Subject: ON LEARNING TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY:
FROM THE CENTER FOR THE
ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS,
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Our research center continues to receive much mail while
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble 3
from Dahr Jamail :
Subject: Iraq Dispatches: "
** Dahr Jamail's
Iraq is burning with wrath, anger and sadness&
Leaving the hotel is always an adventure. Last night, with a
full beard and a kefir draped around my shoulders, Abut Talat
wisks me out into the chaotic streets of occupied
As we traveled around the capital, we took side roads, winding varying routes towards our destination, never daring to take the direct, most obvious path. Aside from the obvious threat of kidnapping which is my greatest concern, we travel accepting the fact that anywhere, anytime, we could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether that take the form of a car bomb like the one yesterday which detonated near a
The damp night air appeared as a haze which exaggerated the ever-present of smog in the capital. Driving around
One of our stops is at the home of Dr. Wamid Omar Nathmi, a senior political scientist at
He told me that during the buildup to the siege of Fallujah, he had sent John Negroponte, the current so-called ambassador of
Of course his letter was ignored, and now we watch in fear as the resistance is spreading across
Dr. Nathmi added, Certainly the
He asked what the difference was between what is occurring in Fallujah now to what Saddam Hussein did during his repression of the Shia Intifada which followed the 91 Gulf War. Saddam suppressed that uprising and used less awful methods than the Americans are in Fallujah today.
Dr. Nathmi is a brilliant man and certainly a warehouse of informative analysis about the events in
He held up his hands and asked, Who will provide security in Ramadi now, angels?
I can assure you, it is well over 75% of Iraqis who cannot even tolerate this occupation, he said a little later when discussing the Bush administrations attempts to whitewash the situation in
After our interview, we stopped by Abu Talat s home for a coffee and so I could say hello to his family. His son Hissan somberly asked me, When will the Americans leave, Dahr? I had no response. I don t know Hissan. I really don t know. He then said, I don t think they are ever going to leave
I snuck back into the car and we wound our way across
He insisted we stop for ice cream, which I most certainly did not refuse, then he dropped me back at my hotel.
Today dawned a grey, windy day, with fighter jets scorching the sky en route to Fallujah.
Of course the flames of resistance have now engulfed other parts of
A friend of mine who lives in al-Dora said, The resistance is in control here now, they are controlling the streets.
What few US patrols still roam the streets are attacked often. This fact underscored earlier as several large explosions nearby shook the walls of my hotel this afternoon.
Abu Talat was once again trapped in his neighborhood and we were unable to conduct an interview when fighting broke out nearby his home. He called me and said, The Iraqi Police found a car bomb, and when they were warning people about it US troops showed up and were immediately attacked with RPG s. The fighting raged for at least half an hour, and several soldiers were wounded and taken away. Now fighter jets are flying so low over our neighborhood, using their loud voices to terrorize people.
Huge areas within the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, Baquba and
Meanwhile, over near the Imam Adham mosque a huge demonstration organized by the Islamic Party (which just withdrew from the so-called interim government and recently called for a boycott of the elections), broke out. It was comprised of well over 5,000 angry people denouncing Ayad Allawi and demanding his resignation.
They also demonstrated to show that they were unafraid of the
And they called for jihad against Allawi.
from Professor Ed Herman :
Subject: Iraq: the unthinkable becomes normal
Iraq: the unthinkable becomes normal
Monday 15th November 2004
Mainstream media speak as if Fallujah were populated only by foreign "insurgents". In fact, women and children are being slaughtered in our name. By John Pilger
Edward S Herman's landmark essay, "The Banality of Evil", has never seemed more apposite. "Doing terrible things in an organised and systematic way rests on 'normalisation'," wrote Herman. "There is usually a division of labour in doing and rationalising the unthinkable, with the direct brutalising and killing done by one set of individuals . . . others working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns). It is the function of the experts, and the mainstream media, to normalise the unthinkable for the general public."
On Radio 4's Today (6 November), a BBC reporter in
As for the defenders, those Iraqis who resist in a city that heroically defied Saddam Hussein; they were merely "insurgents holed up in the city", as if they were an alien body, a lesser form of life to be "flushed out" (the Guardian): a suitable quarry for "rat-catchers", which is the term another BBC reporter told us the Black Watch use. According to a senior British officer, the Americans view Iraqis as Untermenschen, a term that Hitler used in Mein Kampf to describe Jews, Romanies and Slavs as sub-humans. This is how the Nazi army laid siege to Russian cities, slaughtering combatants and non-combatants alike.
