Subject: ON ADVERTISEMENTS, PROPAGANDA, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE.
3 November 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Manufacturing needs, like the manufacture of consent, is a technique used both in marketing and in warfare. In fact, marketing strategists have borrowed heavily from their cousins in the military. And like all military targets, consumers are reduced to no more and no less than "another means to an end."
Any preparation for an era of post-consumerism (assuming, of course, that capitalism is not coterminous with human societies on this planet) must start with a change in current human relationships, of which we are all a part, and the recognition of behavior patterns which reproduce these relationships daily, and have done so for centuries through familiar institutions such as the Family, Religion, School, the Military, and the all-pervasive political economy of Capitalism. Indeed, we are the children of Capitalism, and very early in life we have been assigned to a niche in a pyramid, which passes as a legitimate natural social order, but which in reality must be maintained by force --sometimes by overt military/police aggression, but more often by subtile psychological interventions-- aimed at achieving our unconditional surrender to the injustices and inequalities of the status quo.
Change, it has been said, is inevitable, but adapting to change and influencing its direction and velocity is by no means automatic.
On one level, irrational fears and desires in human beings can be manipulated to gain specific results. These controls are imperfect, but the results are largely predictable. There are very few "black boxes" on the drawing board today, and internal relations are understood as never before in the social and natural sciences. While social control is not "yet" an exact science, most of the cows do get to the barn on time to be milked.
On an entirely different level, at the level of rational strategies, human creativity is infinite. New needs can be discussed rationally and mutual satisfactions can be negotiated. But in order to realize fulfillment at this level, certain preconditions must exist : First, self-knowledge and necessary skills in communication must be promoted; a capacity for empathy and cooperation must be developed, subordinating fear and competition to its proper perspective, while faith (not in some imaginary god, but in one another) must be nurtured, and a strong sense of justice must be cultivated to resist raw and easily manipulated feelings, such jealousy and revenge. Likewise a willful reciprocity must replace the selfishness and greed that has constituted the motor force of capitalist nationalism for the past half-millennium and more and is perceived as natural. These are only a few of the strategic changes in our daily lives that could lead to a new society, ushering in a new political economy that would place us outside the box which we now occupy and are struggling to maintain.
The corporate control of society (including schooling) does not cultivate relationships such as those mentioned above. Instead, successful competition is the ultimate virtue, and obedience and blind loyalty are held in highest esteem, while anxieties and relief are the familiar feelings that prod us in the "right direction."
Most of us find ourselves as "foot soldiers" (sometimes recruited as Kamikaze tacticians) gladly giving up our lives to follow the commands of "superior" strategists who claim to see the "big picture" (by keeping us in the dark) and thereby justifying our position of abject dependency on them for greater progress, and productivity, and personal meaning.
Truth is no longer the object of inquiry, and intellectual curiosity is reduced to prurient interests in the private lives of others, as our commonweal dissolves in a turmoil of jealousies and resentments characteristic of a market place, where values of competition and private profit overshadow cooperation and public well being and where the act of winning is more important than what is actually won. In this neo-liberal world, quantity replaces quality in an imaginary hierarchy of values, while the real costs of human suffering and alienation go mostly unnoticed, often entirely hidden in a shroud of shame.
Welcome to the New Millennium, to "The Age of Desires over Reason". . . !
The 6 items below, which were sent to us by associates of CEIMSA, reflect the techniques we take for granted and which influence our thinking, as they did the behavior of our parents and of our grand parents, etc., etc. . . . .
Item A., from Professor Bertell Ollman, is a terribly important documentary film : "The Century of Self" offers an historical analysis of consumer society in the United States, from the moment of its creation at the beginning of the 20th century until today.
Item B. is a critique of Wilhelm Reich by a young anarchist intellectual living in central France, Pierre Giraud, who is influenced by contemporary psychoanalytical thought.
