Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

5/04/2003

Bad reporting in baghdad - You have no idea how well things are going.
Many reporters exagerate/focus only on the bad things, reality is much better...

It's things like the way the women old and young flirt outrageously with GIs, lifting their veils to smile, waving from high windows, and shyly calling hello from half-opened doors. Or the way the little girls seem to speak much better English than the little boys who are always elbowing them out of the way. Or the way the troops get a sense of the gender violence endemic in the culture: Yesterday in the poor al Sahliya neighborhood two sweet 12 to 14-year-old sisters on a rooftop who introduced themselves to me and Staff Sergeant Gannon Edgy as Souha and Samaha were chased away by a rock-wielding male relative. His violent anger hinted at problems to come here.

But you won't see much of this on TV or read about it in the papers. To an amazing degree, the Baghdad-based press corps avoids writing about or filming the friendly dealings between U.S. forces here and the local population--most likely because to do so would require them to report the extravagant expressions of gratitude that accompany every such encounter. Instead you read story after story about the supposed fury of Baghdadis at the Americans for allowing the breakdown of law and order in their city.

Well, I've met hundreds of Iraqis as I accompanied army patrols all over the city during the past two weeks and I've never encountered any such fury (even in areas that were formerly controlled by the Marines, who as the premier warrior force were never expected to carry out peacekeeping or policing functions). There is understandable frustration about the continuing failure of the Americans to get the water supply and the electricity turned back on, though the ubiquity of generators indicates that the latter was always a problem. And there are appeals for more protection (difficult to provide with only 12,000 troops in a city of 6 million that has not been placed under strick martial law). But there is no fury.

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