This formula for war is credited to Julius Caesar, 47 years before the birth of Christ: I came, I saw, I conquered.
Today’s formula for post-war seems to be, We came, saw, conquered, saw, went home and stopped looking.
This sequence perfectly describes both the policies of the Obama Administration and the coverage of American news media in Iraq. Until the 2014 ISIS invasion of Iraq and its capture of the large, historic, important city of Mosul set off alarms, the appropriate word for Iraq in the United States was ignored.
The US and its European allies Germany, France and the United Kingdom answered the alarm, and by the end of 2017 had crushed the Islamic State and killed, captured or chased into the desert almost all of its fighters. For the people of the liberated city of Mosul, all but totally destroyed during its liberation, and the people of the liberated Syrian city of Raqqa, and the 2 years ago liberated Iraqi city of Ramadi, it appears that they are once again being ignored.
Not by the Associated Press. It has checked in on the painful, partial revival of battered Ramadi, while in Mosul, AP has invested in meticulously detailed after-action reports. Ap’s been counting the civilian casualties killed in the fighting to take back East and West Mosul from the Islamic State, chronicling the simultaneous sifting of West Mosul neighborhoods for bodies, documents, salvageable remnants of furniture or tools and rebuilding – usually room-by-room of family homes or shops.
AP reporters are also collecting memories of individual survivors, of personal moments, and in 2 cases, revealing the stories of two witnesses to the destruction of Mosul whose testimony online kept followers around the world abreast of what was happening and what it felt like. One witness, a teenaged girl with the cover name “Ferah” posted on Facebook for the first year of the IS occupation, was followed by thousands. Her story is told on HERE & THERE by AP reporter Bram Janssen. If you haven’t heard it, go to the davemarash.com website and look it up.
The other “inside Mosul” witness was a blogger, known as Mosul Eye and a few other identities, who reached 293,000 followers on Facebook, 37,000 on WordPress and 23,400 on Twitter.
With good reason. Mosul Eye’s observations – which streets in which neighborhoods have the best chance for safe passage – were detailed; his transcribed street conversations hand the authentic tang of the city, and his sources, among liberals hoping to survive the IS storm to blood-thirsty jihadi security people, were well-placed and well-informed. Among scholars and journalists and just plain citizens Mosul Eye was a reliable source. In addition to its facts, its tone fulfilled the self-description of the author: not a spy, not a journalist, but an historian.
Lori Hinnant is an International Security Correspondent for the Associated Press (AP) based in Paris. She specializes in Business and Finance, France, and Technology. Her work has been featured by the AP as well as Yahoo, ABC News, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Salon, and Fox News.
Omar Mohammed gave this description, and most reluctantly, his real name, over the course of months of interviews with our guest today, Lori Hinnant, International Security Correspondent for the Associated Press (AP) based in Paris.