Thursday, June 10, 2004

One Eye Blind and the Other Half Shut 

Couple o' stories here that are, I think, five and three days old respectively. I doubt in any case that they have "aged out" or that the circumstances they describe do not still obtain.

So you thought maybe the slacking off in Awful News out of Iraq--as opposed to "awful news ABOUT Iraq but coming from Washington"--actually meant what the Chimp in Chief wanted you to think it meant, that "violence is dying down" and "things are getting better there"?

Ha. This turns out not to be the case (a phrase that is a useful alternative to yelling "BULLSHIT!" on such occasions when that would not be tactful). If you have entertained such a thought, take your brain out for a quick washing, because it has been stained from excessive exposure to Reaganecrophilia, however inadvertent.

(via WimpPo) (as in Kipling, "The Elephant's Child" and the "great gray-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees"):
Good reporting is as urgently needed as ever, with lives and the political futures of perhaps two countries at stake. But it has never seemed more dangerous. Kidnappings and ambushes have driven most foreign civilians out of the country, or into bunkers guarded by U.S. soldiers. For journalists, the familiar rules of engagement have been stripped away. Gone is the assumption that correspondents are more valuable as witnesses than as targets, and that they share only the risks that all civilians face in wartime. To insurgents, foreign journalists are foreigners first, just another element of an occupying force to which we don't belong.

An atmosphere of particular menace has diminished independent reporting about the conflict, especially since the Sunni and Shiite uprisings began in April. Original and courageous work is still coming from the best journalists. But the overall effect has been to separate correspondents from the story they're in Iraq to cover....

Foreign journalists in Baghdad live outside the Green Zone...but an unintended consequence of the Green Zone's creation is to have transformed the rest of Iraq into the Red Zone, presumably hostile.

Correspondents try to keep a low profile. Post reporters and photographers do not conduct interviews with armed escorts, as do some media organizations. Journalists do not wear body armor in most settings so as not to appear to be government contractors or paramilitaries.

But there are areas where firsthand, independent reporting is not possible. This has made us more reliant on official sources, especially on American authorities.

Most profoundly, the threat of violence has distanced us from Iraqis. In a narrow sense, it has left unanswered critical questions about the forces opposing the occupation. Who is the enemy? What does its religious and political identity say about the future of the country and the U.S. presence there?

Reporting Iraqis' views and aspirations seems more critical today than at any point since the invasion. This is a story waiting to be told.

And now from AP, I lost the name of the paper it was in:

YOUSEFIYA, Iraq (AP) -- American soldiers liberated this village from the subjugation of Saddam Hussein, but you wouldn't know it by the way townspeople look at those soldiers — with utter contempt.

Friday, as a column of three Humvees, three Bradley Fighting Vehicles and two M-1 tanks rolled through the Yousefiya market, Iraqis along the streets either turned away, gave the soldiers dark sidelong glances or just sneered at them unabashedly. Nobody waved.

The MPs have grown accustomed to the evil eye they get in Yousefiya. They ignored the townspeople, watching out for roadside bombs and snipers instead.

[On patrol,] one of the soldiers tripped over a fuse and some wire and followed it to a 250-kilogram aerial bomb buried in the roadway just around the corner from the station.

More explosives had been packed around it, and the whole device weighed between 400 and 500 pounds. The ordnance disposal unit dispatched to disarm the bomb did not want to detonate it in place, fearing it would level the whole block

Many soldiers of the 1165th believe planting such a large bomb had to be a veritable public works project, that some Iraqi police at the station, less than 200 yards away, had to know the bomb was there, that half the town had to know as well.

"I told the [Iraqi police the unit was training] that the whole village knew they were working with us, that this was not a secret to anyone, but they wouldn't budge from the station," said Lewis.

The patrol was scrubbed. Whereas fear held this fractious part of Iraq together under Saddam, hatred for the United States holds it together today..

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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