Item C. is an essay by Dr. Michael Parenti on the blatant hypocrisies of organized religion, in this case the subject is the beatification Mother Teresa by the late Pope John Paul II and the Roman Catholic Church.
Item D., sent to us by Dr. Marc Ollivier, is a French translation of an article from the New York Times discussing a "de-privatization" exercise by the newly elected Harvard University President, Drew Gilpin Faust, who seems intent on ridding her university of direct corporate capitalist influence over curriculum.
Item E., sent to CEIMSA by Grenoble graduate student Benoît Monange, is a report by Phyllis Bennis, at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., on the victory for immigrants' rights in California after a long court battle, which exonerated the renown "Los Angeles 8," after no less than 20 years of prosecution in U.S. courts.
Item F., from former Grenoble University student Pichetto Tanguy, calls to our attention several book reviews, emphasizing the historic importance of a new book on Iraq, "Mid East Dispatches: Beyond the Green Zone" by the un-embedded American journalist, Dar Jamail.
And finally, from Professor Edward Herman, a warning of the political machinations of things to come :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Bertell Ollman :
25 October 2007
Subject: "The Century of the Self."
Hi Francis -
Do you know the film, "The Century of the Self" (a series of four parts, one hour each, made for T.V. several years ago by either the BBC or Chanel 4 in England; it was also released to theaters as two 2 hour long films). It is simply the best film I've ever seen on the relation between ideology, publicity, public relations, focus groups, and psychoanalysis (Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, one of the main figures in the film, used his uncle's theories when inventing P.R. and focus groups and used them in selling products and politics). It covers 100 years and ends up showing the importance of this devil's brew for U.S. imperialism. If possible, I would add this to your list of films for this excellent course [on U.S. media].
Merci pour ces infos. A propos de William Reich, je te rappelle le colloque que Roger DADOUN a organisé à Paris, auquel ma mère, Marielle, a participé (on peut trouver sur Internet le contenu des conférences). D'autre part j'attire ton attention sur les travaux d'Otto Gross, qui fut un ami de William Reich. je considére sa pensée comme beaucoup plus élaborée et interessante. Reich, qui fut le légataire de ses manuscrits, qu'il a publié en son nom (quel voleur !), lui a tout pris en déformant de nombreuses idées. Otto Gross fut banni par Freud et même injustement interné parce que ses idées furent considérées par Freud comme brillantes mais trop dangereuses. Otto Gross s'est dit anarchiste. Bises.
During his 26-year papacy, John Paul II elevated 483 individuals to sainthood, reportedly more saints than any previous pope. One personage he beatified but did not live long enough to canonize was Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun of Albanian origin who had been wined and dined by the worlds rich and famous while hailed as a champion of the poor. The darling of the corporate media and western officialdom, and an object of celebrity adoration, Teresa was for many years the most revered woman on earth, showered with kudos and awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work and spiritual inspiration.
What usually went unreported were the vast sums she received from wealthy and sometimes tainted sources, including a million dollars from convicted savings & loan swindler Charles Keating, on whose behalf she sent a personal plea for clemency to the presiding judge. She was asked by the prosecutor in that case to return Keatings gift because it was money he had stolen. She never did. She also accepted substantial sums given by the brutal Duvalier dictatorship that regularly stole from the Haitian public treasury.
Mother Teresas hospitals for the indigent in India and elsewhere turned out to be hardly more than human warehouses in which seriously ill persons lay on mats, sometimes fifty to sixty in a room without benefit of adequate medical attention. Their ailments usually went undiagnosed. The food was nutritionally lacking and sanitary conditions were deplorable. There were few medical personnel on the premises, mostly untrained nuns and brothers.
When tending to her own ailments, however, Teresa checked into some of the costliest hospitals and recovery care units in the world for state-of-the-art treatment.
Teresa journeyed the globe to wage campaigns against divorce, abortion, and birth control. At her Nobel award ceremony, she announced that the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And she once suggested that AIDS might be a just retribution for improper sexual conduct.
