Friday, April 27, 2007

Why the heck ...

I always got the same few question when folks learned I had put in for a rotation in Baghdad.

Why would I want to do that?

I hem and haw, because the most honest answer is a tad corny. I think it's important.

There's no delusion here that in six weeks of reporting that I'll shed some startling new truth about the mess that Iraq has become. In fact, I don't bring a great deal to the table. I don't have much background in the Middle East or even in foreign reporting.

I have been to Iraq just once before, embedded with an Army unit in early 2003. (The rest of my exposure to the Middle East is limited to a few weeks in Kuwait and Bahrain in 2001 and 2003.)

But I've watched from a distance with admiration the work of the Americans and Iraqis manning the McClatchy Newspapers Baghdad bureau. Some good friends have moved through there.

The work takes its toll, however, so the chain has been looking for other people to help out. I'm hoping that by filling in for a little this spring I can help them continue their strong work.

Plus, I like hummus.