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2005/11/14

Finally! Le Monde Has Found a Hero From the War in Iraq…

…it is a deserter from the United States army.

And no wonder the man now living in Canada is called a hero. In the daily's Le Monde 2 weekly, Joshua Key is given six pages to write his story of desertion, basically conforting Europeans' simplified and caricatured view of America and the Iraq war (as well as their self-serving view of their own wisdom, courage, and fortitude):

I did not want to return to Iraq. I did not want to participate in this war based on lies. I did not want to kill any Iraqi civilians. I did not want to participate in the slaughter.
The Guthrie, Oklahoma, native goes on to explain how he was "lied" to (when he signed up in February 2002 — five months after 9-11! — the recruiting officer allegedly told him he would never be deployed overseas), how he "was trapped", how the combat engineer was ordered to go on patrols as an infantryman, how the troops behaved "like zombies", how their "uniforms were stained with blood", how buddies "were disappearing one after the other without any word from or about them", and how he "can live with this [his desertion]. Not with Iraq."

The piece (from an issue from early June also featuring Hassan Musa's Great American Nude and which also had shorter testimonials from Jeremy Hinzman, Darrell [mispelled Darrel] Anderson, and Lee Zaslofsky) is introduced by Annick Cojean, who is kind enough to inform her audience that there are "thousands" of intelligent, principled young men like Key:

The American army is having a lot of trouble drawing new recruits. The cause is the Iraq war, its horrors, its lies, and the 1,600 GIs who [at the time, last summer] have died there. A trusting Joshua Key had enlisted. But after eight months from Ramadi to Fallujah, taking advantage of leave, he deserted. He fled a return to the field, he fled the blood which stained his clothes. Like thousands of others. And, like some of them, he found refuge in Canada.
You remember Annick Cojean, don't you?

She's the journalist who, in another cover article eight months earlier, proceeded to witness about the inhumane plight of the "young soldiers so badly prepared for war" without once interviewing… an American serviceman. In 10 pages devoted to the plight of the soldiers in Iraq, there are two lines, exactly two lines, i.e., two sentences, concerning the viewpoints of the soldiers' themselves… And no wonder: they do not agree with any of the pacifists that Cojean has interviewed.

Annick Cojean is also the journalist who interviewed "women in an Afghan Garden", and her story about how Afghan women will vote in the country's first election in history was presented as if the election had happened like that, without mention of the, uh, contributions of the United States Army, Air Force, and Marines. In fact, whereas the words France, Germany, and NGOs (or their grammatical derivatives) are mentioned several times, the word America is not mentioned once.

Annick Cojean is also the journalist who penned an article on Desmond Tutu, in which we learn of the Nobel Peace laureate's "faith in humanity and in God" (although she seems more inclined to focus on the "humanistic" aspect of his faith than in the religious aspect) and his participation in the opposition marches to the Iraq war ("it was so stimulating!") while comparing the "10,000 Iraqi civilians" killed in the war to the 3,000 people killed on 9/11.

Annick Cojean is also the journalist who did a cover interview with Elton John, in which two pages were devoted to politics; sarcasm concerning the "land of liberty"; condescension regarding a "system" that would allow a man like George W Bush to be elected; self-praise for EJ being "dead-set against the Iraq war from the very beginning"; head-shaking about how one would go crazy if one "lived in America full-time"; harping about "one of the greatest tragedies of all time" (Dubya's election) and for the biased information on American TV channels and the "infinitely dangerous" "mental cases" who work for them. (Cojean even managed to fit in a question concerning criticism of Ronald Reagan.)

The final cover article that illustrates Annick Cojean is that concerning her story about, and exclusive interview of, Hamid Karzai. In striking contrast with French reporters' relations to French politicians and members of the elite, there is barely a single of her 26 questions with Afghanistan's president over four full pages that does not display deception, pessimism, cynicism, mistrust, and/or smugness. (A patient and "always optimistic" Karzai (to noone's surprise) holds his own.)

Le Monde. The independent newspaper. France's newspaper of reference.

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