Christian Parenti "reporting" from Falluja

 

posted to www.marxmail.org on July 8, 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 cliché in real life, Christian Parenti angles for exactly that persona in the pages of the Nation. He bravely goes among the natives in war torn 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 of late 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, the 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.