Is it Safe For Americans to Travel to Iraq Today?

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No one will ever forget where he or she was when first witnessing the image of two planes crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Since that tragic day, and the beginning of this war, too many lives have been taken. David Bowie sings it clearly in his song “I’m Afraid of Americans,” saying that his fear cannot be helped, and in the mean time he will not pretend. Other than the distaste of glam rock stars of the 1970s and the French, are Americans safe to travel to foreign lands, such as Iraq? Even with homeland security working over time?

The presence of Americans has not been positive. Since U.S. troops first settled in Iraq on March of 2003, and Saddam Hussein no longer in leadership the hopefulness to this war sounds pretty promising. Currently terrorist attacks have been down 40 percent since 2001 and seem to be declining. Although, radical groups like Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah have done plenty of damage in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. And being American, one will most likely be targeted when visiting Iraq.

Such a country filled with history and beauty is experiencing the affects of gun shells, explosions and shattered lives. With over 4,000 U.S. causalities in Iraq, a visit to the country does not seem like a wise idea. Journalists covering their assignments on the war in Iraq put their lives at risk. Over 200 men and women in the media have given their lives for coverage of this war.

In 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s murder made headlines.

Held captive and video tapped, Pearl begging for life, the tragedy of his death shook the hearts of millions. Journalists tend to disregard State warnings of danger, but everyone else should not. When there is a story, determination drives the pen of an eager reporter.

Images brought home from the war in Iraq impact citizens here, but they also impact the ones who snapped the photographs. San Diego Union Tribune senior photographer, Nelvin Cepeda has been behind enemy lines in Iraq. The images seen overseas are “too dense for our media outlets,” said Cepeda. “They’re accustom to this, and many have insisted on showing me the dead bodies.”

Voluntarily putting ones self in such cross fire is the equivalence of walking blind folded down the freeway; you just do not do it. Soldiers and the media are there to do a job. Those residing in Iraq have no other option.

All a person needs to do is switch on his or her television sets, and see what the news is reporting from the front lines. Everyday the number of deaths of American soldiers and civilians increases at a rapid pace. Witnessing such terrible images of warfare first hand is not what one wants stashed in their memory.

Where a bulletproof vest is on your packing checklist next to sunscreen is not the ideal for most vacation routes. We are at war with Iraq; a visit to hostile territory is absurd.

Rudy Van Lancker is a consultant helping his versatile list of clients with in-depth advice on various topics including travel and Iraq, which he writes about on Iraq Travel for Americans and his personal Travel Blog Inyaka.

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