Thursday, January 18, 2007

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

On their first date, Michael Hastings and Andrea Parhamovich met for milkshakes.

Fifteen months later, she followed him to Iraq.

Hastings hoped they would spend their lives together.

But on Wednesday, Parhamovich died in a hail of bullets — ambushed outside a Sunni Arab political office in Baghdad.

Sunni insurgents linked to the Al Qaeda in Iraq group on Thursday claimed responsibility for the attack that took the lives of the 28-year-old and three guards — a Hungarian, a Croat and an Iraqi. Two other security workers were wounded. None of these other victims' names had been released.

"She was an idealist," Hastings said of Parhamovich, who grew up in Perry, Ohio. "She always believed that people were good. Certainly, those ideals were put to the test when she came to Iraq."

Parhamovich, known as Andi, followed heart and ideals when she came to Baghdad. Hastings, a reporter with Newsweek, was working in Iraq. But Parhamovich was also drawn to political work in Baghdad — teaching Iraqis about voting and how to establish a functional government.

She worked first for the International Republican Institute, then joined the National Democratic Institute a few months later.

. . . .

"With God's assistance, we have succeeded in the destruction of two SUV vehicles belonging to the Zionist Mossad," wrote the group that took credit, in a statement on a well-known Sunni insurgent website, " ... killing all who were in them, attacking them by light and medium weapons." The group often refers to its targets as members of Israel's intelligence service.

But in fact, Hastings said, "they killed a wonderful, unarmed girl."

. . . .

The National Democratic Institute is one of the few nongovernmental groups still working in Iraq. The staff lives outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government, often traveling around the capital to run seminars and workshops.

"They did not see themselves as heroes, only people doing a job on behalf of a cause they believed in," said the institute's chairwoman, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, in a statement referring to all four killed in the attack. "They were not the enemies of anyone in Iraq; they were there to help."

. . . .

After spending a few months in Baghdad, Parhamovich had gone back to the U.S. but returned at Christmas. The couple spoke on the phone about future plans, including a long trip to Europe, Hastings said.

"We had — I have still — reservations at the Four Seasons in Paris on Valentine's Day."

Hastings had recently picked out two possible wedding rings. Ever since the milkshakes, he had known he wanted to spend his life with Andi.

"She is pure at heart," he said, bringing her to life — momentarily — in the present tense.
Andrea didn't spend her days in a comfy office or living room, typing up semi-literate postings for The Corner or Hot Air or some other stain on the internet. All she did was move to Iraq to try to help build a future for its people. She won't ever get married, raise kids, or have the chance to pass on the love for the world that she must have felt deep in her heart. She can't. She died "in a hail of bullets."

Molly Ivins writes, "This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war." Molly's too polite by half.