Reporting from the Colonialist Side of the Brain
by B.J. Sabri
June 23, 2003
In reporting about US military operations and the emergence of a primordial but consistent Iraqi resistance against the occupation regime, Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times is grossly missing the essence of the conflict. He is either not pondering enough on the events he is reporting about, or he is seriously pondering but unable to grasp the particular meaning of the US military occupation and armed Iraqi resistance. On the other hand, it could be none of the above, as Gordon is simply reporting according to a predetermined policy having for a scope, the mass circulation of the hyper-imperialistic terminology of violent conquest.
It is highly improbable that Gordon, being an intelligent and discerning person, is incapable of serious pondering or grasping of portentous and dynamic realities. The resulting premise is that while he is meticulously following ideologically designed paths meant to minimize the weight of reported information, he is also writing with the manifest intent to deceive his readers by leaving out crucial elements of the US occupation and the Iraqi resistance, or by casting the unfolding events in a contorted unilateralist language. Gordon, however, should know that to any argument he makes, there exists an anti-argument that can void his manufactured assertions, and prepare the stage for alternative but convincing interpretations.
It is possible that the writers of the hyper-imperialistic lexicon are thrilled at the idea that they could make us believe in their flimsy conclusions, if we were only to accept, uncritically, their ideological transference and mental induction. This cannot happen. We have the means to dispute what they write by reading it critically; and, as long as any sentence they compose has correct structure and syntax, we can decipher it! Besides, reading the language of reporting is not hermeneutics requiring special skills or mysterious insight into the meaning of things.
In his report from Baghdad, “In Major Assault, U.S. Forces Strike Hussein Loyalists” , Gordon describes a new military operation code-named “Peninsula Strike” against Iraqis opposing the US occupation. Gordon and the officers from the American occupation force make simple and ordinary statements on situations that are neither simple nor ordinary. The problem with occupiers, any occupiers, lies in a static mentality that makes them underestimate the capability of others, to comprehend the intelligible world of ideas and to extrapolate alternative meanings out of what appears to be commonplace and outright boring. What we understand from Gordon’s report is this: the hyper-imperialistic American project to colonize Iraq by force and violence is not only faltering, it is unraveling at the seam. However, to discharge the need for analysis on the Iraqi revolt against the invaders, the US and its mouthpieces are quick to attribute the resistance to elements of the extinct regime of Saddam Hussein. The following are highlights from the report and my comments on them.
Let me start from the name, operation, “Peninsula Strike”. This name appears to be an ideological misappropriation as well as a conceptual oddity. Why choose such a resonant name for a minuscule operation along the meanders of the Tigris River, and why the use of the word “strike” which is of a minute military significance? Two speculations: 1) the operation must have had a much wider range that goes beyond the publicized target, as the word peninsula invokes a much larger geographical trait, or 2) the US war taxonomy for military operations must be running out of names after the fiasco of operation “Iraqi Freedom” turned “colonialistic conquest of Iraq”. Although speculation number one is plausible, I believe that speculation number two is the strongest, and the most revealing. This is not because of a name, but because the context in which this name is used, subtly indicates an incipient US ideological bankruptcy in confronting the persistent Iraqi rejection of colonialism.
In more details, it gave the strongest impression yet, that the occupying forces as well as the US government are vacillating and confused in front of clear signs of an increasing but resilient Iraqi confrontational resistance to the colonialistic project of a supremacist, defrauding, and hyper-violent empire. Henceforth, the US has to make a strategic choice between two alternatives. Continue with the occupation regime and marching in the Iraqi morass by following the example of the Nazi policy of Ariel Sharon toward the Palestinians, with consequences unknown; or simply declaring that it verified Iraq has no WMD, pays compensation to the Iraqis for destroying their country and for the thousands of people it killed, packs its bags, and then leaves. Apology is not required!
Gordon starts by reporting that, “American forces attacked an enemy camp in Iraq, killing scores of fighters, etc.”
In a war of liberation, an independent observer would report that members of the “Iraqi Resistance” have attacked US occupying forces. Gordon, a reporter with a paper distinguished for its ties with, and being part of the establishment, cannot do that. He must follow his paper’s line, which coincides with that of the US ruling classes and groups that direct the scope of occupation. It makes no sense, that the US that occupied Iraq at will, now calls the Iraqis “enemy” because they are determined to resist its occupation! From a viewpoint of natural law, an aggressor becomes an enemy of the aggressed, and not the other way around. Consequently, the correct relation between the aggressors and the aggressed engaged in a battle, should read, “The Iraqi people are rising against the American enemy that crossed oceans and seas to occupy their land and shackle their future under one hundred million bogus rationales”
The principle contradiction in Gordon’s opening paragraph is that, it is unlikely that under the current conditions of the US military occupation, the Iraqis would set a military camp exposed to detection. The description of a camp is an associative imagination reminiscent of Hollywood’s films where the US colonial cavalry attacked the dormant villages of American Indian tribes. The most probable, if not certain, is that the US attacked a small Iraqi town opposing US occupation. Further, Gordon juxtaposed order (the occupier) vs. disorder (the occupied) in the following manner: 1) by depriving the Iraqis from their national identity, when calling them with the collective term, “enemy”. As such, an Iraqi resister becomes an abstract entity without a reference point or a cause; and 2) by affirming that American forces killed scores of fighters. This last item branches in three insinuations. First: a fighter is only a fighter but not a member of Iraqi forces fighting the US occupiers. Second: Gordon used the verb “kill” casually as if he wants to give the impression that the military operation is about the cleansing of something obnoxious. Third: the use of the word “scores” is intentional and aimed at minimizing the number of Iraqis killed by American fire, as if the US considers the number of the Iraqis it kills, is neither relevant nor important.
