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January 24-31, 2007

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Photograph by Jennifer McNulty
Meet the press: Dahr Jamail talks with audience members during his previous lecture at UCSC.

View From the Front

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail returns to UC-Santa Cruz bearing bad news from Iraq

By Laura Mattingly

Independent photojournalist Dahr Jamail returns to Santa Cruz on Wed., Jan 24, lecturing on the increasingly troubled situation on the ground in Iraq since his last presentation at UCSC a year ago.

The presence of death squads, he says, constitutes the most pointed change to the war theater recently. "Without a doubt the most significant change has been that those have become the leading cause of death, and the militias are basically running everything in Iraq now," says Jamail. "That, and simultaneously with that, a continued degradation of the entire situation."

Since 2003, after deciding to cover the Iraq war independently from mainstream media outlets, Jamail has spent a total of eight months in occupied Iraq, his articles published by Inter Press Service, The Asia Times, The Nation, The Sunday Herald and others.

During his Santa Cruz visit, Jamail will deliver a multilevel assessment of Iraq's domestic situation and the future of U.S. foreign policy.

"I think the most important topic is, what does life look like today for the average Iraqi in Baghdad," says Jamail, who will also be talking about what the United States is doing in terms of infrastructure and the bases it is building there. "If we look at U.S. documents like the [Secretary of Defense's] Quadrennial Defense Review Report and the [White House's] National Security Strategy, I'm going to talk at length about what the future plans are for the region--that the U.S. has no plans to withdraw, ever."

Through email contact with U.S. soldiers abroad as well as interviews with returned troops, Jamail reports that overall moral is quickly disintegrating.

"The suicide rate is higher than ever in Iraq, and the guys I talk with, they're basically saying, 'Look, all is lost, we don't know why we're here, the longer we stay the worse it gets, we should just leave.'"

Jamail encourages people in opposition to the war to be active on a local level, and to encourage state politicians to demand complete and immediate withdrawal.

"I think the most important thing, rather than what I think, is what the Iraqi people want," says Jamail. "And the last poll conducted in Iraq on that topic found that

90 percent of Iraqis want withdrawal in less than a year's time. So I think that's what we should do."

Dahr Jamail will speak at 7pm on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at Cowell College's Dining Hall on the UCSC campus; free. (831.459.1289)

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