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Fleeing Baghdad (Salon) - Journalist's report of the shifting mood in Iraq

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VolcanoJen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:06 AM
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Fleeing Baghdad (Salon) - Journalist's report of the shifting mood in Iraq
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 04:08 AM by VolcanoJen
You may need to get a day pass to read this article, if you're not a Salon subscriber.

It's worth it. This article was written by Jen Banbury, a Western freelance journalist who has been in Baghdad for quite awhile. She chronicles the mood shift over the past weeks, which led her to feel unsafe. She finally chose to flee Baghdad last week.

For anyone interested in a first-hand account, from the point of view of a Westerner, this article is a must-read. It is growing increasingly clear that we have reached an enormous, grave turning point in this war. I found this piece to be nothing short of chilling.


Up until a month ago, my housemates and I joked about Western journalists and civilians who were obsessed with security. We made fun of our friends who worked for TV networks and had to get permission from New York just to come to our house for dinner. When they did come, they traveled in armored cars with armed British former special ops soldiers. For six months we had gone all over Baghdad and Iraq, driving in a regular old Iraqi car with an unarmed translator and driver. Going shopping, walking on busy streets, wandering into crowds. There was always some risk, but it was small. The soldiers were the real targets. Iraqis might hate the occupation, but they didn't hate Americans per se.

Then, seemingly overnight, everything felt different. It began with the Mount Lebanon bombing. Though many journalists I talked to also sensed the city's mood shift, it was hard to figure out exactly why that particular attack made us feel so different. We had been to blown-up hotels before; it happens every few months. But it wasn't the bombing, it was how Iraqis were talking to us. Iraqis are fed up with the occupation. They're fed up with what they consider to be a year's worth of false promises. They're fed up and the situation is getting very ugly.

A driver we worked with told us that our house had been targeted and we needed to "take a break" from Iraq. One of my housemates (who had been in Iraq as long as I had) heard that there was a rumor circulating that he was actually CIA. It was time to leave.
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 06:26 AM
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1. Really interesting article -- thanks, VJ
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Iceburg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 07:48 AM
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2. Journalist become Faux Canadians when in trouble
From the same article by Banbury --

...In my final weeks in Baghdad, I started feeling constantly on edge. The gunfire that I had become so accustomed to hearing as part of Baghdad's background noise was suddenly sending my stomach into my throat. Getting stuck in traffic no longer felt like a petty annoyance; it felt like a trap. When I visited a university to interview some students, I encountered a much more hostile reception than I had at the same university last fall. Pretty much all the American journalists I knew began saying they were Canadian (much to the chagrin of the actual Canadian journalists). Certain news reporters started "covering" stories about events in Iraq by recycling what they read on the Web and watching CNN instead of actually going to the scene.

I find that disturbing -- Proud to be a warring American when winning, ready to switch sides (to a peace loving nation) when endangered. As much as I love the average American, I don't think Canada's skirt is big enough for all the Americans seeking cover.

I feel deeply for the innocent young men/women serving and dying in Iraq and Afghanastan, and the 1000's of innocent civilian lives lost in this illegal war ignited and fanned by the conjoined twins -- Bush Administration and the stupified US media.
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