The Iraq invasion is the first major war on the Web. Now that the tanks have started rolling, millions of Americans are crowding the Internet to catch up on the latest news, see pictures, and send e-mail to loved ones in danger. After you’ve checked out Slate—it was your first stop, right?—here’s where you should you go for updates, speculation, on-the-ground blogging, official statements, and even war comedy.
The special Iraq Web sites for the Washington Post, the New York Times, MSNBC, and CNN are all good sources for late-breaking news, streaming video, maps, and nifty interactive backgrounders.
If you find the American Iraq pages overwhelming, then jump across the Atlantic to England’s Guardian newspaper’s Special Report: Iraq. The page’s efficient organization and solid reporting make it easier to use than the American news sites.Don’t miss the Guardian’s “Weblog,” which is less a blog than a portal to the day’s best journalism. Track the effects of the war on the global economy and on oil markets at Bloomberg’s energy markets page.
What exactly is a BLU-118 Thermobaric bomb? How about a GBU-16 Paveway II? Globalsecurity.org has an excellent encyclopedia of the weapons and vehicles the United States is using in the war. Its Target Iraq page is jam-packed with links and specific military information. The site also publishes U.N. documents and resolutions.
Defensetech.org is a blog that provides a boatload of information on new military technologies and national security. While not organized in any systematic way, it always has something new and interesting.
The Official Story
(Almost) daily State Department briefings can be found here. The White House posts free video of all presidential speeches and announcements (as well as Ari Fleischer’s press briefings). Britain’s official briefings are also available.
Also online is the Iraq News Agency, a mouthpiece for Saddam’s positions and propaganda.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Iraq crisis section shows how the U.S. government is conveying the news to the people of the Middle East.
The United Nations’ official Iraq page is hopelessly cluttered and often unresponsive (not unlike the organization itself), but if you can get it to work, it’s a great clearinghouse.
Dear_raed is a must-read blog by a current Baghdad resident. Check out his fascinating March 16 ramble about how he reluctantly supports the U.S. march to war and doubts the influence of fundamentalist Islamism in Iraq. It’s not clear how the author manages to evade Saddamite censorship and scrutiny. We sent an e-mail asking how he does it. If he replies, we will tell you.
Www.kevinsites.net is a blog by Kevin Sites, a CNN correspondent stationed in northern Iraq. Sites’ reporting is unvarnished, direct, and full of the nitty-gritty details of war reporting A March 17 post, “Whispers of War,” is a window on the professional rivalries that persist, even a war zone.
Streaming video and radio have nothing on the Agonist, a blog that is providing rapid-fire war updates and commentary based on CNN coverage, news wires, and private sources.
The Middle-East Reaction
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency seems to be the quickest-responding of all the Middle Eastern government news outlets. Its reports focus mainly on what’s going on in the Shi’a areas around Basra.
Arab News is an English-language, semiofficial Saudi media outlet. Although its reporting may not always be reliable, it suggests how this war is playing in Riyadh. Lebanon’s Daily Star is more trustworthy but much less entertaining. For a quick digest of how the Middle-East media portrays the war, the World Press Review’s Middle-East section is excellent.
Al Jazeera video is available at www.favo.tv, an English-language Web site that streams from various TV and radio stations worldwide. It often doesn’t work, so if you understand Arabic, the official Al Jazeera site may be a better source for the broadcasts.
While Terraserver offers archived satellite images of world cities including Baghdad, this website is providing up-to-the-minute weather satellite photos of Iraq–with explanations. An 8 AM EST post on March 20 contains a picture taken of Basra oil fields at 5 AM EST, along with comments that it looked like there was an oil well fire–three hours before news outlets reported anything about this.
Should United States troops worry about sandstorms? Check out this Iraq weather map.
Who’s going to lead Iraq after the war? What are the odds of capturing Osama Bin Laden by October? What will the terror alert level be in June 2003? At Tradesports you can now bet on international politics, with nothing at stake but fake money and bragging rights.
If you need a brief respite from the grim news, take a breather at Iraq Humor Central. Be sure not to miss the parody slide show. Also, check out the Saddam games section, where you can do everything from playing the role of a crazed U.N. weapons inspector to creating a goofy press conference.