[Marxism] Christian Parenti "reporting" from Falluja

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 8 11:59:02 MDT 2004

Did anybody see "Salvador", a typically overheated Oliver Stone flick? 
James Woods (a reactionary in real life) plays a hardboiled reporter 
whose primary message seems to be "war is hell"? Although I can't 
imagine why anybody would want to aspire to this kind of cliche in real 
life, Christian Parenti angles for exactly that persona in the pages of 
the Nation. He bravely goes among the natives in wartorn Iraq and sends 
dispatches to the home front about how wacked out they are.

With the security situation deteriorating rapidly in the country (thank 
goodness), young Parenti (son of Michael) seems content to report from 
the relative safety of a Baghdad hotel. Given the headline "The News 
 From Planet Falluja", 
(http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040719&s=parentiweb) you might 
have been led to believe that he was walking about Falluja conducting 
interviews with the unruly natives. (Although I have never gleaned from 
his dispatches that he speaks Arabic.)

It turns out that the news was second-hand. It comes from one "Tariq", 
whom he describes as "a Muslim, fluent in Arabic and English, very 
smart, very young, brave and a bit naïve. He is an obsessive computer 
geek with a tendency toward pedantry on matters technological. Over the 
past two years he has spent several months in Palestine doing solidarity 
work." Sounds like one of us, doesn't he? Surely, you'd take his word 
against the nuts that are running Falluja, wouldn't you? And what a 
bunch of nuts they are.

Even though Tariq was involved with Palestinian solidarity, "they lied 
to him and manipulated him every day, taking his passport and his 
computer, never delivering him to the hospital as promised and often 
taking him to the frontlines against his will."

In line with the bourgeois media's reporting on the Talibanization of 
Falluja, Parenti quotes Tariq as saying "that Sharia law--or perhaps 
more accurately, a kind of Sharia lawlessness--was in full effect in 
Falluja, with hands cut off for theft, women kept away from men, etc."

And just to drive home the point that we are dealing with a cast of 
characters out of an Indiana Jones movie, Parenti describes what happens 
to an unfortunate Turkoman:

"There was a Turkoman who ran a hotel; he had a wife and family. We 
thought he was a spy, so we beat him. We broke every bone in his body, 
but he wouldn't confess. Then we cut a checkerboard in his back with a 
knife and poured salt on his wounds. He begged us to kill him but he 
would not confess. We knew by then that he was innocent. To kill him was 
an act of mercy."

I don't know. If somebody broke every bone in my body, I doubt if I'd 
even regain sufficient consciousness to confess. And then to really show 
that they meant business, the ruthless natives then carved a 
checkerboard in his back and poured salt on his wounds. Well, he was 
damned lucky not to get caught by a bunch of Jap soldiers. They would 
have stuck bamboo splinters under his fingernails, dirty heathen. Makes 
Abu Ghraib look benign by comparison, right?

Tariq adds that despite the Talibanesque tendency to cut hands off for 
theft, the guerrilla commanders have lots in common with the Ken Lays 
and Martha Stewarts of the world. "The commanders all drive nice cars, 
BMWs and Mercedes."

After going through this ordeal, Tariq questions the meaning of 
"solidarity". Can't say I blame him. If I was treated this way, I'd also 
want to warn the pwogessives of the world against allowing Iraqis to 
determine their own future, free from imperialist interference. Needless 
to say, with every fiber of the Nation Magazine, his employer George 
Soros, and his daddy Michael straining to put pro-occupation, anti-"cut 
and run" John Kerry into the White House, the message of Christian's 
article would seem to serve ulterior motives.


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