Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blaming the Victims

In recent comments the discussion turned to an article written by Madeleine Bunting and published in The Guardian. Bunting writes "thousands of women and children are dying every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet the governments responsible have been returned to power." So the governments in power are responsible for the deaths of women and children and not the suicide bombers and terrorists who intentionally murder innocents in an attempt to defeat those governments. Not only that - apparently WE the people who elected those governments are also responsible, and the media is responsible. I could not read the entire article yesterday, so I should add here that Bunting does make some good points, and she offers this disclaimer about the female suicide bomber she writes about: "That's not to say that her own moral choices were defensible - she blew up herself, her beloved brother, fellow Muslims and plenty of women in the crowd - but the challenge even from such a morally flawed character persists." The "challenge" she refers to is the claim by the bomber that we think that we are innocent, but we are not, because we have "chosen to forget". Really? Chosen to forget? We and the media may have become desensitized to the daily violence in Iraq, but we have not chosen to forget. Her claim is an insult to the well-intentioned bloggers and commentators who have passionately written about the war in Iraq.

Bunting goes on to write about Dahr Jamail and his new book. I have read Jamail before and I have become familiar with his seemingly one-sided view of Iraq. I wanted to give an example of Jamail's bias, so I visited his website and immediately I found a telling sentence on his 'reports' section of his site: "Dahr Jamail was the primary contributor to this report concerning the failure of Bechtel to reconstruct/rehabilitate the water treatment plants it mentioned in its contract." WOW. According to Jamail, Bechtel "failed" to reconstruct/rehabilitate the Iraqi water treatment plants, as if Bechtel was somehow negligent and intentionally breached their contractual obligations. Jamail does not mention that 52 Bechtel employees (many of them Iraqi) were murdered by the glorious "resistance" and other criminals.

Jamail did not include in his report or his website the fact that "Bechtel's hospital site security manager was murdered. The site manager received death threats and resigned. Bechtel's senior Iraqi engineer quit after his daughter was kidnapped. Twelve employees of a subcontractor in charge of the hospital's electricity and plumbing were killed in their offices. Eleven workers of another company supplying the project's concrete also died."

Jamail does worry about the poor people of Iraq and his report states that "if the security threat is too great in some places for Bechtel to carry out its contractual obligations for water service reconstruction, the work must be immediately subcontracted out to Iraqi firms and/or government workers and international aid organizations, or military protection sought." No mention that Bechtel DID subcontract the work to Iraqis. No mention that many of those Iraqis were murdered. Does Jamail realize that insurgents have not allowed reconstruction to happen so that the new Iraq will fail? Is this fact so difficult to acknowledge? Or does Jamail agree with the insurgents and their tactics? His report was written before Bechtel left Iraq. Why hasn't Jamail updated his website to put at least some blame where it actually belongs? If I were one of those Iraqis hired by Bechtel, I would be very angry with Dahr Jamail and people who blame contractors for their "failure" to rehabilitate Iraq.

No comments :