The War You Don’t See

A new John Pilger documentary is always a media event. For over four decades he has set the bar for incisive and intrepid investigative journalism. In The War You Don’t See, his latest, Pilger indicts the mainstream media for its responsibility in enabling wars by sanitizing its image and glorifying its aims.

Colonizing Culture – Dahr Jamail

An Iraqi boy walks down a street in southern Baqouba, surrounded by US Army soldiers.
An Iraqi boy walks down a street in southern Baqouba, surrounded by US Army soldiers. (Photo: Marko Drobnjakovic / AP)

Trangress

The geo-strategic expansion of the American empire is an accepted fact of contemporary history. I have been writing in these columns about the impact of the US occupation on the people of Iraq in the wake of the “hard” colonization via F-16s, tanks, 2,000-pound bombs, white phosphorous and cluster bombs.

Here I offer a brief glimpse into the less obvious but far more insidious phenomenon of “soft” colonization. That scholars and political thinkers have talked at length of such processes only establishes the uncomfortable reality that history is bound to repeat itself in all its ugliness, unless the human civilization makes a concerted effort to eliminate the use of brute force from human affairs.

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Still Homeless in Baghdad

With 1.6 million internally displaced persons and an unemployement rate of 40-65%, Dahr Jamail reports about the plight of Iraqi families dispossessed and left homeless by the war.

“We only want a normal life,” says Um Qasim, sitting in a bombed out building in Baghdad. She and others around have been saying that for years. Um Qasim lives with 13 family members in a brick shanty on the edge of a former military intelligence building in the Mansoor district of Baghdad.
Five of her children are girls. Homelessness is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for women and girls.

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Iraq’s ‘Teflon Don’

‘The New Fallujah Up Close and Still in Ruins’. Our friend Dahr Jamail, who is presently back in Iraq, files this excellent report for the indispensable TomDispatch.

Fallujah, Iraq — Driving through Fallujah, once the most rebellious Sunni city in this country, I saw little evidence of any kind of reconstruction underway. At least 70% of that city’s structures were destroyed during massive U.S. military assaults in April, and again in November 2004, and more than four years later, in the “new Iraq,” the city continues to languish.

The shells of buildings pulverized by U.S. bombs, artillery, or mortar fire back then still line Fallujah’s main street, or rather, what’s left of it. As one of the few visible signs of reconstruction in the city, that street — largely destroyed during the November 2004 siege — is slowly being torn up in order to be repaved.

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Security in Iraq: Relatively Speaking

Relative security.
Despite security gains in Iraq, civilians still struggle to gain some sense of normalcy. (Photo: Getty Images)

Our dear friend Dahr Jamail, winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize, is back in Iraq and here are his impressions.  He writes, ‘yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004’.  As for employment, Dahr reports that the line of work with highest job security is that of the grave digger.

If there is to be any degree of honesty in our communication, we must begin to acknowledge that the lexicon of words that describes the human condition is no longer universally applicable.

I am in Iraq after four years away.

Most Iraqis I talked with on the eve of the first provincial elections being held after 2005 told me “security is better.”

I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is “better,” compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number.

But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004.

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