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Opinion and analysis pieces

The Monstrosity of War

Civilian deaths increase as Israel moves deeper into Gaza. (Photo: Abid Katib / Getty Images Europe)

Civilian deaths increase as Israel moves deeper into Gaza. (Photo: Abid Katib / Getty Images)

“Foreseen for so many years: these evils, this monstrous violence, these massive agonies: no easier to bear.”
-Robinson Jeffers, American poet

Agence France-Presse reports that the first person killed when the Israeli military began to enter Gaza on Saturday was a Palestinian child.

On Sunday, a Palestinian woman and her four children were blown to pieces when Israeli warplanes bombed their home. They are among the 521 victims (at the time of this writing) of the ongoing air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip by a 9,000 strong force, which the Israeli government has launched on one of the most densely populated tracts of land in the world, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, half of them under 17 years of age.

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The Cost of Slumber

Iraqi civilians lie dying after US helicopters open fire on crowds celebrating around a burning US vehicle. Baghdad Iraq 2004. (Photo: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad)

Iraqi civilians lie dying after US helicopters open fire on crowds celebrating around a burning US vehicle. Baghdad Iraq 2004. (Photo: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad)

Long before I discovered the mysterious mix of pain and relief that writing from the heart brings, I was pursuing a Masters in English Literature at Central Washington University in the small town of Ellensburg, Washington.

I was broke, like most grad students, and supported myself by working for two individuals confined to assisted living situations. One of them, Larry, was completely paralyzed. He was unable to speak, and could only blink his eyes. He had been in prison when the ill effects of an operation he undertook there had gone wrong, and were then compounded by an error by the anesthesiologist. His sustenance came from gulping small spoonfuls of food blended with milk. Never in his life would he ever again “enjoy” a meal. He would never be experiencing the simple actions of walking, singing, dancing, swimming, driving, fishing, wandering …

He may have been unable to speak, but Larry had a lot to say. He communicated by blinking his eyes. I would sit beside his prone body on the gurney and slowly recite the alphabet until he blinked on a letter. “C?” I would ask. Another blink. C. Recite again,”A?” Another blink. A. Recite to N, another blink. I would ask, “Can?” Another blink, “Yes.” “Can” would eventually become, “Can I have a drink?” I would get him some juice, or water, depending on what he would spell next.

It was laborious to communicate with him and it took patience and stamina. He lacked neither, for he had a book to write. We would spend three hours to produce half a page of text.

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Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, Missing Voices in the Iraq Debate

There’s an old joke in which a fellow natters on endlessly about himself. Finally, he turns to his friend and says, “Well, enough about me, how about you? What do you think of me?” Sometimes, we in the U.S. seem to be that guy. There are so many voices crucial to understanding our world that we seldom or never hear. They just aren’t attended to. This week at Tomdispatch, Nick Turse brought us the forgotten voices of a lost war in Vietnam and now Dahr Jamail offers voices from an ongoing lost war in Iraq. In many ways, we Americans, whether supporters or critics of the war, manage to fill all the roles when it comes to that country. Watch your TV set and ask yourself how often, in the last years, you’ve heard an ordinary Iraqi speaking at any length about his or her life — or seen the Iraqi equivalent of a “talking head.” We’ve talked our heads off about Iraq and yet how often have we even fulfilled the second part of that old joke and asked Iraqis what they thought of us — or the lives the United States has brought them?

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Who Are the Insurgents?

“SUPPOSE IRAQ INVADED AMERICA. And an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing through an American street, waving his gun at the people, threatening them, raiding and trashing houses. Would you accept that? This is why no Iraqi can accept occupation, and don’t be surprised by their reactions,” says “The Imam,” a young man from a mixed Sunni-Shia family, as he explains the genesis of the insurgency in Iraq and its exponential growth.

He is one of the protagonists that Meeting Resistance presents as unmistakable evidence that the root cause of the conflict in Iraq is the occupation itself. The film has resistance fighters themselves tell their story.

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