Teresa emitted a continual flow of promotional misinformation about herself. She claimed that her mission in Calcutta fed over a thousand people daily. On other occasions she jumped the number to 4000, 7000, and 9000. Actually her soup kitchens fed not more than 150 people (six days a week), and this included her retinue of nuns, novices, and brothers. She claimed that her school in the Calcutta slum contained five thousand children when it actually enrolled less than one hundred.
Teresa claimed to have 102 family assistance centers in Calcutta, but longtime Calcutta resident, Aroup Chatterjee, who did an extensive on-the-scene investigation of her mission, could not find a single such center.
As one of her devotees explained, Mother Teresa is among those who least worry about statistics. She has repeatedly expressed that what matters is not how much work is accomplished but how much love is put into the work. Was Teresa really unconcerned about statistics? Quite the contrary, her numerical inaccuracies went consistently and self-servingly in only one direction, greatly exaggerating her accomplishments.
Over the many years that her mission was in Calcutta, there were about a dozen floods and numerous cholera epidemics in or near the city, with thousands perishing. Various relief agencies responded to each disaster, but Teresa and her crew were nowhere in sight, except briefly on one occasion.
When someone asked Teresa how people without money or power can make the world a better place, she replied, They should smile more, a response that charmed some listeners. During a press conference in Washington DC, when asked Do you teach the poor to endure their lot? she said I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.
But she herself lived lavishly well, enjoying luxurious accommodations in her travels abroad. It seems to have gone unnoticed that as a world celebrity she spent most of her time away from Calcutta, with protracted stays at opulent residences in Europe and the United States, jetting from Rome to London to New York in private planes.
Mother Teresa is a paramount example of the kind of acceptably conservative icon propagated by an elite-dominated culture, a saint who uttered not a critical word against social injustice, and maintained cozy relations with the rich, corrupt, and powerful.
She claimed to be above politics when in fact she was pronouncedly hostile toward any kind of progressive reform. Teresa was a friend of Ronald Reagan, and an admiring guest of the Haitian dictator Baby Doc Duvalier. She also had the support and admiration of a number of Central and South American dictators.
Teresa was Pope John Paul IIs kind of saint. After her death in 1997, he waived the five-year waiting period usually observed before beginning the beatification process that leads to sainthood. In 2003, in record time Mother Teresa was beatified, the final step before canonization.
But in 2007 her canonization confronted a bump in the road, it having been disclosed that along with her various other contradictions Teresa was not a citadel of spiritual joy and unswerving faith. Her diaries, investigated by Catholic authorities in Calcutta, revealed that she had been racked with doubts: I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist. People think my faith, my hope and my love are overflowing and that my intimacy with God and union with his will fill my heart. If only they knew, she wrote, Heaven means nothing.
Through many tormented sleepless nights she shed thoughts like this: I am told God loves meand yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Il Messeggero, Rome's popular daily newspaper, commented: The real Mother Teresa was one who for one year had visions and who for the next 50 had doubts---up until her death.
Another example of fast-track sainthood, pushed by Pope John Paul II, occurred in 1992 when he swiftly beatified the reactionary Msgr. Jos Mara Escriv de Balaguer, supporter of fascist regimes in Spain and elsewhere, and founder of Opus Dei, a powerful secretive ultra-conservative movement feared by many as a sinister sect within the Catholic Church. Escrivs beatification came only seventeen years after his death, a record run until Mother Teresa came along.
In accordance with his own political agenda, John Paul used a church institution, sainthood, to bestow special sanctity upon ultra-conservatives such as Escriv and Teresa---and implicitly on all that they represented. Another of the ultra-conservatives whom John Paul put up for sainthood, bizarrely enough, was the last of the Hapsburg rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Emperor Karl, who reigned during World War I. Still another of the reactionaries whom John Paul set up for sainthood was Pius IX, who reigned as pontiff from 1846 to 1878, and who referred to Jews as dogs.
