Khan: 10 Years After the War in Iraq, The Anti-War Movement is Virtually Dead

Freelance Journalist Nida Khan

Freelance Journalist Nida Khan

Last week marked the official 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Leading up to the commemoration of this bloody and costly engagement, major networks, newspapers and online outlets acknowledged the decade milestone with extensive coverage. They parsed the many ways in which the Bush administration misled everyone and orchestrated a brazen attack on a sovereign nation. And they criticized the media’s own fallacy in helping to sell the war to the American people. But out of all of the supposed lessons learned and promises to rectify our ways going forward, it’s amazing just how little we have changed. In some sort of twisted irony, many of the most vocal opponents of the Iraq war are virtually silent at this very moment when we are actively entrenched and engaged in more areas of the world than possibly ever before. An estimated 6 million people demonstrated against the war in Iraq (according to Al Jazeera). Viewing old footage of these protests, one thing became vividly evident: 10 years later, any semblance of an anti-war movement has been all but crushed.

Michael Mooregreen-225“As Americans, now whenever we’re told anything, somebody comes on and says there’s reports that maybe this and maybe that, we have to have the most skeptical, critical eye and ear to what we’re being told,” said filmmaker Michael Moore last Tuesday on ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’. Responding to reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, and Ahmadinejad’s potential nuclear capabilities in Iran, Moore emphatically stated that our government – ‘the real government’ as he put it (Wall St., banks, the military) – hasn’t earned a right to be trusted. He went so far as to say that unless Ahmadinejad walks in the room with a bomb in his hand and shows it to him, he won’t believe anything he’s told about Iran. Watching Moore call out our rush to judgment (and subsequent action) around the world, it became blatantly obvious how rare his dissent actually is. In all the hoopla of ‘how could we let this happen’ in regards to Iraq 10 years ago, hardly anyone had the backbone to say that we’re still falling for the same playbook today save for one Michael Moore and a few others that have just been pushed to the margins.

Regardless of what your own personal views may be on Qaddafi (Gaddafi), Ahmadinejad, Abbas or the latest ‘bad guy’ on our list, the fact remains that we are still projecting them through a specific lens that gets drummed up in our mass media without appropriate context or complete information from all angles. And what follows is our involvement in yet another foreign independent country without adequate debate back home. Just because we may now align ourselves with a few other allies when doing so, does that make our actions really any less different than what happened with Iraq? And let’s put aside the notion of dictators that
need to be toppled for a moment and examine the use of weaponry in a host of other nations. Actively utilizing the predator drone program in Somalia, Yemen,

Mali, Afghanistan, Pakistan and numerous other countries, we are still dropping bombs that undoubtedly kill innocent civilians in the process. And yet, where’s the
objection from those that demonstrated against Iraq?

Medea Benjamin

Whenever the concept of drones is addressed in our common discourse, a majority almost instantaneously defend its use because it requires less forces on the ground, and less loss of American lives. Pressing buttons, dropping bombs and watching explosions on a screen as if it were some sort of video game, the individuals operating drones in Nevada or elsewhere are not only further desensitized to the notion of taking lives, but so are the rest of us. No longer do we have to protest the lack of images of coffins with dead U.S. soldiers – we don’t even consider the use of drones an act of war. Under the same open-ended guise of ‘fighting terrorism’, the drone program is fundamentally unchecked from independent entities, and functions pretty much without accountability because it remains a covert process (though there’s talk to move it from CIA control, but we have yet to see). It wasn’t until Congressman Rand Paul’s recent filibuster of Brennan’s confirmation that many Americans likely heard about drones for the first time – and many probably still haven’t. The silence, from all sides, has been quite deafening.

Rallies and marches against the war in Vietnam played an intricate role in the larger struggle for civil rights in this country. While we may be losing less troops today of course (which is a plus), modern warfare still results in the murder of innocents. Every time a supposed target is hit by a drone, civilians – often times women and children – are killed simultaneously and many others permanently wounded. And that goes for every bomb dropped, every time, in every town, in every village, in every city, in every country. But when was the last time we saw 6 million protest that? Or even a million? For that matter, when was the last time we saw any sort of massive anti-war protest anywhere? Have we become such a complacent society that out of sight really has translated into out of mind? Or have we become neutralized because the dynamics of warfare have changed? Any which way you look at it, it’s pretty shocking.

