Christopher Dickey remembers his friend, Marie Colvin

Christopher Dickey writes: I am not sure when, exactly, in the last 10 years — perhaps as I started to pull back from combat myself, and she did not — I realized that Marie really was the greatest war correspondent of our generation. She took extraordinary risks and got extraordinary stories year after year, decade after bloody decade. I think nobody can match her record for pushing herself into the middle of the action to witness what war is and what war does and “get the information out.” Because if you really want people to understand, really want them to care — and Marie wanted that very much — then press releases and human-rights reports and anonymous cellphone video vaguely attributed is not going to cut it. There is no substitute for the correspondent who goes and sees for herself what is happening, and tells the world in exact, dispassionate, irrefutable detail.

Last night, probably about the same time she posted that little item on Facebook, Marie also talked to the BBC, and when I heard her voice played back on the air this morning I had to smile. She was so cool — so very cool and exact — describing in measured phrases the terror all around her.

And for some reason, probably because we have to believe this of our friends in this business, I thought that she would never die, no matter what. At least, not this morning. Not now.

And then she did. She was 56 years old.

For those of us who were her friends, and there are many, there will be long talks on the phone about Marie’s life and loves, which were often tempestuous and sometimes tragic. There will be a great wake somewhere to send her off, raising a glass or two, or many, to her memory, which I am sure she would appreciate. Marie wrote so much about death, but she did love to live.

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Comments

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Death is tragic and no one is happy when another human gets killed. The said correspondent’s employer is reported to have advised her to leave the city of Hom as it was not safe, but she had opted to stay behind and faced the consequences: most sane people would say that the step she took was sheer folly rather than courage, bravery or a desire for truth.

    The fact that does not get highlighted enough, sadly, is that hundreds of thousands of soldiers are forced to go to war and get maimed or killed defending their country. Yet, there are only a few to praise their valiant actions.

    War correspondents, as well as international NGOs involved in doing charity, survive on the misery of others. If there are no wars, there will be no news to emanate from these so-called theatres of war – an odd term to describe locations full of death and destruction, with nothing resembling any acting – and the ‘brave’ correspondents will have to look for alternative employment.

    The saddest state of affairs is that the West, which thinks it is clean as a whistle when it comes to the issue of the violation of human rights, survives on exporting mayhem and destruction. The countries labelling themselves as developed nations foment dissension among the peoples in places that somehow had managed to carry on in their own way, and provide backing and material support to their lackeys to attack the legally constituted establishments in nations that are not ready to tow the line demanded by the West. The weapons for the so-called freedom struggles, of course, are those produced in factories in the West, a move that provides employment to their men and women. The initiators of trouble, if they fail in their endeavours, are then encouraged to leave their home countries to settle in the West, who then constitute a dependable ally to continue their work from a distance, away from their homelands.

    When the destruction is complete, it is time for the peace merchants and the infrastructure rebuilders to descend en masse in the trouble spots to tell the ‘natives’ how they should solve their problems. Of course, it comes at a price: approximately 80%, or at times even more, of the so-called aid is spent on enviable salaries, accommodation in luxury condominiums and comfortable transport for their expatriate staff.

    Do we really want live images of soldiers, their enemies or the civilians caught in the conflicts getting blown up relayed to our TVs or computer screens? Dismembered bodies or blood-soaked clothes are not among the prettiest sights that one would like to witness at any time of the day. As far as areas of conflict are concerned, what the average person would wish to see is an outcome with some form of settlement rather than the ghoulish path that the deliverance process had to traverse.

    It is time that those who opted to put their heads out to be chopped when there were people waiting with raised swords in their hands to grant their wish are projected as heroes. Genuine heroism is when one risks his life and limb to save those who attacked him or ventures out to liberate the near and dear of the ones who were shooting you.