C.I.: This is an Iraq roundtable. From time to time, over the years, we've done these on Iraq and on Afghanistan. This roundtable will go up at all the sites of the people participating. It was last minute. Here's who is participating: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim and Ava; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts; Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and
I'm C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review.
A few basics. Ava is taking notes. When I'm not speaking, I'll be
helping her there. We thank her for the note taking. Her stipulation
for participation was she didn't want to speak. That's more than fine.
C.I. (Con't): We're using as an illustration a photograph of brave
Iraqis in Samarra holding a message for the world -- and this photo belongs to Iraqi Spring MC.
They are the official voice for the Iraqi Spring. The message is four
sentences: "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us? Wake Up,
this is an IRAQI REVOLUTION Not a Sectarian One! Iraqis Did not Vote for
an Iranian Dictatorship Women Rights in Democratic Iraq Are
Marcia: What I found interesting was that the sign was in English -- and I was briefly puzzled, but then Ava told me --
Ava: To get the message out in the US, you pretty much have to put it in
English. We're not France or Germany in that we can claim to speak
multiple languages in large numbers.
Marcia: And of everyone participating in this, C.I.'s the only one who
reads and speaks Arabic. Let me clear that up, we don't read it and we
don't speak it. Rebecca, Elaine, Ann, Ruth, Ava and Wally speak more
than one language. And for a group our size, that may be out of the
norm -- we should probably, to be fully representative of America, have
fewer who speak more than just English. But that was smart of the
protesters to realize that and I really love that we'll all be reposting
this roundtable at our sites and the thing that even the casual
observer will see is this massive protest in Samarra and the sign
Ann: I think it was also smart to put Barack Obama into the sign. It's
smart because he does have a responsibility but it's also smart because
it grabs Americans and plays on the reality that we are responsible --
along with England and Australia -- for the illegal war. I think it's
smart and great that it gets Barack's name up there right at the start.
C.I.: You're saying, Ann, that there is guilt to be shared in America and that it plays to that guilt.
Ann: Right. It pulls you in. As an American, I read it and know my
country started this continuing crime against the Iraqi people and by
bringing in the American leader and basically saying, "What are you
going to do?" -- it kicks the responsibility over to where it belongs.
Ruth: I agree and I am also impressed with the size of the turnout. This has been going on for months now, correct?
C.I.: Yes, since December 21st.
Prior to that, in December, Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement
leader, had been insulted by Nouri al-Maliki, thug and prime minister.
This had led his followers to take to the streets in large numbers. But
in terms of ongoing protests, it's December 21st.
Ruth: And they have grown. They are sizable and this despite the fact that these protesters are targeted by Nouri's forces.
Cedric: January 25th, they were assaulted in Falluja and nine were killed. March 8th,
3 were killed in the attack in Mosul. And they were attacked by Nouri's
forces. It's really amazing that we're sending Nouri weapons, we're
spending billions of US dollars to prop up his government and he's
attacking his own people.
Kat: It really is pathetic. And we were forewarned. What did Joe Biden say?
C.I.: When he was still in the Senate?
C.I.: April 10, 2008 he noted that the US was being asked "to take sides
in Iraq's civil war" and, among other things, "We want to normalize a
government that really doesn't exist."
Kat: And now he's vice president. And I'd just love an interviewer to
read those comments back to him and ask him what the hell he thinks the
US is doing in Iraq today? And I'm sick of liars like R. Jeffrey Smith -- in fact, since 2008, the so-called Center for Public Integrity has been one big joke.
Jim: I agree with you about the laughable Center for Public Integrity. What did Smith do?
Kat: Wrote an idiotic article. To believe his garbage and others, you
have to be monumentally stupid and believe the US stopped spending money
in Iraq under Bush. It didn't stop spending in 2011. It still
spends. And we've got no real oversight of that money so you'd think a
real reporter would be noting that. R. Jeffrey Smith is just another
partisan whore, he's not a reporter.
Trina: Like Kat, I'm sick of all that crud. I'm sick of these jerks and
asses who think they can write their anti-Bush rhetoric and pretend
like they did something.
