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Review :: International
Book Review: “The Freedom” by Christian Parenti
11 Mar 2005
Christian Parenti went to Iraq and brought back a vivid description of what war in the 21st Century looks like without makeup. He calls it “The Freedom.”

Essentially, this is the story of occupied Iraq from a layperson’s perspective. The language is easy to read, casually littered with expletives. Brutal honesty provides a sense of how bizarre and surreal a war zone must be. Iraqis constantly explain to Parenti how grateful they are for their new “freedoms,” such as the freedom to languish for hours in 120-degree heat at US military checkpoints, the freedom to live in a country now covered with depleted uranium and people with cancer, and the freedom to be without work, electricity or water most of the time.

Journeying into the heart of hell with a forged Canadian press pass, Parenti parties with NGO staffers while bombs fall and embeds with both the US military and the Iraqi resistance. Refreshingly, he neglects any pretension of objectivity. His opposition to the occupation comes across freely. This book is thrilling to read and important as a documentary history of the war; but it offers a rather simple version of both the US government’s objectives for creating war in Iraq and the consequences this will have.
The Freedom.jpg
How important is it that we know about teenage girls that GIs gang-bang for $15 apiece? Of what value are interviews with the friendly Sheiks who instigate the resistance? Will it help anyone to stand in line outside Abu Ghraib prison with families hoping to see their loved ones? Who cares about the tortured experiences of people who have had to haul the bodies of their mothers and brothers home in taxicabs because the US military just doesn’t take the time to dump the trash after killing innocent people? For Parenti, the reality of Iraq since the invasion is all-important. He just wants people to give a shit.

The United States implicated itself in a war intentionally and this has inspired our hero’s rage. He says, “Perhaps the only aspect of the current crisis that is remotely appealing is that the official vision of Planet America, run by bullying from Washington, is beginning to dissolve like a bad hallucination ebbing away.". Parenti’s perspective is simple, perhaps too simple: the United States failed in Iraq and committed the worst foreign policy mistake in history. The primary objective of “The Freedom” is to explain how this affects the Iraqi people.

Everyone who reads this book will likely find the adrenaline that laces Parenti’s tale riveting. Those who haven’t yet made up their minds about the war will be forced to stop and think; Parenti’s assessment of the occupation is scathing. However, supporters of the invasion will probably dismiss his political analysis as flippant. For persons like me, who opposed the war from the beginning, Parenti offers what we already knew: war is horrible. I just wish he would elucidate more clearly the other things many of us know: Washington’s pre-war rhetoric didn’t have anything to do with actual intentions, and sporadic violence and chaos serve as the perfect excuse to build permanent military installations in Iraq. The US government achieved most of their unstated objectives, so calling the occupation a failure may be too kind a word. Parenti provides the intimate details of a rape but fails to condemn the perpetrator fully. Ineptitude falls short of describing the real nature of the crime.

This book is important but I’m not sure for whom. On their website, the publishers, who call themselves The New Press, say they are “committed to publishing . . . works of educational, cultural, and community value that . . . may be deemed insufficiently profitable by commercial publishers.” They don’t expect many people to be interested. Nonetheless, let us hope that they persevere in their mission and that people like Parenti continue to risk their lives to bring us the truth. At the same time, all people need to pursue higher levels of awareness about the gravity of the world’s situation and the agendas that are perpetuating disaster. Description is not enough. As members of the human family, we need to synthesize our experience of the world into an articulated and reasonable movement for positive change. Works like “The Freedom” inform; but unless we couple them with action as well as a comprehensive philosophy, they will never have a lasting impact. What are we going to do with a book like this? This is the unspoken question Parenti begs us to answer.

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Book Review: “The Freedom” by Christian Parenti
12 Mar 2005
I was almost ready to praise Indy Media for an objective story, but then came the part about American GIs "gang banging" Iraqi girls for 15 bucks. Indy Media has stepped way over the line on this one. You people should really be ashamed of yourselves. You apparently honestly believe that the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam. In all of the anti-war raving that you guys do, I have never seen a single reference to the multiple times that Clinton bombed Iraq without attempting any solution to the problem - namely Saddam. Now, I'm sure that someone will write in saying that we supported Saddam in his war against Iran etc, etc, etc. Don't waste your time. The fact that we made a mistake in the 1980s does not mean that we should just ignore it today. The author of the article goes beyond reviewing a book and offers that one objective of the war was to build permanent US bases in Iraq. That is probably true - we need permanent bases in that part of the worl d - but just another example of poor journalism on Indy Media's part. Giving your opinion of the war goes beyond reviewing a book.
Re: Book Review: “The Freedom” by Christian Parenti
23 Mar 2005
no one ever said it was an objective story. This site is an instrument for those that think war is wrong. We don't "balance" ourselves by leaving out ugly facts - like American GIs gang banging Iraqi girls, or murdering Iraqi civilians.

As for Clinton..a lot of us were calling him out for killing innocents, just as Bush is doing now (his policies actually killed many more than Bush has so far)
Re: Book Review: “The Freedom” by Christian Parenti
13 Apr 2006
Not that Bush is blameless, but I've often heard or read stuff from Bush-bashers that simply is false. If the guy's that bad, isn't the truth enough? Similarly, there's no reason to believe that this author didn't embellish and exaggerate to make sure people hate Bush, the troops, etc. Isn't that why Bush's opponents lie about him?

Oh, and I'm not a Bush supporter. But if I criticize him I'll do just that, not demonize him -- and I'll use the truth. Lord knows that tells a bad enough story.
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