Monday, July 05, 2004


July 5, 2004

Everyone now thinks I need therapy. I don’t blame people for thinking that, given my letters of late, but I promise I’m fine! I would need therapy if I didn’t write all the time - so I guess I should expect all of your bills in the mail. But don’t hold your breath ‘cause I’m poor. Now let’s move on.

It’s less than a week to go until full control is handed over to the Iraqis, and yes, we’re nervous. But probably not as nervous as the Iraqis who live outside the heavily guarded Green Zone that is home to the U.S. Headquarters in Baghdad. Last I heard, over 100 Iraqis were killed yesterday in attacks all over Iraq. All this happens while I am busy writing and producing radio news, and scouring the internet in an attempt to find out the latest news about the world around me. The Iraqis are in serious danger, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because they don’t have a say in any of this either. If the American military can’t get a handle on the situation, how are every day Iraqis supposed to rally together to stop it? They didn’t have control under Saddam Hussein and they still don’t have it, in spite of the tremendous progress we have made over the last year. As we attempt to hand over control to them, Islamic extremist do everything in their power to thwart the progress. In the process, they are killing hundreds of innocent Iraqis. It’s so frustrating to us. America’s resolve is very clear. We will not leave until the job is complete (I hear echoes of ‘W’ right now). But seriously, I mean it. What does ‘finish the job’ mean, exactly? I don’t have a clue. But I know this: we’re here and we will continue to be here. We’ve liberated and we’ve occupied, we’ve worked hard and we’ve sacrificed, and we’ve promised these people we will make their lives better. Politics aside, we cannot leave this country in this condition. The humanitarian mission is great and it is going to take years of hard work to finish. We all miss our lives at home terribly, but I guarantee only a small percentage of us would leave if given the opportunity. We just don’t believe in it, no matter the consequence. The Iraqis are good people and they crave peace and prosperity, regardless of what you hear on the news. They just want to live their lives without Americans breathing down their necks, and who can blame them?

I was finally able to leave the Green Zone this week and what a great few days it was. I was covering two Congressional Delegations and I got to travel, which is my favorite thing to do over here. I went with three U.S. Senators (Tom Daschle, Joe Biden, and Lindsey Graham) to visit with General Sanchez, Ambassador Paul Bremer and the 1st Armored Cavalry Division Command. The next day, I went with five Congressmen to Fallujah to visit the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. I also met the interim Iraqi Prime Minister and President, which was pretty cool. Anyway, it’s nice to travel with ‘important’ people because the security is tight and the travel is quick and easy. More exciting for me, however, is the Blackhawk, our primary mode of transportation. These rides are priceless because I get to see how beautiful Iraq is. As I admire the thousands of palm trees and the acres of agriculture, I wonder how a land with so much physical beauty can harbor such violence and anger. I feel so refreshed after each of these rides because I am reminded why I am here – and I forget, if only for a little while, my fears, frustrations, and concerns.

Now, let’s talk about Fallujah. When that word is mentioned around here, it falls under the same category of infamous places like Abu Ghraib and Ground Zero. Alot of terrible things happened at these places so a certain amount of ‘mystique’ comes with the name. I have to admit, I was anxious to see the infamous ‘Fallujah.’ But we didn’t go deep in to the city – it’s way too dangerous for that. We went to the Marine base camp, about five miles out. I was, however, able to see some of the city from the helicopter and it’s very different from Baghdad, from my perspective. It’s a lot more desolate and poor. Clearly, life in Fallujah is not good. It’s too volatile for coalition forces to continually repair the city so the lives of its residents are not improving; therefore, making it easier for Al Zarqawi and his thugs to recruit people based on the argument that America is not fulfilling its promise to them. The most dangerous cities in Iraq are the poorest. Therefore, we have to win the hearts and minds. Then we can rebuild their lives.

All in all, this week was good for me. I was able to get out and do what I love to do, but most importantly, I learned this situation isn’t about me. It’s about them. I need to stop focusing on how it will affect me and focus, again, on how it will eventually affect them. As soon as I realized that, my life became a whole lot easier to deal with. I just needed a little perspective.

With Love,


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