Normalising colonial crimes like the attack on Fallujah requires such racism, linking our imagination to "the other". The thrust of the reporting is that the "insurgents" are led by sinister foreigners of the kind that behead people: for example, by Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian said to be al-Qaeda's "top operative" in
In a letter sent on 14 October to Kofi Annan, the Fallujah Shura Council, which administers the city, said: "In Fallujah, [the Americans] have created a new vague target: al-Zarqawi. Almost a year has elapsed since they created this new pretext and whenever they destroy houses, mosques, restaurants, and kill children and women, they said: 'We have launched a successful operation against al-Zarqawi.' The people of Fallujah assure you that this person, if he exists, is not in Fallujah . . . and we have no links to any groups supporting such inhuman behaviour. We appeal to you to urge the UN [to prevent] the new massacre which the Americans and the puppet government are planning to start soon in Fallujah, as well as many parts of the country."
Not a word of this was reported in the mainstream media in
"What does it take to shock them out of their baffling silence?" asked the playwright Ronan Bennett in April after the US marines, in an act of collective vengeance for the killing of four American mercenaries, killed more than 600 people in Fallujah, a figure that was never denied. Then, as now, they used the ferocious firepower of AC-130 gunships and F-16 fighter-bombers and 500lb bombs against slums. They incinerate children; their snipers boast of killing anyone, as snipers did in
Bennett was referring to the legion of silent Labour backbenchers, with honourable exceptions, and lobotomised junior ministers (remember Chris Mullin?). He might have added those journalists who strain every sinew to protect "our" side, who normalise the unthinkable by not even gesturing at the demonstrable immorality and criminality. Of course, to be shocked by what "we" do is dangerous, because this can lead to a wider understanding of why "we" are there in the first place and of the grief "we" bring not only to
There is nothing illicit about this cover-up; it happens in daylight. The most striking recent example followed the announcement, on 29 October, by the prestigious scientific journal, the Lancet, of a study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. Eighty-four per cent of the deaths were caused by the actions of the Americans and the British, and 95 per cent of these were killed by air attacks and artillery fire, most of whom were women and children.
The editors of the excellent MediaLens observed the rush - no, stampede - to smother this shocking news with "scepticism" and silence. They reported that, by 2 November, the Lancet report had been ignored by the Observer, the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Star, the Sun and many others. The BBC framed the report in terms of the government's "doubts" and Channel 4 News delivered a hatchet job, based on a
In contrast, there is no media questioning of the methodology of the Iraqi Special Tribune, which has announced that mass graves contain 300,000 victims of Saddam Hussein. The Special Tribune, a product of the quisling regime in
The model for this was the "coverage" of the American presidential election, a blizzard of platitudes normalising the unthinkable: that what happened on 2 November was not democracy in action. With one exception, no one in the flock of pundits flown from
No one reported that John Kerry, by contrasting the "war on terror" with Bush's disastrous attack on
Bush won by invoking, more skilfully than Kerry, the fear of an ill-defined threat. How was he able to normalise this paranoia? Let's look at the recent past. Following the end of the cold war, the American elite - Republican and Democrat - were having great difficulty convincing the public that the billions of dollars spent on the war economy should not be diverted to a "peace dividend". A majority of Americans refused to believe that there was still a "threat" as potent as the red menace. This did not prevent Bill Clinton sending to Congress the biggest "defence" bill in history in support of a Pentagon strategy called "full-spectrum dominance". On
The most important evidence to the 9/11 Commission came from General Ralph Eberhart, commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad). "Air force jet fighters could have intercepted hijacked airliners roaring towards the World Trade Center and Pentagon," he said, "if only air traffic controllers had asked for help 13 minutes sooner . . . We would have been able to shoot down all three . . . all four of them."
Why did this not happen?
The Kean report makes clear that "the defence of US aerospace on 9/11 was not conducted in accord with pre-existing training and protocols . . . If a hijack was confirmed, procedures called for the hijack coordinator on duty to contact the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (NMCC) . . . The NMCC would then seek approval from the office of the Secretary of Defence to provide military assistance . . . "
Uniquely, this did not happen. The commission was told by the deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Authority that there was no reason the procedure was not operating that morning. "For my 30 years of experience . . ." said Monte Belger, "the NMCC was on the net and hearing everything real-time . . . I can tell you I've lived through dozens of hijackings . . . and they were always listening in with everybody else."
But on this occasion, they were not. The Kean report says the NMCC was never informed. Why? Again, uniquely, all lines of communication failed, the commission was told, to
The report reveals that the only part of a previously fail-safe command system that worked was in the White House where Vice-President Cheney was in effective control that day, and in close touch with the NMCC. Why did he do nothing about the first two hijacked planes? Why was the NMCC, the vital link, silent for the first time in its existence? Kean ostentatiously refuses to address this. Of course, it could be due to the most extraordinary combination of coincidences. Or it could not.
In July 2001, a top secret briefing paper prepared for Bush read: "We [the CIA and FBI] believe that OBL [Osama Bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning."
On the afternoon of 11 September, Donald Rumsfeld, having failed to act against those who had just attacked the
John Pilger is currently a visiting professor at