Saturday, February 7, 2009

When Will Iraq Be Safe For Tourists?

That's the question a recent NY Times article asks, inspired by an odd Italian tourist named Luca Marchio, who decided taking a public bus to Falluja sounded like a good idea. That question should have been followed by: "Who cares? When will Iraq be safe for the folks who live there?"
According to Iraq Body Count, the number of civilian deaths caused by violence since 2003 is just under 100,000. While the number of civilians killed seems be going down - the number for January 2009 was 254, the lowest since the invasion in 2003 - it still seems a long way from being considered anything near "safe."
A friend of the office, Chicago-based artist and organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War Aaron Hughes, has made some emotionally provocative comparisons between his tour of duty in Iraq as a soldier and the process of sightseeing as a (involuntary) tourist. Along with the analysis of the infamous Abu Ghraib pictures as being quintessentially tourist pictures, presented by many writers (and Errol Morris's Standard Operating Procedure film), there is certainly a more complex relationship between tourism and Iraq (and contemporary war waged by post-industrial societies like the U.S. in general). As Dean MacCannell wrote a few decades ago, "Our first apprehension of modern civilization, it seems to me, emerges in the mind of the tourist."

Iraq Body Count web counter

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