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Ditmars, a freelance writer, visited Iraq several times before Saddam's fall, reporting for such media organizations as the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and The New York Times. In Dancing in the No-Fly Zone, she chronicles her return in the wake of the 2003 war. As she flits from meeting to meeting with her prewar Iraqi contacts, she intersperses descriptions of post-Saddam Iraq with recollections of the prewar period.

Her account oozes with moral equivalency. To Ditmars, the U.S. government is no different than Saddam's. "Now for every mass grave the Americans dug up, they had to contend with the specter of thousands of civilians killed during the invasion; for every ‘resistance' bombing, the ghosts of all the Iraqis killed in the first Gulf War." She treats as fact the old propaganda lie that sanctions killed 500,000 children. In the wake of Saddam's fall, even Iraqi opponents of U.S. occupation have dismissed the veracity of such propaganda.

She appears unaware of how skewed her perspective is. She acknowledges Robert Fisk, the Independent Middle East correspondent famous for both leftist bent and questionable accuracy, and speaks favorably of sanctions-busting groups like Voices in the Wilderness, known to Iraqis more for their apologia of Saddam than for any help they provided the Iraqis. She dismisses criticism of the Arabic satellite station Al-Jazeera as the bailiwick of "right-wing Zionist groups." Her throwaway statements may surprise: returning to a hotel room to find the television now gets BBC, Al-Jazeera, and other satellite networks, she writes, "I felt a pang for the Iraqi state television … I'd come to know and love." The victims of Saddam's tyranny may not appreciate her totalitarian-chic.

If Ditmars channels the views of Iraqis who saw Saddam's rule as the golden age of Iraq, then Dancing in the No-Fly Zone provides insight into their perspective on the post-Saddam period. She bristles with anger at Bremer's arrogance and ridicules the Green Zone. However, her work is of little value to anyone wishing to achieve a deeper understanding of Iraq. The late Steven Vincent's Into the Red Zone[1] captured post-Saddam Iraq's complexity and nuance far better. The only value of Dancing in the No-Fly Zone is to expose the misplaced sympathies and politicization of many journalists working for mainstream media organizations. Unfortunately, this will not change soon. As Ditmars observes, "My old Ministry of Information-appointed ‘minders'—so-called ‘guides,' whom we'd once paid for the privilege of being spied on—were still at work, this time as fixers and translators for American TV crews."

[1] Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 2004. See "Brief Reviews," Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2005, p. 93.