Inside Iraq
January 15, 2008 11:30 AM   Subscribe

As Iraqis See It. "About a year ago, McClatchy Newspapers set up a blog exclusively for contributions from its Iraqi staff. 'Inside Iraq,' it's called, and several times a week the Iraqi staff members post on it about their experiences and impressions. 'It's an opportunity for Iraqis to talk directly to an American audience,' says Leila Fadel, the current bureau chief. As such, the blog fills a major gap in the coverage." Previously discussed here. [Via disinformation.]
posted by homunculus (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating. Everyone should at least read this one, which is directed at Americans.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:12 PM on January 15, 2008

It's sad to see this post having so few comments, but it's also sad to see Iraq in general fading from general consciousness, at least in the U.S. . I missed this the first time around, so thanks for bringing it back up.

This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for a few years ago, when all the news coverage of the war was so slanted, so narrow in perspective. I wanted to hear Iraqis interviewed, I wanted to hear what they had to say, and more than that I wanted other americans to hear that too, because it was a voice I felt was not represented at all. Our country had invaded their country. Turned their lives and their society upside-down. Yet no news organization, nor much of the American populace seemed to care about what they thought. And like the decision to go to war itself, the media coverage felt one-sided, like the Iraqis had no say, no representation, and no recourse. Iraqi voices could be found for those that searched for them, and both Mefi and Mofi were good about spreading the word, but their voices would not reach the mainstream population, a place where it would have been (and still would be) good for those voices to be heard.

I remember randomly catching part of a retrospective on Walter Cronkite some time ago, and it showed a clip of his Vietnam War coverage. It was amazing how different television news was, not so long ago. He showed an interview with a distraught Vietnamese villager talking about what American troops had done to his farm. He talked of sobering statistics, he calmly explained multiple perspectives of the situation, bringing in history, describing the people involved, taking his time, rather than reducing things to soundbites and superficial generalization. He did it all in a frank, unsensational manner, and at the end of the segment I felt genuinely informed, which is a feeling I have not received from television news in so long that I forgot that it was even capable of such a thing. I realize that television news does not have the same gravitas, viewership, or cultural relevance as it did back then, nor was it some perfect bastion of unbiased reporting, but being able to compare the two so directly, the difference between the news, then and now, was astounding to me.

I was not around during his time as a newscaster, nor was I around for the shift from what news was to what it is, but still, seeing those clips made me realize why people used to put so much trust in television reporting.

Excellent post, as always, homunculus.
posted by wander at 6:20 PM on January 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

It sux that no one wants to comment on this.
(now to read the article)
posted by Balisong at 6:44 PM on January 15, 2008

It's too sad.
posted by Balisong at 6:45 PM on January 15, 2008

The optimist in me hopes that the lack of commentary is a small sign that finally, no one can dispute how badly we Americans screwed up Iraq. That the truth is plain for all to see, even for the most willingly obtuse war supporter.

The pessimist in me thinks that we're just sticking our heads in the sand even deeper.
posted by PsychoKick at 5:03 AM on January 16, 2008

Things like this should be mandatory reading for everyone in government.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:14 AM on January 16, 2008

Kadin2048: Some of the comments to the post you linked are so depressing and frustrating I swear I can feel ulcers forming in my stomach even as I read them.

The more callous comments--in particular, the ones to the effect of "why don't you stop paying so much attention to American elections and take more responsibility for stopping the violence in your own country"--make me want to beat the ever living crap out of some of my countrymen. Don't these myopic little pricks understand it takes infrastructure--a functioning government--to prevent violence? When individuals take it on themselves to try to stop violence outside of a viable political process it only increases the chaos (that's probably what many of the factions fighting in Iraq no doubt are trying to do: to impose order through force), and here's the catch: we destroyed the political process in Iraq and then only offered a weak puppet-government meant to remain reliant on us in its place.

Governments exist in the first place because individuals in any society are ultimately powerless to hold humanity's more destructive impulses in check without the support of an effective, functioning political system, and normally, governments are formed through many years of back and forth between the interests represented by the individuals in a society. You can't just impose a new one out of thin air and expect it to work--stable and functional political systems and governments evolve over time, through natural processes, they aren't imposed, nor are they grown in hothouses. Even the vaunted American political system took years after the American revolution to settle into a more or less stable form--and even that system wasn't stable enough to prevent the civil war, which ended up bringing about radical reforms.

We broke the nation of Iraq's back--it's political system--and when it fell, we planted our boot squarely on its chest, and now we have the gall to blame the Iraqi people for their nation's not being able to stand up? We're still in Iraq and will remain in Iraq for one reason above all others: Oil. And right now, American oil companies are working to secure exclusive oil exploration rights in the Kurdish region and elsewhere (funneling what should be Iraq's national wealth right into the pockets of our President's golf buddies). And our military is establishing a massive, permanent base there so our boys can be on hand to fight as mercenaries and security guards for the oil companies as they so often do elsewhere in the world.

So not only have we broken Iraq's back and planted our boot on its chest, now we're getting ready to steal its wallet.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:46 AM on January 16, 2008

Why don't Iraqis just: "...stop this daily killing of each other. IEDs, suicide bombings, rockets, bodies found daily; some beheaded. This is one iraqi killing another iraqi. Until, these gang like murders stop; you will have no safety..." as one commenter suggests?

From the NYBooks link: One major target of the Iraqi bloggers' frustration is government officials. Officials are criticized for their incompetence, their arrogance, their indifference to the concerns of ordinary citizens, and above all their subservience to the United States. To Americans, the pressure that Washington constantly exerts on the Iraqi government seems a necessary step to break the country's political impasse; to the McClatchy bloggers, it seems an indefensible violation of the nation's sovereignty. A US push to get Iraqi legislators to amend the national oil law draws a sharp rebuke:

At small gatherings and inside old cafes the betting runs high...will the Parliament buckle under the pressure?? How unseemly for the government of a sovereign state—and its Parliament to be pressured into making...of all things... amendments to its own a foreign force!

As this entry suggests, the United States is not spared on the blog. On the contrary, it is the subject of almost constant comment—most of it negative. Frustration, indignation, resentment, fear—these are the emotions most frequently aroused by the occupation. One major source of grievance are the US military patrols and convoys that are forever hurtling across Baghdad. Motivated by a legitimate fear of car bombs, the Americans insist that while they are on the road, all cars must remain a safe distance away. If anyone gets too close, or makes too sudden a move, the Americans will often open fire. Though rarely mentioned in the US press, such incidents have claimed untold hundreds of Iraqi lives, and the fear of adding to the total is a constant theme of the blog

posted by saulgoodman at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2008

shoot first. don't ask questions later.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:41 AM on January 16, 2008

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