The Iraq We're Leaving Behind

Monday, December 19, 2011

Liz Sly, Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief and longtime Middle East reporter, and Sinan Antoon, Iraqi poet, novelist, and professor specializing in contemporary Arab culture and politics at NYU Gallatin, discuss the impact of the US withdrawal from Iraq - on Iraq.


Sinan Antoon and Liz Sly

Comments [29]

Laila from New York

Prof. Antoon's definitive overview of the causes and consequences of our tragic invasion of Iraq was very much appreciated. Prof. Antoon lays out the facts clearly and concisely for any intelligent person with a clear mind and a knowledge of the facts as well as an analytical mind to understand. Thanks to Mr. Lehrer for giving us the opportunity and I hope that he will have on more people of quality in the future.

Dec. 19 2011 09:24 PM
Ihsan Enad from Sweden

tack så mycket professor Sinan Antoon.Vi är stolta över er.

Do you know something Sinan. when i listen to your voice in radio.(especially when you said IRAQ) I remember (Moayd Al-badry) when he say this word. we will never forget that names(Iraq, Moayd and Sinan).forever.

Dec. 19 2011 04:40 PM
Mike from Manhattan

Well I guess we will see where all this posturing and hardline liberal/Palestinian, and Jewish bashing (hmm actually no one on this forum has bashed the jews, thou a few seem to have knee-jerk bashing of Arabs and "liberals" in their DNA) will get everyone. As an outsider I can only shake my head and say that this area of the planet is a most unholy land, where hard and hateful heads like my mother always used to say will continue to sadly make for very damaged behinds,

Dec. 19 2011 03:16 PM
Joseph from Glen Rock, NJ

Your guest remarked that Israel's bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor was a violation of international law. Maybe, I am not a lawyer one should not forget that Iraq is formally in a state of war with Israel, since 1948, at the initiation of Iraq. And I don't think there has been any change in the status.

Dec. 19 2011 11:48 AM
abed awad from New Jersey

Prof. Antoon's analysis was informed, objective and insightful. You need to have more expert like him on your show. The cultural and sectarian fragmentation in Iraq arising out of the US invasion is devastating to Iraqis and to the region. Even now since the troop withdrawal the main Iraqi party in the parliament is boycotting the government. The sectarian divisions are killing the country. The US invasion played the key role in putting this devastating course in motion. Iraq is not better as result of the US occupation and US interests in the region are not protected either.

Dec. 19 2011 11:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Actually, the US intervention into Iraq was a GREAT VICTORY, which was turned into another defeat by the liberals who always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I remember before the war got underway, it was beleived that 10,000 US troops might died in the initial invasion. As sad as it may be to the 4,500 who fell, and their families, the truth is, the victory over Saddam was one the great victories in American history of warfare. Unfortunately, we did not take any Iraqi oil to pay for the war, and unfortunately we stayed way too long, trying to build their state for them. That was what undermined an otherwise great victory.

Dec. 19 2011 10:55 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To HR again

It was the Arab occupation of Jewish soil, and the British who appeased them, that closed Palestine to Jewish immigration in 1939, just as the Holocaust was first beginning. My mother wanted to go to Palestine in 1934, when she was 20, but the Arab riots against Jews in Palestine, made that risk and my grandmother, later murdered by the Nazi collaborators in the Ghetto, had kept my mother from going, out of fear for her daughter.

And the first leader of the Palestinians, the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el Husseini, was Hitler's guest in Berlin urging Hitler and Eichmann not to let any Jews escape to Palestine! And at minimum was personally responsible for the deaths of 500 Jewish children sent to Poland instead of Palestine, and was indicted as a war criminal, but was allowed to escape to continue his struggle against the Jews in Egypt where he eventually died in 1974. Yassir Arafat may have been a relative.

Dec. 19 2011 10:51 AM
Geoff from Yonkers

Mr. Antoon sums things up very well - this war was an unconditional disaster, no matter how good a face anyone tries to put on it. What does it say that in 2011 you can't get a decent phone line from Bagdad?

Dec. 19 2011 10:46 AM
bernie from bklyn

after the ridiculous fluff piece on iraq last week it is refreshing to hear the BL show provide a platform for the truth about our debacle in iraq. the 4400 american soldiers and the 100,00+ iraqis dided for nothing. sorry but there were no heroes....just unnecessary loss and the criminals that are responsible for all those deaths will never face the consequences of their evil actions.
good job BL show, thanks!

Dec. 19 2011 10:45 AM
HR from Bronx

So you are an armchair nationalist.... advocating war and conquest in the middle east from the safety of your armchair in queens.... Germans and other Europeans are responsible for the horror of the Holocaust... not Arabs. Not all Jews agree with you and not all muslims agree with people that want to destroy Israel.. but its people that stereotype like you do that keep the madness going .... is that to some advantage oh Mossad agent speculator?

Dec. 19 2011 10:45 AM
MC from Manhattan

I ams a Native American really laugh at all these people that arrived on boats ( that my grand father saw going here ) now acting like this is their ancestral home and objecting to my fellow native Americans from south of the U.S. border coming here. MOst of the Mexicans are Native American Mexicans and they have more right to be here than any one else. I welcome them and will do everything to protect them from these boat people. They reinvigorate the Native Population of the USA and help us to grow.

Dec. 19 2011 10:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


I am a Jewish immigrant allowed into America in 1948 when I was two years old, who was taught by his Holocaust survivor parents to bless American soil and salute the American flag.
I was never opposed to Muslims until it became apparent that Muslims are not only opposed to a Jewish state in Israel, but opposed to all "nonbelievers" who stand in the way of the victory of Islam over the earth. So that is my "pedigree."

