Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Hooray for Hollywood
Imagine a Country Life in â€¦
Resistance, Humanitarian Aid, & the â€¦
Corporations, Law, & Democracy
Bush's Multiplex Wars Iraq, “terrorism,” â€¦
Preventing Iraqi Self-Determination
World Challenges GMOs
Syria: The Next Domino? Will â€¦
Iraq is a Trial Run â€¦
Supporting the Troops A code â€¦
Press the Press
Direct Action at Boeing
Boycott Azteca Tortillas
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Resistance, Humanitarian Aid, & the Media
T he Pentagon announced that it had tested the biggest non-nuclear bomb in history, 9.5 tons in weight, in preparation for its use in Iraq. Two weeks earlier, General Richard Meyers, the chairperson of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that U.S. policy was to “shock” Iraq into surrendering by unleashing 3,000 guided bombs and missiles over Baghdad in the first 48 hours of the campaign. U.S. military officials calculated that 300,000 Iraqi military and civilians would be killed. The United Nations estimated that at least 10 million Iraqis would be killed, wounded, displaced, and traumatized.
As the U.S. war against Iraq is prolonged, as Iraqi civilian and military resistance hardens, as guerrilla and militia attacks become more audacious, and the Anglo-American military casualties mount and supply lines become more tenuous, the U.S. military-civilian command escalates the war. Terror bombings of civilians are routine—targeting large concentrations of civilians, especially in daylight, and crowded market places. Military forces are ordered to engage in “search and destroy” missions, made infamous in Vietnam, focusing on locating and destroying civilian homes, schools, hospitals, and any inhabitants in areas suspected of harboring “enemy forces.” In a country where it has been demonstrated that over 90 percent are hostile to the U.S. invasion, the “search and destroy” policy makes explicit the genocidal nature of the war. The consequences of Anglo-U.S. bombing of civilian targets from above, means more Iraqi car bombs from below. The U.S. total war against the Iraqi people has turned this into an international “people’s war” against imperial conquest.
The most striking expression is the massive revival of Pan-Arab solidarity throughout the entire Arab world—and, of course, beyond. Not since the days of Egyptian leader Abdul Nassar have there been so many millions of Arab citizens in the street expressing solidarity and taking inspiration from the Iraqi resistance. The Pan Arab upsurge has led to a movement toward democratizing Arab nations: independent television stations have sprung up throughout the region, semi-official newspapers in Egypt and elsewhere have broken with their regimes and denounced U.S. aggression and Arab collaborator regimes. Bush’s imperial plan of colonizing the Middle East has boomeranged: the growing and powerful Pan Arab movement threatens to provide the foundations for a vibrant civil society, active anti-imperialist citizens capable of overthrowing their corrupt pro- U.S. rulers, and evicting U.S. military bases.
As the Pan Arab movement spreads, Washington’s Arab client regimes and covert allies begin to divide. Syria permits the flow of food and light arms to Iraq. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, who are threatened by mass protests and active hostility by their entire populations, repress and retreat. Thousands of Arab volunteers, Iraqi exiles, and emigrants and non-Iraqis form international brigades and cross the borders to join the Iraqi resistance.
In the West, as the mass movements escalate their opposition into large-scale, daily confrontations and civil disobedience, splits occur within the governing elites. In England, former Labor Foreign Minister, Robin Cook resigns; in Spain, Aznar’s long-time political mentor breaks with the regime along with scores of local officials.
On March 27, Euro-American business leaders meeting in Brussels denounced U.S. uni- lateralism and severely interrogated Alan Larson, a senior economic adviser to Colin Powell at the European Policy Center. The European business leaders were particularly incensed that the post-war billion dollar reconstruction contracts were given to U.S. firms and the Europeans were excluded. Even U.S. business elites complained that only firms allied to the Cheney and Rumsfeld clique were selected.
While the Western business elites squabble over the spoils of war, the European regimes that opposed the U.S. unilateral war have partially returned to their subservient position. On March 27, France, Germany, and Belgium joined 22 other countries to defeat a motion to convoke a special session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, to examine the human rights and humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people under savage attack from the U.S. In the General Assembly and the Security Council, no concrete resolutions were forthcoming to condemn U.S. imperialist slaughter on Iraqi civilians, despite 80 speakers on the first day of the session. While billions of people outside the UN condemn the war, the UN is silent. This demonstrates that the anti-war struggle is essentially an extra-parliamentary battle.
The right-turn by the French regime is most evident in the politics of “humanitarian aid.” On March 27, Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister, called for a rapid restoration of the United Nation’s “oil for food program” to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq. He argued that the U.S. could administer occupied Iraq “under the umbrella of the UN to confer legitimacy.” He stated that the UN should approve, even if it did not run, humanitarian operations in postwar Iraq. Clearly the European regimes accept the U.S. conquest of Iraq, but hope to secure a part of the oil wealth after voicing their opposition.
