Friday, March 25, 2011

The protests, the corruption, the war

Great Iraqi Revolution

That photo of Iraqis demanding a better way of life can be found at the Facebook page for the Great Iraqi Revolution and that's in English, you can also refer to the group's Iraqi Revolution page in Arabic and Support Iraq also in Arabic. If you could, for just a second, try to picture your country occupied with an unresponsive government kept in place by the occupying force. Imagine you found the strength to stand up and protest despite all that. Imagine that you faced torture as a result. And you still stood up. And the world press just didn't seem to give a damn. They were interested in this and they were interested in that but they didn't really have time for you or much interest in you.

Iraqis have stood up and ocntinue to stand up and they are the least reported although they truly have faced some of the worst obstacles. When every major TV network from every country sends correspondents in to broadcast live, it doesn't take a lot of bravery to protest. You know the world is watching. As do your leaders.

But in Iraq, Nouri's forbidden live broadcasts of the protests in Baghdad. In Iraq, Nouri's forces have arrested and tortured journalists, have prevented journalists from having access to the protests.

And still Iraqis take the street. It's no longer just an issue of what qualifies as news, it goes to the complete corruption at the heart of the American press. I was reading an e-mail this morning from an Iraqi protester and it was so sad to grasp just how ignored they are and continue to be by the same press that self-strokes over their coverage of Egypt or Tunisia or Yemen or whatever. Whatever because it's always something other than Iraq. You'd think the American press would especially feel an obligation to report on the Iraqi people since they did so much to sell the illegal war.

But then again, as we found out last year on The Diane Rehm Show, it's all a big joke to them. An Arabic caller calls in to decry Yochi Dreazen's efforts to sell a war on Iran and notes that the American press sold the war on Iraq and Diane Rehm stays silent as Yochi shows his ass on the radio, as he thinks he's clever and pretends that the press had nothing to do with the Iraq war and have no power. (It's awful cute that this was the same Diane Rehm promoting Bill Moyers return to PBS a few years back with how the Iraq War was sold.) Not only did Diane stay silent but the 'great' McClatchy Newspapers' Roy Gutman couldn't stop chortling. Remember that the next time you offer McClatchy praise for work that they didn't do. Knight-Ridder, not McClatchy, is the one that did some strong reporting. Knight-Ridder ceased to be in July 2006.

If you missed that moment, and too many did, you can read Ava and my "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" and this section specifically:

On things worth hearing, Iraq did surface briefly and accidentally on Diane Rehms's show Friday. Yochi's usual and expected attacks on Iran resulted in Ashraf calling in to correct Yohci's incessant lies. In the process, Ashraf declared, "I think that, for all the reporters, they should be more responsible because what happened in Iraq was because of the reporters. Misinformation and stirring just to get the rage up. "

You just knew Yochi wasn't having any of it. He stopped digging around his asshole with his own tongue long enough to exclaim, "I think all of us who work for a somewhat beleaguered industry would wish that the media was as powerful as to have caused a war. [Roy Gutman is heard guffawing if you listen closely. Shame on him.] There were deep flaws in the reporting pre-war in Iraq. To say that the media caused the war is, I think, a stretch."

First off, Yochi, the economy sucks for nearly everyone, it's a recession, you idiot. Second, the media lied, the media is responsible for helping Bush sell the illegal war. That Roy Gutman's fat ass could be heard chortling on air was disgusting since Roy worked for Knight-Ridder which was the only outlet that refused to play megaphone and actually and consistently do reporting. Shame on you, Roy Gutman. You damn well know better.

But in Yochi's rush to lie (speaking even faster than usual), you see why Helen was served up. It wasn't about what she said. If it was about what she said, Alicia and Yochi and all the rest wouldn't have to lie and could actually quote her. Helen was killed by the press. By little whores like Ann Compton (the years weren't kind so she had to move to radio and now she's allegedly holding onto her laughable marriage with her fingernails -- listen closely for the RRRRIPPPP!), Yochi and Alicia and so, so many more. And it was because she did what they didn't. She questioned, she called out. She did what they wouldn't. Alicia castigates Helen for being anti-war -- failing to grasp just what that says about Alicia Shepard.


