Monday, October 20, 2008

The American Left and the Middle East: Part N. Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, is so impressed with the embedded journalists practice that he called it "genius." He in fact considers US journalists' support for and identification with the US troops "understandable." He also said this: "Sectarian strife in the Middle East, while acute in the aftermath of the invasion, is not timeless, and in Iraq it cannot be separated from the legacies of British colonial intervention, pan-Arab nationalism, authoritarianism, the oil boom, the Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War and the 1990-2003 UN sanctions." Notice that he lists all those factors with the exception of the most determining factor: deliberate policies of the US war authorities (see the ICG report a year ago on Iraq) in collaboration with the Saudi government. Toensing needs to explain how sanctions and and pan-Arab nationalism contribued more to Sunni-Shi`ite conflict more than the Saudi-US plot in the Middle East. Notice how favorable he is to the book by Dexter Filkins: the gun carrying, war cheer leading New York Times correspondent. (Toensing refers to his "journalistic integrity or resourcefulness" of Filkins but perhaps he was referring to Filkins' admission to cursing at an Iraq who dared to offend the occupiers). This man (Filkins) who had served in the U.S. military expresses annoyance at Iraqis for not welcoming US troops with "sweets and flowers." But Toesing is most impressed with the "sacrifices" of the US occupiers--although he does not mention the sacrifices of Mongolian and Georian troops in Iraq. He also talks about "the price the soldiers have paid" in Iraq: I thought he was referring here to aerial bombardment of Iraqi towns and neighborhood, and the shootings at civilians at checkpoints. But the criterion for Toensing is the heroism of US occupiers and he just wants you to know that the troops "persevered" against great odds, and that they were initially "well-received"--with sweets and flowers he forgot to add. (thanks Sousan)