John Paul also beatified Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, the leading Croatian cleric who welcomed the Nazi and fascist Ustashi takeover of Croatia during World War II. Stepinac sat in the Ustashi parliament, appeared at numerous public events with top ranking Nazis and Ustashi, and openly supported the Croatian fascist regime that exterminated hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma (gypsies).
In John Pauls celestial pantheon, reactionaries had a better chance at canonization than reformers. Consider his treatment of Archbishop Oscar Romero who spoke against the injustices and oppressions suffered by the impoverished populace of El Salvador and for this was assassinated by a right-wing death squad. John Paul never denounced the killing or its perpetrators, calling it only tragic. In fact, just weeks before Romero was murdered, high-ranking officials of the Arena party, the legal arm of the death squads, sent a well-received delegation to the Vatican to complain of Romeros public statements on behalf of the poor.
Romero was thought by many poor Salvadorans to be something of a saint, but John Paul attempted to ban any discussion of his beatification for fifty years. Popular pressure from El Salvador caused the Vatican to cut the delay to twenty-five years. In either case, Romero was consigned to the slow track.
John Pauls successor, Benedict XVI, waved the five-year waiting period in order to put John Paul II himself instantly on a super-fast track to canonization, running neck and neck with Teresa. As of 2005 there already were reports of possible miracles attributed to the recently departed Polish pontiff.
One such account was offered by Cardinal Francesco Marchisano. When lunching with John Paul, the cardinal indicated that because of an ailment he could not use his voice. The pope caressed my throat, like a brother, like the father that he was. After that I did seven months of therapy, and I was able to speak again. Marchisano thinks that the pontiff might have had a hand in his cure: It could be, he said. Un miracolo! Viva il papa!
1. Christopher Hitchens, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Verso, 1995), 64-71.
2. Aroup Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, The Final Verdict (Meteor Books, 2003), 196-197.
3. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 188-189.
4. Mother Teresa, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979: http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1979/teresa-lecture.html.
5. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 32, 179-180..
6. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 19-23, 106-107, 157, and passim
7. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 332-333.
8. Hitchens, The Missionary Position, 11 and 95.
9. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 2-14.
10. Bruce Johnston, Mother Teresa's diary reveals her crisis of faith, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/11/29/wteres29.xml.
11. http://www.odan.org/escriva_to_franco.htm; and Curtis Bill Pepper, Opus Dei, Advocatus Papae, Nation 3-10 August 1992.
12. Edmond Paris, Genocide in Satellite Croatia, 1941-1945 (American Institute for Balkan Affairs, 1961), 201-205 and passim; also How the Catholic Church United with Local Nazis to Run Croatia during World War II: The Case of Archbishop Stepinac (Embassy of the Federal Peoples Republic of Yugoslavia, Washington, DC, 1947); posted 2 August 2004, http://emperors-lothes.com/croatia/stepinac1.htm#11.
13. Barry Healy, Pope John Paul II, A Reactionary in Shepherds Clothing, Green Left Weekly, 6 April 2005.
14. Healy, Pope John Paul II, A Reactionary in Shepherds Clothing.
15. New York Times, 14 May 2005.
Michael Parentis recent publications include: Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights, 2007); Democracy for the Few, 8th ed. (Wadsworth, 2007); The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories, 2006). For further information visit his website: www.MichaelParenti.org.
from Marc Ollivier :
31 Octobert 2007
Subject: La nouvelle présidente d'Harvard refuse de mettre l'Université au service de l'entreprise.
Tu as sans doute reçu ce texte intéressant. Si non je te le fais suivre...
