Thursday, March 27, 2008

Something Completely New and Different - Actual Iraqis on TV

Readers of this blog probably suspect that Americans are not hearing the full story about what's going on in Iraq. But even if you follow the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus, watch the BBC and subscribe to The Guardian, there's an interview you might not have caught, and should not miss.

The indispensable Glenn Greenwald has it, and explains why it hasn't been seen by many Americans, even though no one can speak rationally and truthfully about Iraq without seeing it.

If I could recommend one article or segment for Americans to read or watch regarding the current Iraq debate, it would be this interview -- the entire interview -- with Sinan Antoon and Ali Fadhil, an Iraqi professor and journalist, respectively, currently living in the U.S.:

Link to video.

The significance of the interview lies as much in what it says about the American occupation of Iraq as it what it illustrates about the American media. In the American media's discussions of Iraq, when are the perspectives expressed here about our ongoing occupation -- views extremely common among Iraqis of all types and grounded in clear, indisputable facts -- ever heard by the average American news consumer? The answer is: "virtually never."

ROSE: And obviously, what we want to accomplish on this fifth anniversary of the American invasion, or the coalition invasion of Iraq, is how they see it as Iraqis, five years later.

Give me an assessment.

ALI FADHIL: That's a big question, assessment. Well, basically, probably, I`ll kind of sum it in a few words.

It's -- we have a country where the government is not functioning after five years. We have too many internal problems. And we have the violence increasing day after day.

We have a huge crisis of refugees inside and outside Iraq. We have a total failure of the -- of the civilian -- the civilian structure and what's happening inside. We have the sectarian divisions increasing. We didn't have that before. Now we have it.

So, basically, my assessment is we have a whole nation called Iraq, now it's wiped out.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Iraq is worse off because the United States came?

ALI FADHIL: It's worse off because the United States came to Iraq, definitely, and because the United States did all these mistakes in Iraq.


One can undoubtedly voice reasonable objections to some of these points. But they have long been the views of a huge portion of Iraqis -- on whose behalf Americans are constantly told they must keep fighting -- and they are grounded in personal knowledge, expertise and demonstrable facts. Yet they are virtually never heard by most Americans, and are excluded almost entirely from establishment press discussions.

The reason for this is clear. The American media has a script to which they loyally adhere. The U.S. can make mistakes and government leaders can be criticized for incompetence, but we can never do anything that is actually destructive or evil or which justifiably provokes hatred towards us by people in other countries -- not even bombing them and occupying them for years and imprisoning tens of thousands of them with no charges and replicating the behavior of their hated dictator. Any views that suggest such a thing are simply not heard.

In his original post on this Tuesday, Glenn wrote:

Still, if you watch nothing else this week, watch this 15-minute interview with Fadhil and Antoon. Nothing reveals how distorted, incomplete and propagandistic to this day is the American media's discussion of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and especially the Glorious Surge. The facts and perspectives presented here are excluded almost entirely from establishment press discussions of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy, because the only "war critics" who are heard from are people like Leslie Gelb, George Packer and even Michael O'Hanlon -- people who, at most, quibble with the execution of the war and our foreign policy but not their underlying premises.

Even now, Americans are inundated with "The Surge is Working!" rhetoric and hear almost none of the views expressed in this interview, just as -- prior to the invasion -- they were exposed to every shade and color of pro-invasion advocates while the anti-war view was drastically minimized and even suppressed. Amazingly, nothing has actually changed from that 2002-2003 period when -- as even Howard Kurtz documented in one of the better (and only) pieces of establishment journalism examining pre-war media coverage -- actual war opponents were buried, rendered invisible, and war advocates were amplified and celebrated. That's still happening.

If you wonder why anyone still supports the Iraq Clusterfuck, why we are still seeing nothing but pro-clusterfuck propaganda in the MSM, it's because interviews like this are few and far between, and ignored when they do occur.

So be an agent of change - send the link to this video to everyone you know, and encourage them to send it to everyone they know.

This is the kind of thing for which the Internet was meant: spreading facts and points of view the Powers That Be want suppressed.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.