July 10, 2006
|"A Lot Worse...Than Is Reported"||Iraq|
Establishment journal Foreign Policy interviewed Rod Nordland, Newsweek's Bagdad bureau chief for two years. Excerpt:
FOREIGN POLICY: Are Americans getting an accurate picture of what’s going on in Iraq?
Rod Nordland: It's a lot worse over here [in Iraq] than is reported. The administration does a great job of managing the news. [...]
[I]n the third year of this war, Iraqis are only getting electricity for about 5 to 10 percent of the day. Living conditions have gotten so much worse, violence is at an even higher tempo, and the country is on the verge of civil war. The administration has been successful to the extent that most Americans are not aware of just how dire it is and how little progress has been made. They keep talking about how the Iraqi army is doing much better and taking over responsibilities, but for the most part that's not true.
FP: How often do you travel outside of the Green Zone?
RN: The restrictions on [journalists'] movements are very severe...[T]he military has started censoring many [embedded reporting] arrangements. Before a journalist is allowed to go on an embed now, [the military] check[s] the work you have done previously. They want to know your slant on a story — they use the word slant — what you intend to write, and what you have written from embed trips before. If they don't like what you have done before, they refuse to take you. There are cases where individual reporters have been blacklisted because the military wasn't happy with the work they had done on embed. But we get out among the Iraqi public a whole lot more than almost any American official, certainly more than military officials do. [...]
FP: Are journalists and the military seeing two different pictures in Iraq?
RN: Sometimes it's hard to say. Many in the military are here on their second or third tour and they don't want to feel that this is all a doomed enterprise. I'm not saying it is, but to some extent they are victims of their own propaganda. Two reasonable people can look at the same set of information and come to different conclusions. A good example: I traveled recently to Taji for the handover of a large swath of territory north of Baghdad to the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division. This was meant to be a big milestone: an important chunk of territory that has lots of insurgent activity, given over completely to the control of the Iraqi Army. But when we spoke to the Iraqi Army officers, they said they didn't have enough equipment. They are still completely dependent on the U.S. Army for their logistics, their meals, and a lot of their communications. The United States turned territory over to them, but they are not a functioning, independent army unit yet. [Emphasis added]
The sectarian violence grows more vicious with every passing day. It's Hell on Earth. Thanks to us.