“Why are we at war?”
Oliver Poole today told University College Falmouth Journalism students of his time in the Iraq war informing them that nobody in Iraq was sure to why their country was at war.
The former Iraq correspondent said: “Nobody out there knew what was going on. Everyone had their own opinion.” This resulted in many of America’s newspapers getting into trouble, as they were unable to publish accurate information as to why Iraq was at war. Causing damage to the image of many mainstream newspapers as well as irritating readers who expected to read full details on the war.
Poole also told of his experiences in Iraq explaining that looking back he was not prepared for what he was set to face in Iraq saying: “I hadn’t realised war doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens on the streets. Wherever you might be, an attack could be possible.” Although Poole himself did not suffer from the after effects of the war many of his work colleagues did. “Many people I know suffered from post traumatic stress on their return; luckily for me I did not experience this.”
Whilst in Iraq Poole also had to deal with the issue of disguising himself as British journalists were main targets within the war zone. Poole told students that he was made to look like an Iraqi male, hiding himself from his true identity. “I had to make sure I was disguised at all times. If we were in queues of traffic I would put the daily paper in front of my face for hours on end to hide my face.”
Not only was Poole made to go in disguise, working as a correspondent in a country at war was difficult at times. He and his team were unable to plan any interviews or meetings within the war zone as they were unable to inform anyone as to where they were going, scared of possible kidnappings which were high during his stay. Talking about his experiences Oliver added: “We would only have 20 minutes to interview someone, after that time they would just stop. It was impossible to get a great deal of information.”