Ava: Jumping in again even though I said I wouldn't. Trina, you're not
saying you're pro-Bush, clarify that because some reader will
Trina: Thank you. No, I'm not pro-Bush. But I'm sick of these writer
who write their partisan whoring. There's a lot to blame Barack on --
and not just voting on all the funding as a senator. There's a lot to
blame him on as president. It's when he's president that Nouri loses
the vote but Barack forces him off on Iraqis -- via The Erbil Agreement
-- as a prime minister for another term. It is under Barack, not Bully
Boy Bush, that Iraq's Emo youth and LGBT community is targeted with
death in such ghastly and public ways that it actually gets serious
media attention. And the White House response? Never to speak of it.
Marcia: I see something like that and just wonder how anyone can get
away with that. Barack has been so awful for human rights around the
world. And with Iraq wanting those F-16s next year -- over 30 in all --
I'd say the White House could do a lot to improve human rights in Iraq
by setting serious conditions before the delivery of even one jet.
C.I.: Last week, Ruth wrote "Brett McGurk spits in Iraqi women's faces," Rebecca, any thoughts?
Rebecca: Brett McGurk was Barack's third nominee to be US Ambassador to
Iraq in Barack's first term. He didn't become the ambassador. Turned
out, he had an inappropriate relationship with a reporter, Gina Chon,
while he was in Iraq during the Bush years. In Iraq, there is such a
thing as 'honor' killings. That's where someone thinks I've brought
disgrace to our family so a family member kills me. Brett McGurk is now
known in Iraq as the adulterer. As the American who came to Iraq and
didn't respect the sanctity of marriage. To be clear, I've divorced
multiple times. I'm not talking here about my own values. I'm talking
about Iraq. Which would have been the host country if McGurk had been
confirmed as ambassador. Now it's being reported that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran will be McGurk.
As you've pointed out, there's no way he goes to Iraq and women are
comfortable around him. They have a private meeting with him and it's
"Slut! You've disgraced the family!" And the woman could be killed just
for meeting -- or being thought to have met -- with Brett McGurk. Why
would you want to select anyone for a post if you knew that half the
country would be unable to interact with the person?
Isaiah: What McGurk has going for him in Barack's mind is that McGurk
and Nouri are tight. Iraqiya lodged a complaint when the administration
first announced McGurk was the nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq. This
time around, I think if they were to launch a campaign like, "Keep
Iraqi women safe, Keep Brett McGurk out of Iraq," it would be enough to
kill his chances of being the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
Iraq and Iran.
C.I.: Isaiah, why do you feel that Barack sees the close relationship McGurk and Nouri have as a good thing?
Isaiah: Because Barack's primary goal is to preserve Nouri as prime minister.
Wally: Right, they're not even -- the administration -- saying anything
about Nouri's decision to run for a third term. That's not announced
but it's known by the fact that the law Parliament just passed limiting
the prime minister to two terms is one Nouri keeps appealing to the
Stan: And as Wally knows, it also -- that law -- covers the president of
Iraq and the Speaker of Parliment. All three are limited to two
terms. The Constitution already limited the president.
Wally: Right. What we see under Barack is a disregard for the safety
and comfort of the Iraqi people. He just wants to keep the puppet
installed and he will -- and he has -- overlook anything in order to
keep Nouri in power.
Stan: I feel very sorry for the Iraqi people.
Stan: They went to the polls in 2010 and their voters were tossed aside
because Barack had to have Nouri get a second term. Can you imagine
that? Some pushy foreigners invade your country, tear it apart and tell
you, 'hey, we brought you democracy!' Then you go to vote in the
elections, you risk violence, and what happens is that your vote gets
tossed aside because those same damn foreigners who invaded now refuse
to let your country's voice be heard. How could you even use the term
democracy after that except as a punch line to a bad joke?
C.I.: Strong points all. Stan, last week you wrote about counter-insurgency in "What the US government did in Iraq," Did you want to talk about that?
Stan: Well you and Ava covered the documentary James Steele: America's Myster Man In Iraq in "TV: The War Crimes Documentary"
and I think that really captures it. My point in writing that post was
really just to be on record calling out counter-insurgency. And I
think if people really gave a damn about political prisoner and whistle
blower Bradley Manning, they would talk about the realities of
counter-insurgency. That doesn't happen and so I wanted to be on record
and I also wanted to back up you and Elaine who have covered this topic
C.I.: I agree with you, Stan, it is important to be on the record
opposing counter-insurgency. It amazes me that we think a 'debate' is
on whether it's effective or not and not on how outrageous war on a
native people itself is. Mike, Elaine and Betty haven't spoken yet.