With the exception of a few journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill that have been discussing drones at length for some time now, the vast majority of our press has been silent (minus recent Rand Paul coverage). Instead, we have media that continues to tell us that the drone program is effective in defeating terrorism and getting the bad guys. Rather than questioning a policy as journalists should do, they have been selling it for years – much in the same fashion that the Iraq war was sold to us 10 years ago. In all the focus on the anniversary of the invasion, never once did pundits and journos from either side of the aisle highlight the fact that we are repeating the same mishaps again, right now, in the present. And in discussions of the media’s complacency in selling the war, how often did we hear an acknowledgment of its current complacency in selling any of our present conflicts?

Guess people will wait to talk about today’s failures another 10 years from now.

written by Nida Khan follow her on twitter at

Wyclef Jean Shot in Haiti-Aristide Returns

With the madness going on in Japan and now Libya many of us have forgotten that neighboring Haiti is still in shambles.  First there’s an election run off for President. The last election was marred with accusations of fraud which resulted in widespread violence. The emerging candidates is Wyclef Jean‘s former rival Michel Martelly, 50, is a singer and entertainer known to his fans as “Sweet Micky“. He’s running against a 70 year old former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

Second, the election has become even more complicated because former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti over the weekend after a 7 year exile. Why is this important? Because it marks the return of man who headed Haiti’s largest political party the Lavalas. That party has not been allowed to partake in Haiti elections primarily because they were not deemed favorable by US corporations and then George W Bush when help orchestrate a coup in 2004 which resulted in Aristide being ousted.

Folks should know Aristide was seen as a President who supported the poor and wanted to raise minimum wage. Sadly this was a coup supported by Wyclef Jean and his ambassador uncle Raymond Joseph.

Aristide has already denounced the elections as a sham.

As for Wyclef, He’s been back in Haiti stomping for his former  rival Michael Martelly. He was shot in his guitar playing hand. He was released from the hospital and is doing well.. There’s been no word on the assailants.

For those who want more indepth understanding on Aristide’s turbulent relationship with the US particularly under Bush and Clinton.. read the following article from investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill

Bill Clinton

In September 1991, the US backed the violent overthrow of the government of Haiti’s democratically-elected leftist priest President Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was in power less than a year. Aristide had defeated a US-backed candidate in the 1990 Haitian presidential election. The military coup leaders and their paramilitary gangs of CIA-backed murderous thugs, including the notorious FRAPH paramilitary units, were known for hacking the limbs off of Aristide supporters (and others) along with an unending slew of other horrifying crimes.

When Clinton came to power, he played a vicious game with Haiti that allowed the coup regime to continue rampaging Haiti and further destabilized the country. What’s more, in the 1992 election campaign, Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to reverse what he called then-President George HW Bush’s “cruel policy” of holding Haitian refugees at Guantanamo with no legal rights in US courts. Upon his election, however, Clinton reversed his position and sided with the Bush administration in denying the Haitians legal rights. the Haitians were held in atrocious conditions and the new Democratic president was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (sound familiar?).

While Clinton and his advisers publicly expressed their dismay with the coup, they simultaneously refused to support the swift reinstatement of the country’s democratically elected leader and would, in fact, not allow Aristide’s return until Washington received guarantees that: 1. Aristide would not lay claim to the years of his presidency lost in forced exile and; 2. US neoliberal economic plans were solidified as the law of the land in Haiti.

“The Clinton administration was credited for working for the return to power of Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was overthrown in a military coup,” says author William Blum. “But, in fact, Clinton had stalled the return for as long as he could, and had instead tried his best to return anti-Aristide conservatives to a leading power role in a mixed government, because Aristide was too leftist for Washington’s tastes.” Blum’s book “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” includes a chapter on the history of the US role in Haiti.

The fact that the coup against the democratically-elected president of Haiti was allowed to continue unabated for three full years seemed to be less offensive to Clinton than Aristide’s progressive vision for Haiti. As Blum observed in his book, “[Clinton] was not actually repulsed by [coup leader Raoul] Cédras and company, for they posed no ideological barrier to the United States continuing the economic and strategic control of Haiti it’s maintained for most of the century.  Unlike Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a man who only a year earlier had declared: ‘I still think capitalism is a mortal sin.’”

Blum added: “Faced ultimately with Aristide returning to power, Clinton demanded and received — and then made sure to publicly announce — the Haitian president’s guarantee that he would not try to remain in office to make up for the time lost in exile. Clinton of course called this ‘democracy,’ although it represented a partial legitimization of the coup.” Indeed, Haiti experts say that Clinton could have restored Aristide to power under an almost identical arrangement years earlier than he did.

continue reading

America’s Obsession with Extramarital Affairs Are Used As Distractions to the War


Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods-What have you done?  Word of his sordid affairs is all anyone can talk about. From coast to coast  on every single local and national newscast, squeaky clean Tiger Woods cheating on his wife is the lead story. Sadly,we’ve seen this film way too many times. Whether it’s South Carolina governor  Mark Sanford, basketball great Kobe Bryant, former president Bill Clinton or Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson, such sagas more often than not have me asking,  ‘What are ‘they’ trying to hide from us?’

