Thursday, September 18, 2003[posted by jaed at 11:57 PM]
"This isn't a game. This isn't about poking a stick at George Bush. This is our lives."
Johann Hari writes about a group of young Iraqi exiles who went back in June and July to see the situation for themselves, returning recently. Their experience pretty much corroborates what we've learned from polls: Iraqis are hopeful, sensible, and realize there's a lot of work yet to do.
One thing that's bothered me lately is that without exception, reports from Iraq from people who have spent some in-depth time there and aren't mainstream-media journalists have, shall we say, differed from the official media view of Iraq-as-quagmire, Vietnam in the making, everybody-hates-us-why-don't-we-eat-some-worms, etc. This from an on-site observer explains it as cogently as anything I've seen:
Rather, Yasser says, there are several reasons why the reporting from Iraq is stressing the negative over the positive. "First, buildings being bombed is a much better story than the formation of the Baghdad city council to clear up the rubbish and sort out the sewers. Angry Iraqis make a better story than hopeful Iraqis."You know what to do next.
"Second, a lot of the media was openly anti-war, so now that there are hundreds of thousands of mass graves being opened up and all the evidence shows that the Iraqis supported [the war], the media are latching on to the few things, like the looting and, of course, the weapons issue - that was always a red herring - that seem to vindicate their position. And third - I know this sounds like a petty point, but it's very important - a lot of journalists are using the same guides and translators that they used before the war, because they know them. They don't seem to realise that those people were carefully selected by the regime because of their loyalty to Saddam's line. So most journalists are getting a totally distorted picture."