LA NOUVELLE PRESIDENTE D'HARVARD REFUSE DE METTRE L'UNIVERSITE AU SERVICE DE L'ENTREPRISE
Drew Gilpin Faust, première présidente de l'université d'Harvard, a pris ses fonctions vendredi 12 octobre 2007 avec un discours offensif de défense des valeurs de l'enseignement supérieur qui seraient menacées par les exigences d'évaluation des enseignements et l'obligation de former la main-d'oeuvre destinée à une économie mondialisée. Selon la présidente, "l'essence même de l'université est qu'elle est comptable vis-à-vis du passé et du futur, pas simplement et pas même en premier lieu, vis-à-vis du présent".
Pour Drew Gilpin Faust, historienne de formation et ancienne directrice du Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, "l'université, ce
n'est pas seulement les résultats financiers du prochain trimestre. Ce n'est même pas ce qu'un étudiant est devenu au moment de la remise
de son diplôme. Il s'agit d'un enseignement qui modèle à vie, un enseignement qui transmet l'héritage des millénaires, un enseignement qui façonne l'avenir." Elle s'est clairement et fortement opposée dans son discours aux tentatives de l'État fédéral de rendre les universités comptables de ce qu'elles enseignent en essayant de le
quantifier. Elle en a appelé aux universités afin qu'elles "prennent l'initiative en définissant elles-mêmes ce dont elles sont comptables".
DIVERSIFIER LES EFFECTIFS
Son discours inaugural a également apporté une défense ferme du rôle traditionnel de l'université qui est "l'organisatrice d'une tradition vivante", mais aussi un lieu "pour les philosophes autant que pour les scientifiques", où l'enseignement et la connaissance sont valorisés en partie "parce qu'ils définissent ce qui, à travers les siècles, a fait de nous des humains et pas parce qu'ils peuvent améliorer notre compétitivité mondiale".
Elle a en outre signalé sa volonté de rendre l'enseignement à Harvard "disponible et accessible", et de diversifier les effectifs de l'université : "Ceux qui regrettent un âge d'or perdu de l'enseignement supérieur devraient penser à la partie très limitée de la population à qui cette utopie était destinée. L'université était réservée à une petite élite; désormais, elle sert les masses, pas seulement quelques privilégiés." Elle ajoute que les universités américaines ont servi "à la fois d'emblème et de moteur pour l'expansion de la citoyenneté, de l'égalité et des chances accordées aux Noirs, aux femmes, aux Juifs, aux immigrants et à d'autres groupes qui auraient été mis dans des quotas voire exclus à des époques antérieures". Même si elle a axé son discours sur les idées, Drew Gilpin Faust n'a pas oublié de rappeler qu'il était indispensable qu'Harvard soit à la pointe de la recherche scientifique mais que cela ne devait pas se faire au détriment des valeurs humanistes de l'établissement: "Il est urgent pour nous de poser les questions d'éthique et de sens de notre action qui nous permettront de nous confronter à la signification humaine, sociale et morale de notre relation changeante avec le monde qui nous entoure."
Source: "The New York Times" du 13 octobre 2007, www.nytimes.com
C'est en effet un discours inhabituel et courageux quand on sait que les
universités US n'ont aucun soutien (ou trés peu ?) des finances publiques ...
J'imagine qu'il y a des patrons d'entreprises du coin (donateurs potentiels
des universités) qui ont du prendre ce discours comme une déclaration de guerre ..
Quand je pense qu'en France on va vers le financement privé des universités
(masqué sous une comm. adaptée) :
SarCAC40 et sa clique sont des suiveurs minables : comme les Français
découvrant à la Libération le Chewing-Gum, le Jazz américain des années 20 ...
ils copient BETEMENT sans réfléchir les recettes US au moment même où
ces derniers les abandonnent ....
LOS ANGELES - The 20-year effort to deport two men over their alleged political support of Palestinian self-determination officially came to an end today when the nation's highest administrative body overseeing immigration cases dismissed all charges against Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, members of a group of Palestinian student activists arrested in January 1987, who became known as “The LA-8.”
The action by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) closes one of the nation's longest-running and most controversial deportation cases, one that tested whether immigrants have the same First Amendment rights as citizens.
