Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iraq & The Media- The Sixth Year

The five year anniversary of the war in Iraq went by last week. Media highlights included speaking to military figures, politicians and others as they recounted incidents of battle and occupation. What was sorely lacking from most coverage however was the blatant complicity of the media itself. With the exception of investigative journalists like PBS Bill Moyers Buying the War, the media has done little in accounting its own role in the lead up to war--which unfortunately is not as uncommmon as we'd like to think. So it wasn't surprising that when confronted with a bit of truth about Iraq, that does not follow the laid out narrative that both the US government and the media has agreed upon, some news pundits aren't certain how to react. Such was the case on a recent episode of Charlie Rose, where two Iraqi nationals (now living in the US, a journalist and a professor) voiced their opposition to the US invasion and occupation of their country, and recounted the great suffering that had taken place because of it, much to the surprise of their seemingly combative (and disbelieving) host.

Investigative journalist and media critic Glenn Greenwald posted excerpts of the surprisingly frank interview on in the article What Can and Cannot Be Spoken on Television. The Iraqis interviewed not only speak out against the Iraqi Occupation, but the entire US history in the region--from its prior support of dictator Saddam Hussein to the Gulf War to the disastrous sanctions era. Rose, who has a constant need to talk over his guests, attempting to correct or translate their words, seems to try to push the conversation where he wishes it would go, and comes off as America's apologist.

ROSE: And obviously, what we want to accomplish on this fifth anniversary of the American invasion, or the coalition invasion of Iraq, is how they see it as Iraqis, five years later.

When asked for an assessment by Charlie Rose:

ALI FADHIL: That's a big question, assessment. Well, basically, probably, I`ll kind of sum it in a few words.

It's -- we have a country where the government is not functioning after five years. We have too many internal problems. And we have the violence increasing day after day.

We have a huge crisis of refugees inside and outside Iraq. We have a total failure of the -- of the civilian -- the civilian structure and what's happening inside. We have the sectarian divisions increasing. We didn't have that before. Now we have it.

So, basically, my assessment is we have a whole nation called Iraq, now it's wiped out.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Iraq is worse off because the United States came?

ALI FADHIL: It's worse off because the United States came to Iraq, definitely, and because the United States did all these mistakes in Iraq.

CHARLIE ROSE: So where do we go from here? Five years after the invasion of Iraq, what is a wise American policy?

ALI FADHIL: Let me start with telling you what is happening right now, what is the American policy right now in Iraq.

It's so shame to say that America is in Iraq right now, and particularly the State Department and also the Pentagon as well, the U.S. Army in Iraq. They're going back to Saddam's policies in everything. . . . If you, you know, name it, name the most successful project of the surge -- outcome of the surge, the (INAUDIBLE) councils. You know, these insurgents, the Sunnis, even Shiites.

CHARLIE ROSE: The so-called awakening.

ALI FADHIL: Awakening council, exactly. They're giving them money to protect their own neighborhoods. Isn't that the same what happened under Saddam? . . .

Anything [Americans] do -- probably even in good intentions -- is bad for us, everything they do, everything. There's nothing they're doing is right.

And that's what is going to happen. It's just prolonging the diaspora of the Iraqis. We're suffering more and more every day. We need, you know, to start the salvation (ph). . .

SINAN ANTOON: The president today said something really obscene to my mind. He said Iraq is witnessing the first Arab uprising against al Qaeda.

We did not have al Qaeda in Iraq before.We had a ruthless dictatorship.

You can read more excerpts of the interview here:

Excerpts of interview with Sinan Antoon and Ali Fadhil

Also view that interview here:

Video Excerpt from Charlie Rose

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