Let’s say the American assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah officially began over the past weekend, November 6-7, 2004. (Though feel free to date the start of the whole ongoing campaign any time you think most faithful to the facts. For example, early April, 2004, after those four Blackwater USA mercenaries were roasted. Or maybe March 19, 2003. September 11, 2001. Early August, 1990, onward. You pick it: They all have a right to lay claim to some historical accuracy.)
Since the word was leaked last Friday that the UN Secretary-General had addressed letters dated October 31 to each of the three heads of state directly involved with the imminent assault on Fallujah, the American President, and the British and the Iraqi (“Interim”) Prime Minsters, the UN Secretary-General and his official spokesman, Fred Eckhard, have, as usual, been focusing their attention on crises other than Iraq, such as the Sudan and, for the past week, the Côte d’Ivoire.
It is laughable to watch the UN’s principal organs of propaganda—as reflected in the interests and concerns of the Secretary-General and the UN News Center—carve up the contemporary world and try to allocate the world’s interests and concerns according to their carving. Indeed. Following the revelation that Annan’s letter to the heads of state occupying Iraq existed (e.g., Los Angeles Times, Nov. 5)—and do notice that its existence was not publicized by the UN itself, quite unlike all of its high-profile missions to other places, the Sudan in particular—Annan has remained almost silent on Iraq, while his spokesman had this exchange with a reporter on Monday (Press Briefing, Nov. 8, 2004):
Question: Within the context of the letter to the United States and Great Britain, does the Secretary-General have any remarks about the violence since the beginning of the invasion?
Spokesman: No, I think I already had that question, and… (interrupted).
Question: (Inaudible)… from the context of the letter to… (interrupted).
Spokesman: No. I have nothing to say today on what’s happening in Fallujah….
(For the record: It is fitting that Kofi Annan should have addressed his October 31 letter to George Bush, Tony Blair, and Ayad Allawi. After all, these three gentlemen are the heads of the three states currently engaged in the military occupation of Iraq, and the violent suppression of the resistance this occupation has spawned—the “Interim” Iraqi Government being as much a foreign occupying power within Iraqi national life as the American and the British. And don’t kid yourselves otherwise.)
With respect to Iraq, here’s where the UN News Center’s coverage of the American escalation for the past seven days leaves us as of mid-day Wednesday, November 10:
* “Annan says UN will do all it can to help Iraqis advance political process,” UN News Center, November 5, 2004
* “Annan and Iraq’s UN envoy meet for discussions on Fallujah, elections,” UN News Center, November 8, 2004
* “UN refugee agency voices extreme concern for Iraqis fleeing Fallujah assault,” UN News Center, November 9, 2004
Pretty paltry stuff, I think you’ll agree.
Better to keep the focus on the safe crises—the ones far from the madding Americans.
An Appeal from Fallujah to Kofi Anan and the UN, Kassim Abdullsattar al-Jumaily, President, Center for the Study of Human Rights and Democracy, Fallujah
“U.N.’s Annan Seeks to Prevent an Assault on Fallouja,” Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2004
“Annan Defends Letter Warning of Fallouja Risk,” Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2004
“The crushing of Fallujah will not end the war in Iraq,” Patrick Cockburn, The Independent (London), November 9, 2004
“America failing test of history as offensive compared to terror tactics of pariah states,”Charles Glass, The Independent (London), November 9, 2004
“The Fire Is Spreading,” Dahr Jamail, Iraq Dispatches, November 9, 2004