Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 08, 2007

Being "anti-American"

Al-Sadr sat down for an hour long interview with the state-operated Iraqi television, McClatchy reports.

He spoke against sectarian strife and against fundamentalist Sunni forces. While he agrees to good relations with Iraq's neighbors, he is against any intervention from Iran or the Arab states.

The Maliki government is unwilling or uncapable to do its job, he says. The culprit of the sorry state of Iraq and its people is, in his view, the U.S. occupation. 

Al-Sadr didn't argue to attack U.S. forces. He didn't call "Death to America". He didn't threaten to attack the U.S. homeland. He is, or at least he consistently seems to be,  a nationalist who doesn't like to see his country turning into a dump.

But is he "anti-American"?

McClatchy seems to think so:

The tone of his statements weren't surprising. Al-Sadr has been consistently anti-American since his Mahdi Army militia first rebelled against the U.S. presence in 2004.

Is it now "anti-American" to argue against the occupation of Iraq by U.S. troops? Is it "anti-American" to work in one's national interest? Is it "anti-American" to call for an end of the occupation?

If that is the case, about half of all U.S. nationals are "anti-American".

So what is McClatchy suggesting here?

Posted by b on June 8, 2007 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

Comments

the nonsensical phrase "anti-american", as chomsky has pointed out repeatedly, is "the very hallmark of a totalitarian mentality." how dare anyone question the (god-given, natural) right of the u.s. to run the world as it sees fit! the press perpetuates this meme (usually uncritically) b/c it reflects/broadcasts the worldview by & of the ruling elite.

Posted by: b real | Jun 8, 2007 1:10:24 PM | 1

anti-semetic anyone?

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jun 8, 2007 1:32:53 PM | 2

I don't understand how Sadr can be criticized as anti-american where as the stated desire of america is to leave Iraq as a sovereign, independent (of Iran), and nationalized country. Everything Sadr stands for, america says it also stands for, in Iraq.

Unless of course, what america says it wants for Iraq is contrary to what it does in Iraq - which is arguably the case. Muqtada al-Sadr is therefor actually less anti-american than the americans themselves - as judged by actions, and not slogans. And the people that propagate such slogans are more anti-american than those who don't - like Muqtada al-Sadr

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 8, 2007 2:09:16 PM | 3

Unless of course, what america says it wants for Iraq is contrary to what it does in Iraq - which is arguably the case.

That would be the understatement of the millenium. LOL.

Posted by: Bea | Jun 8, 2007 3:07:00 PM | 4

There are so many, many evil nations in this world. So many, many evil people.

Evil . . .

is failure to speak and act in America's interests.

The penalty is death.

Bend Over Here It Comes Again.

Posted by: Antifa | Jun 8, 2007 7:17:07 PM | 5

america will do as it has always done to nationalist leaders anywhere who they believe are a menace

first they will destabilise & demonise. then they will isolate. after the isolation has succeeded. they assasinate

whether its allende, trujillo, lumumba , ben barka , nguyen van truy - on & on - endless dark lists of assasinated leaders - whose death was ordered direct from washington

in nearly every instance we have documentary records that tell us this - so vain are they in their murderous impulses - that they advertised the murder of che for example - whose death can be connected directly to that brother of pol pot - & mass murdererer, henry kissinger

they are proud of the way their institutions of fear have worked & aspects - like the old school of americas were the training ground for & in that fear

& those days have not ended. on the contrary i'd suggest this extrajudicial murder has been a consistent policy of the empire since the election of bush running in parallel with their sinister policies of ghost prisoners, extraordinary rendition & the active repression of civil liberties

sadr has at least understood that you cannot play this game with the monster unless you are armed to the teeth & are prepared to match menace for menace. sadr is as interested in parliamentary politics as the cheney bush junta - that is to say, murder suits them very well indeed & some hack here or there in this or that taliking shop is of absolutely no interest, no interest at all

