Stepping Outside the Wire

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Think about it: when is the last time you saw an ordinary Iraqi civilian interviewed by American media and couldn’t spot the at least one shadow of a man holding an M-16?

Seldom, if ever.  Due to the suicidal risks of reporting on Iraqi streets, journalists never go outside “the wire”–the defensive perimiter of a military base–without serious heat.  It’s not easy to interview someone coming home from the grocery store when your entourage includes eight to ten heavily armed men.  Consequently, “Iraq” becomes an idea, just a battlefield.  If people live there at all, we don’t hear from them.

In Michael Massings’ second article for The New York Review of Books on The Iraq War in the media, he cracks a window on our musty understanding of the Iraqi people.  Inside Iraq is a blog sponsored by McClatchy Newspapers, written by the Iraqi men and women working for its Baghdad Bureau.  Forget corporate consolidation, censorship, or any of the other cancers in Western media: these guys write from the dirt up, covering everything from weddings to teachers’ strikes.

The Iraq War is unlike any other in that the information distance has closed to a hair’s width.  In WWII it took months for letters to reach the States; now, soldiers can blog from the battlefield, and the Iraqis can reach us without mediation.  It’s our duty to listen.

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