Saturday, October 13, 2007
The Bal(l)ad of Raz
Air Strikes? What Air Strikes?
A series of three otherworldly, bizarre pieces came from Guy Raz this week on NPR news. He was reporting from the Balad Air Base, which as he put it on Friday afternoon is a "16 square mile fortress that's right in the heart of Iraq." If Raz hadn't already shown that he can be a blatant liar in his reporting, has a quasi-erotic hankering for high-tech lethal weaponry, and has got more spin in him than Dana Perino - then I might think that Raz' report from Balad was a sophisticated operation where he plays stupid in order to let the details of the permanent Balad megabase speak for themselves, but...
On Wednesday morning it was a painfully ironic piece about how in spite of the massive base and activity there, the role of air power in Iraq is actually minimal! Raz tells us that "Lt. General Gary north says [the war in Iraq] doesn't lend itself to the use of heavy air power...limits what the Air Force can do from the sky..." Of the F-16s in Iraq, Raz notes that according to one of the pilots "F-16s do sometimes drop bombs, but they're mainly used now to harass suspected insurgents or unruly crowds on the ground..." Of course the terrible irony of the piece was brought home the next day when the US "harassed" an "unruly crowd" of 15 civilians into their graves. (Of course this is nothing new.)
The New World Order
Wednesday afternoon was interesting for the report on the use of dirt cheap labor inside Balad. The piece was presented as rather matter-of-fact about how many foreign workers are used in US bases and work for substandard wages. Kind of gives you a sense of what the template for US hegemony in the world really means.
Harleys and the Long Haul
Friday afternoon fills out the picture of Balad as a permanent base with Guy giving us the nonsense about the US being in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government: "Pentagon officials insist that the U.S. military is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and will depart when asked to do so." (Does anyone buy this line anymore?)
Ras begins this report begins with a really offensive set up: "16 square mile fortress that's right in the heart of Iraq. And all of it with an eye toward the next few decades. And as the President has said the US is establishing a long term relationship with the government in Baghdad (Bush voice comes in) 'We have done this kind of work before in Europe; we have done this kind of work before in Japan; we have done this kind of work before and it can be done again.' " This is presented in all seriousness...holy cow!
Then we hear about how Balad is like a little piece of America with Subways and even Harley motorcycles for sale (where the hell does one ride a motorcycle in Iraq? I was picturing a kind of Motorcycle Diaries from Hell movie in the making.)
For pieces on the air war in Iraq take a look at Tomgram, Mother Jones, or Project Censored.