Text by Sabrina Singh
A decade after American troops invaded Baghdad in 2003, news coverage of the the anniversary remains dismal. News of the war either elicits either apathy or what Marc Lynch in Foreign Policy calls “American Strategic narcissism.” Even if there is a moral and ethical reason to include Iraqi voices in the commentary, Lynch points out that between Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Foreign Policy and The New York Times, there was exactly one Iraqi writing on this anniversary.
The official statement from President Obama made no reference to Iraq’s current state, but focused instead on the need to honor American casualties. Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made no public comments.
Tim Arango of The New York Times noted that the war goes on for Iraqi civilians. With political instability in the country, the conflict is not yet “for the history books,” and the anniversary is by far not the most pressing issue for citizens. In particular, problems like sectarian violence, unemployment, corruption, and internally displaced people persist.
For Iraqis interviewed by War News Radio in this month’s show, their most immediate commentaries have been things like rush-hour traffic, unemployment, reminiscing about the pre-war era and playing war video games. It is stories from ordinary civilians like these – of human costs and the lived-experiences of war – that mainstream American coverage lacks.
The four Iraqis featured in the piece below tell a story of a remembered landscape. It’s a story about how war blackened the city of Baghdad, split its neighborhoods along sectarian lines, and left its streets crammed with checkpoints and traffic. War News Radio’s Sabrina Singh and Amy DiPierro co-produced this piece on memories of the past and hopes for the future. Sabrina narrates the piece.