Monday, November 5, 2007

The Iraq war has become a disaster that we have chosen to forget

With the media subdued, governments have not been held to account for the biggest political calamity of our time

Madeleine Bunting
The Guardian

"......And to accompany the indifference is the creeping denial of responsibility. Government ministers now talk of Iraq as a tragedy, as if it was a natural disaster and they had no hand in its making. There's a public revulsion at the violent sectarian struggles best summed up as "a plague on all their houses", as even the horror gives way to exhaustion.

The irony is that in this great age of communications and saturation media, this is perhaps the most important war to become nigh on impossible to report.....

All of which makes the achievement of the few who do break through this news blackout all the more remarkable - Ghaith Abdul-Ahad on this paper, and the Guardian's Emmy-winning film made by an Iraqi doctor on his Baghdad hospital, for example. This week a book is published by another: Dahr Jamail was a mountain guide in Alaska in 2003 who began to take an interest in US foreign policy and ended up picking up his backpack and swapping American mountains for Baghdad and Falluja, driven by a fierce moral imperative that "as a US citizen he was complicit in the devastation of Iraq". After more than three years of reporting he has post-traumatic stress disorder, but has not lost his conviction that "if the people of the United States had the real story about what their government has done in Iraq, the occupation would already have ended".......

It can take a generation or more for people to grasp the significance and magnitude of historical events. Facts that are infinitely more bizarre and awful than fiction - as Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine documents - take a long time to be fully absorbed. The Iraq war has been about the abject failure of democracy: governments have not been held to account for a war that has squandered lives, billions in public money and the stability of an entire region with reckless criminality.

· Dahr Jamail speaks at War, Truth and the Media, a conference at the London School of Economics, on November 17"

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