Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The New York Times Man in Baghdad: Ed Wong

First, let me introduce myself. I am the newest member to join the EPIC team. My name is Geoff Schaefer, and I will be interning here for the rest of the summer. I am currently a student of economics at West Virginia University, but I have lived just south of Washington, in Woodbridge, Virginia, most of my life. As my first day was yesterday, this post is my first task.

In our quest to bring you the ground truth in Iraq, our work is dependent on concise research, thorough interviews, and enlightening journalism. Today, I want to draw your attention to Edward Wong, journalist for the New York Times, who is a key authority helping us provide a detailed education about the actual truth on the ground.

Wong has been in Iraq for almost the entire war and has interviewed Iraqis about their thoughts, feelings, and history regarding sectarian violence, America's conduct and occupation, and their future prospects and hopes - a much appreciated alternative to the
current reporting that so thoroughly populates our media. This is why he is so valuable to us and should be placed at the top of your "must read" list.

Without a greater understanding of factional strife and its implications, we will never make significant steps in achieving a peaceful solution to the crisis engulfing each Iraqi's every waking minute. Edward Wong is methodically uncovering both small incremental changes and the hinderance of real progress. His article,
Iraq's Curse: A Thirst for Final, Crushing Victory, takes an intricate look at how the different sects are pondering their strategies and what that means for our inability to progressively change ours.

Going on his first-hand observations, Wong points out that “no faction — not the Shiite Arabs or Sunni Arabs or Kurds — has been able to secure absolute power, and that has only sharpened the hunger for it.” Wong conveys the fundamental nature of the strife. By understanding this at its most basic level, we can better develop policies that will really take root and flourish.

Without journalists such as Edward Wong risking their lives to bring us history and understanding, not merely numbers and information, we would be even further behind in drafting a policy that will do right by the people of Iraq, its neighbors, and us.

The actual truth on the ground may be hard fought, but it's not impossible to attain. Ed Wong is proof. Read away.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the fray! Good, clean article and interesting about Mr. Wong.

Roscoe said...

Without any history of democracy and compromise, I am pessimistic about success of peace. The 'brain drain' is a disaster by itself.

Emily Stivers said...

Roscoe - did you check out our Ground Truth interview with Hala al-Saraf? She describes the "brain drain" problem at length and also proposes solutions.

Just because Iraq doesn't have a history of Western-style democracy doesn't mean there's no chance for peace. Iraqis DO have a history of pride and surviving at great odds that may serve them far better than the tools you mentioned. Everyone to whom I've spoken who has had contact with the Iraqi people says the same thing: they have incredible strength of character and are willing to do whatever it takes to rebuild their country.

Yes the problems are huge, but they're not insurmountable.

Geoff Schaefer said...

I would echo my colleagues words whole-heartedly. In the past two days I have been to a press conference on Iraq with one of the head labor leaders over there, as well as a panel discussion today of conflict resolution and development. Both events talked about the will of the people and change internally. With respect to the labor leader from Iraq, she has lived in the country all of her life and in no way doubts that the Iraqi people are ready to do the work to end the occupation and create a better life for themselves on their own. Also, I viewed My Country, My Country last night and I would encourage all of you to check that documentary out. It relays the same message although spoken directly by Iraqi's in the film. It was amazing to me to see the Iraqi people in complete disbelief at the fact that Americans don't think they can fix their country on their own. Sometimes I think we don't recognize (or simply forget) that the people over there are just like you and I. They aren't dumb, they can solve problems too. And they are a prideful people, they are up to the challenge and hey want to create wheels of change just as much as we do. Again, I encourage you to check out My Country, My Country - it opens up a whole new perspective on the situation over there that I think we all need to have going into our current political discourse.

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