Ethnic Media Takes a Sober Look at U.S. Intervention in Iraq

 New America Media/News Analysis   Thursday 22 December 2011   Nation of Change   

In the wake of the end of the Iraq war, U.S. ethnic media are taking a sober look at the last nine years of American military intervention in Iraq, and the meaning of the war in each of their communities.  

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When the last Amer­i­can troops pulled out of Iraq last week, Uni­vi­sion an­chor and com­men­ta­tor Jorge Ramos tweeted in Span­ish, “The last sol­dier is leav­ing Iraq, an un­nec­es­sary war, in­vented by Bush, that cost more than 100,000 lives and $1 tril­lion.” In an­other tweet, Ramos wrote in Span­ish, “The war in Iraq is end­ing but you have to re­mem­ber that no weapons of mass de­struc­tion were found there and that Sad­dam had noth­ing to do with 9/11.”

In the wake of the end of the Iraq war, U.S. eth­nic media are tak­ing a sober look at the last nine years of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Iraq, and the mean­ing of the war in each of their com­mu­ni­ties.

The Iraq war will be re­mem­bered as “an in­com­pre­hen­si­ble war whose reper­cus­sions will con­tinue for a long time,” ac­cord­ing an ed­i­to­r­ial in Los An­ge­les-based Span­ish-lan­guage news­pa­per La Opinión look­ing back at the eight and a half years of U.S. mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Iraq that ended last week.

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The ed­i­to­r­ial ar­gues that the Iraq war, a legacy of the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, was built on “end­less ar­ro­gance that led to de­nials of re­al­ity, de­lib­er­ate lies and deep judg­ment er­rors.” The war it­self, ed­i­tors write, has done more harm than good, lead­ing to losses in human lives, money and geopo­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty.

An op-ed in New York’s Span­ish-lan­guage El Di­ario/La Prensa, called “A Vain Vic­tory in Iraq,” ex­plains the rea­son for this: “We con­tinue fight­ing ter­ror­ists be­cause they never were in Iraq, pre­fer­ring to have their base in the law­less lands of Afghanistan and their al­liances with the au­thor­i­ties of Pak­istan.

We con­tinue to fear nu­clear weapons, and that’s be­cause Sad­dam Hus­sein wasn’t the prob­lem; Iran and Pak­istan are to blame. Is­rael still has en­e­mies. And if there is a flour­ish­ing democ­racy in the re­gion, it is thanks to the pop­u­lar move­ments in Tunisia and Egypt, not our mil­i­tary ad­ven­ture in Iraq.”

“War is a dirty busi­ness,” the com­men­ta­tor wrote for El Di­ario/La Prensa. “For a war to have pop­u­lar sup­port, the lead­ers of a democ­racy like the U.S. need to use il­lu­sions. That’s why the au­thors of the war in Iraq – es­pe­cially Pres­i­dent Bush and Vice Pres­i­dent Ch­eney – promised us a mir­a­cle. The bombs would ex­plode. And as the smoke dis­si­pated, we would con­tem­plate a sim­pler and less threat­en­ing world.”

That wasn’t ex­actly what hap­pened, the writer con­cluded. “The bombs ex­ploded. But today we hear sobs. And what we see is smoke as usual.”

Arab-Amer­i­can media, mean­while, were not con­vinced that the with­drawal of Amer­i­can troops meant the end of mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in the re­gion.

Ahemd Thar­wat, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of St. Thomas in Min­neapo­lis and host of the local Arab-Amer­i­can TV pro­gram Be­lAh­dan, called the U.S. troop with­drawal “an empty sym­bol.”

“The war was a huge mis­take,” he said. “It was costly and un­nec­es­sary, and I don’t know if we can re­cover from it.”

Fa­tima Bakhit, pub­lisher of the Los An­ge­les-based weekly news­pa­per Al En­te­shar Al Arabi, echoed Thar­wat’s dis­ap­point­ment and con­cern over the fu­ture of Iraq.

“The with­drawal is a joke,” Bakhit said. “It is just show­ing that Amer­ica can re­al­ize its promise of ‘with­draw­ing,’” but, she said, “the Amer­i­can pres­ence and in­flu­ence will con­tinue in Iraq.”

Bakhit noted that while “every­one has sadly paid a price in the war, Iraq is the biggest loser. The coun­try has been com­pletely de­stroyed as re­sult of these nine years. And on top of that,” she said, “Amer­ica’s re­la­tion­ship with the re­gion, not just the coun­try, has se­ri­ously wors­ened and will not im­prove.”

Media from the Iran­ian di­as­pora wor­ried that the vac­uum left in the wake of the Amer­i­can with­drawal from Iraq could pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for Iran to step in.

“Less than a week after Amer­i­can troops left, an earth­quake-like cri­sis is grow­ing rapidly in Iraq,” noted a writer for Iranian.​com, a web­site that posts sto­ries by the Iran­ian Di­as­pora. “Some folks had warned that Iran would move to re­place the Amer­i­cans while oth­ers said Iraqi na­tion­al­ism would pre­vent that. It’s start­ing to look like the first group was right.”

“For now Khamenei [Supreme Leader of Iran] would be play­ing a role sim­i­lar to Milo­se­vic in Bosnia,” the writer pre­dicts. “He would en­cour­age sec­tar­ian dom­i­nance next door and–rather than send armies openly, he would ‘loan’ weapons, offer train­ers and send well armed ‘vol­un­teers,’ stripped of their usual uni­forms as the regime did in once pros­per­ous Lebanon.”

