“基地组织可以持续袭击很长一段时间,”一位美国将军说。

Instability afflicts the whole country. In the south new extremist groups are springing up and old ones like Mr Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, are reforming. In the scarred northern city of Mosul much of the battle damage is recent. Along the dividing line between Arabs and Kurds, tension is as high as ever. Iraq’s territorial integrity is not certain. Borders are routinely violated by aggressive neighbours.

动荡席卷全国。南部,新生极端主义集团四起,而老牌如萨德尔民兵和迈赫迪军,正在重新招募。在战火侵蚀的摩苏尔市,许多战争破坏都是最近造成的。在阿拉伯人和库尔德人分界线上,局势空前紧张。伊拉克的领土完整也难以保证。挑衅的邻邦屡屡犯边。

The future of Iraq will hinge on its security forces after the Americans officially hand them control on September 1st. The forces are much better than they were a few years ago; buckling under pressure is no longer a certainty. Yet even their own generals say they are not really ready. The Iraqi army chief of staff wants American help until 2020. Privately, American officers agree their job is not done. Iraqi intelligence work is poor, extremist infiltrators are common, the air force is in its infancy, some commanders follow nakedly political agendas and initiative in the lower ranks is lacking, as is equipment. Prisoners are widely abused.

美国9月1日正式让权后,伊拉克的未来便系于其安全部队了。这些部队比几年前进步许多;在压力下不再那么容易屈服。但就连他们自己的将军也说他们没完全准备好。伊拉克军参谋长希望美军协助到2020年。美国官员也在私下承认,工作确实没有完成。伊拉克的情报工作不力,极端主义者渗透现象普遍,空军只是初具雏形,一些指挥官暴露出赤裸裸的政治野心,并且低层军官缺乏主动性,以及装备。虐囚现象普遍。更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

It is clear that Iraqis will for many years be plagued by corruption, insurgents, meddling neighbours, and their own stubborn politicians. Ending America’s “combat mission” is a gamble—and gambles can be lost.

显然,伊拉克人将在未来许多年里饱受腐败,叛乱,邻邦骚扰,和他们自己顽固政客的困扰。结束美军的“战斗任务”是一场赌博——而是赌博就有可能输。