Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Defenestration of Comrade Nir Rosen

For the last few years As'ad AbuKhalil, the Arab Cali-Bungalow Marxist (originally from Lebanon), and Nir Rosen, the American Schoolboy Anti-Imperialist (whose mother is Jewish and who has a long personal history with Israel -- see his article: "This Broken Home: Revisiting Israel"), have been very chummy. As'ad and Nir found out that they both shared the same target of intense hatred: America. Since then, they've been e-mailing each other regularly, with As'ad often posting Nir's tips and quotes over at his Angry Arab website, appending "thanks Nir" to the end of each arrow shot at the hegemonic American hyperpower.

One of the highlights of their friendship would have to be from the spring of 2008 when Nir Rosen testified about the situation in Iraq before a Congressional committee. After Nir peddled his usual no-hope/all-chaos line of argument, he was asked by then-Senator Biden what the Americans ought to do, then, in Iraq. In this blog entry, As'ad AbuKhalil excerpted the following from Nir's response:
BIDEN: Based on what you’ve said, there’s really no hope — we really should get the hell out of there right now. I mean, there’s nothing to do. Nothing.

ROSEN: As a journalist, I’m uncomfortable advising an imperialist power about how to be a more efficient imperialist power. And I don’t think that we’re there for the interest of the Iraqi people. I don’t think that’s ever been a motivation. […]

BIDEN: [If we withdraw], the good news is we wouldn’t be imperialists in Iraq, from your perspective.

ROSEN: Only elsewhere in the region. (laughter). … There’s no positive scenario in Iraq these days. Not every situation has a solution.

[the bolding is in As'ad AbuKhalil's original post]
The two Marxists could not have been more pleased with themselves. Over the last year, then, the "thanks Nir" nods from As'ad AbuKhalil continued to flow over at the Angry Arab website. But then, a few weeks ago, something terrible happened. Nir Rosen, back in Iraq to search for more meat to stuff into his Anti-Imperialist Meatgrinder, did something he is actually quite capable of doing from time to time: opening his eyes and just reporting on what he sees. And in the article Nir wrote ("The Gathering Storm"), As'ad AbuKhalil detected a few suspect sentences. On Saturday, April 11, 2009, in an entry entitled "Fashionably dressed," As'ad excerpted and commented:
"The girls at Baghdad’s universities are dressing more fashionably than ever before, while young men have adopted the trendy styles common in Lebanon." OK, Nir. Tell me what what you are trying to say here? Is that an indication of progress and enlightenment or is it a measure of freedom. Help me here, please. (thanks Jonathan)
On Monday, April 13, As'ad posted an entry that featured the e-mail exchange between himself, Nir, and a guy named Amer ("Nir is unhappy"). First let's hear from Nir Rosen:
look you nitpicking grump, the point i was making was clear. it had nothing to do with progress or enlightenment or even freedom, it had to do with the level of comfort people had in public in baghdad. i specifically referred to "the random violence that once took anyone and everyone as its target" its the same point i make when i refer to new restaurants or people driving expensive cars, it has strictly to do with the level of security and the reduced fear of rampant criminal gangs. thats why i also say "women in immodest dress risked being killed while men sporting western fashions were asking to be beaten. Today men congregate in newly opened bars, a sign, at least, that vigilante extremists have stopped blowing them up." these are real changes that happened, and they do mean something, even if its a fragile and temporary change, as i make clear in the article.
Amer responds:
It is not nitpicking, it is actually a critique of your naive view of such matters: no Nir, it means nothing that there is an explosion in conspicuous consumption and that the newly rich in Iraq can now exhibit their wealth in walled neighborhoods. When the US and the Iraqi government want to promote a narrative that justifies their past actions and legitimizes their existence, they want you to only look at such phenomena and see in them a sign of some form of "success."
Ah yes, that damned "explosion of conspicuous consumption." The horror! How could Nir let his reporting get in the way of his critique of the IMPERIALIST NARRATIVE?! Nir fires back at Amer:
i mention that violence is down and people are able to move about with somewhat more freedom but the entire article is about how despite that all iraqis are traumatized, most of the millions of displaced iraqis are too scared to go home, sectarianism still persists among the security forces, torture and ransom are routine, the americans are still rounding up iraqis and even killing innocent ones, so i hardly think my acknowledgment that there is in fact a reduction in random violence in baghdad justifies anybody else's narrative if you read the entire article. i stress that point by adducing my friend who says "all of this is a lie" the article if anything is a tour of a traumatized iraqi population, which is why i say "Travelling around Iraq six years “after the fall”, as Iraqis say, one encounters a deeply wounded people. None were spared from the violence." and then i give examples. i dont think you read the entire article if you can misconstrue one line like that.
Nir argues that his article still fits the line he's been pushing since his arrival in Iraq, that Iraqis are a destroyed people and there is no hope for them, even if on the surface violence is down and they appear to be getting on with life. It is another chapter, he says, in the IMPERIALIST NARRATIVE. But for Amer and As'ad, it is not enough, one imagines. Nir is no longer the Loyal Comrade he once was. By even suggesting some improvement in Iraq, Nir has now cut himself off from the True Ideologues and Bungalow Marxists of the Left.

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Previous IBC entries on Nir Rosen:

The Education of Nir Rosen. (Jeffrey)

Nir Rosen's Fistful of Dollars. (Jeffrey)

Kagan versus Rosen on the 'Surge.' (///RhusLancia)

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P.S. Nir, I know you'll read this, so if you're interested in publishing As'ad's responses to you, you have my e-mail address.

P.P.S. A hat-tip of my own to Iraqi Mojo for first pointing out this cat-fight over at Angry Arab.

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UPDATE: Nir Rosen and I are currently exchanging e-mails about this new blog entry. He objected to my previous characterization of him as a "Jew." I asked him if it weren't true that his mother is Jewish. He said that his mother is indeed Jewish (and Israeli) but that his father is not. Nir says that his background has nothing to do with his work as a journalist. I'm waiting to hear back from him and then will edit this entry accordingly.

UPDATE II: Nir Rosen and I have exchanged a few more e-mails. I am now satisfied that everything factual about Nir in the above entry has been verified by Nir himself. My interpretation, of course, I myself stand behind.

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