Thursday, August 04, 2005

Vincent interview 

I have dug out our interview of Steven Vincent from 23 April 2005, which according to the interview was two days before he left to Iraq and Basra. In light of the tragedy of Steven's murder, I found listening to it again poignant.

Please download the file before playing it, as this is hosted on my private site currently and probably not up for massive bandwidth use. It is a rather large file (18:24, 16.8 mb), but I wanted to keep the sound quality. It's an 18:24 recording at 40 kbps, 5.4 MB. We'll move it to a better server when we find one.

I found it ironic that Steven decided on Basra in part because he thought it safer than going to Baghdad or the Sunni triangle, and that his wife was less worried this time. His descriptions of lack of British effort in educating for democracy, and of the corrupt connections between the gangs in Basra and the religious parties, all have sharper images now.

I wish I had sounded better in this interview, but it sounded more like one of my conversations at a dinner table or a bar than a formal interview, and rather than edit it up I decided to preserve it as is. Steven and I had more agreement on the economic issues of development in Basra and elsewhere than I expected, given his pre-9/11 liberal orientation. (Democrats who "get" 9/11 often don't convert to free market ideals. Steven did, from the sounds of this interview.)

We also learned at the end that he was, like me, half-Armenian. I am reminded in hearing this at the end of the night last night of Hovhannes Tumanian's poem for the Armenian homeland. I think it fits what Steven saw as the mission for Iraq as well.

But still you live, standing erect in spite of all your wounds
on the mysterious journey of time, past and present,
still standing, wise and pensive, and sad, with your God ...

And the dawn of life�s happiness will come,
its light at last in thousands upon thousands of souls;
and on the sacred slopes of your Mount Ararat
will shine forth at last the flame of the time to come.
Then, with the dawn, new songs and new poems
will be on the lips of the poets.
And your words, too, Steven. Farewell.