Thursday, February 21, 2013

The US Independent Press: Failing Iraq, Failing Itself

February 15, 2003 was a day of global protests with people marching to say no to the planned war on Iraq.  Ten years later, Ian Taylor offers "The Iraq war protest march: how hope was lost" (New Statesman):

The success of the march, in terms of the number and diversity of people on it, led to some surprisingly positive press coverage. In contrast to most demos, these marchers could not all be dismissed as a bunch of Trots and Sixties throwbacks. It also allowed leading figures from the movement, such as Tony Benn, George Galloway and Lindsey German, the national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, to appear on Question Time and Newsnight, and appeared to embolden the left of the Labour Party to speak out more vigorously against the war.
Looking back, I can distinctly recall the sense of celebratory optimism on the day. “They can’t ignore us now” was a common refrain. In fact, the march did more than that: it had leading figures of the government seriously worried, right up to the prime minister. If Alastair Campbell’s Diaries are to be believed, Tony Blair confessed to having slept uneasily that night.

It's continued coverage from The New Statesman.  As part of the coverage, there's Caroline Hawley's "Iraq's 'freedom' is still steeped in blood," Adnan Hussein's "A new kind of dictatorship" and Jason Cowley's "Back to the future -- Kraftwerk at the Tate and Iraq war regrets."

In the US?  Silence.

Silence from The Nation, silence from The Progressive, silence from In These Times . . . Silence.  It's why they're useless, why their circulation and web 'hits' continue to drop.  They have nothing to say.

And they're too stupid to grasp how badly their silence hurts.  It hurts any chance of a movement because progress requires something to build on.  It hurts them connect with young and younger readers because this was a defining moment for many teenagers and young adults -- the outbreak of the war -- and opposition to the war was strong among the under 18 set then who are adults now.  They could be speaking to those people, picking them up as readers, but they're not interested because that would mean covering Iraq.

So a whole group of people from 32 to say 14 right now who could be reading the magazines and visiting the magazines' websites have no reason to do so.  

Whatever their pet issue of the moment is?  They could be promoting it to a new audience.  Instead, they commit publishing suicide over and over.

There are lessons to be learned and lessons to be shared, knowledge to be passed on.  Instead, The Nation's running interference for Barack as usual.  Probably a good thing.  Their promotion of John Brennan really makes them a pro-war publication today.  The Progressive believes they're making (bad) history with their (bad) film coverage that no one will recall in six months, let alone six years.  In These Times is the table set up outside the arena where Dave Matthews Band is performing, a thousand different pamphlets that will never register with any but the already dedicated because it's too damn much for a passer by to absorb.

I'm told The New Statesman had a traffic surge last week as they offered their Iraq coverage.

Reviewing Nick Turse's book Kill Anything That Moves today at The Daily BeastJake Whitney wonders,  "How many tales like the Vietnamese woodcutters occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan? Will their stories ever be heard? Sure, some of them have been but one suspects there are many more."  Even those that have been heard have been heard predominately because of the Mainstream Media.  A 14-year-old Iraqi girl is gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers and where's 'independent media'?  Not interested.  Our 'feminist' Katha Pollitt has to be mocked and publicly rebuked for months before she can even mention -- in a half-sentence -- that War Crime.  They failed in real time, they continue to fail.  It's why their slow deaths are not being mourned, they have nothing to offer.

In England, there is a vibrant culture of activism.  That's never going to be true here when our outlets are ahistorical and think a pargraph plugging Rachel Maddow's bad, xenophobic MSNBC 'special' is writing about Iraq.

Again this approach does not help build a movement and doesn't help build an audience for your magazine.

The following community sites -- plus Black Agenda Report, Reporters Without Borders, Dissident Voice, The Diane Rehm Show, C-SPAN,, Susan's On the Edge, Pacifica Evening News, the ACLU and Adam Kokesh -- updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

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