#1…Time To Go Again(Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA…) It’s that time again. Time to go on the journey that wraps it all up and closes out the last chapter of the long story that seemingly never ends. This time though, it will. It’s summer. Hottest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. While most people at home are planning on how to get to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon or just grandma’s somewhere along the way, I have chosen to go see what most others would never choose to even look at. Iraq. Where all hell has broken loose. Seems I have to go see for myself one more time. I owe it to all those that died in the “sandbox”. And besides, as far as I know, no one else is over there telling us what is or isn’t happening. Seems to have my name written all over it. Just one more time. I spent a fair bit of the last decade in Iraq. I started off as a contractor working on flight lines in 2004 and ended up as an embedded journalist travelling the country on my own dime in 2007. It would take too long to explain how I made that happen but suffice it to say that this time, the “big boys” in charge aren’t offering me any way to get to and from point A to point B. I am forced to go it alone on my own dime as usual and feel the pulse of the situation from the very lowest of ground levels ever. Not since my early days being a war correspondent nearly 30-years-ago travelling around El Salvador, have I had to do such a thing. The doors to making it easy for an independent journalist to observe what the situation is going on in Iraq at this time are all but shut. That in itself tells me something. What that something is, is yet to found out. It is apparently no secret that things in Iraq have not gone well for the past year, probably even longer. Those of us who were in places such as Mosul, Ramadi, the western border region; never thought a rapid fall as to the likes of what we’ve seen take place recently, would have ever transpired. Especially Mosul. I spent a lot of time in Mosul up in Nineveh province in 2007, as well as all over Anbar province in places like Ramadi and Fallujah. Some of the folks I travelled with at the time gave their lives for “the cause”. Many others I know were injured, some severely. I remember loading up lots of wounded onto medevacs and unloading body-bags off of helicopters that contained remains of Americans killed in action. Now, years later, the ground that blood was spilt so heavily for, is lost. CONTINUE..
JimSpiri”THE LAST LAP”
The latest journey - called, "The Last Lap" - IRAQ, 2015
Jim Spiri is now on the journey called, "The Last Lap". He is on his own among the local people in Iraq reporting in the same fashion as those before him in previous wars, such as Ernie Pyle and Joe Galloway. The photos are of Jim Spiri in 1988 in El Salvador and 27 years later as he left for Iraq from Albuquerque. Follow the true and ground level journey in Iraq during the most volatile time in the country's history by visiting Jim Spiri . com often. Jim is the only American journalist doing such at thing at this time. No others are willing to tell the story that needs to be told
Jim Spiri in El Salvador in 1988
Jim Spiri leaving Albuquerque for Iraq in 2015
Right now, something is about to happen and I have had this gut feeling that no one is over there telling us what’s happening. Why no one is there is beyond my understanding but from my own experience, the “gag-order” seems to be well in place. This is of some concern to me. I have no agenda, I just can’t figure out why all the best of the best among war correspondents are not saying a thing about what’s going on and no one is over there to my knowledge trying so desperately to “get the story out” as so many have done in the past. Maybe, just maybe this one is different. We’ll see. As for the audience(s) back home, we’ve been told that it’s really, really bad and no one seems to go any further than that. I’ve been following some reports for the last year concerning Iraq and no doubt, it’s been a bloodbath in some places. What concerns me is this….what exactly is the plan once again and who exactly is coordinating this plan this time? These are questions that all the “career journalists” were asking back in 2003 when the invasion happened which was at that time called, “Gulf War II”. No one seemed to ask such questions when “Gulf War I” was in place. We just bought into the whole idea that Iraq invaded Kuwait and we went in and kicked ass in 100-hours. Then came the events known as: “9/11”. Everything changed on that date. Then came weapons of mass destruction which resulted in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Then came the next six years of OIF, (Operation Iraqi Freedom). And by the way, 4000 plus American military lives lost not to mention the loss of civilian contractors who were not readily counted among the lives lost. And then of course there was this man back in 2003 named L. Paul Bremmer, who at the time was one of America’s highest ranking diplomats who single handedly orchestrated the way supposedly forward for the conquered Iraq. I’ve always thought that Bremmer is perhaps the most responsible for the current chaotic situation we have going on all over Iraq at this very moment. Funny to me how someone like that has nothing to say about what is going on right now. It’s always hard to own up to serious blunders. Bremmer ought to be dropped off in the middle of Anbar province and told, “go fix it Paul”. After the elections of 2008, the current folks in charge of foreign policy, made it a point to close the door on Iraq no matter what the cost. It seems that politics always gets in the way of doing the right thing. This is what happens when people are more concerned with their legacy rather than what’s really going on. Then, 2012 rolled along and the door was closing rapidly on Iraq. I was astounded that particular places with huge flight lines were abandoned by US military. Yes, I am aware that there are still some folks stationed in what is supposed to be strategic locations but how on earth Mosul fell is beyond my understanding. I also am shocked that Ramadi fell and nothing was done to really remedy the situation, as of yet. In the mean time, positions are being taken, heads literally are rolling, ground is being fought over and no one back home has a clue what’s really going on. And, then there is the matter of the Iraqi people. They have suffered extensively throughout this entire process or what some call a “grandiose debacle”. It should be noted that some members of the New Mexico National Guard are currently in close proximity relatively speaking, to where I am about to go. Prior to my departure I have inquired on several occasions as to the possibility of “hooking up” with them and reporting accordingly. I have done this before and have explained to all those up the chain of command that this is not my first rodeo. So far, no one in positions of authority has accommodated my requests. Therefore, I must do what I always do…adapt, improvise and above all…overcome. So, that brings me to what I am doing now. I am leaving New Mexico in the heart of the summer to go to the land we called, Mesopotamia in our history books but have come to now know as Iraq. There are some people on the ground in Iraq, locals, that I’ve befriended over a decade ago that I’ve said I would come and tell their story to the small world that listens to me. It is hotter than hell over there this time of year and I’m not nearly as young as I was ten years ago. I have titled this journey, “The Last Lap”. In my youth, I was a distance runner. In the autumn I ran cross country and in the spring I ran the two mile. The training in the autumn kept me shape for the competition in the spring. In the two mile there were 8-laps. Almost 30-years-ago, at the age of 32, I began the first lap by going to El Salvador and seeing what there was to see and telling what there was to be told from the ground level. Now, it’s the last lap. I’m 59 and holding and getting ready to see what I have left in me to finish the race at hand. Once again the “observatorianist” presses on and gives it all he’s got for the audience to see/hear. I am at this time, walking out the door headed to parts unknown and seeing what’s left in the reserve tank so those that have already given their all may rest in peace. Welcome to, “The Last Lap” a report from the ground in Iraq.