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 8, 2007 7:43:37 PM | 6

blum on chavez

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 8, 2007 7:53:26 PM | 7

https://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_6_01_07.htm>Bill Lind's take on the war and Muqtada:

The likelihood, unfortunately, is that no one can restore a state in Iraq. If anyone can, it is probably Muqtada al-Sadr. According to the May 26 Birmingham (Alabama) News (I spent the Memorial Day weekend in the Confederacy; whatever its failings, it never learned to cook as badly as Yankees can),

The influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr publicly emerged Friday for the first time in months, calling for U.S. forces to leave Iraq and vowing to defend Sunnis and Christians. His appearance, and remarks, seemed part of an ongoing tactical shift by al-Sadr to recast himself as a nationalist who can unify and lead a post-occupation Iraq.

This is less of a shift than it might seem. Al-Sadr has maintained communications, and perhaps more, with some Sunni resistance groups all along. I suspect he has had his eye on the brass ring, namely all of Iraq, from the beginning. He knows what the idiots in Washington seem not to know, namely that only a leader who has opposed the occupation and America can hope to have sufficient legitimacy to restore an Iraqi state.

What all this means, in concrete terms, is that America should facilitate al-Sadr's rise to national power. That does not mean embracing him; to do so would be to destroy his legitimacy. Nor is he fool enough to accept any such embrace. Rather, it means staying out of his way, avoiding fights with his Mahdi Army, selectively picking off challengers to him within his own movement (which in fact we may be doing, wittingly or not), and letting our hopeless, worthless puppet government in Baghdad's Green Zone fall into history's wastebasket when the time is right.

None of this will ensure al-Sadr can restore a state in Iraq. Again, the odds are that no one can. But he seems to be the last, best hope.

The White House, of course, will accept none of this. Bush’s maximalism is part and parcel of his defining break with reality. But our commanders on scene, Admiral Fallon and General Petraeus, may see it. If they do, they have a moral responsibility to act on it, the White House be damned. At this point in a lost game, we must take whatever route might, just might, lead to restoring an Iraqi state. The alternative, a stateless Iraq, will represent such a vast victory for Islamic Fourth Generation forces that any real Iraqi government, however unfriendly to the United States, is infinitely preferable.

If the folly of maximalist objectives instead remains our guide, we will know soon enough. The U.S. will go to war with the Mahdi Army, do a Fallujah on Sadr City (for which the U.S. military has already drawn up plans) and try to capture or kill al-Sadr himself. At that point the war in Iraq will effectively have no strategic objective at all, beyond being a gift beyond price to old Osama.

My sense RE Sadr exactly.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 9, 2007 1:49:32 AM | 8

Ha, Anna missed, and here I just thought of Lind's piece and was going to link to it. He sees what Raed Jarrar said the first days of the occupation, what Steve Gilliard said numerous times as well since 2003, that Sadr is a nationalist at the core, and probably the only one that might have a shot at ruling Iraq - he's the last man standing in a long line of opponents to Saddam who chose to die rather than flee, and does the same with the Americans, and he's one of the few to have taken a cross-sectarian approach to the resistance to the occupation.

Iraq with someone like Sadr leading it probably won't be a nice place, and will be on many points worse than Saddam's Iraq, but it would be better than any chaotic mess that would happen without him - and from an Iraqi point of view, I suppose it's the far lesser evil, compared to US slavery, or some gangs/militias-controlled failed state or some Al-Qaeda lookalike take-over.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jun 9, 2007 8:24:06 AM | 9

The US wants to lock the country up - control its resources - defang it re. Israel - render it pliant, submissive, an outpost of the US with black-clad slave ladies starving to feed their children and experiencing shock and awe on their tv screens at the porno lite.

Particularly, some puppet Gvmt. must be made to work, must be ..

Iraqis should get used to being non-people deprived of all but the food basket.

Saddam was good, but not good enough, he had to go.

