In the coming days, Dimiter Kenarov will be blogging for Virginia Quarterly Review from Baghdad, sharing his thoughts and observations in the final run-up to the national elections and in their immediate wake. Kenarov traveled to Iraq on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
"Lock the rear door." The voice of our turret gunner is calm, almost weary, like the voice of a steward on a commercial flight from New York to Paris. "Passenger weapon status is amber. Insert magazine, but do not load a round in the chamber. I repeat, do not load a round in the chamber."
It is early morning in Baghdad, cold and dark, the sun still hours and millions of miles away. I have booked a ride on the Rhino, the armored convoy that runs from the Victory Base Complex (the headquarters of the United States Force - Iraq) in the western outskirts of the city to the International Zone (formerly known as the Green Zone) downtown, where I need to go and get my press credentials. Inside the RG-33 vehicle, an ugly mine-resistant monster the size of a small bus, the civilian passengers are nervously eying each other. Hiding under expensive body armor and Kevlar helmets, we all look like turtle eggs inside the belly of a giant turtle. We are pathetic...