Gordon continues by reporting that, “Allied officers said [the camp or site] was being used, to train anti-American extremists”. In this passage, Gordon enters a besmirched ideological territory where misinformation and propaganda blend conveniently to suit American manipulation of real facts; and to paint a picture in which the US appeared as a victim of an undeserved smear campaign made by ungrateful people it just invaded to liberate!
Gordon, as a reporting emissary of the US hyper-imperialistic expedition, is actually conveying a message: if the US occupies a foreign country, the occupiers would consider any action or person opposing this occupation, “anti-American” and not “anti-occupation”! The absurdity of this message is daunting. We may dub someone living somewhere, as being “anti-American”, if he or she has unkind feelings or noxious prejudice against Americans just because they are Americans. But to dub the Iraqis as “anti-American” because they resist the military occupation of their country is beyond indecency and it is a banal ideological scheme. The use of the prefix “anti” demonstrates two souls. The first is Israeli, where Israel calls the Palestinians fighting against its occupation of their land and all other opposing its policies, terrorists and anti-Semitic; and the second is the much alive McCarthyism, where critics of the American system were once dubbed communists, and now are called anti-Americans. Furthermore, Gordon’s deliberate use of the term “anti-American is a sly allusion aimed at winning the emotions of certain individuals by establishing a semantic bridge to “anti-Americanism”, which is, entirely, a different concept.
In further analysis, is the fight to regain one’s freedom and independence “extremism”? What does extremist mean any way? Would a fiery verbal manifestation of discontent constitute extremism? Or, could it be the use of weapons to inflict bodily harm on someone for a specific purpose? Would US criminal laws punish A for killing B who attacked A in his own bedroom to rob him in the middle of the night? Although A’s response was extreme, it was nevertheless a justified self-defense. Why, then, should it be different in an occupied Iraq, where US pirates went to Iraq to rob it from its oil? Further, what kind of weapons are the US occupiers using against Iraqis? Are they using deadly bullets or sugarcoated pellets? How do the US occupying forces expect the Iraqis to respond to the destruction and occupation of their country under the pretext to disarm Saddam from his alleged WMD that in turn, the US failed to substantiate their existence? Should the Iraqis respond in a less extremist, moderate, mild, loving way, or just sit with their arms crossed and their eyes staring at the ground?
In essence, which way would succeed to convince the US to end its occupation of Iraq? Imagine the following situation: the Iraqis petition the US to leave Iraq, but Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Cheney refuse; can anyone, then, suggest to the Iraqis what to do? Maybe they should appeal that refusal to the impotent International Court of Justice that the US does not even recognize. Or, maybe they should appeal it to the United Nations that, aside from sanctioning their occupation, is controlled by their occupier, the United States, that has transformed the SC into an obedient, servile, and bootlicking concubine without principle, values, and legitimacy.
Military occupation of a sovereign nation under pretexts such as those of the US is not something that we can afford to ignore or dismiss, just because it is not a trend yet, or because it is not happening on a larger scale. World nations must remember that Iraq is only the cornerstone in the hyper-imperialistic edifice. It is a brute force applied while inflicting death, destruction, detention, and humiliation; and as such, only a brute and violent force can attempt to end it. Can negotiations reverse the US colonialistic project over Iraq? Unfortunately, history never recorded that an occupation of a foreign land, ended through negotiation, only war lead to negotiation and a resolution. Am I, an anti-war activist, preaching war? No, I am not. I am simply stating that based on the US determination to implement its colonialist objectives in Iraq, the Iraqis would have no other choice but to conduct a brutal war of liberation. To prove this point, do you think that the US who entered Iraq to impose a universal hegemonistic project, would relinquish it peacefully because its natural inhabitants want them to leave?
