The Backdrop Never Changes

If you are looking for coherent analysis about the Iraqi insurgency and the continuing violence in Iraq , do not look to papers like USA Today, or even to the much heralded New York Times. An astute truth seeker will read these papers only to gauge what it is the mainstream media machine is being directed to relay. Quite obviously, their information about the war flows primarily from 'official sources.' So unstable and dangerous is postwar Iraq that most reporters are hunkered down in the Green Zone. They pose in front of phony scenic backdrops to broadcast back. On the 'Lehrer News Hour,' I have been watching John Burns of the New York Times stand or sit in front of the same tired backdrop for over a year. Embedded reporters present the extremely limited experiences and worldview of the occupiers--the state-sanctioned henchmen who decide, through deadly missile strikes, which Iraqis will live or die.

The wealthiest nation in the world currently spends one billion dollars a month to kill young men from the slums of Baghdad who make $300 a year. In April, the U.S. Army massacred 600 - 700 civilians in one city (Fallujah), in one month. Last month, Americans dropped a 2,000-pound bomb and obliterated a hotel directly next to the revered Imam Ali Shrine, in the holy city of Najaf . August fighting in Najaf has left over 1,000 Iraqis dead, including scores of civilians. An Iraqi group who recently carried out a detailed survey of civilian fatalities claims a death toll of 37,000, not including losses sustained by the Iraqi military and paramilitary forces. ( 7/31/04 ) People who travel around the world tell of growing anger ' real hatred ' of this administration because of what it did in Iraq , the war it waged, the civilians it killed, and the mess it made. By presenting only officially sanctioned news reports, the media keeps American citizens oblivious to the scale of what has really happened.

It is crucial, amid the madness, to seek out news sources directly from the region, to look to the Arabic press, and to find websites, blogs, and information networks outside the U.S. Additionally, write directly to Iraqis via email, contact their websites, see events from their perspective, through their eyes. These are the sources of truth, genuine accounts from the people of the Middle East , who endure untold suffering as a result of our government's warmongering. Therein one can try to piece together some semblance of truth, which I guarantee will shake your trust forever in the mainstream media and our inviolable government.

The Monday, August 23rd edition of USA Today provides a case in point of the flawed reporting typically presented to readers. The title of the article and byline is truthful enough, 'Insurgents showing no sign of letting up ' U.S. officers say attacks may continue for years.' Do they mean our attacks, the insurgency counter-attacks, or both? Excuse me, but who attacked and invaded this beleaguered and poorly defended country in the first place?

The USA Today piece begins by stating that, 'Nearly two months after the establishment of a sovereign Iraqi government, the violent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces show no sign of flagging.' Immediately the piece begins with a blatant lie, because the Iraqi government is by no means sovereign. Allawi heads an unelected client government of an occupying power with 140,000 U.S troops roaming the streets in tanks. He is a former Saddam strongman turned CIA operative. He has reinstated the death penalty for less than corporal crimes and is likely to implement a law to allow a state of emergency against any gatherings. As an exile, he is unknown and distrusted by the majority of Iraqis.

It is not Allawi and his fellow gangsters that will construct a vibrant civil society. Iraq can only be rebuilt by workers, women, and the people of Iraq , not by upstart despots like Allawi, who from day one was backed by the US military and has closed down newspapers, attacked demonstrations for jobs, security, labor and human rights. It is the people of Iraq , once they remove the U.S. forces from their land, who will construct a free, egalitarian, prosperous, modern and progressive Iraq . Shocking as this may seem to people who only consume the dribble of mainstream media, but dynamic political and social forces exist in Iraq that are powerfully separate from the religious influence of political Islam, which erroneously dominates all Western analysis on Iraq.

In turning to page 8A of USA Today for the continued story, the headline reflects the bizarre Orwellian doublespeak I have grown accustomed to. It is as hopeless as it is obtuse: ' U.S. military can't lose, officer says, but it's Iraqis who will have to win.' Well, the truth here is that, yes, it's Iraqis who will have to win, but in order to do that the U.S. military will have to lose. Did both the French AND the Algerian revolutionaries win? Did both the National Liberation Front of Vietnam AND the U.S military win? Did both the Afghan freedom fighters AND the Red Army win?

Self-determination is the most basic of all human rights, the foundation upon which all other human rights depend. Accordingly, occupied people have the right to resist the occupation itself, as well as the specific illegal practices of the occupier. Freedom, dignity and a desire not to be dominated by a foreign power or have their resources controlled by an outside force defines the driving motivations of the vast majority of Iraqi fighters and their sympathizers in the local population. Indeed, are not these the driving forces of people everywhere?

In describing the difficulties that the occupiers face in finding a 'pressure point' of the Iraqi resistance, the USA Today analysts tell us that the fight against the Iraqi insurgency differs from other guerilla wars because there is 'no single cause driving the fighters.' Now, even the most dumbed down, TV-watching, beer-swilling, chip-munching watcher of FOX or CNN news should be able to understand that the one single cause driving the fighters is that of the universally nationalistic desire not to be occupied by foreign troops. It is beyond belief that people who call themselves journalists cannot extract from events in Iraq that the resistance resists U.S. occupation for that one simple reason.

Here are some other thoughts. Could it be possible that, in addition to the cause of ending the occupation, Iraqis might be further resolved in their opposition because they are angry and grieving over the fact that tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children have been slaughtered by U.S. forces? Might they be upset by the now well-known sadistic prison tortures? Maybe they are slightly put off that they have lost priceless national treasure from their museums, that their beloved history was looted and destroyed before their eyes while U.S. soldiers protected oil wells? Maybe they don't appreciate that their nation has been plunged into chaos and is now essentially a failed state with over 50% unemployment and a ravished infrastructure. Maybe the 25 year old unemployed Iraqi decides to join the resistance after he sees one of Halliburton's employees with his old job, driving a truck, making $150,000 a year while his own children go hungry. Could these be some of the mysterious causes driving the fighters that USA Today reporters have yet to ascertain?

At least the USA Today analysis ends on a hopeful note. It reports that the Army is hiring a research group, The Dupuy Institute, to help them figure out how much time it will take for the U.S. military to wear out the insurgency. A recent Mehdi fighter cited the struggle of Gerry Adams when asked about how much longer he was willing to fight for his freedom. The U.S. government does not need to waste our tax dollars to be duped by the Dupuy Institute. We need only to look into the annals of history to discover that nationalistic, guerilla insurgencies are the most successful form of warfare that human history has ever seen.

Perhaps that reality might shed some light on how long it is going to take, and what the outcome will be. However, for those who wish to deny history, it would be prudent to continue believing the same people who told you that Iraq was an imminent threat, had links to 9/11 and possessed nuclear capabilities. Remember? All those lies were told and sold, via the well-established pipeline of the mainstream press. The compliant and insulated U.S. media cannot be counted on to do the investigative work needed to expose the authentic grievances and feelings of the people of the Middle East, not in Iraq, not in Palestine, not in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. If they did, we might learn about the injustice of U.S. foreign policy decisions, past and present, and we might be forced to look in the mirror, there we would see what Middle Eastern inhabitants see: foreign terrorists.

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Kristina M. Gronquist's picture
Columns on STR: 10

Kristina M. Gronquist is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She specializes in foreign policy analysis and holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.