Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Hate The War

There was widespread condemnation from around the world today of an Iraqi court ruling fining the Guardian for reporting criticism of the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
A broad range of leading journalists, Iraq experts, civic society activists and former officials involved in Iraq's postwar reconstruction said the ruling and fine – for an article quoting intelligence officials as saying Maliki was becoming increasingly authoritarian – reflected a marked decline in press freedom in Iraq.
The article was written by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an award-winning Iraqi staff correspondent for the Guardian.
Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, said: "This ruling has to send a shiver up the spine of anyone who hopes for a genuinely democratic Iraq. What the court calls libel is, in most countries, called journalism.
"Indeed, if a respected journalist like Ghaith Abdul-Ahad can be punished for reporting on concerns about a trend toward authoritarian government, the verdict would seem to lend credence to those very concerns."

The above is from Julian Borger's "Guardian fined by Iraqi court in ruling seen as attack on press freedom" (Guardian) and it's probably the most important story of the week.

While speaking to various groups today, we'd raise this topic, the chilling effect on journalism in Iraq, the desire of the court or 'court' to ignore the evidence and testimony and 'score one for the Thugger' Nouri al-Maliki.

And regardless of the age of the group we're speaking to, young adult, adult, teenagers in high school, everyone gets it. Everyone grasps that something wicked this way comes when Nouri's allowed to enrich himself and attack journalism at the same time.

Everyone grasps that the US military being on the ground to protect this new Saddam is disgusting.

This 'verdict' reveals the assertion of the 'good' that the US supposedly could do or would do or might do if they could just continue to stay X days to be a big joke. The US military has protected Nouri for over 3 years now. And it's been no help to the Iraqi people.

It's also frightening for what it says about the US press. Instead of rushing to the defense of the Guardian -- which is clearly under attack -- they all stick their heads in the sand.

A 16-year-old raised the issue of Barack, Anita Dunne and Valerie Jarrett's verbal attacks on Fox News and wondered how much Barack's behavior and Bully Boy Bush's before gave "Maliki the feeling that he had the go-ahead to go after the press"? It's a question that should be asked. The US repeatedly holds itself up as an example for Iraq. It does that by sending in their civilian 'surge' that's going to show Iraq how things are done. (Of course, if Iraqis -- as opposed to Iraqi exiles who returned to Iraq after the US invaded -- were in charge of their own country, they wouldn't need anyone to show them what to do. They know their country, they don't have to learn on the fly the way these exiles do.) So when the US presents itself as an example and President Barack Obama or Oval Office Occupant Bully Boy Bush starts attacking the press, starts spitting on it and putting it down, it sure does send a message to Nouri al-Maliki and any other US puppet around the globe.

If Nouri's not called out on this, forget about worrying about the foreign press in Iraq, start worrying about the press in Iraq when all the foreigners leave. Nouri needs to be called out and Iraqi journalists need to know the world supports them and the world supports a free press. Reporters are going to have an awful time in Iraq for many years to come. But letting them know that the outside world does care about a free press in Iraq? That kind of message could give them some comfort in what are going to be some very dark hours.

Think about the Iraqis, the citizens and the message that the world's silence right now sends. They emerged from Saddam. They were under the impression that things would be a little more open. Certainly the satellite dishes and the internet allowed them to enjoy some freedoms they couldn't experience in Iraq before. And Nouri's response, of course, is to try to censor the internet and try to limit the access to TV channels from outside Iraq. For 'moral' reasons. That's rich. Coming from Nouri al-Maliki who has several homes now -- though the press doesn't report, now do they -- after over three years as "prime minister" while Iraqis still don't have potable water or regular and dependable electricity, that's rich. Suddenly he cares about others, suddenly he wants to care.

The Iraqis are seeing something unfold before their eyes right now. Their rights are being curtailed, their own press is under attack, but the press from outside Iraq -- from the East and the West -- this press they've heard so much about, it's not saying a damn word. (Other than the Guardian.) And it's sending the message to them that, yet again, the world's media is going to avoid calling out an Iraqi despot. Yet again, Iraqis are being told, you will suffer and you will do so without the attention and the spotlight of the international press.

What an 'inspiring' message for the world press to send to Iraqis mere weeks before they intend to vote.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4359. Tonight? 4362.

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