Baghdad to Brooklyn — how’s that for culture shock?
After almost seven years — and three kidnappings — in Iraq, CNN’s Michael Ware says his recent reassignment to New York has been a difficult transition.
“My body still feels like it’s constantly dodging bullets,” says Ware, who lives in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section.
“Crowds can feel threatening. When I open a window, I’m looking for snipers. If somebody cuts me off in traffic, it could be the beginning of a kidnapping.”
Ware, an intrepid Aussie, says his post-traumatic stress is no different from that of many of his soldier friends’. “It’s about learning how to come home. It’s not a simple thing. It takes a lot of time and care. I’m getting help as I go through the process.”
A former prosecutor and pro rugby player, Ware, 40, joined CNN International in 2006 after serving as Time‘s Baghdad bureau chief. He appeared regularly on Anderson Cooper’s “360.”
Ware made tabloid headlines in June 2008 over his alleged involvement in a Baghdad love triangle with CBS’s Lara Logan and married U.S. State Department contractor Joe Burkett.
Ware says he and Logan dated from 2005 to ’07, but won’t comment on reports of an alleged smackdown with Burkett. “That’s personal business,” he says.
Ware’s new three-year contract is with CNN/U.S. An official “360” correspondent, his work will continue to appear on CNNi, he says.
Just back from covering the drug wars in Mexico, he’s prepping for a trek to Afghanistan. Central America will be his primary beat, he says.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Ware insists he does not have a death wish.
“For better or worse, I’m a war dog,” he says. “To me, there’s a strong allure from conflict. In a human sense, the insights and experiences you have can’t be replicated anywhere else.
“In war, we see the very best and very worst of ourselves. It never ceases to amaze me how combat distills everything to its purest essence. On the front line, you cannot hide from yourself.”
Ware’s battlefield longevity defies explanation, he admits. “Sometimes the gift of gab can save you. Sometimes it’s leaning to the left rather than the right. Sometimes it’s luck.”
Luck can be pressed, however, and Ware knows it.
“I don’t buy lottery tickets,” he says. “If I didn’t have life insurance through CNN, I shudder to think what the premium would be.”