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If L.A. Were Baghdad

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We're sliding into Year Five of the war in Iraq -- a country that, as we've been told, is the size of California.

Sometimes I've wondered what it would be like, an Iraq-sized war in Iraq-sized California. I asked my colleague Doug Smith, who's spent a lot of time in Iraq, to give me a sense of how the war would play out, overlaid on California.

Baghdad is much smaller than Los Angeles, but it's the city in Iraq most like L.A. It has a complex freeway and road network to distant suburbs; it was a population magnet, the economic hub. Doug said he too has wondered "how Angelenos would cope with what's going on in Baghdad. I think they'd go screaming mad, but maybe these are things that people adjust to quickly."

Maybe. Californians perform heroically in quakes and fires, but those are natural disasters, and they are fleeting.

Set aside the causes in Iraq, the cast of killers and why they're killing. What is it like to live these stories every day, not just read them? What if all those murdered Iraqi police and recruits wore the badges of California cities and towns? What if it weren't a hundred Iraqis being killed every day but a hundred Southern Californians? Over a year, that would be like killing every man, woman and child in Dana Point.

Read the rest of the column at the Los Angeles Times.