Anthony Shadid was one of the finest foreign correspondents of his -- or any -- generation. He passed away Feb. 16, 2012, while on assignment in Syria, but left behind a body of work that was often as poetic as it was insightful. Here are some of our favorite moments.
- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
On post-invasion Iraq: "From the gas lines that frustrate Murah, to frequent power outages that leave many residents with only a few hours a day of electricity, from a chilling crime wave to newly opened stores bursting with expensive appliances, Baghdad is a city of great expectations and even greater disappointments."
Walking behind an American patrol in Baghdad: "We’re against the occupation, we refuse the occupation — not 100 percent, but 1,000 percent," he said. "They’re walking over my heart. I feel like they’re crushing my heart."
On postwar Iraq: "The war in Iraq is indeed over, at least the conflict as it was understood during its first five years: insurgency, communal cleansing, gangland turf battles and an anarchic, often futile quest to survive. In other words, civil war — though civil war was always too tidy a term for it. The entropy, for now at least, has run its course. So have many of the forces the United States so dangerously unleashed with its 2003 invasion, turning Iraq into an atomized, fractured land seized by a paroxysm of brutality. In that Iraq, the Americans were the final arbiter and, as a result, deprived anything they left behind of legitimacy."
On the invasion of Iraq: "On a cold, concrete slab, a mosque caretaker washed the body of 14-year-old Arkan Daif for the last time.
With a cotton swab dipped in water, he ran his hand across Daif’s olive corpse, dead for three hours but still glowing with life. He blotted the rose-red shrapnel wounds on the soft skin of Daif’s right arm and right ankle with the poise of practice. Then he scrubbed his face scabbed with blood, left by a cavity torn in the back of Daif’s skull."
On post-civil war Lebanon: "Beirut’s downtown was an apocalyptic scene of rubble and weeds, inhabited by squatters in skeletal buildings and bored soldiers moving among sewage-filled craters. The rare splash of color came from the blue advertisements for a billboard company that read: ‘What do our boards have in common with the C.I.A.? They’re both all over the place.’"
On Syria’s government: "This was Syria of the Assads: rendered in their image, haunted by their phobias and ordered by their machinations."
On Syria’s protesters: "When security forces surged toward one of their comrades, they shouted to him: ‘You’ve got 20 guys around you! Blow yourself up!’
‘They just fled,’ Abdullah said, smiling as he recalled the security forces retreating in fear from the imaginary explosives."
On post-Qaddafi Libya: "Authority here peels like an onion, imposed by militias bearing the stamp of towns elsewhere in the west, neighborhoods in the capital, even its streets."
On one’s man quest to bring democracy to Tunisia (the last article Shadid published): "The epiphany of Said Ferjani came after his poor childhood in a pious town in Tunisia, after a religious renaissance a generation ago awakened his intellect, after he plotted a coup and a torturer broke his back, and after he fled to Britain to join other Islamists seeking asylum on a passport he had borrowed from a friend."