The war in Iraq is supposedly over. The U.S. administration says the occupation, which began on March 20 eight years ago, is ending as well, with the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. But as the U.S., Great Britain and France begin another military intervention in North Africa, their respective administrations are silent about the price Iraqis are paying for the last one.
Not so the Iraqi, however. Demonstrations have taken place in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk, among other cities, calling on the U.S. in particular to stop its escalating military intervention in Libya. Iraqi unions have been especially vocal, linking the U.S. invasion of Iraq with continued misery for its working people. According to one union representative, Abdullah Muhsin of the General Federation of Iraqi workers, "Eight years have ended since the fall of Saddam's regime, yet the empty promises of the "liberators" - the invaders and the occupiers who promised Iraqis heaven and earth - were simply lies, lies and lies."
The GFIW, which supported the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, says the U.S. should "allow the people of Libya, Bahrain and other countries to determine their own destiny by themselves." Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, says violence directed against workers and unions is intended to keep a lid on protests against miserable living conditions. "We are still under occupation," he charges. "The new Iraqi army, created by the U.S. occupation, is doing the same job, protecting the corrupt government while we are suffering from the difficulties of daily life."
"There's no electricity most of the time, and no drinking water - no services at all," says Qasim Hadi, president of the Union of Unemployed of Iraq. Eight years after the start of the U.S. military intervention, "there's hardly even any repair of the war damage - there's still rubble in the streets. People are going hungry."
Despite often-extreme levels of violence in the years of occupation, Iraqis have never stopped protesting these conditions. When demonstrations broke out in other countries of the Middle East and North Africa, people in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk had been taking to the streets for years. In large part, protests continued in Iraq because living conditions never changed, despite promises of what the fall of Saddam Hussein would bring.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.

Al Mada reports on what the youth movement protesters are saying, that they have been protesting since February 26th to bring about a better Iraq and that the government cannot hide behind the walls of the Green Zone.

In other news, Al Mada reports that the Baghdad Operations Command has announced the recent wave of assassinations are being carried out by . . . al Qaeda in Iraq. Did you see it coming? That puts you several up on the Baghdad Operations Command, doesn't it?

No word on how many people it took to conduct that 'investigation' or how many 'hours' of 'investigating' before they 'cracked the case.' Al Rafidayn adds that Baghdad Operations Command has also 'solved' the weapons issues: the assassins are using silencers (on guns) and bombs. Shocking. It's only been a pattern for how long now? Al Rafidayn also reports that an intelligence officer with the Ministry of Defence was found shot dead in his Al Muthanna Airport office in Baghdad.

In other patterns, Al Mada reports that the Ministry of Electricity has announced a 'plan' to provide 16 hours of electricity come 2012. This sort of thing has been promised before and apparently everyone's supposed to pretend otherwise. Part of what is fueling the protests in Iraq is the refusal to forget all the broken promises of the last eight years.

We'll close with this from Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis' "Instead of Bombing Dictators, Stop Selling Them Bombs" (

When all you have are bombs, everything starts to look like a target. And so after years of providing Libya’s dictator with the weapons he’s been using against the people, all the international community – France, Britain and the United States – has to offer the people of Libya is more bombs, this time dropped from the sky rather than delivered in a box to Muammar Gadhafi’s palace.

If the bitter lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan has taught us anything, though, it’s that wars of liberation exact a deadly toll on those they purportedly liberate – and that democracy doesn’t come on the back of a Tomahawk missile.

President Barack Obama announced his latest peace-through-bombs initiative last week — joining ongoing U.S. conflicts and proxy wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — by declaring he could not “stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and … where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.”

Within 24 hours of the announcement, more than 110 U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired into Libya, including the capital Tripoli, reportedly killing dozens of innocent civilians — as missiles, even the “smart” kind, are wont to do. According to The New York Times, allied warplanes with “brutal efficiency” bombed “tanks, missile launches, and civilian cars, leaving a smoldering trail of wreckage that stretched for miles.”

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