Saturday, December 03, 2005

More News From Iraq

Knight Ridder and the LA Times are reporting that the Pentagon is paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops that put a positive spin on U.S. military efforts in Iraq. The psyops campaign has intensified over the last year as the task force responsible has also purchased an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station. According to Knight Ridder, the White House and members of Congress are "concerned." Whatever. Why is anyone surprised, or troubled by this kind of story? Modern democracy is little more than mass manipulation and blatant demagoguery, so why would the situation be any different in "democratic" Iraq?

One other thing. If you are intending to propagandize the people of the Middle East, you might want to at least make it effective. According to a poll from John Zogby, we aren't exactly beloved in the Middle East. Here are a few figures:

81 percent of respondents said that the Iraq war had brought "less peace" (rather than "more peace") to the Middle East.
78 percent said the war had produced "more terrorism."
58 percent said it had produced "less democracy."
77 percent of respondents in the five countries said Iraqis were "worse off" as a result of the war and only six percent said Iraqis were better off.

Asked to volunteer what they saw as the most important U.S. objectives in the Middle East, large majorities or respondents identified oil (76 percent); protection of Israel (68 percent); the "domination of the region" (63 percent), and the weakening of the Muslim world (59 percent), while small minorities mentioned more benign motives, such as preventing weapons of mass destruction (25 percent), peace and stability (8 percent), democracy, and human rights (6 percent each).

Asked to name the two countries that posed the greatest threat to them, 70 percent of respondents cited Israel and 63 percent cited the United States. The next most frequently cited nation was Britain (11 percent), followed by Iran (6 percent).

Similarly, when asked to name the foreign leader they most disliked, two names dominated the answers – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (45 percent) and George W. Bush (30 percent). Bush's staunch ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, grabbed third place with three percent.

So wouldn't it be easier and more effective to just beam "Special Report With Brit Hume" into Baghdad?

Speaking of Fox News, last night while decorating our meager Christmas tree before watching "The Grinch" with the boys, I was listening to Fred Barnes, Mort Kondrake, and Charles Krauthammer explain why we were making great progress in Iraq. Evidently morons like me don't know "the truth" about what is happening on the ground because we're brainwashed by the "mainstream media." Yeah, that's right, everyone is lying except Fox News. In any case, the party line at FNC is that John Murtha is wrong and that the "insurgency" is weakening. Maybe they should look again. A study by two defense analysts at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a group close the Veep's office, by the way) said that the insurgency is as lethal as ever, and could grow stronger. "Although thousands of insurgents have been killed and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been detained ... incident and casualty data reinforce the impression that the insurgency is as robust and lethal as ever." Moreover, only a fraction of Sunnis with military experience have been mobilized. "Should the insurgency succeed in exploiting this untapped potential, it could greatly increase its military capabilities," they said.

To understand why the insurgency will continue to grow, check out the latest from Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.

Hersh says that American soldiers are being dragged into the low-grade civil war that has already started:

The fear is that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal would inevitably trigger a Sunni-Shiite civil war. In many areas, that war has, in a sense, already begun, and the United States military is being drawn into the sectarian violence. An American Army officer who took part in the assault on Tal Afar, in the north of Iraq, earlier this fall, said that an American infantry brigade was placed in the position of providing a cordon of security around the besieged city for Iraqi forces, most of them Shiites, who were “rounding up any Sunnis on the basis of whatever a Shiite said to them.” The officer went on, “They were killing Sunnis on behalf of the Shiites,” with the active participation of a militia unit led by a retired American Special Forces soldier. “People like me have gotten so downhearted,” the officer added.

Meanwhile, as the debate over troop reductions begins, Hersh says that special forces operations are being conducted in Syria:

A composite American Special Forces team, known as an S.M.U., for “special-mission unit,” has been ordered, under stringent cover, to target suspected supporters of the Iraqi insurgency across the border. (The Pentagon had no comment.) “It’s a powder keg,” the Pentagon consultant said of the tactic. “But, if we hit an insurgent network in Iraq without hitting the guys in Syria who are part of it, the guys in Syria would get away. When you’re fighting an insurgency, you have to strike everywhere—and at once.”

With parliamentary elections right around the corner, it looks like we've decided that Iyad Allawi is our guy. According to Hersh, Tony Blair has even sent political operatives to assist him. Even more hilarious, Hersh claims that there is an effort underway, with American concurrence, to urge Ahmad Chalabi to join forces with Allawi in creating a new government.

Hersh also reports that there is growing frustration among senior generals who are afraid of jeopardizing their careers:

The Administration has “so terrified the generals that they know they won’t go public,” a former defense official said. A retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me that one of his colleagues recently participated in a congressional tour there. The legislators were repeatedly told, in meetings with enlisted men, junior officers, and generals that “things were fucked up.” But in a subsequent teleconference with Rumsfeld, he said, the generals kept those criticisms to themselves.

Meanwhile, it looks like the non-American portion of the "coalition of the willing" is continuing to shrink as well. Evidently Bulgarians and Ukrainians can't see a national interest in choosing sides in the upcoming Shiite/Sunni civil war.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Lots of video from the street

10:46 PM  

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