Any religious leader who could hold the country together would be welcomed (Allah ordains), religious fundamentalism is great, the best prop. ever invented. The military contractors, the Apocalypse nutters, love it to death. Crazy poor deluded Muslims who don’t brush their teeth or care for their ‘wimmen’ and don’t understand that Chevron has the ultimate experts, a chance for the Iraqis to rebuild with oil revenues!

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 9, 2007 9:23:40 AM | 10

thanks for the link to Blum, r'giap. He speaks the truth over and over again.

from further down on the page, in his observations on torture, he has this quote:

"I would personally rather die than have anyone tortured to save my life." - Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who lost his job after he publicly condemned the Uzbek regime in 2003 for its systematic use of torture.[6]

this is truly moral. not the nationalism bullshit you hear from the religious right in america.

The Village Voice has a revealing article about a Nat'l Guard Unit sent to "clean up" the Abu Ghraib mess.

Sgt. Maj. Suzanne Rubenstein, who was placed in charge of the Abu Ghraib office that processed prisoners in and out of the base, said there were days when more than 100 new prisoners reached the facility and another 100 were moved out to other facilities. In all, she estimates, 25,000 prisoners came through the camp in the first six months of the year.

The place stank of burning garbage, gunpowder, and heavy chemicals. "It felt like we were entering hell," says Staff Sgt. Christopher Manzolillo, 29, of Wantagh. "Abu Ghraib has a unique smell to it—like death, really. There's nothing else in the world that smells like that. You never forget it."

The place also had a palpable spookiness. There were hooks in the ceilings of most of the cells where the soldiers lived. Strange reddish blotches stained the walls and floors. The buildings seemed to groan and creak with a ghostly presence. And every evening, as the failing sun glowed in hues of orange and red, thousands of bats issued from some secret fissure in the walls and erupted across the sky...

Because the camps were built on a landfill, the very ground seemed to resist their presence. The sand itself extruded garbage, steel shards, shattered glass, and bone. At one point, a hole dug in the ground quickly pooled with fetid water, used syringes, and medical waste from some prior horror.

Rockets and mortars fell into the base every few days. The vast majority missed their targets, but the possibility of random death created a constant, unrelenting tension in the minds of the soldiers.

At least the soldiers, however, had helmets and Kevlar vests, and slept in concrete buildings. The prisoners, on the other hand, lived in canvas tents. Arguably, this arrangement was a violation of Article 23 of the Geneva Conventions, which states, "No prisoner of war may at any time be sent to, or be detained in areas where he may be exposed to the fire of the combat zone.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jun 9, 2007 1:10:28 PM | 11

The former commander of Abu Ghraib now commands the training command where all of the interrogators learn their dark craft. This is at Fort Huachuca, about 60 miles south of Tucson.

Many of us here in Tucson join two brave priests who are on trial here for trying to deliver a letter to the commanding officer asking her to not teach torture techniques. The priests will probably go to prison, as may some of us local protesters.

Posted by: Jake | Jun 9, 2007 1:28:37 PM | 12

Jake, here's a bit on Fort Huachuca from past whiskey bars and oh moon of alabama.

maybe someone here has the archives from this time. There was a great sequence of entries on Joe Ryan and Abu Ghraib and the atrocity that is the current U.S. govt.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jun 9, 2007 1:46:52 PM | 13

@fauxreal, #11

After listening this morning to an NPR report on Splat Pack films like Hostel II and Saw, and reading the excerpt from the Village Voice piece on Abu Ghraib, it strikes me that part of our cultural psychosis has to do with the fact that we deal daily with images and sounds of all-too-imaginable horrors, but not with the most visceral connection: the smells.

How might we respond to "gore-nographic" films or news footage of war zones if they came to us in full spectrum Odorama?

Posted by: catlady | Jun 9, 2007 4:25:46 PM | 14

altBlum:

If Bush wins repeated democratic elections ... "I mean, we've got Bush in Texas with a lot of oil money. He's a person who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with King Abdullah and Tony Blair and others."

