Thursday, September 30

No wonder good news is hard to find

A visit to Steve's has a post containing the contents of an email written by a WSJ reporter living in baghdad that was originally posted on Romanesko's Media News page. The letter was originally written for consumption by fellow reporters, and now the cat is out of the bag.
Subject: From Baghdad

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

Is it little wonder that all the great news that lurks in every little corner in iraq, fails to see it to the light of day? This gives me an opportunity to use some of a historychannel show I transcribed, for contrast purposes. From Hard Target last Sunday, guest Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise institute, made the following claims about the situation in Iraq the last time he was there.
When I came to Baghdad last July I would see very few women on the street and those that I did see would be walking around basically covered all in black. When I asked my Iraqi friends who were accomanying me, what was going on, they said that it wasn't out of religious conviction, it was out of fear, security, women were afraid frankly of being kidnapped or raped, but starting around October I began to see women on the streets, teenaged girls together without men, without their families around, window shopping, hanging out in Ice cream parlors, at restaurants and that sort of thing
I wonder how freely the Ice cream is flowing these days, or how much window shopping is going on. Granted this report dates from nearly a year ago, which I think was right around the time we started rounding up people and torturing them, about a month after the time that Abu Ghraib recieved a visit from the Head man at Gitmo, Major General Geoffrey Miller.
It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent [2.5 million] of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.
April in Fallujah was a start, pictures from Abu Ghraib, sealed the deal. The Iraqi's had heard all about the goings on in that prison and were likely convinced of the veracity of the tales told, but to see the pictures, and possibly be able to identify friends neighbors or reletives......all bets were off. Game over. Not in keeping with the rosy outlook we keep hearing about. I would not be suprised if Sadr City, might not be one of the places that will not participate in the "January *cough* farce *cough* Elections". It gets worse of course.
Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
How did that go Georgie boy? "Bring 'em On"? They brought it and we don't seem to have the, eh, how did you put it? "We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." Oh yeah. Not so much george, While it would be fun to believe that all those iraqi girls are hanging out in Ice Cream shops, etc, that fantasy, if it ever existed, is long gone buddy.
One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in
the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"
As long as President Fantacy Island, continues to smoke whatever it is he is smoking, and refuse to acknowledge the actual realities on the ground, things are likely to get so bad that Kerry will be saddled with "Mission Impossible", when he takes office in January. Of course if the criminals pull off whatever multifront election fraud they have planned, you can take it to the bank that Fallujah will be carpet bombed starting the first weekend of November, and selective service offices allready in place will be ready to start a draft. As casualties mount you can thank the FUBAR in Chief, and his NeoCon puppeteers for the lofty dreams, of a co-dependant, sphere of capitalistic freedom, that free market utopia, for soiling the good name of liberty, and democracy, and in our name to boot. Thanks, Jackass.