June 11, 2007

Back to Iraq Soon

By Michael J. Totten

As soon as the Iraqi Embassy issues my journalist visa, which is supposed to be any day now, I’ll be heading back to Iraq – this time to Baghdad and Anbar Province with the United States military.

I had plans to visit Iraq twice already with the military. They were planning to take me and a handful of other bloggers on a free trip from Washington. But bureaucracy and logistics issues created six months of delays and it isn’t worth waiting in travel limbo any longer. This is perhaps for the best. Instead I’ll go solo as a media embed and skip the dog and pony show.

The only problem with this is that it’s expensive – and dangerous. I need body armor, a helmet, and war zone insurance that costs 100 dollars per day.

So I need to ask for your help. There hasn’t been as much original material on the blog lately because I’ve needed to sell my skills and time to others to make ends meet. But I’m going to Baghdad, to the war, and I am going to blog it.

It’s impossible for me to make trips like these and publish the material for free on this Web site without substantial reader donations. I am not independently wealthy and I don’t have a trust fund or inheritance to pay for all this. My expenses are ongoing and donations need to be ongoing, too.

If you have been reading my dispatches for free all this time, please consider helping me out so I don’t have to get a regular job and deal with media gatekeepers. If you have donated in the past, please consider donating again so I can keep doing this.

The more money I can raise from my readers, the more time I can devote to this Web site because I won’t need to sell my time to somebody else.

Because my expenses are ongoing, I am pleased to announce that there is now an easier way than using Pay Pal to help. Joshua Zader has developed a new system called Blog Patron. It allows you to make recurring monthly donations to bloggers (like me) whom you wish to support. The system couldn’t be any easier to use. If enough of you sign up it will give me the financial stability I need to make this blog a full time instead of part time job.

Please click the button below and enroll.

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If you prefer use Pay Pal, that is still an option.

If you would like to donate for travel and equipment expenses and you don't want to send money over the Internet, please consider sending a check or money order to:

Michael Totten
P.O. Box 312
Portland, OR 97207-0312

Many thanks in advance.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 11, 2007 02:15 AM

Looking forward to your trip observations. From my perspective (U.S.) the ME is #2 on World Concerns (Illegal Immigration being #1), and your articles help me immensely. Not the blog comments as they are all too often highjacked, self-serving and of circular reasoning, but your articles.


Posted by: Ron Snyder at June 11, 2007 03:50 AM

We need to get together before you go. Details to iron out and that sort of thing.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 11, 2007 08:15 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/11/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at June 11, 2007 10:18 AM

Dear readers,

I have recently come across this website "Baztab" which means "Reflection" in Farsi.


It is an English language Iranian website, quite conservative -- but also criticizes Ahmed-Nejad... on occassion.

I think it's a very, very interesting insight into the way certain elements over there in Tehran may be thinking. According to some it's close to Mohsen Rezai, and also, some say, to Ali Larijani the nuclear negotiator.

Anyway, it seems a very useful resource to serious students of the area, whatever your political opinions.



Posted by: Microraptor at June 11, 2007 11:44 AM

Hey do you ever give readings at Powell's?

Posted by: Patrick at June 11, 2007 12:49 PM

Patrick: Hey do you ever give readings at Powell's?

I don't have a book in the world, so no, not yet anyway.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 11, 2007 12:54 PM


Many thanks for the Iranian website. After reading a few of the articles, I concur with your description of it. The interview with the new Iraqi ambassador to Iran was especially notable for the unblinking forthrightness in some of his answers to some rather hostile questions from the Iranian interviewer.

Posted by: allan at June 11, 2007 01:07 PM

Just sent my 2 cents via Pay Pall.

Michael, what I really want to know and what I just am not getting clearly anywhere, is wether or not this united Iraq is at all possible.

I know you seem to think the Kurds will probably go it alone. My feeling is that this would be a rational and moral outcome, but a disaster for us (meaning the US) politically, at least in the short term. It will also create tremendous stress and chaos in the region as a whole.

So how likely is this United Iraq project to succeed? No chance, small chance, good chance? That is the question I would really like answered. I'd love to hear your take on it when you get there.

Posted by: shaulie at June 11, 2007 01:11 PM

Hey fp--you better be putting up some cash. Considering the soapbox that Michael built for you....

Posted by: Keith at June 11, 2007 04:31 PM

Thank you for your work Michael. I donated for the first time.

Posted by: Kenneth at June 12, 2007 09:30 AM

Hezbollah claim they are growing Nectarines, not re-arming.... See this loink for my experiences at the hands of those fruity fighting cadres....


Also video links for exclusive footage inside an extensive bunker network... and the patented Beirut meets the Sopranos opening sequence...

Methinks it's also time to donate a bit of wonga for Michael's new Flakkie Jackie...

Posted by: Microraptor at June 12, 2007 01:43 PM

The monthly contribution is a good idea - kind of like a magazine subscription.

See this loink for my experiences at the hands of those fruity fighting cadres..

That was a great story. Hezbollah are bunch of humorless zealots but they have the world's goofiest public relations team.

Posted by: mary at June 13, 2007 08:38 AM


Any chance you can tell us just how much reporting from Iraq costs? I'd be extremely interested in seeing an itemized costs list. (Not because I'm an auditor, but because it's interesting.) How much do "fixers" cost? What are your daily expenses? How much is armor? (And so on.)

Posted by: DD at June 16, 2007 02:32 PM


Insurance is 100 dollars per day. Airfare is around 2000 dollars. Body armor is 500 dollars.

I need to stay in Kuwait for a few days to get over jet lag and deal with embed bureaucracy. (I'm not showing up with ten hours of jet lag and travel exhaustion in a war zone in July). That will cost another 500 dollars or so.

I won't need fixers because I will be with the military.

I don't think I have to pay for food or a place to sleep.

Total bill is over 5000 dollars. I wish I could do it more cheaply, but that is not possible.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 16, 2007 03:32 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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