mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


The Baghdad Blogger


Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco, and this
is Link TV’s investigative news program, presenting documentaries from
filmmakers and reporters around the world, telling stories usually missed
by American television.


This week our spotlight is on the Baghdad Blogger.

No one knows his real name, but he calls himself Salam Pax-peace, in
Arabic and Latin. Born and raised in the Iraqi capital, he speaks perfect,
idiomatic English. As an affluent, western-educated architect, the Baghdad
Blogger is not a typical Iraqi. But he straddles both worlds – he can
travel among and speak freely with his fellow countrymen and women, and
then share their views, along with his own, with the outside world.

Like his blog entries, the film you’re about to see focuses on the
daily life of ordinary Iraqis in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion, you’ll
see the violence, suffering and frustration but also the hopes, culture and
basic humanity.

We’ll be back afterwards with an update. For now, from The Guardian
Films in Britain, here is “The Baghdad Blogger,” on Link TV, your
connection to the world.


Welcome back. You’re watching “Spotlight” on Link TV. I’m Mark

If you watch much American television, you know that local Iraqi
perspectives on the war and other developments in the region are virtually
absent from our television screens, except for the occasional sound bite.

Like the war itself, Iraq’s people remain an abstraction to most Americans,
including our political leaders. The film you’ve just seen attempts to
redress that imbalance.

So does the recent book Night Draws Near by Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist Anthony Shadid. Like the Baghdad Blogger, Shadid is bi-
cultural. Born and raised in Oklahoma to Lebanese immigrants, he now
covers Iraq for the Washington Post. In his book he observes that, “Time
and again, we Americans envisioned, or were given, a simple, two
dimensional portrait of Iraq,” and our ignorance led to consequences we
never foresaw.

Iraqis take their history seriously-it stretches back eleven thousand
years. So when President Bush assured them, on the eve of the U.S.
invasion, “We come as liberators, not occupiers,” he unwittingly struck a
chord. Every Iraqi, writes Shadid, recognized Bush’s statement as a
virtual word-for-word repetition of what British Major General Stanley
Maude had promised in 1917, when British troops entered Baghdad to end
Ottoman empire rule. Instead, the British stayed for fifteen years, until
increasingly violent Iraqi rebellions forced them out.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. occupation will end the same

If you want to find out more about these issues, check out the
resources listed at the end of this program. You can also find those
resources at our website,

Following those listings you’ll see a clip from next week’s program.
Until then, this is Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco for “Spotlight.”
Thanks for joining us.



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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.