In response to 9/11, the Bush Administration launched its war on terrorism, as well as the war in Iraq. In February of 2002, "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" formed to promote non-violent solutions to terrorism. Last year, the group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
When Al Jazeeras Senior Producer Samir Khader was recently in town for the theatrical release of Control Room, we met him at the Roosevelt Hotel. Born and raised in Baghdad but now living in Jordan, Khader seems right out of the world of American film noir hes like a Bogart character who has recognized a moral imperative and struggles with his fear of self and the world.
I remember once reading a very short excerpt in the newspaper of one of Osama bin Ladens publicly released statements and being surprised by how clear he sounded. It was about a year after the 9/11 attack and bin Laden said that he was fighting America (and the American-dominated UN power structure) because we support Israel at the cost of Palestine, and because of our constant intrusion into the political life of countries throughout the Muslim world.
A few months before Bushs re-election, I took a job at a university in Lahore, the first liberal arts university in Pakistan, to teach a one-year course in film and video production.
The war in Iraq is not going well. The US administration thought it would conquer Iraq and everyone there would welcome them as “liberators.” That hasnt happened. What was promised to be a two-week offensive to remove a brutal dictator has turned into an American occupation that is resisted daily by a diverse group of Iraqi guerilla forces, and not just by remnants of the Baath Party. Two to four G.I.s are being killed every day by this resistance, most foreign aid workers have left town for fear of their safety, and Bush wants more and more of our tax dollars to pay for the occupation.
Bayard Rustin, best known for organizing the 1963 March on Washington, was not only one of the most intelligent political strategists and tacticians in 20th century American history, but he was also the most interesting. John DEmilios Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin is the most recent attempt to understand Rustins remarkable career as a social activist.
Control Room gives us an account of the first 6 weeks of the war in Iraq from the inside of Al Jazeera, the satellite news network based in Qatar and watched by millions in the Arab world.