In a lively and insightful roundtable discussion, Ralph hosts former Marine company commander, Matthew Hoh, who when not deployed also worked in the Pentagon and the State Department and independent and unembedded Iraq war correspondent, Dahr Jamail. They mark the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and discuss the consequences of that misbegotten and illegal war. Plus, we hear a clip from Ralph’s and Patti Smith’s antiwar concert tour conducted in 2005.
Dahr Jamail is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, as well as The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption. He is co-editor (with Stan Rushworth) of We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth.
It’s hard to even articulate the level of suffering (in Iraq). And this is the country that exists today, that I got to leave, the military got to leave— at least for the most part. But the Iraqi people can’t leave. And this is what they have to live with today.
Matthew Hoh is a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy. Mr. Hoh took part in the American occupation of Iraq, first with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then as a Marine Corps company commander. When not deployed, he worked on Afghanistan and Iraq war policy and operations issues at the Pentagon and State Department. In 2009, he resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan with the State Department over the American escalation of the war.
This consistent line of violence directed against the Iraqi people to achieve American political aims had been established for decades. And I went into it thinking that somehow we were different… “If I go into this war, I can affect the people around me because I am going to be good and I am going to be moral and I am not going to do bad things.” And that’s a complete fallacy. That’s an incredible mistake.
We have to go into this history because it’s going to happen again and again and again. The warmongers are active again on the Ukraine War now. More and more, we’re moving toward a conflict with Russia...Who knows what will happen, because there’s no break on our government. It’s as if it was a dictatorship when it comes to foreign policy.
In Case You Haven’t Heard
1. From Jewish Currents: Last May, amid rising antisemitic attacks by the far-right, Anti-Defamation League president Jonathan Greenblatt announced that the organization would devote more energy to combating anti-Zionism and described Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) as “extremist” and the “photo inverse of the extreme right.” Within the group, staffers dissented to this rhetoric. Greenblatt called a special meeting over Zoom to address this dissent, ending by stating “[if] you...can’t square the fact that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, then maybe this isn’t the place for you.”
2. The Congressional Workers Union continues along its long road. The union reports 100% of staffers for Senator Ed Markey voted to unionize; once recognized, this will be the first ever unionized Senate office. Additionally, while the Republican majority in the House has sought to arrest unionization efforts, a new report from Demand Progress’ Kevin Mulshine (a former counsel at the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights) contends that they can continue their efforts under the Congressional Accountability Act.
5. In Georgia, judges denied bail to 22 of 23 citizens engaged in peaceful protest against the Cop City project. These protesters are charged with “domestic terrorism,” according to NPR. Many prominent civil liberties organizations signed a letter objecting to this decision, including Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Palestine Legal, the American Friends Service Committee, and CODEPINK. Additionally, an independent autopsy published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that – contrary to the police’s statement at the time – murdered protester Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán was in a cross-legged, seated position with their hands raised when they were shot to death by Georgia police.
6. From The Hill: Following a two-year battle, Gigi Sohn has requested that President Biden withdraw her nomination for the Federal Communications Commission. This follows three confirmation hearings and a nasty media campaign against Ms. Sohn, who confounded “Public Knowledge” alongside Laurie Racine and David Bollier. The opposition to her nomination came primarily from Republicans, but Democrats caving on this nomination is just another in a long pattern. The FCC is now left with a 2-2 partisan deadlock.
8. Editors for Saturday Night Live will strike if they can’t reach a deal on their contract by the end of the month, the LA Times reports. According to the Motion Picture Editors Guild, editors are “paid far below industry standards.”
10. From the Guardian: In Kingston, New York – a post-industrial town where the median per-capita income hovers around $32,000, and nearly one in five residents live below the federal poverty line – rents have skyrocketed up to 30% in the last three years. Now, using emergency rent control measures a board of tenants is seeking an unprecedented citywide rent reduction. Amid fierce resistance from the landlord lobby, this issue is now winding its way through the courts.