Utne Reader’s Iraq coverage has included war stories, the refugee crisis, veterans’ issues, human rights, political analysis, media criticism, even the arts. Here is your guide to the best of Utne’s coverage of the Iraq war.
The Iraqi Refugee Crisis
It’s difficult to imagine what an Iraqi refugee family looks like, isn’t it? Is she a harried-looking woman holding a baby swaddled in tattered blankets? Is he tired but smiling, bored by the idleness of the refugee camp but optimistic that he’s on the road to a better life? Your preconceived notions about refugees do not apply to most of the new Iraqi diaspora.
Mental Health in Iraq
Victims of institutional chaos, Iraqis are some of the more psychologically traumatized people in the world. Yet for most of them, treatment is hard to come by: There are fewer than 100 psychiatrists in the entire country, or 1.6 mental health professionals per 100,000 people
Veterans of the Iraq War
Noah Pierce’s headstone gives his date of death as July 26, 2007,though his family feels certain he died the night before, when, at age 23, he took a handgun and shot himself in the head. No one is sure what pushed him to it. He said in his suicide note it was impotence–one possible side effect of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was “the snowflake that toppled the iceberg,” he wrote. But it could have been the memory of the Iraqi child he crushed under his Bradley. It could have been the unarmed man he shot point-blank in the forehead during a house-to-house raid, or the friend he tried madly to gather into a plastic bag after he had been blown to bits by a roadside bomb, or it could have been the doctor he killed at a checkpoint. This story about a small-town soldier who returns from Iraq broken is as heartbreaking as it is urgent.
“The Iraq war introduced entirely new kinds of cruelty to the world,” writes George Packer, “so it’s strange how many of my memories are of kindness. I often think of Abu Malik, a bearded, imposing man, his leather coat buttoned tight across his chest. Abu Malik would have been a frightening sight at a militia checkpoint in Sadr City, but whenever I came to stay with friends at the New York Times compound on the east bank of the Tigris, where he was chief of security, Abu Malik threw his arms around me, kissed my cheeks, and told me, in the openly tender way of Iraqi men, how much all the security guards had missed me.”
Arts, Music, and Culture of Iraq
Kojaman, an 87-year-old Jewish Iraqi musicologist, is today one of the last few people who can remember 1920s and 1930s Baghdad and the extraordinary music played there.
Health Care in Iraq
Baghdad plays host to many currencies: dinars, petrol, guns, and now blood. According to a report in Colors, “People rarely go to formal collection centers to donate blood because they are afraid of both the bombs and the dreadful hygienic conditions. If they or their family need blood, they are forced to purchase it on the black market.”
Megan Garber of the Columbia Journalism Review reports that coverage of the Iraq war typically fills less than 2 percent of the news hole. That statistic alone is deplorable, but even worse, according to Garber, is the scarcity of “nuanced treatments of Iraq that would flesh out our simplistic things were bad but they’re getting better narrative into something more substantial and therefore more valuable.”
“For 10 years, the United States has been the staunchest advocate of maintaining a tight blockade on Iraq’s access to foreign goods and its oil revenues,” wrote Chuck Sudetic in 2002. “These restrictions have failed to loosen Saddam’s grip on power. They have failed to force him to give up what is left of Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. What the sanctions have done, however, is kill. And they have killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history. According to an estimate by Amatzia Baram, an Iraq analyst at the University of Haifa in Israel, between 1991 and 1997 half a million Iraqis died of malnutrition, preventable disease, lack of medicine, and other factors attributable to the sanctions; most were elderly people or children.”
Iraq on Camera
A collection of the best films and news clips about Iraq from around the web.
Books About Iraq
An Utne Reader list of books about Iraq for anybody eager to get beyond the headlines.
Websites About Iraq
The best blogs, websites, and web projects focused on Iraq.