April 1, 2008

Iraq Civil War – #5: And, Not To Mention The Green Zone





Even for the shortest of trips within the secured zone, such as those to meet with Iraqi members of parliament, the American security agents order armored personnel carriers. Each trip becomes a small convoy, with one vehicle driving ahead and another following behind as "back-up." The entire convoy stops whenever there is an alarm. Passengers who try to get out are immediately pulled back into the vehicle.

Errant projectiles that land outside the restricted area, in the Red Zone, offer the only evidence of where the missiles strike and how much damage they cause. By late Friday evening, the Shiite attacks had already claimed the lives of close to 60 Iraqis. But when it comes to losses in the Green Zone, detailed information is rarely provided. So far the deaths of only two US citizens have been confirmed. Nevertheless, the heavy clouds of smoke above Baghdad's high-security tract suggest that there must have been more direct hits. It's as if the insurgents wanted to transform the district into a black zone.

— Dieter Bednarz, Spiegel

I try to document what I see. But there is less to see. First the hospitals and morgues became off limits for journalists, then the car bomb scenes, next the wounded Americans, then the Iraqi detainees, then memorials for the U.S. dead, U.S. equipment damaged in battle. The visual evidence of war shrinks.

— Photographer Michael Kamber, in Iraq for The New York Times

I find it telling that the bombardment of the Green Zone has not only drawn little media attention during the recent siege, but has mostly been depicted from long distance, typically very long distance.  You can make an argument that the scene, given the large plumes of smoke, could be best represented from miles away.  I'm sure the military would insist that a closer view threatened security.

On the other hand, could you imagine the freakout here at home if Western photojournalists were actually allowed to shoot inside and had even indirectly documented the deaths of the American civilians that took place there in the past few days?

Baghdad's Green Zone Under Attack (Spiegel)

Inside the Green Zone  (historical piece from TIME)

Missing ‘the Big Story,’ but Not the Story (Michael Kamber/NYT – Baghdad Bureau blog)

The BAG's Iraq Civil War posts in one place

(image 1:  Randy Fabi/Reuters. U.S. embassy compound/Green Zone. Baghdad. March 27, 2008. image 2 Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud/Reuters. Same. March 23, 2008. via Yahoo News)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus