In Case You Thought Peace at Hand

Peace at hand in Iraq? Bush and al-Maliki shaking hands on an enduring relationship of a stable government and its big bro from out West? Swelling sounds of Ren and Stimpy jumping up and down while singing “Happy happy joy joy?”

The reportobots nearly had us lulled, glued to our TV screens, droning in Homer Simpsonlike trance…

“Surge is working — Iraq is peaceful.”

And by golly, Iraq is peaceful, if your idea of peaceful is Play Station’s Grand Theft Auto. McJoan over at Daily Kos points toward some convincing first-hand reactions.  The Project for Excellence in Jounalism  has just completed a survey of reporters who’ve served in Iraq. Guess what?

Above all, the journalists—most of them veteran war correspondents—describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting. A majority of journalists surveyed (57%) report that at least one of their Iraqi staff had been killed or kidnapped in the last year alone—and many more are continually threatened. “Seven staffers killed since 2003, including three last July,” one bureau chief wrote with chilling brevity. “At least three have been kidnapped. All were freed.”

A majority of journalists surveyed say most of the country is too dangerous to visit. Nine out of ten say that about at least half of Baghdad itself. Wherever they go, traveling with armed guards and chase vehicles is the norm for more than seven out of ten surveyed.

Even the basics of getting the story are remarkably difficult. Outside of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, most U.S. journalists must rely on local staff to do the necessary face-to-face reporting. Yet nearly nine out of ten journalists say their local staff cannot carry any equipment—not even a notebook—that might identify them as working for the western media for fear of being killed. Some local staffers do not even tell their own families.

And here we heard that Democrats were planning on shifting their anti-Iraq-occupation rhetoric because things were going so swimmingly. I’d like to say they ought to get out more often, but in reference to Iraq, I guess that would be asking them to go out and get blow’d up.

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