Dec. 19 2011 10:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Jennifer

At most, $3 trillion of our $13 trillion in debt was due to the wars. What about the other $10 trillion? I maintain one of the main reasons for the decline of the West is due to the decline of the family, high divorce, abortion and low replacement birth rates making an increasingly unproductive aged population not have a replaced base of native born youths to support that heavy baby boomer weight coming down on them. Yes, wars and tax breaks many have contributed to debt, but the main reasons are the rise of competition from Asia, and the decline of native born child births to do the work without having to import so many immigrants.

Dec. 19 2011 10:34 AM
HR from Bronx

Im not a muslim ... I am actually a 6th generation American with Presbyterian background... what is your pedigree Jgarbuz? Cant you deal with a difference in opinion as well as the facts of knowing accents? Besides what if I am a Muslim? You have a PROBLEM with that ?

Dec. 19 2011 10:31 AM
Tim from Brooklyn

Yes, thank you to Sinan ! First time I've heard anything like the truth about Iraq on WNYC.

Dec. 19 2011 10:30 AM
Jennifer from Brooklyn, NY

Thank you Sinan Antoon for telling the truth in a no nonsense, straight to the point manner. (And thanks to Brian Lehrer for providing the platform) Our government committed a massive crime and spent billions of our tax dollars in an illegal war. I am currently reading the book "The End of Growth" which outlines why the world is on a collision course to decline because of debt, climate change, and depletion of resources. It's too late to deal with this effectively because we would have needed to make a massive collective investment in a different type of infrastructure to do so. Listening to Antoon as I try to absorb what this book is telling me is heartbreaking. Not only did we destroy these people's lives, but we threw the world's future away on 10 years of war and tax cuts for the wealthy. And for what? When the decline really starts to become clear, the world will hate us even more for how we squandered the very resources that could have mitigated this coming disaster.

Dec. 19 2011 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Dean

I doubt there would have been an "Arab spring" if the US had not overthrown Saddam first!

Dec. 19 2011 10:28 AM
TR from queens

so it seems all the "pro rape of Iraq " callers have a certain accent .... hmmmm... thats pretty insensitive to feel that there is a justification for the pain hundreds of thousands of Iraq's experience from our decisions.... and we all know that the USA cooperated with Saddam when he invaded Iran .... what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive....

Dec. 19 2011 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Now you have HR from the Bronx, probably a Muslim, implying your Iraqi professor guest is a Mossad agent. Another Zionist trick he will claim, like 9/11. Jeez...

Dec. 19 2011 10:26 AM
Dean from Northern New Jersey

I can't help but wonder what would have happened in Iraq had the United States not invaded and occupied the country.

Given the "Arab Spring," is it not possible, or even probable, that there would be a new government in Iraq today without all of this bloodshed and destruction?

Dec. 19 2011 10:25 AM
HR from Bronx

I know my accents and that caller from the bronx does not have an Arab accent ... its either a Turkish accent or Hebrew accent ...

Dec. 19 2011 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Your Iraqi guest is playing usual Arab "blame game," blaming everyone else for all their problems, except for themselves. He's an Iraqi refugee; why doesn't he go back? He's not a Palestinian. The truth, is the Ishmaelites will always have their hand against their brothers, and nothing the US or any Western formerly Christian country can do for them will appease them, and America is wasting tens of billions on them. The only thing that will make Arabs happy is if America destroys Israel for them, but only temporarily happy.

Dec. 19 2011 10:22 AM
MG from Manhattan

Having said that ... it seems that there was an evil under the surface that the equal evil of Saddam kept in balance. Once Saddam was gone, Iraq's released upon themselves a hell that was not necessary. Japan was equally as fanatical in its patriotism and ideology, with suicide bombers and a propensity for atrocity and lack of care for humanity when acting as a mob-army. However when Japan surrendered there was no Iraq like chaos. Is this a sociological difference? Either way, The future of Iraq is made in the hands of those Iraq's that seek to perpetuate or end its torture, no matter what they see as their justifications or excuses. This is more a reflection of the mean spiritedness of the culture of man than the rape of the country by W

Dec. 19 2011 10:22 AM
DG from Brooklyn

The Iraqi speaker seems to believe that the Iraqi are people so infantile that they are unable to organize their own state, that the US must be some type of proxy parent figure. I agree that we can debate the merits and demerits of the Bush-Cheney adventure, but at some point Iraqis must take responsibility for themselves.

Dec. 19 2011 10:21 AM
Peter from Brooklyn

Very glad you have Mr. Sinan Antoon. Could he discuss the US news coverage, esp. considering that we were already told that US combat troops left?

Also, Financial Times story about US businesses losing out in reconstruction contracts to nations' firms that refused to support the war: what does Mr. Sinan think about this?


Dec. 19 2011 10:21 AM
Nick from UWS

Your guess has hit the nail squarely on the head. Not a single prosecution of the war criminals of the Bush administration. Not a single prosecution of any of the major players in the financial disaster. As Americans, we need to hang our heads in shame at the weaklings we have become, without even the backbone to prosecute our own criminals. We are disgusting....and dangerous.

Dec. 19 2011 10:19 AM
Bob from Flushing


Maybe it's time you stopped reflexively saluting the service of every military person who appears on your show when disasters like the one we created in Iraq is the "service" the today's military provides.

Dec. 19 2011 10:18 AM
MG from Manhattan

I 100% agree with the guest on the Rape of Iraq. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was not worth this. Iraq was never allowed to have it's own Arab Spring. SO much for US nation building after the successes of WW2.

Dec. 19 2011 10:13 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

I can't apologize for my nation. I am in no position of political power to do so. I am sorry that my president led the nation into a war against your nation. It was neither justified or just. I hope that your country can recover to its former status without too much more loss of life.
The debt my country owes your nation will likely never be repaid.

Dec. 19 2011 10:13 AM

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