On the surface, the issue of humanitarian aid seems simple—supplying food, water, and shelter to 23 million Iraqis whose lives and livelihood have been destroyed by the U.S. war. But the politics of humanitarian aid go much deeper and raise several fundamental questions. Will humanitarian aid be an instrument of war and conquest or disinterested support for victims of a criminal war? Is humanitarian aid really aid? Who will deliver and what is the destination of humani- tarian aid and under what conditions?
First, this is not really “aid”: the source of “aid” is the income derived from the exploitation and sale of Iraqi oil that has been confiscated by the UN-U.S. It is hardly a “humanitarian” act to return a portion of the wealth stolen from a victimized country. Humanitarian aid during and after the war is only destined for U.S.-occupied territories and is offered to Iraqi-controlled cities and villages on condition that they surrender. That is not aid, but blackmail. Under current circumstances humanitarian aid is part of the U.S. siege strategy: to starve and bomb the civilian population. Military encirclement and the bombing of markets and waterworks provokes hunger, thirst, and slow death for millions. Humanitarian aid then is offered to break the resistance of the most vulnerable and weakened sectors of the population. In the post-war period, humanitarian aid will be used to legitimate what Villepin calls “transatlantic solidarity,” and U.S. colonial rule.
A real humanitarian aid policy would include contributions from the UN in addition to the oil for food policy; a cease fire to allow shipments of humanitarian aid to all civilian population, especially those in Iraqi held cities and villages. Humanitarian aid should be delivered to the Iraqi officials, Red Crescent, and civil society groups for distribution and there should be no “labeling” of aid for propaganda purposes. Bush approved the UN humanitarian aid initiative, but the UN has not spoken to any real humanitarian aid policy that deals with victims in the cities controlled by the Iraqi resistance.
One of the major reasons why issues like humanitarian aid are misunderstood is the role of the Anglo-American controlled mass media (AAMM) and their counterparts in Europe, Japan, and Latin America. The key to understanding the war propaganda role of the AAMM is to examine what Washington calls “embedded reporters”—journalists integrated with the Anglo-American forces attacking Iraqi cities and under military command censorship. Freelance and independent journalists are excluded from accompanying the invasion forces. The result is the exclusion of reports on U.S. massacres and photos of mutilated and dead civilians in the streets and hospitals of Baghdad and Basra.
What is published is Anglo- American propaganda, non-existent captured cities, non-existent popular uprisings in Basra and Iraqi children receiving caramels from U.S. soldiers. The London Daily Mirror was the only Anglo-American daily to publish a photo of two headless Iraqi soldiers beside a tattered white flag of surrender while “allied” soldiers stare down on their victims. The U.S. military celebrate the success of “embedded news reporters” reinforcing the belief of their pro- war supporters in the U.S. and Britain, whose “direct reports from the war zone” serve as propaganda to convince the doubters of the “authenticity” of the war as experienced through the eyes and mouths of the conquering generals and combat officials.
The media amplify and disseminate the Bush/Blair propaganda about abuse of prisoners who are interviewed on Iraqi television— forgetting the thousands of captured Afghan and Arab prisoners who were suffocated and murdered in metal shipping containers after their surrender to the U.S.-Northern Alliance or the hundreds of manacled, blindfolded, and caged prisoners in Guantanamo. The embedded reporters parrot U.S. propaganda about abused prisoners, but fail to report on the latest “search and destroy” orders that target all Iraqi civilians and “take no prisoners.” The notion of “embedded” reporters”—that is, the formal incorporation of the journalists as part and parcel of the military propaganda machine—represents a general assault on the freedom of the press in Anglo-American society.
The imperialist war has met mass resistance in Iraq, the political and economic costs of the war have increased domestic opposition. President Bush declares the war will continue indefinitely. The U.S. warlords admit there is no quick end. The regimes in Spain and Britain are isolated domestically. Some pro-war media are going into opposition— El Pais in Spain, the Daily Mirror in Britain, and for the first time the NY Times has published some critical articles. But the war is demonstrating the profound growth of authoritarianism in the regimes supporting the U.S. They ignore the vast majority of their citizens opposing the war; Bush confines his public meeting to military bases. The Euro-American allies meet in a remote island in the Atlantic—fearful of mass public rejection. Decisions are taken by inner cliques of confidants—parliaments, congress- es, civil society are all excluded. Civilian space is militarized.
As the Iraqi resistance continues, as the military ground campaign is stalled, as domestic opposition grows, and Pan-Arabism becomes a reality, the out-of-control extremists in the White House look to the Final Solution—they consult with Israeli military experts about a “Jenin solution”—mass destruction with bulldozers, helicopter gun- ships, and carpet bombing of the entire civilian population of Baghdad. Which will come first—the capture of Baghdad, the popular overthrow of client regimes, the collapse of Western democracy? Will new wars result or new revolutionary movements?
We shall struggle against the former and act to bring about the latter.
James Petras teaches sociology at SUNY Binghamton and has written extensively on U.S. foreign policy and emerging social movements.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.