Millions of Iraqis, spanning the country's religious and ethnic spectrum, welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But the mostly young men and women who embraced America's project so enthusiastically that they were prepared to risk their lives for it by aiding the U.S. forces constitute a small minority. On a cold, wet night in January 2007, George Packer met two such Iraqi men in the lobby of the Palestine Hotel, in central Baghdad to hear their story and those of other Iraqis working as translators and additional key personnel for the U.S. military and occupation authorities. They assumed that their perspective would be valuable to foreigners who knew little or nothing of Iraq. But instead of respect and gratitude, those who chose to help bridge the gap between the occupiers and the occupied were met with suspicion and hostility. They have been killed by insurgents and militias, ignored by U.S. officials, fired from their jobs without reason or recourse, and prevented from fleeing to the States for safety.
Based on Packer's account in The New Yorker, Betrayed is a riveting and morally complex drama that explores in the Iraqis' own words the ways in which we have already abandoned them. It will have its world premiere in January 2008, off-Broadway at the Culture Project.
About the Author
GEORGE PACKER is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of five books, including The Assasin's Gate (FSG, 2006). His reporting has won four Overseas Press Club awards.