Topic(s): US Analysis | Comments Off on Rene — Fisk –U.S. COMING AROUND TO THE TRUTH

by Robert Fisk
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Watching the pathetic, old, lie-on-its-back frightened Labrador of
the American media changing overnight into a vicious Rottweiler is
one of the enduring pleasures of society in the United States. I
have been experiencing this phenomenon over the past two weeks,
as both victim and beneficiary.
In New York and Los Angeles, my condemnation of the U.S. presidency
and Israel’s continued settlement-building in the West Bank was
originally treated with the disdain all great papers reserve for
those who dare to question proud and democratic projects of state. In
The New York Times, that ancient luminary Ethan Bronner chided me
for attacking American journalists who — he quoted my own words —
“report in so craven a fashion from the Middle East — so fearful
of Israeli criticism that they turn Israeli murder into ‘targeted
attacks’ and illegal settlements into ‘Jewish neighborhoods.’ ” It
was remarkable Bronner should be so out of touch with his readers
that he did not know that craven is the word so many Americans apply
to their groveling newspapers.
But the moment a respected Democratic congressman and Vietnam war
veteran in Washington dared to suggest the war in Iraq was lost, that
U.S. troops should be brought home now — and when the Republican
response was so brutal it had to be disowned — the old media dog
sniffed the air, realized that power was moving away from the White
House and began to drool.
On live TV in San Francisco, I could continue my critique of the
U.S. folly in Iraq uninterrupted. Ex-Mayor Willie Brown exuded warmth
toward this pesky Brit who tore into his country’s policies in the
Middle East. It was enough to make you feel the teeniest bit sorry
— though only for a millisecond, mind you — for the guy in the
White House.
All this wasn’t caused by that familiar transition from Newark to Los
Angeles International, where the terror of al-Qaida attacks is replaced
by fear of the ozone layer. On the East Coast, too, the editorials
thundered away at the Bush administration. Seymour Hersh, that blessing
to U.S. journalism who broke the Abu Ghraib torture story, produced
another black rabbit out of his Iraqi hat with revelations that
U.S. commanders in Iraq believe the insurgency is now out of control.
When those same Iraqi gunmen last week again took control of the
city of Ramadi (already “liberated” four times since 2003), the story
shared equal billing on prime time television with Bush’s latest and
infinitely wearying insistence that Iraqi forces — who in reality
are so infiltrated by insurgents that they are a knife in the United
States’ back — will soon be able to take over security duties from
the occupation forces.
Even in Hollywood hitherto taboo subjects are being dredged to the
surface of the political mire. “Jarhead,” produced by Universal
Pictures, depicts a brutal, traumatized Marine unit during the 1991
Gulf War.
George Clooney’s production of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a
devastating black-and-white account of World War II correspondent
Ed Murrow’s heroic battle with Sen. Joe McCarthy in the ’50s — its
theme is the management and crushing of all dissent — already has
paid for its production costs twice over.
Murrow is played by an actor, but McCarthy appears only in real archive
footage. Incredibly, a test audience in New York complained that the
man “playing” McCarthy was “overacting.” Will we say this about Bush
in years to come? I suspect so.
And then there’s “Syriana,” Clooney’s epic of the oil trade that
combines suicide bombers, maverick CIA agents, feuding Middle East
Arab potentates and a slew of disreputable businessmen and East Coast
lawyers. The CIA eventually assassinates the Arab prince who wants to
take control of his own country’s oil while a Pakistani fired from his
job in the oil fields because an American conglomerate has downsized
for its shareholders’ profits destroys one of the company’s tankers
in a suicide attack.
“People seem less afraid now,” Clooney said in Entertainment
magazine. “Lots of people are starting to ask questions. It’s
becoming hard to avoid the questions.” Of course, these questions
are being asked because of the more than 2,000 U.S. fatalities in
Iraq rather than out of compassion for Iraq’s tens of thousands of
fatalities. They are being pondered because the whole illegal invasion
of Iraq is ending in calamity rather than success.
Still they avoid the “Israel” question. The Arab princes in Syriana
— who in real life would be obsessed with the occupation of the
West Bank — do not murmur a word about Israel. The Arab al-Qaida
operative who persuades the young Pakistani to attack an oil tanker
makes no reference to Israel — as every one of Osama bin Laden’s
acolytes assuredly would. It was instructive that Michael Moore’s
“Fahrenheit 9/11” did not mention Israel once.
So one key issue of the Middle East remains to be confronted. Amy
Goodman, whom I used to enrage by claiming that her leftist Democracy
Now program had only three listeners (one of whom was Amy Goodman),
is bravely raising this unmentionable subject. Partly as a result,
her “alternative” radio and television station is slowly moving into
the mainstream.
Americans are ready to discuss the United States’ relationship
with Israel.
And the United States’ injustices toward the Arabs. As usual,
ordinary Americans are way out in front of their largely tamed press
and television reporters. Now we have to wait and see if the media
boys and girls will catch up with their own people.
Robert Fisk writes for _The Independent_
(http://www.independent.co.uk/) .