The Myth of Normal Life in Baghdad: Dahr Jamail

Sunday, April 12, 2009
Iraqis praying in Baghdad (photo: Ronald C. Wegner)

The American media have been happy to parrot the message coming out of the US military that things are better in Iraq these days, based solely on the fact that American soldiers aren’t dying in the numbers they were three or more years ago. But that doesn’t mean a state of normalcy has begun to take root inside the country, says Dahr Jamail, a freelance writer who has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.

“There’s no normal life in Baghdad,” he says. “While it’s accurate and technically correct to say there is less violence compared to 2006, when between 100 and 300 Iraqis were slaughtered on a daily basis, Iraq resembles a police state more than ever.” The day after U.S. mainstream media outlets repeated the words of Major General David Perkins about declining American casualties, 28 Iraqis were killed in attacks across Iraq. Three days earlier, 27 Iraqis were killed in a suicide attack, and nine others died in a bomb attack at a bus terminal in Baghdad.
Jamail writes, “Having recently returned from Iraq, I experienced living in Baghdad where people were dying violent deaths on a daily basis. Nearly every day of the month I spent there saw a car bomb attack somewhere in the capital city. Nearly every day the so-called Green Zone was mortared. Every day there were kidnappings. On good days there were four hours of electricity on the national grid, in a country now into its seventh year of being occupied by the U.S. military.”
He adds other sobering details that make clear how abnormal life really is for Iraq, where 2.2 million Iraqis have been displaced, 2.7 million have become refugees, 2,615 professors, scientists, and doctors have been killed, along with 338 journalists. For those who simply want to go to work and earn a living, unemployment varies between 25-70%, depending on the month, Jamail writes.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Iraq in Fragments (by Dahr Jamail, Foreign Policy in Focus)


A guy 15 years ago
Funny, I live in the green zone, and we get mortared pretty infrequently, maybe once or twice a month. I think someone is trying to sell some books.

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