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Desis reporting live from Baghdad

October 2006
Desis reporting live from Baghdad

Moni Basu of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Aneesh Raman of CNN are just two examples of Indian-American journalists who are covering – or have covered – Iraq these days. This development, standing in sharp contrast to earlier wars, should raise no eyebrows, given the recent inroads made by desis in the mainstream media. That Rajiv Chandrasekaran – an assistant managing editor and a former Baghdad bureau chief at The Washington Post – has gone on to write a book titled Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (Knopf, 2006) is also not surprising. The Iraq War – and its brutal aftermath – is in many ways defining our era just as the Vietnam War marked an earlier era. Many books, including a few bestsellers, have already been churned out and more weighty tomes will no doubt be published in the coming years.

Chandrasekaran, who has apparently had one of the longest stints as a foreign journalist in Iraq, dwells on the period immediately following the invasion. The exclusive Green Zone occupied by the American forces is a heavily fortified area that surrounds and includes the former dictator's sprawling palace. The book covers a time (May 2003-June 2004) during which, as the Publishers Weekly notes, "an occupational administration selected primarily for its loyalty to the Bush administration routinely ignored the reality of local conditions until, as one ex-staffer puts it, ‘everything blew up in our faces'." And Chandrasekaran writes, "Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort." Another desi author worth mentioning in this context is Dilip Hiro, a longtime expert whose topics for books on the region range from the Iran-Iraq War to the two Gulf Wars.

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