I’m planning a separate post about all the technology, since it *is* some pretty advanced stuff which enables us to broadcast live to the netherlands, VoIP with 4 phonelines which provide a local dutch dialtone and ofcourse broadband internet access. We also shoot a daily video report to the bird for dutch television, all on the same dish.
The show went off without a hitch, we interviewed several personnel, including the camp’s chaplain. We also got a chance to revive my pirate radio roots by installing a 50 watt fm transmitter to broadcast our show and the stations 24 hour signal across the base.
And on Iraq:
I also learned something very important today: context.
Ever since the war broke out I’ve been following the news, like anyone else, but there is a large disconnect in the BigPub press about the mission the dutch troops have here. As a part of SFIR (Stabilization Forces IRaq), they are responsible for supporting and guiding the population in rebuilding their country. An important note here is that the damage done in As Samawah (the area we are in) is mainly due to 35 years of supression by the saddam regime….
We drove into town and queued up to cross the pontoon bridge across the euphrates river to the northern side. The original bridge was [strategically] bombed in 1991.
That’s when I announced I was going to walk across. No problem, I hopped out, flanked by our translator. While crossing I spoke to lots of people, all very happy with the work SFIR is doing, especially the schools, medical facilities and infrastructure. They are teaching the locals to build and maintain. A school teacher showed me photos of his class and school and complained to the troops, who had by now joined us, that the city council wasn’t making enough funds available for him to draw a salary. This money comes from CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] Paul Bremer’s group basically. To this I suggested that he could join the city council and help change things. This was a totally foreign concept to him. Join the city council? Huh? I guess 35 years of dictatorship does damage to the entire concept of democratic process. Lots of education needed in that area.
Too bad I don’t speak Dutch and can’t listen; glad he’s blogging in English.