Our Team in the Gulf

Regular readers of BusinessWeek will notice that we're deeply invested in the Iraq war. And rightly so. The war is the world's dominant news story, and business won't go back to normal until it's over. In the last month we've done cover stories on the war's impact on the global economy, the possible shape of the postwar world, and the battlefield rollout of the Bush Administration's new concept of rapid-deployment digital warfare.

This week, we focus on the stakes for business in the global economy -- that is, how the war's geopolitical impact could affect corporations directly. The big question: Will the enormous rise in anti-Americanism seen globally as a result of the war spill over to the business realm and cause problems for the continued development of globalization and free markets? Or will the reconstruction of Iraq and the war's aftermath go relatively well?

Our man in Iraq is Frederik Balfour, a veteran foreign correspondent who reported on the Afghanistan war and on Pakistan's secret intelligence service. Embedded with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, Balfour's daily online and weekly print stories since the Iraqi war started have provided an up-close-and-personal view of life with an infantry unit as it approached Baghdad. "I live in a chemical warfare suit, I write in the back of a Humvee, I put my cot out under the stars, and on most nights I've learned to sleep through artillery explosions, provided they're far enough away," he wrote in the first week. Now, it's grimmer. Balfour's detail is near the medic tent at the 703rd Battalion of the 3ID. He accompanied the body of fellow reporter David Bloom of NBC as it was transferred for evacuation.

From Kuwait and Syria, Stanley Reed, normally our London bureau chief, scrutinizes the Arab world. Reed, an Arabic-speaking Middle East specialist, first landed in the region in 1976, as a freelance reporter. Reed's story a few weeks ago said that behind the angry scenes on Arab streets, most of Iraq's neighbors were already calculating the realpolitik economic gains from a postwar rebuilding. That original view soon became the conventional wisdom.

At Central Command in Qatar, Laura Cohn, a Washington bureau staffer on her way to London, has the job of hounding the big brass. Since U.S. Army General Tommy R. Franks briefs infrequently, Cohn's assignment has been cultivating commanders as sources.

In Washington and New York, a team of editors and writers pulls all this coverage together. Washington Bureau Chief Lee Walczak, Deputy Bureau Chief Paula Dwyer, Pentagon correspondent Stan Crock, White House correspondent Richard S. Dunham, security writer Paul Magnusson, and BusinessWeek Online editor Douglas Harbrecht have been in the middle of the capital's bureaucratic and foreign policy battles over the strength of U.S. forces. Guiding overall coverage are Senior Editors Jane Sasseen and Chris Power, Senior Writer Rose Brady, and Associate Editors Rick Schine and Robin Ajello.

No military has ever allowed the American and international press to see battle from such a vantage point before. No war has ever churned out so much conflicting instant analysis, and the value of this journalism will be debated for years. We at BusinessWeek believe that the effort will bring you a greater understanding of the conflict and its aftermath.

By Stephen B. Shepard, Editor-in-Chief

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