Thursday, October 19, 2006

Iraq IV: Why I Blog on Iraq

As I prepared today's smorgasbord of doom and gloom from Iraq for Kiko's House readers I paused, as I often do in the pre-dawn hours here on the East Coast of the U.S., and wondered why the hell I was doing it.

As my son Cassidy notes, pretty much everyone has made up their minds about Iraq. As the Dear Friend & Conscience notes, there are some people -- starting with the cabal in Washington -- who just don't get it and never will. And as a vicious regular at The Belmont Club noted in reply to a comment I posted there about the need to find a way out of the catastrophe that The Decider's Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia has become, why should we care about a single Iraqi? Kill the whole bunch of them, he says, or at least the ones who are Muslims.

As Riverbend notes in a new post fromher Baghdad Burning blog, there are opportunists who are using the war to promote themselves. Am I one of them? The answer is an equivocal yes. Of course I'm promoting myself every time that I click on the PUBLISH button and send my prose into the blogosphere.

But I rationalize the time, attention and brain cells because I believe that Kiko's House is performing a small but important service.

This has included a focus on the kind of conditions that American troops are fighting under, the blurring of the so-called rules of engagement because of their commander and chief's shifting rationales for the war, and the instances when these men-boys snap in places like Haditha and Mahmudiyah.

It has included efforts to get beyond the numbers, including in-depth posts on the methodology behind a study on Iraqi civilian deaths that provoked such a firestorm after an article appeared last week in The Lancet.

So my lead piece today on forgotten victims of the war -- the millions of Iraqi children robbed of their childhoods -- is just one of hundreds posted here since Kiko's House opened its doors in an ongoing effort to get beyond the headlines and try to bring the war home as River and her countryfolk live it.
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Longtime visitors to Kiko's House know that I take the Iraq war very personally.

I am ashamed to say that I supported the war early on because I was seduced by the White House rhetoric. Nearly 3,000 dead Americans later and God knows how many Iraqis, I have a mixture of guilt, anger and sadness. But I know I could never feel as River does, and I pray for her safety and those of all the other Iraqi bloggers with whom I have become familiar.

After a few months of blogging, I felt the need to better know the Baghdad neighborhoods that the mainstream media and Iraqi bloggers write about. After considerable searching, I now have large and very detailed map of Baghdad over my computer. It is beautiful but deceiving, showing the rivers, canals, boulevards and airports, but not the bombings, kidnappings and ambushes.

River had been silent since early August. I know that because I have gone to Baghdad Burning daily in the hopes that there will be word that she is okay.

Her silence has been eating at me; not unlike a father worry about a daughter. I know that's kind of silly and I don't want to embarrass this resolutely anonymous woman, but I have felt the need to know River better (as I try to imagine where she lives on that map) just as I have felt the need to understand the war better. This is because she writes with an intelligence, passion and good humor that is so special because her template is a country that has descended into barbarity because of my government.

So it was with a mixture of elation and sadness that I read River's first post in a long time.

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