Jane Arraf, an NBC News Correspondent describes what life is like in Baghdad, where she’s covering the war every day…
Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.
I’m more puzzled by comments that the violence isn’t any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?
Day-to-day life here for Iraqis is so far removed from the comfortable existence we live in the United States that it is almost literally unimaginable.
It’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like being stalled in traffic, your heart pounding, wondering if the vehicle in front of you is one of the three or four car bombs that will go off that day. Or seeing your husband show up at the door covered in blood after he was kidnapped and beaten.
I don’t know a single family here that hasn’t had a relative, neighbor or friend die violently. In places where there’s been all-out fighting going on, I’ve interviewed parents who buried their dead child in the yard because it was too dangerous to go to the morgue.
Imagine the worst day you’ve ever had in your life, add a regular dose of terror and you’ll begin to get an idea of what it’s like every day for a lot of people here.