All this Tiger Woods talk has me suspicious. Something is up.  

It was just two days ago, that we had a sobering conversation with Congressman and former Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich about what he anticipated President Obama would say in his speech about increasing troops to Afghanistan. A very impassioned Kucinich noted that the anti-war’s collective upset to Obama’s proposal was a few steps too late. He reminded us that key hurdles were cleared a month ago in early October around the 8th anniversary of the Afghan War. According to Kucinich, on October 8th, the House  approved a bill that authorized the expenditure of $130 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He noted that the democratic dominated Congress had already taken a pro-War stance and many in the anti-war peace Movement were quiet.

David Letterman's extramaritial affairs were big distractions from war issues

Folks may not recall this particular bill because back in early October while our government was pouring all this money into the war effort, the rest of the nation was besieged with endless news stories and punditry analysis about another sordid extramarital affair and its accompanying baggage including attempted extortion. This of course involved late night TV host David Letterman. 

 Instead of hearing from an enraged Kucinich, Barbara Lee or Texas Republican Ron Paul, we were subjected to all sorts experts taking up valuable airtime debating whether or not Letterman having sex with another consenting adult was appropriate.

 Adding to this distraction was Barack Obama being awarded  the Noble Peace Prize the day after the October 8th date Kucinich referenced.  Ron Paul took some time out and expressed his concerns about the Noble Prize sitaution. he talked about it being a waste of time and distraction and that it awarding Obama such a prestigous award would not move him toward peace.

But getting back to this country’s obsession with cheating spouses. They’ve long served as perfect covers for serious discussions about issues that have far-reaching impact on our lives. Last month it was Letterman, this month its Woods. The Woods story is now eclipsing important news coverage of the dozen or so anti-war protests yesterday from around the country. Instead of seeing or hearing man-on-the-street reports soliciting the opinions of young people about the escalation, we’re hearing them weigh in on Woods. Instead of hearing from celebrities like actor Danny Glover talking about his oppposition to the war, we’re hearing basketball great Charles Barkely‘s take on Tiger.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a conversation about Tiger Woods is an indication that one is un-intelligent or un-interested in more serious subjects. What I am cautioning us to keep in mind, that all this news coverage may be a distraction  to keep our eyes off some important balls. We have to ask ourselves; ‘What are we not talking about today?  Is it the President’s Job/Economic Summit being held today? Is it the debate to re-appoint Fed Chair Ben Bernacke? Is it the latest developments surrounding the Oscar Grant trial? Is it the controversy surrounding the conclusion of the mayoral election in Atlanta or the upcoming hotly contested run off mayoral election in Houston? As I’m typing this the Today Show is tripping all over itself to report how yet another woman is coming out to hold a press conference with famed lawyer Gloria Allred to possibly admit she had an affair. Her press conference comes at the heels of two other press conferences including one the other day where several law enforcement officials announced that they are not going to be further investigating Woods.

I’m thinking to myself, if such stories are being  done because the American public is hungry for salacious and intriguing reports, why not bring on journalist Jeremy Scahill of to talk about how the worlds largest and most notorious private army Blackwater has been waging a secret War in Pakistan where they been assassinating and kidnapping people. If you wanna get heads turning and tongues wagging make note that this is happening on the watch of a President who promised rto abandon all those disturbing George Bush-Dick Cheney type tactics  that painted America in a bad light.  Secret war in Pakistan vs Tiger Woods being an undercover player? You decide what’s more important.

Ron Paul Kicked up dust around the escalation of the War in Afghanistan

Another glaring omission I see missing from national news coverage is yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee discussion on Afghanistan It was there that Congressional Black Caucus chair Barbara Lee and Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey were not allowed to speak  and express their staunch opposition to the Obama’s escalation. Fortunately Ron Paul got a chance to speak and really went in on the committee hitting them pretty hard, but that was barely covered. You can peep Paul weighing in on the C-Span video. He starts his round of questioning at 88.17 minutes into the hearing.

It’s interesting to note that it was just 3 weeks ago that Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X hit us off with a song and video that raised similar concerns. He asked the question about whether or not we are staying up on the news. His video is a good note to end on and reflect.

written by Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner