One of my favorite voices on Iraq is Larry Kaplow, the veteran reporter who to my knowledge spent more time in Baghdad than any other Western reporter. He has weighed in today with the kind of droll summation that is his trademark.
“It’s not over yet,” on Foreign Policy, describes the biggest fault lines splitting Iraq and threatening disaster as potently in the Mesopotamian war’s eighth year as it they did in its first. That’s right; Iraq’s quieter, but it’s still at war, as Larry reminds us in his “let’s cut the BS” fashion.
Larry is a tireless reporter and a good friend (we lived a few doors apart in the Hamra hotel for the couple of years I spent in Baghdad). At the height of the sectarian killing in Iraq, Larry liked to remind people that calling the conflict a civil war misleadingly implied that sectarian militias were fighting one another, when in fact, most of the violence entailed militias from one sect killing civilians from another.
Larry was well ensconced in Baghdad months before the American invasion began in March 2003, and he stayed, more or less without interruption, until the fall of 2009. He returned this summer and helped produce one of the most humane (and perversely enjoyable) accounts of what’s happened in Iraq for This American Life. The hour-long show is well worth streaming online or downloading to your iDevice.
On both Foreign Policy and This American Life, Larry is reminding us of the horrifying and still-uncalculated human toll of the Iraq war – and that despite the recent spells of quiet, he’s warning us that there’s still reason to fear.