Thursday, August 03, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Jim the Wiz

Batik "Tribal" by Christian Bachellier - Flickr

Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.

In this In T View we feature Jim the Wiz, a longtime commenter at ITM and other Iraqi blogs, who sees the need for order among the chaos in the Middle East via a strong democratic foundation. Take it away, Jim The Wiz...

MG: Hi Jim the Wiz, how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

JTW: I read an editorial in the paper in which ITM was mentioned. I was thrilled to able to discuss the issues with true Iraqis still living in Iraq. I spent a week or so reading before getting the courage to comment as it was the very first blog I ever read. I decided to jump in as I felt I could contribute to the discussion.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

JTW: I am still optimistic but I would say it is better tempered now. I was naive of the complications of Iraqi society and its history. I knew that Iraq was in a bad neighborhood but the internal issues are worse than I thought.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

JTW: Ali is a good writer and three varying opinions are always better than two. But Omar and Mohammed do a great job. Plus Ali started his own blog but has very little time to write so he probably would have written very little had he stayed.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

JTW: I have read many such accusations. In this world of Spy vs Spy (a salute to Mad Mag readers everwhere), its nearly impossible to determine what is real. But the Brothers have been featured in newspaper articles, been to the US, and even met with the President so there is ample evidence they are as stated in their blog. The real question then becomes are the detractors of ITM working for the enemies of a free Iraq?

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

JTW: Indeed, I have learned much about Iraq and its history, natural beauty, the vibrant people, and more not only from the brothers but also from the other commenters on the board.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

JTW: The ME and Iraq in particular has been an inhumane disaster wrought by dictators for decades with no hope of reforming itself. It endangered us and the rest of the world. We were right to try to improve on the plight of the people by giving them a chance for freedom and democracy. It will only have been a worthwhile endeavor if we win and Iraq becomes a stable and prosperous democracy.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

JTW: Definitely not. That was one of the things that attracted me to the site. I knew the whole story wasn't being told after talking to soldiers after they returned from Iraq. The corporate media is too reliant on ratings to make a profit and thus they emphasize the dramatic news of the day like IEDs and daily death counts. ITM affers me a look at whats going on behind the headlines.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

JTW: These guys deserve much more than a hug or a beer for the great courage they have shown. They are both great assets for their country and I would be honored to but either one a beer. Or give them a hug.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

JTW: Hate to play word smith here but it all depends on the definition of "civil war." If you define it as a segment of a population revolting against its government, then one could say that Iraq has been in a constant state of civil war since the Kurdish rebellion in the 1980s, perhaps even earlier. I wouldn't call the current situation a civil war but more a country with an old regime still in the death throws. The country was much closer to a civil war in 2004 when the insurgents were very active in the center of the country and Sadr tried to take control of several cities like Najab with his militia. Iraq was on the precipice of civil war then but not now.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

JTW: They are all valuable to making ITM the vibrant debate forum it is. Having people with different takes on the situation is the surest way to better understand the truth. Too many sites stiffle debate or people with opposing veiws. But I especially like the commentors that can debate without insult or demeaning personal attacks. (Was that PC enough?)

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

JTW: I would love to visit Iraq some day but like you I would stand out as a westerner. Since I have thirty years of construction experience, I would even like to work there some day rebuilding Iraq. . .maybe even build a project designed by Hameed Abid, a fellow poster at ITM.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?
Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

JTW: We all have become close to Omar and Mo and felt their loss very deeply. Perhaps the best thing we all have learned from commenting at ITM and interacting with people from all over the planet is that we are all basically the same, that even though we are seperated by thousands of miles, centuries of history, different religious beliefs, and wide cultural gaps, we are all members of the same extended family.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

JTW: First and foremost, I hope they have mended any problems between them and Ali. A strong family is one of the most important things in life, especially in difficult times. Second, stay focused on the future and what Iraq will soon be. And last, a heartfelt thank you for sharing their insight into their world and for having the great courage to speak out on the issues and building a better Iraq.

MG says: Thanks go out to Jim The Wiz!

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