So, as we wind down, I want to toss to them. What is the story that
stands out most to you with regards to the Iraq War? Betty, would you
like to go first?
Betty: I certainly would. I'll go with the March 12, 2006, gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.
To me that really was one of the biggest stories. Also one of the most
telling. For any who don't know, Abeer was a young teenager.
14-years-old. And American soldiers, with Steven D. Green as
ringleader, plotted to rape her. They entered her family home, the
gang-rape began with two soldiers -- one holding Abeer down while the
other had his turn at rape -- and Green went into the other room with
the parents and Abeer's five-year-old sister. Abeer was being raped and
could hear the gun shots -- and probably the screams -- of her parents
and her baby sister as she was being raped. And how awful that she's
being gang-raped but she also knows that she's going to die. At that
moment, she knows. "I must get out of this"? That line from Tori Amos' "Me and A Gun."
Where the woman is getting raped and she's thinking about bisquits and
anything else to try to leave her body during this horrific crime and
she's telling herself "I must get out of this." But before the
gang-rape was over, Abeer knew she wouldn't. She heard the gun shots
and I'm sure there were screams and cries and that she heard those as
Mike: Right. She hears all of that, like Betty said. And I agree,
there were screams and cries. Steven D. Green is shooting the little
five-year-old girl, the mother and the father. I would assume that the
father being the strongest that he shoots him first. And that has the
mother and daughter screaming and crying. And Abeer hears that gun shot
and the cries and screams. Then another gun shot. Then a third. And
nothing. And then Steven D. Green's in the room and the other two US
soldiers step away and Green begins raping Abeer. And she knows this
man raping her is the man who just killed her parents and her kid
sister. And she knows he's going to kill her. And he does. Then, to
try to hide their War Crimes, they set her body on fire. It's just
disgusting. And it's really like the story of the illegal war. America
was going to 'help.' And Green was stationed in the corner of Abeer's
block to provide security, to 'help.' And instead, he starts lusting
after this 14-year-old girl, staring at her, he can't keep his hands to
himself and she complains to her parents and they get a relative who'll
take Abeer in. But the night before she leaves, Green and company break
into her house and that's that.
Elaine: I'm going to agree with Betty and Mike. I think it was
telling. I think Mike's right about how it is basically a metaphor for
the US actions in Iraq. I agree with Betty's logical conclusion that
Abeer heard screams and cries while she was being raped -- and gun
shots. But what I'd point out was that we saw the reaction to Abeer.
C.I.: Which was?
Elaine: Silence. Jane Fonda
gave a great speech about her. But Women's Media Center, which Fonda's a
part of, could have amplified the speech, could have given the story
life. They ignored it. So many other outlets did as well. There were
several military trials of the soldiers involved. Steven D. Green, the
ringleader, had a civilian trial because he'd already left the
military. There was no rush to cover it. This is after the others have
confessed their crimes. Green is the last one tried. The Nation
wasn't interested, Democracy Now! didn't give a damn. That's just to
name a few. My point being that the War Crimes -- and that's what was
done to Abeer and her family, War Crimes -- were ignored by the bulk of
the media. This let us know how unimportant Iraq was to so many in the
press -- no matter how often they used it during a pledge cycle to beg
for more money.
C.I.: Okay. If I missed anyone, now's your chance to say so? No one. Okay, I promised Jim he could wrap it up.
Jim: The big takeaway for me with Iraq isn't that the US screwed things
up in 2003. It's that the US continues to screw things up. The US
government has prevented the 2010 election results from being honored,
to give one example. And there's been too much appeasing Nouri. I want
everyone reading this to get that we have called out the appeasement of
Nouri al-Maliki. If he gets a third term, as he wants, he's in for
life. He moves from Little Saddam to Big Saddam. I want people to
realize that and realize that it was called out in real time. The US
puppets don't turn into tyrants over time. They're selected to be
installed because they already are tyrants. And 20 years from now when
President Lady GaGa is saying we have to invade Iraq to save the Iraqis
from Nouri al-Maliki, I want people to remember that everyone didn't
stick their heads in the sand and play dumb in real time.
C.I.: Alright. Thank you, Jim. This is a rush transcript and we thank
everyone who participated. Most of all, we thank the Iraqi people for
their courage and strength to go on day after day, even after repeatedly
facing the wrath of the US government.