Reporters on the Job

US Elections vs. Soccer: As Annia Ciezadlo reported today's story about Iraqi views of the US presidential campaign (page 4), she was taken aback by how many Iraqis initially said, "I have no opinion about the US elections. I only care about the Iraqi elections. It seemed to be a point of national pride."

But when she persisted, it turned out that everyone had strong opinions about the primary US candidates. "I was also surprised that so many of the pro-Bush Iraqis were willing to be so vocal and open about their support. Backing Bush is a very unpopular position here now."

During one visit to a coffee shop, Annia approached a group of men around a TV watching a soccer game between Iraq and Uzbekistan. Some shared their views. Others told her they had an opinion, but "we're much more interested in the game." That triggered a discussion about what was more important. "One said that what happens in America is much more important than this game. Another disagreed: 'Politics just brings suffering, but soccer brings us happiness.' "

War Studies: Traveling through Iraq with the US military has given correspondent Ann Scott Tyson ample opportunity to hear many personal stories. In Ramadi, the scene of fierce recent fighting (this page), she got talking with Marine Cpl. Timothy Felix of New York City, who was recovering from a leg wound. His second tour in Iraq, he told her, has been more difficult for him than the Iraq invasion: the fighting is urban, the firepower more limited. But war has become almost instinctive: "We wake up and shave, and then we get into a firefight."

Felix told Ann that he was studying the art of war. "He pulled out a notebook where he had written his interpretation of the five rules of survival of the Chinese military thinker Sun Tzu. He also took the word Tao - which means the way - and came up with trust, abstract, and obedience: Trust in your team, understand the character of people, and take orders."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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