Hamide and Shehadeh expressed both relief and happiness that the case is finally over but also anger over what they believed to be a politically motivated, baseless prosecution.
"My family and I feel a tremendous amount of relief today," said Hamide. "After 20 years, the nightmare is finally over. I feel vindicated at long last. This is a victory not only for us, but for the First Amendment of the Constitution and for the rights of all immigrants."
"I am extremely happy but do have mixed emotions," Shehadeh added. "The government was wrong for twenty one years. They robbed us, and our families, of the best and most productive years of our lives. We are now free to continue living our lives, acting on our beliefs; raising our families, supporting our communities, loving our country, defending justice and the Constitution, and prospering as good citizens."
The case against the pair began in January, 1987, when the government arrested them and six others, who collectively came to be know as the LA 8, placed them in maximum security prison, and accused them of having ties to a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The government alleged that Hamide and Shehadeh distributed newspapers, held demonstrations and organized humanitarian aid fundraisers for Palestinians, and that because these actions supported the PLO faction, they should be deported. The men were initially charged with being associated with a Communist organization, but when a court declared those charges unconstitutional, the government filed new charges of material support for a terrorist group. The case went before the US Court of Appeals four times, the Supreme Court once, and the Board of Immigration Appeals multiple times.
The BIA dismissed the case at the request of the government, which agreed in a settlement to drop all charges and not to seek removal of either of the men in the future based on any of the political activities or associations at issue in the case. Hamide and Shehadeh agreed not to apply for citizenship for three years, and to have several judicial orders in the case vacated as moot.
Attorneys for the two hailed the government's decision to drop the case as a victory the First Amendment rights of all immigrants and a vindication of their clients' actions.
"This is a monumental victory for all immigrants who want to be able to express their political views and support the lawful activities of organizations in their home countries fighting for social or political change," said Marc Van Der Hout, of the National Lawyers Guild. "Hamide and Shehadeh did nothing more than advocate for Palestinians' right to a homeland and support charitable causes and other legal activities in the Occupied Territories. That should never have been cause for deportation charges in the first place. The government's attempt to deport them all these years marks another shameful period in our government's history of targeting certain groups of immigrants for their political beliefs and activities."
"We are overjoyed for our clients, who have spent twenty years fighting for the right to stay in this country and speak and associate freely," said David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law School and volunteer attorney for the Center for Constitutional rights. "And we commend the administration for recognizing that federal anti-terrorism resources can be far better spent on other endeavors."
The tipping point came in January 2007, when Immigration Judge Bruce J. Einhorn dismissed the case finding that the government's refusal to turn over evidence favorable to the men violated the pair's right to due process. The government's refusal to comply with his disclosure order, Einhorn wrote, is "a festering wound on the body of respondents and an embarrassment to the rule of law."
The case originally involved seven Palestinians and a Kenyan, the wife of Khader Hamide. Late last year, Aiad Barakat, one of the eight, was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in Los Angeles after federal judge Stephen Wilson rejected the government's contentions that he should be denied citizenship for his political associations. All of the others have either been granted permanent residency or are on track to becoming permanent residents.
"We are gratified that the government has decided to terminate this case and to spend its resources on genuine threats to our national security," said Ahilan T. Arulanantham, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. "Hamide and Shehadeh are law-abiding immigrants who have lived here for more than a quarter century each and done nothing wrong. We are glad that they will be able to live out the rest of their lives in peace in the country they have called home."
Van Der Hout and Cole have been representing the immigrants since the case began in 1987 along with Leonard Weinglass of Chicago Seven fame and investigator Phyllis Bennis of the National Lawyers' Guild.
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th Street NW #600
Washington DC 20036
tel: (202) 234-9382 ex 206
fax: (202) 387-7915
from Pichetto Tanguy :
26 October 2007
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: Beyond the Green Zone Reviews and Interviews.
"International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former foreign desk chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah's Men/
"Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq." --Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of /The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq/
Order /Beyond the Green Zone/ today!
