Anne Garrels ’72

Published: 10/17/03

These notes are from National Public Radio’s foreign correspondant Anne Garrels’ talks at Harvard University.

These are rough notes, which I plan to revise at a later date.

16 US journalists were in Baghdad
she was surprised to learn only 16 were left: NPR, Washington Post, NY Review of Books, New Yorker
book tour from Hell
& NPR fundraiser
She went into a cocoon while writing the book, shocked to learn how predatory journalists can be
job was to listen to Iragis–they anticipated looting, suspicious of exhiles returning home, knew US plan won’t work, Iraqis were fearful of regime change, Iraqis too scared to be allies of US, too scared to help rebuild, too dangerous for NGOs, a minority of Iragis are sabotaging the country

Qs: has the media hyped the security situation?returning troops say so
A: No, but troops might think so because it depends where they are

Nye: more troops mean occupation, US govt doesn’t want that
Garrels says we need more troops, but 1/3 of the force is over there already, international troops aren’t working because they’re ill prepared & equipped, our troops know nothing about Iraq & the culture until they get over there, Iraqi expectations for what Americans can do are giant

Q: WMD
A: weapons inspectors were able to get in & work, Iraqis don’t understand why UN inspectors aren’t adequate for US, she didn’t believe Colin Powell’s UN speech, but says Saddam aggravated situation & UN inspectors weren’t completely convinced either way

Q: democracy
A: want it, but have doubts, don’t know who the governing council is, so they don’t trust it, in the past, leaders have picked people from their tribe & people expect the same

Q: comment about husband, cultural training
A: marines have no orders to deal with looters, can’t explain troop problems, checkpoints are often hidden, hard to see

Q: do countries who supported the coalition have an ethical or moral obligation to come in now?
A: hard to say, we do.

Paul Bremer doesn’t have the staff he needs. Lots of political appointees with no experience.

Q: why media silence about CIA spy?
A: takes a while for a story to develop, natural cycle

Q: what is her job? How does she influence people back here?
A: listener–reporting back what she heard/learned from Iragis, not her job to say what should be done/make recommendations

Q: how does she think we can get out? Disconnect between media in Iraq & media in US?
A: declined to answer first Q, difference in reality, difference in coverage goals
related a story about a protest by families of political prisoners that some outlets didn’t cover because they didn’t want to jeopardize their visas and/or think it was worth covering

Q: what do Iraqis think about US? what do they think about Saddam & Al Qaeda?
A: local media cover local issues, reemphasized the need for security,
Saddam brought in foreign fighters & Iragis didn’t like that, Iragis don’t think Saddam has ties to Al Qaeda, many Iraqis don’t like Saddam supporters

Forum 6pm

Vint Lawrence husband lives in CT, writes for National Journal (?)
looks much older than Anne
she looks alot iike CJ Cregg on the tv screen, but not so much in person
shift from speculation about what happened (coverage during the Gulf War) to just reporting what the saw

concern about being taken hostage by the Iraqis

the statue coming down wasn’t that significant ‘wiping out the past doesn’t mean coming to terms with it.’

Army’s first assignment was to remove an insulting mosaic of Bush the Elder that was on the threshhold of a hotel where dignitaries stay–insult in Middle East to walk on leader like that

Q: truth in our government
A: Not sure. Rehashed how US isn’t prepared for the reconstruction

sanctions ruined the country, no supplies, no infrastructure, no reliable electricity, criminal sabateurs take the electric wires to make copper ingots

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