Exposing and Resisting Empire and War Media in the Age of Obama

“They Have Seen Their Sons and Daughters Killed in Fallujah”

According to the respected international journalist Nir Rosen in December 2007, “Iraq has been killed, never to rise again. The American occupation has been more disastrous than that of the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the thirteenth century. Only fools talk of solutions now,” Rosen said, “The only hope is that perhaps the damage can be contained.” [7]

Rosen was more right than wrong in this assessment. The invasion of Iraq killed well more than a million people, maimed countless others, and devastated Iraqi infrastructure that had already been crushed by more than a decade of U.S.-imposed so-called economic sanctions that had already killed more than a million. It led to a gigantic exodus of the Iraqi professional and middle class.

Rosen’s comment was relegated to the margins in a monthly journal called Current History. It would never have appeared in The New York Times or the Washington Post, on the front page where it belonged. Doctrinal rules would not have permitted that.

I wonder what Nir Rosen would have had to say about the following comment offered by Barack Obama to autoworkers assembled at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin on February 13, 2008, just before that state’s Democratic primary: “It’s time to stop spending billions of dollars a week trying to put Iraq back together and start spending the money putting America back together.”[8] For those who knew the depth and degree of the destruction inflicted on Iraq by two invasions, one ongoing, and more than a decade of deadly economic sanctions (embargo), this statement was nothing short of obscene.

I wonder what Rosen would have made of the following comment that Obama made to the Chicago Council of Global Affairs in November of 2006. “The American people have been extraordinarily resolved” in support of the war in Iraq, Obama said…”They have seen their sons and daughters killed or wounded in the streets of Fallujah.” [9]

This was a spine-chilling selection of locales. Fallujah was the site for colossal U.S. war atrocity – the crimes included the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the targeting even of ambulances and hospitals, and the practical leveling of an entire city – by the U.S. military in April and November of 2004. The town was designated for destruction as an example of the awesome state terror promised to those who dared to resist U.S. power. Not surprisingly, Fallujah became a powerful and instant symbol of American imperialism in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It was a deeply provocative and insulting place for Obama to have chosen to highlight American sacrifice and “resolve” in the imperialist occupation of Iraq. [10]

Nobody who did any serious left due-diligence research on U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has any business being “surprised” and “disappointed” by his death-dealing performance as “commander in chief.”

The Enemy at Home

I have a lot more to say about the role that media plays, especially when it comes to so-called “entertainment media” and related to that about why the media’s role may actually be worse than what Noam Chomsky and Anthony Dimaggio [11]let on. I also of course want and expect to talk about what we can do, which is the biggest question of all. But I’m running out of time so let’s get into all that in the Q and A.

I want to conclude with two very different statements made by two very different Americans last Christmas holiday season. The first statement comes from The Empire’s New Clothes Barack Obama in his New Years’ Radio Address, where he spoke about the successful attack that had just been made against seven U.S. imperial killing machine operatives employed by the CIA and the private mercenary firm Blackwater. Those killers were killed by a Jordanian suicide bomber as punishment for their role in launching unmanned CIA Predator drone attacks that had killed large numbers of innocent Pakistani civilians.

After praising the dead CIA drone killers as “brave Americans in Afghanistan,” Obama asked U.S. citizens to always remember that “our adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans. Not each other.”

What a bunch of bullshit. Let me finish with a very different take on who are real adversaries are from a young Iraq War veteran named Mike Prysner, a fellow who had been forced to actually risk his life in service to the “machine set to kill” – something very different than being like Obama and ordering other people to kill and die while you enjoy the privileges of empire in the corridors of power like other masters of war past and present.

After relating his inability to participate any further in the deeply racist and de-humanizing conduct of U.S. foreign and military policy in the Middle East, Prysner got serious about the real threat to “homeland security” in the United States:

“I threw families on to the street in Iraq,” Prysner said, “only to come home and see families thrown on to the street in this county in this tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis.” Reflecting on how the invasion of Iraq involved working class Americans subjugating working class Iraqis while the wealthy owners of vast and distant corporate entitles like Boeing and Raytheon and Halliburton and Blackwater enjoyed the profits of death, Prysner reflected on his powerful realization “that our real enemies are not in some distant land. They’re not people whose names we don’t know and whose culture we don’t understand. The enemy is people we know …and people we can identify. The enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable. The enemy is the CEOs who lay us off from our jobs when it’s profitable. It’s the insurance companies who deny us health care when it’s profitable. It’s the banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemy is not 5000 miles away. They are right here at home.” [12]

In the 128 self-composed words I just read, young working class Mike Prysner spoke more truth than the Great 49 year old Harvard Law graduate and bourgeois Speechifier Barack Obama has spoken in the many hundreds of all-knowing, fake-progressive and (in fact) deeply conservative orations he has given over the last eight years..

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