Monday, December 13, 2010

The vanishing Iraq coverage

October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was stormed. At least 70 people died, at least 70 were wounded in an incident that kicked off the most recent wave of attacks targeting Iraqi Christians. Following that attack, other attacks in Baghdad and attacks in Mosul followed. Iraqi Christians are fleeing, many of them to the KRG. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports, "This new exodus, which is not the first, highlights the continuing displacement of Iraqis despite improved security over all and the near-resolution of the political impasse that gripped the country after elections in March. It threatens to reduce further what Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East called 'a community whose roots were in Iraq even before Christ'." Last week kicked off with the murder of two elderly Christians -- a married Iraqi couple -- who were in the midst of selling their furniture as they prepared to leave Baghdad for good in two days.

The never-ending waves of violence have created the largest refugee crisis in the region. Jon Nielsen (Dallas Morning News) reports on Hiyam Al Dosakee and Jamal Al Obaidi, Iraqi refugees who are now in Dallas, Texas. Jamal was a publisher and a reporter and he and his family fled Iraq after he was kidnapping following his publishing an article detailing the intimidation taking place:

These people didn't want a ransom, that wasn't the purpose of kidnappings like mine. In order to control a population, you have to send a message that no opposition will be tolerated.
I hoped I would not die, but I knew I would not be released. For over a month, every day, I feared that it would be my last. Three other men who were kidnapped with me were killed, but luckily the American army staged a rescue and with 7 other people I was freed.
It was a difficult time for my wife and sons, and we knew that they would probably try again, and I probably would not survive a second attempt on my life.
Three months later, on November 3, 2005, my family and I fled to Syria.

Photojournalist Michael Kamber speaks to Phil Coomes (BBC News):

"I have the luxury to work on contract for The New York Times, probably the only remaining paper in the world with the budget and commitment to finance photojournalism on a large scale. And I'm proud of my paper - we've covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from top to bottom, start to finish. Three hundred people were recently laid off, but the NYT's foreign bureaux remain open.
"Yet we are the last stalwarts; my photojournalist friends at other mainstream newspapers say their travel budgets are gone. The LA Times, US News and Newsweek appear to be sliding towards bankruptcy; The Washington Post closed nearly all its foreign bureaux; Time is a shadow of its former self."

All week Coomes will be offering conversations with photojournalists. And in terms of Iraq and elsewhere, you need to wonder where the news is going to come from. For example, the stringers providing incidents of violence mean less and less to the reporters not in Iraq as you can see by the fact that violence -- which continues in Iraq -- is less and less reported in the US outlets. Who's going to report on it, who's going to care?

Part of selling the SOFA as end of the Iraq War was outlets needing to justify cutting their costs and coverage. Here's the mouth of the war establishment on the US future in Iraq:

Iraq, the second most expensive "war of choice" (after Vietnam) in American history, is for the United States reaching a level of effort that will no longer absorb substantial military and economic resources or garner significant domestic political attention. All US troops are due to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
Even if, as seems likely, several thousand soldiers remain, the number will be small and their role limited to advising and training Iraqi military and police forces and conducting missions against terrorists. Eight years, 4,300 lost American lives, and more than a trillion dollars later, it will be, for better or worse, mostly Iraqis who determine their country’s future.

That's the Council on Foreign Relations' Richard N. Haass -- assuring you that a smaller number of US service members may remain in Iraq but it's not big deal and they'll be doing these 'different duties. (Those are the same duties that they've been doing all along.) And 'no big deal' because the press won't be there to cover it. Another US occupation that goes on forever and ever and, forty or fifty years from now, it'll be time to take out whatever thug dictator the US government imposed upon the people, make noises about 'democracy' and start the degradation all over again.

In England, people can see a new film on war -- at the movies today and on their TVs tomorrow. This is "See John Pilger's new film 'The War You Don't See'" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Radical journalist John Pilger's new film is released in cinema's today (Monday). It will be shown on television tomorrow (Tuesday).

The film is a powerful and timely investigation into the media's role in war, tracing the history of 'embedded' and independent reporting from the carnage of World War One to the destruction of Hiroshima, and from the invasion of Vietnam to the current war in Afghanistan and disaster in Iraq.

On Tuesday 14 December, ITV will broadcast 'The War You Don't See' at 10.35pm

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Honey Pot"
went up last night. Today on Law and Disorder Radio (airs on WBAI today at 9:00 am EST and around the country throughout the week), finds Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith discussing Latin America with Eva Golinger and the Michaels also discuss WikiLeaks at the top of the show and do so in a way that others should take a lesson from. And we'll close with this from Tim King's "Gilad Atzmon: 'I Have a Reputation for Being a Suicidal Activist'" (Salem News):

Born in Israel; Gilad Atzmon is the musical note from a song of peace that binds our solidarity and builds strength for the freedom of Palestine. I wish I could say the same for more people born in Israel.
I often tell people that the strongest voices in the struggle to free Palestine come from our Jewish brothers and sisters who remain absolutely steadfast in their belief that at the end of the day, we are all exactly the same as human beings. To be clear, Gilad is no longer Jewish; but the point remains.
Most men would be happy to overflow with musical talent the way Gilad does, but these days music is his tool for world peace; more so than an ultimate goal. His stunning career as a musician, particularly as an alto sax player, spans a list of notoriety. Gilad has worked with Ian Dury, Robbie Williams, Sinead O'Connor, Paul McCartney and many others. Today, along with Eddie Hick on Drums, Yaron Stavi and Frank Harrison, Gilad is a member of the Orient House Ensemble.
That would indeed be a life's journey for most, but Gilad's real measurable passion is with the Palestinian people and his goal is their restoration. Like all activists in this regard, Gilad has his critics; though there is not a soul in the ranks of the dedicated who do not admire him.
During a recent talk in Stuttgart, Germany, Gilad made points that perhaps were shocking, but consistent with the reality of the history of Palestine and Israel.
Americans, Canadians and Britons have long had a role in the story that leads to the current quagmire in Palestine. Biblical scripture is the excuse for Israel having taken over the land in the first place. Gilad explains, "It was quite a nice idea, but it comes at the expense of other people you know?"
What began as a realistic idea, the Jewish return to the homeland; has become a nightmare that impacts the Palestinian people, and in effect the whole world.
Those attending the meeting in Stuttgart, heard Gilad's explanation of how the Israeli people are not necessarily interested in world peace, but a peace that affects the Jewish population. He says, contrary to what I have written in the past, that the word 'shalom' does not mean peace. He says its real meaning is "security for the Jewish people".
"Just because the notion of loving your neighbor is foreign to this culture, this is why Christ is such an interesting revelation. Let's accept the fact that we are all brothers and sisters."
This is not a universal thought in Israel, he says.

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