Original author essay
Beyond the Green Zone is a chronicle of decay, frustration, chaos, and dreams destroyed. It will no doubt appear as a primary source in future histories of the Iraq War. For the ordinary reader, these stories of ordinary people will reverberate with the sorrowful toll of broken lives.
Mother Jones Magazine (no link)
Review in September/October issue
Every conflict spawns a handful of journalists who are willing to not only brave the war zone but to seek out the stories ignored by the press pack. The Iraq War has brought us Dahr Jamail.
I suspect Jamail's account will prove an enduring document of what really happened during the chaotic years of occupation, and how it transformed ordinary Iraqis. To paraphrase of the Vietnam War's finest correspondents, Gloria Emerson, writing about Jonathan Schell's exceptional accounts of that conflict: If years from now, Americans are willing to read any books about the war, this one should be among them. It tells everything.
Review by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
Book excerpt and cover story
The Mouth of a Graveyard:
A Review of Dahr Jamail's Beyond the Green Zone
by Ron Jacobs
Monthly Review Zine
Unembedded, an American Journalist Keeps Focus on Iraqis
by Jon Letman
Publishers Weekly (no link)
"Readers unsatisfied with mainstream coverage of the Iraq War will want to grab this, an up-close look at daily life in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. One of the few unaffiliated journalists in Iraq, journalist Jamail went to see the conditions for himself, and the compelling, heartbreaking stories he sent back over his eight month stay were carried in publications world-wide: from family houses destroyed with their inhabitants to mosques full of people held under siege to the ill-equipped medical facilities and security forces meant to deal with them. Emphatically populist and unapologetically dubious of the U.S. government's party line, Jamail sees "resistance" where "obedient" mainstream reporters see "insurgents," "the occupation" where others see "the war." Jamail is a courageous writer who relates fears and bouts of panic alongside jaunts to Fallujah and other hotbeds unapproached by the press at large. Though the writing can be clunky, and the stories hard to distinguish-without any characters to follow (besides Jamail) one is left with the picture of a terrible forest, but few of the trees-this fascinating, eye-opening document of Iraq's day-to-day has a unique perspective and moments of incredible impact."
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews (no link)
"An urgent, in-the-trenches report on the dire humanitarian crisis in U.S.-occupied Iraq by a freelance Alaskan journalist. Jamail's time in war-torn Iraq began in November 2003, seven months after the U.S. invasion, when the author-who had previously worked as a mountain guide on Mt. McKinley while also doing social work and freelance writing-arrived from Amman, Jordan, into ravaged Baghdad to see for himself what was going on. Jamail was not an "embedded" journalist-that is, one tied to the Pentagon-sponsored "embed" program-but he aimed to "look for stories of real life and 'embed' myself with the Iraqi people." He stayed nine weeks, but returned to Iraq in April of the next year. Through various journalist connections, he secured drivers to take him around the desperate city, from hospitals, where he viewed the grisly carnage from car bombings, American snipers and shootouts with resistance fighters; to Samarra, after an ambush on American soldiers; to entree into civilians' homes to hear the truth about American military aggression and the lack of basic human services, such as water, medicine, electricity and gasoline. In the course of his travels, he was constantly confronted with angry Iraqis who were stunned by American brutality as well as their lack of compassion and respect for human dignity. Jamail was continually reminded of suicide bombs and the fear of being kidnapped, and he observed daily the deterioration of conditions and ached for the people's general lack of health and freedom. Shortly after his return, he witnessed the worst resistance fighting around Fallujah as the Americans retaliated against the murder of four Blackwater mercenaries. While the author provides many significant, eye-opening observations, the prose is pedestrian, and he offers scant historical context. Mechanics aside, an important eyewitness testimony."
Columbia Spectator (on launch event)
Counterspin (with audio, about halfway thru)
KUOW (with audio at 22 min.)
Al Jazeera International, Riz Khan Show (with video)