As a result, I do not think negotiations can resolve the ongoing impasse. The US, like most aggressors in history, is alien to the negotiation principle; for an occupier, negotiation is anathema to his perceived military supremacy, therefore, in general, and as proved by history of war, an occupier would accept to leave only after sustaining losses he could no longer absorb. Do you think that France would have left Algeria without a war of independence launched against them by the Algerians? Do you think that African-Americans would have obtained their civil rights without a bitter and long struggle? Further, if the negotiation project works under occupation or direct rule, then the US itself, should have obtained its independence from Britain through negotiation! There is no peaceful transaction to resolve an equation drenched with blood and that is what hyper-imperialists are reluctant to understand. The reason is, not that the negotiation principle is futile; actually, it is the best principle that could avoid violence before it erupts; but because an occupying power, being supremacist and militarily stronger than the occupied, is normally unwilling to abandon the privilege and profit that come from the occupation of a rich land.
Consequently, to place the Iraqi resistance to the American occupation in correct linguistic terms: The Iraqis are fighting an anti-colonialist war, against occupiers, who happen to be Americans. Do the American occupiers consider that their presence in Iraq is only an innocent hyper-imperialistic picnic in Mesopotamia?
Gordon, as a confirmer and a witness of the hyper-imperialistic expedition, continues his reporting according to a principle of hierarchical truth, as when an officer says something, it is the truth. This is a clever attempt to shift verification of facts from the reporter to the reader, who has no means to verify anything. If Gordon’s choice was to report on narrated tales, why did he bother to travel to Baghdad? He could have conducted his report by telephone! Let us read what he reported, “American officers said allied troops were facing resistance from Baath loyalists, former officials of the Iraqi intelligence, paramilitary forces, and militants from Syria, and other Arab countries who were crossing into Iraq to join the fight against the Americans”
In just a few sentences and cliché phrases, the American occupiers dismissed the anti-occupation Iraqi resistance. This is predictable, as through out all US wars; most US reporters were adept at misreporting from the fronts of America’s military interventions thus the American people and the world know just that little the establishment allows them to know. This is not surprising, as the American controlled media are an important symbiotic part of the establishment. In this way, the US is telling the world that there is a resistance in Iraq against US occupation, but that the Iraqi people are not the ones conducting it, rather the remnants of the old regime and miscellaneous extremists. As for the so-called militants, exactly why do the officers call them militants? Easy; because describing them as militants sounds more factional or aggressive, while the occupying forces are “allied forces” which sounds like a disciplined corporation pushed by Samaritan instincts to help the Iraqis design their rosy future under the mouths of US automatic rifles, the guns of Apache helicopters, and the turrets of Abrams tanks.
Another aspect is the usual US propaganda describing those who oppose its occupation, as terrorists, militants, and anti-Americans. The US can pretend to be deaf, but it cannot pretend to be blind all the way! Classifying members of a resistance to an occupation never helped Germany of Hitler, Russia, White South Africa, and Israel; and is now not going to help the United States.
Conclusion: In the ongoing hyper-imperialistic onslaught on Iraq, the US can no longer suppress three things. 1) The Iraqi people are resisting the American colonialistic project, and blood will spill copiously before the invaders decide to reverse their course. 2) Our time is not the time to experiment with the building of violent, outdated, and blood sucking empires. 3) The US and its reporters cannot camouflage what really happens on the colonialistic front they opened.
Iraq is the first US hyper-imperialistic experiment in re-introducing colonialism. This experiment is also the first by a hegemonic and violent power that is implementing its project with connotations resembling those used by fascist regimes in the first half of the 20th Century. Because the US is aware that it is unaccountable and above the laws of nations, it thinks, it can commit atrocities and crimes without having to feel the need for any justification. However, absolute power is only a transient illusion, as when history abruptly changes its course, it does not look in the eyes of anyone including that of the hyper-power. US colonialist war in Iraq has another meaning for the Iraqis: it is a continuing death and destruction on an unequal basis. Confirmed international reports speak of at least 10,000 civilian casualties since the beginning of the imperialist war against Iraq; on the other hand, and as expected, the US minimizes its ongoing casualties, and never speaks of the true figures. After it occupied Iraq, the US is trying pathetically to present the whole situation as being normal. However, you can deduce that the US is in trouble, when you read what Gordon reports, that “military operations are part of a broader effort to stabilize the country”. After the US destabilized Iraq in 2 wars and twelve years of continued economic sanctions, it is preposterous that the destabilizing force is now treating the situation as if a land of twenty-five million people is not a country it occupies, but a wobbly chair that it wants to fix.
In the end, I find it interesting to mention one of the many linguistic treasures that clutter the US shrine of hypocrisy: while US citizens proudly post signs stating, “No trespassing, private property”, their troops are trespassing on many nations, violating entire countries, and stampeding over the most elementary of human rights. The US and its emissaries can lie or distort truth as much as they want; but in the ongoing confrontation between the Iraqi people and their American occupiers, the US can no longer fool the Iraqis and the world with this fetid garbage called “liberation”!
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American peace-activist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org