Sunday, September 16, 2007

It Is all A Matter of Perspective

People wonder “why on earth Iraq?” The almost universal and consistent response to the idea that I was travelling here was disbelief. The only exception was my family I think – seems that they are pretty used to bizarre destinations. Would you travel to Baghdad? Assuming you had a reasonably legitimate reason to do so of course. Here are a couple of test questions/scenarios. And the answers lie more in the way your personality is wired and less to do with the situation here on the ground. Scenario the first: the security company briefs you on the security measures taken to get you from the airport to the city, reputedly the most lethal 15km stretch of road in the world. The brief contains all the threats – as it should. Then there is an overview of the type of vehicle in which you will travel, the procedures followed if ambushed, the nature of the weapons carried and the fact you will be suited up with armour before departing the airport. It’s a more detailed brief but you get the idea. Still want to travel? Scenario the second: the same company explains the security of the lodgings you will have. They are proud of the fact that a 120mm only “burned the paint off the roof.” It’s a very safe house. Actually, as you can see from the photo there was a bit more than scorched paint. (Impacted behind the railing, shrapnel penetrating the rails and scoring the walls. And no, I am not implying it was fired by MNF troops - that is simply a convenient DoD image showing the sort of device used). But again, you get the idea. Still want to travel? Without dragging the whole thing out consider the second scenario – with only one exception, those who knew about this were appalled that a 120mm round could still land in the International Zone, every reason to their way of thinking to never travel here. On the other hand I was very encouraged by the fact that it did not penetrate the roof – made me all the more determined to stay there. And encouraged rather than deterred my travel. Like I said, it is all a matter of perspective.

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