Monthly Archives: May 2004

One Year with the Resistance in Iraq

Listen / Download

A host of names has been tagged to those who are fighting US troops in Iraq. In his speech last night, President Bush referred to them as “foreign fighters,” “Saddam loyalists,” and simply “terrorists”. The journalist Patrick Graham says that separating these fighters from the Iraqi people themselves might be a mistake.

Graham spent the past year in and around Fallujah, meeting with the people he calls simply, the resistance. He says they are not the assassins, thieves, and foreign fighters as they are so often described. Instead, he says, many of them are simply men who oppose the occupation. “We are like a man with a razor in his throat,” one of them told Graham, “We can’t spit out the Americans, but we can’t swallow them either.”


Patrick Graham, freelance journalist who covered the Iraq war for the London Observer. His most recent article in the forthcoming Harper’s magazine is “Beyond Fallujah: A year with the Iraqi resistance.”

Sima Samar

Listen / Download

Sima Samar has spent most of her life defying men in power, and governments, and in fact all expectations of what an Afghan woman is supposed to be. As one of 11 children, she fought with her brothers, demanding equal status as a young girl. When her father said she could only attend university unless she married, she negotiated the terms of the union, insisting that her husband do the chores while she completed her medical training.

Twenty years ago, she started an organization to build hospitals, train nurses, and establish schools to teach young girls in Afghanistan. She was recently the highest ranking woman in the Karzai government and today heads up the commission in charge of investigating human rights abuses. Sima Samar speaks about her life, and the future of her country.


Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission.

The Amber Room

Listen / Download

It was the crowning glory of the Catherine Palace, a room lined from parquet to plafond in amber. It was the gift of a Prussian king to Peter the Great, who was so obsessed with amber that he traded several dozen Russian soldiers for a life-sized box of it.

Harvested from the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carved painstakingly by hand, the ancient resin that became The Amber Room had, suspended in it, the stories of many centuries of life.

But after vanishing during the Nazi siege of Leningrad in 1941, The Amber Room itself became the story — its disappearance one of the world’s great mysteries. Hear how spies, and lies, and Cold War collusion kept the truth about a glowing, golden treasure from seeing the light of day.


Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, authors of “The Amber Room.”

The Body and Blood in American Politics

Listen / Download

The debate over the role of religion in politics is as old as any church or state, and the candidacy of John Kerry, as the first Catholic to run for U.S. president since John F. Kennedy is reopening old debates not heard for over 40 years.

At issue is a statement from a small number of Catholic bishops who say they will deny communion not just to politicians who support abortion rights, but even to the people who vote for them.

Since then, dozens of Catholic Democrats in Congress have signed a letter criticizing the stand taken by the Bishops. Why not add in other political and religious issues they ask, like the war in Iraq, or support for the death penalty? In this year’s unpredictable presidential race, now the very conscience of the voter is part of the debate.


Rosa DeLauro, United States Representative (D-CT)

and TBA.

Second Thoughts on Iraq

Listen / Download

The human rights scholar Michael Ignatieff says his backing of the war in Iraq now stands as the largest moral and political gamble of his adult life. Ignatieff was an early supporter of the Bush administration, viewing the invasion from a humanitarian perspective, and arguing that the people of Iraq deserved better than Saddam Hussein, and that if military force was the only to deliver that, so be it.

Amal Rassam is also questioning her support of the war. She returned to her Iraqi homeland a year ago determined to help re-build a civil society there. But after months of work there, she is despairing over what’s ahead, and worried that America’s hopes for democracy in Iraq were little more than an ill-formed notion.


Michael Ignatieff, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights and author of numerous books including, “The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror”

Amal Rassam, retired Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York, and a contractor in Baghdad with North Carolina-based RTI International for the last year.

Violence in Gaza

Listen / Download

After a three day offensive in Gaza, Israeli forces are pulling back from one of their biggest military operations in the past 4 four years — this one sparked by the killing of 13 Israeli soldiers. The IDF says its aim is to destroy tunnels used for smuggling long-range strategic weapons in from Egypt, but two days ago, when Israeli tanks fired shells into a crowd of protesters, killing ten, including children, the international community swiftly condemned the scale of force.

Even the U.S. refused to stand with Israel in a censure from the UN Security Council. This weekend, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is due to present a revised plan for withdrawal from Gaza. He now has the vocal support of many Israelis who feel that the fight to protect settlers in Gaza is not worth loss of any more life on either side.


Gerald Steinberg, Director of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel

Ari Shavit, political columnist for Ha’Aretz

Rawia Shawa, elected representative from Gaza City in The Palestinian Legislative Council

Captain Jacob Dellal, Foreign Press Branch of the Israeil Defense Force Spokesman’s Office.

Justice on Trial

Listen / Download

It took less than a day to try, convict, and sentence Jeremy Sivits in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Sivits has been demoted and ordered expelled from the Army, and will serve a year in prison. It’s an example of justice – military-style. And officials say if there is any silver lining in all of this, it’s that the U.S. is showing how a “democracy deals with wrongdoing.” But as the world watches, there are questions that the system may fail the smell test if prosecutors only go after the small fry…and leave the big fish alone.

Only seven soldiers have been charged, so far. The military brass is pledging to take their investigation “wherever it might lead” but civilians, like Secretary Rumsfeld and others, are beyond the reach of these investigators. Military justice, on parade.


Kevin Barry, a former Military Judge and Director of the National Institute of Military Justice

Professor Lee Schinasi, a retired Lt. Colonel who spent 23 years in the JAG corps. Schinasi is now a professor at the University of Miami law school.

The Punch-Up on the Playground

Listen / Download

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. While it’s one of the oldest rhymes around, it’s one that experts say needs revising in the face of a new generation of schoolyard bullies. We’ve all known a bully or been one at one time or another. But observers are insisting that today’s bullies are dangerous, and more violent than in the past, that these tough kids roaming the schoolyards, and cafeterias pose a new threat that teachers, already overworked and stressed-out just can’t handle alone.

There’s been national attention on school bus beatings, a kid thrown in a dumpster, a girl’s hair set on fire, and some states have passed anti-bullying laws. But, policy aside, kids are still punching it up on the playground. Is it a rite of passage, or a question of human rights?


Betty Davidson, parent

Dr. Susan Swearer, Professor of Educational Psychology

Chris Toy, Principal of Freeport Middle School, Maine

David Levine, teacher and anti-bullying educator.