If there was a successful electoral coup in the United States and a particular TV station applauded the overthrow of the rightfully-elected president (and the dissolving of Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the suspension of the Constitution)......

Posted by: catlady | Jun 9, 2007 4:55:23 PM | 15

Please note that today's report by McClatchy on the Mahdi Army does not anymore contain the phrase "anti-American" (and that is not accidental):

Mahdi Army makes a final push to control southwest Baghdad

In the past 10 days, the fiery Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia has resurfaced in force, making a push to roust Sunnis from Baghdad and to isolate Sunni enclaves in the west of the capital from their brethren in the south.
...
The new escalation coincides with the withdrawal of Kurdish soldiers, who were stationed in the Amil and Bayaa area as part of the Baghdad Security Plan. The Kurdish pullback began Wednesday as their scheduled three-month deployment ended, according to Iraqi and U.S. military officials.
...
"The Mahdi Army has taken on the role of the government inside Bayaa, it is the provider of services and of security," he said. "The Mahdi Army did a lot of things that have a sad side to them, like displacing the Sunnis in the area; they did it out of necessity to secure the area."
...

Posted by: b | Jun 10, 2007 4:56:49 AM | 16

More on the torture of journalists and others today from Chris Floyd.

Speaking of Chavez upthread... The Plot To Seize the White House is back in print. I've had a photocopy of the book for a while because I couldn't find it thru any used outlets. Floyd has had it available to read online for a while too. Get a paper copy while you can... And as someone noted on Amazon, google video has a doc on the coup plot against FDR. It's not as good as the book, but it's worth it for the archival footage.

...this was another action from the same oligarch mindset that is now involved in attempts to overthrow Chavez.

again- the link to the documentary about the attempted overthrow of Chavez. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. This is an excellent, excellent view of the propaganda of the privatized nation against the policy of a citizenry with democratic rights.

The neocons are not just ideologues in a Straussian perspective. They are also outside of the reality-based world in their belief in the god-like power of a social darwinian capitalism.

Of course, it is certainly convenient that a belief in such myths also means that these same people can get away with murder, mass destruction, total annihilation of cultures, and it's okay because it's about "democracy." (As in, watch when Chavez is taken into captivity and the oligargch's spokesman lies his ass off about what has happened....the guy is now in Miami, btw...wonder if he's friends with Porter Goss and the old Bay of Pigs gangsters?)

Posted by: fauxreal | Jun 10, 2007 10:09:39 AM | 17

The neocons are not just ideologues in a Straussian perspective. They are also outside of the reality-based world in their belief in the god-like power of a social darwinian capitalism.

Yes. Their ideological roots are very confused, and Strauss (whom I have read with half an eye) seems just a sort of excuse, like what college students are supposed to turn up when they are to trace origins, continuity, etc.

Their grounding is more in the left than in the right, wasn’t it so that many changed allegiance to support Reagan? Went from Democrat to neo-Rep? In short, taking up what could be called the neo-fascist elements of both ‘wings’ and switching as needed, which, btw, worked?

The ideological underpinnings seem to be vague slogans and ‘wink wink’ principles, more appeals to an ingroup than any consistent stance or political attitude, a desire to grab power and form ‘reality’ itself. The pubic discourse is social darwinist in a way: but even that seems a sop to traditional conservative thinking, as they are champions of Big. Gov. Repressive Laws. Big Corps. Private contractors, etc. (fascist alliance..)

And they have their partners in the neo-libs, who are just as bad. Or worse.

Freedom is just another word...

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 10, 2007 12:06:02 PM | 18

McClatchy on the Mahdi Army does not anymore contain the phrase "anti-American" (and that is not accidental):

bravo b

Posted by: annie | Jun 10, 2007 12:53:30 PM | 19

and for the sake of information- I also found and watched a rebuttal to the film about Chavez from the opposition.

