Wednesday, May 16, 2007

War against Journalism: Truth vs. Consequences

Bridgethought of the Day: If you want to know what really is going on with any particular issue, never believe the first thing that hits you - it's probably a lie. Keep looking for what destabilizes you most, if you are living a predictable life, or what hits you in the gut as most obviously true, if your life is a struggle, as it should be.

Truth is out there. You just gotta use your brain to find it.

An excerpt from on Iraq, and what true journalism should - and DID - report, way back from Day One. Journalism in the person of Patrick Cockburn. Something the American public knows nothing about.

Patrick Cockburn has been hailed by Sidney Blumenthal in Salon as "one of the
most accurate and intrepid journalists in Iraq." And that's hardly praise
enough, given what the man has done. The Middle Eastern correspondent for the
British newspaper The Independent, he's been on the spot from the moment when,
in February 2003, he secretly crossed the Tigris River into Iraq just before the
Bush administration launched its invasion.
Here, for instance, is a typical striking
passage of his, written in May 2003, just weeks after Baghdad fell. If you read
it then, you hardly needed the massive retrospective volumes like Thomas Rick's
Fiasco that took years to come out:
"[T]he civilian leadership of the
Pentagon… are uniquely reckless, arrogant and ill informed about Iraq. At the
end of last year [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz was happily saying
that he thought the Iraqi reaction to the capture of Baghdad would be much like
the entry of the U.S. Army into Paris in 1944. He also apparently believed that
Ahmed Chalabi…, then as now one of the most unpopular men in Iraq, would be the
Iraqi Charles de Gaulle.
"These past mistakes matter because the situation
in Iraq could easily become much worse. Iraqis realize that Saddam may have gone
but that the United States does not have real control of the country. Last week,
just as a[n] emissary [from head of the U.S. occupation Paul Bremer] was telling
academics at Mustansiriyah, the ancient university in the heart of Baghdad, who
should be purged from their staff, several gunmen, never identified, drove up
and calmly shot dead the deputy dean."
How much worse it's become can be measured by the two suicide bombs that went off at the same university a month apart early in 2007, killing not a single deputy dean but more than 100 (mostly female) students.
Or it can be measured by this telling little tidbit written in October 2003: "The most amazing achievement of six months of American occupation has been that it has even provoked nostalgia in parts of Iraq for Saddam. In Baiji, protesters wereholding up his picture and chanting: ‘With our blood and with our spirit we will die for you Saddam.' Who would have believed this when his statue was toppled just six months ago?"
Or by this description, written in the same month, which offers a vivid sense of why an insurgency really took off in that country:

"US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from
loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and
lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of
farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops… Asked
how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a distraught voice:
'It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me how much my hands were

Or by this singular detail from June 2004 that caught the essence of the lawlessness the U.S. occupation let loose: "Kidnap is now so common [that] new words have been added to Iraqi thieves' slang. A kidnap victim is called al-tali or the sheep." Or this summary of the situation in May 2004, one year after Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech:
"Saddam should not have been a hard act to follow. After 30 years of disastrous
wars, Iraqis wanted a quiet life. All the Americans really needed to do was to
get the relatively efficient Iraqi administration up and running again. Instead,
they let the government dissolve, and have never successfully resurrected it. It
has been one of the most extraordinary failures in history."

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