Viet­namese Bayvut.​com, based in Aus­tralia, also wor­ried that Amer­i­cans’ de­par­ture from Iraq could cause Iraq’s frag­ile democ­racy to dis­ap­pear. Bayvut.​com quotes a woman in Bag­dad who said that she doesn’t “be­lieve that real change has come. There are still bomb­ings, as­sas­si­na­tions, and the gov­ern­ment is doing very lit­tle,” she said. “As for those who long for democ­racy in Iran, that hope has too dis­si­pated with the Amer­i­cans’ de­par­ture next door.”

Bao Moi news­pa­per, a Viet­namese Amer­i­cans daily, adds that even as Iraqi cit­i­zens cel­e­brate the de­par­ture of the U.S. mil­i­tary, “they are also wor­ried re­gard­ing the new po­lit­i­cal frag­men­ta­tion in their gov­ern­ment that leads to is­sues of se­cu­rity and sov­er­eignty of their coun­try.”

Much of Ko­rean media’s cov­er­age of the Iraq war fo­cused on South Ko­rean busi­nesses look­ing to take part in post-war re­con­struc­tion ef­forts.

An ar­ti­cle in the Korea Her­ald from May cel­e­brated the sign­ing of a $7.25 bil­lion con­tract be­tween Han­hwa En­gi­neer­ing, one of South Korea’s largest de­vel­op­ers, and Iraq’s Na­tional In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion. The seven-year con­tract, which calls for the con­struc­tion of a planned town 25 kilo­me­ters east of Bagh­dad, marks “the largest over­seas con­struc­tion pro­ject to be won by a Ko­rean con­struc­tion firm.”

Over its four-year pres­ence in Iraq, South Korea dis­patched some 19,000 mostly non-com­bat troops to the war-torn na­tion. The ini­tial de­ci­sion to take part in the ef­fort proved con­tro­ver­sial as most South Ko­re­ans op­posed the war, though then Pres­i­dent Roh Moo Hyun hoped to use it as lever­age in ef­forts to move Wash­ing­ton to­ward a softer stance on North Korea.

As the war comes to an end, some Ko­re­ans are re­flect­ing on the toll of the war for Amer­ica. An ed­i­to­r­ial in the Korea Times notes that the nine-year con­flict was fought on “false pre­tenses,” with the “mis­ery and pain caused by the war far out­weigh­ing its glory.”

Pay­ing a high price that in­cluded some 4,500 ca­su­al­ties, tril­lions of dol­lars spent and re­turn­ing vet­er­ans strug­gling with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, the piece con­cluded that “in the end, the war sent Amer­ica’s image abroad plung­ing.”

As Amer­i­can troops leave Iraq, some Chi­nese-Amer­i­can media out­lets ex­pressed con­cern that the U.S. mil­i­tary could take a re­newed in­ter­est in China.

“The U.S. could redi­rect mil­i­tary re­sources from the Mid­dle East to Asia, so that coun­tries like South Korea and the Philip­pines, who are al­lies of the U.S., would re­ceive more mil­i­tary sup­port as the Iraq war ends,” said Joseph Leung, ed­i­tor in chief of the Sing Tao Daily in San Fran­cisco. “By di­rect­ing more mil­i­tary re­sources to China’s neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, China’s de­vel­op­ment will be closely mon­i­tored by the U.S. and its al­lies in Asia.”

Chi­nese-Amer­i­can media also took a per­sonal look at the fam­i­lies who have lost chil­dren in the war.

Par­ents of Chi­nese-Amer­i­can sol­diers told the World Jour­nal that they were re­lieved to see the Iraq war come to an end and to see their kids come home safely. The mother of Daniel Humphrey, who was in­jured in 2003 in the U.S. Navy when his truck was bombed, told the World Jour­nal, “I’m glad the war fi­nally ended so that all sol­diers’ fam­i­lies do not need to worry about their front­line kids any­more.”

But for the fam­i­lies of Vic­tor Lu and Ming Sun, two sol­diers who died in the war, noth­ing can com­pen­sate for their pai, the World Jour­nal re­ports.

African-Amer­i­can media, mean­while, noted that the last sol­dier to die in Iraq was black. Army Spe­cial­ist David Hick­man, a 23-year-old African-Amer­i­can from North Car­olina, was killed when a road­side bomb ex­ploded through his ar­mored truck on Nov. 14, just weeks away from the war’s end.

“Peo­ple of all col­ors died un­nec­es­sar­ily in Iraq, but Hick­man’s death is a re­minder of the high costs African-Amer­i­cans pay in war,” wrote a com­men­ta­tor for BET.​com. “Ac­cord­ing to De­fense De­part­ment sta­tis­tics from 2007, de­spite the fact that Black mil­i­tary en­list­ment is on the de­cline in the United States, Blacks are still slightly over­rep­re­sented in the armed forces, ac­count­ing for 15.5 of the mil­i­tary, though they are 12.8 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion. That means that Blacks, who must strug­gle with all sorts of op­pres­sive forces in Amer­ica, are also being asked to die for Amer­ica at dis­pro­por­tion­ate rates.”

“Worse still is that when Black vet­er­ans re­turn from war, many have lives worse than the ones they led in the mil­i­tary,” wrote the com­men­ta­tor. “Of the 131,000 home­less vet­er­ans in Amer­ica, a full 45 per­cent are African-Amer­i­can.”

“I thank every sol­dier, re­gard­less of color, who was will­ing to fight the Iraq war for those of us un­will­ing to. Their ser­vice is ap­pre­ci­ated,” the writer con­cluded. “But I’d ask that be­fore we enter into the next war, Amer­ica re­ally thinks hard about who it’s send­ing into the vi­o­lence and chaos. Whose lives do we con­sider ex­pend­able?”

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By Published On: December 30th, 2011Comments Off on Nation of Change> Ethnic Media Takes a Sober Look at U.S. Intervention in Iraq

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