Reading Saddam’s fortune

This story comes just as hostilities were breaking out during the Iraq war, which was a turning point for me. I had been the only Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq in the run-up to the war, and had felt frustrated that all the reports I had sent had not been able to convince readers ...

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571733_100406_popethumb32.jpg

This story comes just as hostilities were breaking out during the Iraq war, which was a turning point for me. I had been the only Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq in the run-up to the war, and had felt frustrated that all the reports I had sent had not been able to convince readers that the war was a terrible idea. After the war I tried to go back to work in the Middle East, but found that I no longer believed in my work, partly due to my sense that as a Westerner I shared responsibility for the conflict, partly because as a reporter my profession had done so little to stop it, and partly because I couldn't believe any more that I was being honest when making the standard request for an interview: "please talk to me, because your words will reach a Western audience and make a difference."

This story comes just as hostilities were breaking out during the Iraq war, which was a turning point for me. I had been the only Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq in the run-up to the war, and had felt frustrated that all the reports I had sent had not been able to convince readers that the war was a terrible idea. After the war I tried to go back to work in the Middle East, but found that I no longer believed in my work, partly due to my sense that as a Westerner I shared responsibility for the conflict, partly because as a reporter my profession had done so little to stop it, and partly because I couldn’t believe any more that I was being honest when making the standard request for an interview: “please talk to me, because your words will reach a Western audience and make a difference.”

Hugh Pope is currently based in Istanbul with the International Crisis Group. Previously he was a staff correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and has been engaged in the broader Middle East for three decades. Adapted from Dining with al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope. Copyright © 2010 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

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