What's interesting to me is that, yes, the filmmakers did manipulate via editorial decisions and the use of montage and parallel editing. however, the basic issue in the conflict is not different.

as the opposition noted (opposition led by the oligarch's, but sure, there are others who are not the richest of the rich who surely have opposed Chavez too..) anyway, they said Chavez was elected by an absolute majority. Chavez also, remember, returned the electronic voting machines from the U.S. that would have counted the election otherwise...not a minor issue in my mind...

and the military here, as a whole, tho not necessarily in the actions of certain individuals, as seen in both films, was trying very hard to follow constitutional guidelines, even when the situation was chaotic.

So if the oligarchs had such a majority on their side, etc. why couldn't they follow the constitutional guidelines and present their case before the Venezuelan citizens in a vote? In both films, tho this is obscured in the second one, the issue was nationalization of the oil industry. at the end of the second film, when they show Chavez discussing this, and assign blame to him, it is because he said he provoked the event, yes, because of his actions as prez -- and Chavez did not run as any friend to the oil industrial elites, so it is no surprise that their greatest natural resource would be a major part of his work to redistribute wealth that has accumulated with a power elite that, as all of them do, circle jerk to maintain that power among themselves.

also, the outcome of the attempted overthrow of Chavez says more good about him than them, tho even then they try to use that as a way to say the film distorts and therefore nothing in it has any value?

noirette- the "democratic" neocons sprang from the loins of Scoop Jackson, who was also derisively called the Senator for Boeing -- military contractors -- Jackson thought Eisenhower was not hawkish enough on defense spending.

actually, I think the neocons have strong beliefs that underpin their actions. I've been looking back at some things I'd seen earlier and I'm sort of trying to see where certain assumptions and reactions have combined. -- I'm trying to synthesize for myself information others have accumulated as a sort of vision of how we got here now that does not rely on the catch phrases that lose meaning as they become deformed by struggles of various groups to define them. maybe I'll have something useful to contribute here by the process.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jun 10, 2007 2:08:43 PM | 20

What you said, fauxreal!
You go!
A tidbit that I read about the first opposition strikes and shutting down the oil exports was that they froze the industry by taking out the hard drives of all the corporate computers. Pretty easy way to paralyze an industry, eh?

Posted by: Jake | Jun 10, 2007 2:41:04 PM | 21

For long days and months and years, a solitary hope of any possible good emerging from the unending, malignant, death dealing, ill-fated US occupation of Iraq has been that the occupation itself might provide Iraqis with a common enemy to unite against. Not by strategy or design of the neo-colonialists. Yet, could it become so? A small, self-defeating contribution to the disingenuous, avowed goal ("a free, self-governing Iraq") of the imperial invasion, marked by most bitter ironies.

Could Sadr, his armies, and his allies, as Lind suggests, be the force for a returning order and more national unity than any other coalition has achieved since 2003? If so, chances may be poor, as r'giap notes, that Sadr would live through it. Yet, as b observes, Sadr does not taunt the US with direct confrontation, but preaches against all foreign interference in Iraq.

For me, the conviction is growing that the top US military leaders want to remove many US forces in months, not years, because they are so weakened by this war, far beyond all public acknowledgement of actual troop deficiencies and material costs.

But our commanders on scene, Admiral Fallon and General Petraeus, may see it. If they do, they have a moral responsibility to act on it, the White House be damned.
Do others see signs, as Lind hints, that decisions of war and retreat may no longer be entirely under the command of the WH?

Posted by: small coke | Jun 11, 2007 3:25:12 AM | 22

Do others see signs, as Lind hints, that decisions of war and retreat may no longer be entirely under the command of the WH?

Yes and no. The military will not resist direct orders from the White House. SecDef Gates may do so. Let's hope the Generals listen to him.

Posted by: b | Jun 11, 2007 4:30:38 AM | 23

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