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Between Iraq and a Hard Place, #18


My daughter Jana has a good friend in Iraq working with US government forces there, in the field of communications. To protect her real name — until she is ready to publish a book about her experiences — let me call her Patricia — Pat, for short. Every month or so Pat sends round an email news report, full of funny, poignant, and sometimes disgusting anecdotes (like the one about the crap barrels the guys set up for sanitary uses, which one locates by sense of smell). Pat has a delicious sense of humor that I will not try to replicate here. With her permission, though, I do want to quote one passage from her recent letter. It very much touched me.  Most who follow events in Iraq closely know that the most bitter fighting is now focused on Diyala Province, just outside Baghdad, on the side toward the border with Iran. For months, Diyala has been the launching pad for some of the worst attacks in and around Baghdad. Naturally, that’s where Pat was assigned for an important start-up, as she explains. She had just come back from a short R&R:

Not in Kansas Anymore

Oh how quickly they fall….from a king sized bed with silky cotton sheets, smoked salmon and vino, bathtubs and pedicures and massages….ahhhhhh, big sigh, I should have stayed in Amman….To a small forward Army outpost in the Diyala Province of Iraq with two guys from my team. 

We’re working with four Iraqis to build and program an independent radio and television station.  It’s a very cool project, as most radio and television is owned by the government, or by political parties, or mouthpieces of the mosques.  This station is the first independent station, so these four brave Iraqis are broadcasting messages of peace, reconciliation and non sectarianism to most of Iraq.  This makes them quite big targets as you can imagine, so they’ve literally moved into the radio station to live and work.  If they leave the compound they’re dead and they know it.

It’s surprising how dedicated they are to this project considering the danger this puts them in.  The station manager moved his wife and two kids into the radio station too.  He said it’s not a matter of “if” they die doing this project, but “when”… he moved his family into the compound because they are all much safer here, and because (as he says) when the time comes, he wants them to all die together.  Amazing and dedicated Iraqi patriots…and I’m lucky to know them.


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