Thursday, September 13, 2007

Iraq War Coverage ~ All Warlords All The Time

Ill: All Hat No Cattle

Your Demon is sure she isn't the only one out here in American TV-land who is suffering from a mighty boob-tube cathode-ray hangover after 2 dismal days of non-stop droning ~ C-Span coverage of General Petraeus & Ambassador Ryan Crocker on how "well" *ahem* the surge is working. Ever a glutton for punishment, I also gorged on the feast of ink sprayed over the topic by the likes of the New York Times & the Washington Post.
Somehow I thought it was important to be well-informed, as if I were to be permitted to have a say or something, & duly noting mentally that this is 4 years after Bush made what I hope will go down in history as the most memorable & bizarre empty PR stunt ever attempted by an American president ~ his glorious flight-suited landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier beneath a big, bright "Mission Accomplished" banner. In retrospect, a great moment in drastically premature boastful hubris & progaganda in a war destined to be remembered, in Demon's opinion, for the fact that it was, at the end of the day, remarkable for nothing but, & the far-ranging consequences, not only for the Mid East, but for the rule of law at home. I hope it will be forever memorialized in my grandchildrens' history books as the signal visual image, a highlight of sorts symbolizing the dismal George Bush years, & a warning to all posterity.

But I digress.
So, was anybody actually surprised at what Petraeus & Crocker had to say? Media types asked each other the same thing, & the answer, uniformly, was "no." The illustrious guests hedged their bets, careful not to promise anything, but were upbeat enough to say, more or less, "we should stay." Petraeus recommended a drawdown of 30,000 troops, which, conveniently enough, Bush will announce to the country on Thursday.

Apart from interesting arguments how the measures of distress in Iraq were assessed (a bullet in the back of the head is a sectarian execution, a bullet in front is merely some sort of crime, & the fact that ethnic cleansing has killed or driven away all opposition in an area is a good thing), missing from all the intense coverage & yet to be articulated, I believe, has always been & continues to be a clear definition of success. Else how will we know when we've reached it?
In this blitz of highly moderated "fairly happy news" on Iraq, something else was missing, & not just the certain goof-isms of a highly inarticulate George (we have to presume that was no accident, & perhaps the clearest measure yet that George knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Americans think he can't be trusted at all to give the straight scoop where Iraq is concerned ~ damn those invisible WMDS, mobile bio-warfare labs, & the evidence Dick Cheney still seems to think exists tying a 911 highjacker to Saddam Hussein).
Demon stumbled across an analysis from indie news organization Alternet that went a long way toward explaining things I had a hunch were missing from the "official news" portrayal & which also does a better job of who's fighting who & for what reasons. The additional fault lines by which the problem should be understood have to do with nationalists vs. separatists.

"This week, we'll be buried under a crush of analysis about an Iraq that's being ravaged by a religious civil war -- an incomprehensible war between 'militants' of various stripes and 'the Iraqi people.' But Americans will be poorly served by the media's singular focus on Iraq's 'sectarian violence.' It obscures the fact that sectarian fighting is a symptom -- a street-level manifestation -- of a massive political conflict over what kind of country Iraq will be, who will rule it and who will control its enormous oil wealth.
"And it obscures the great irony of the American project: that in that defining conflict over the future of the country, the Bush administration, with the support of Congress, has taken the same side as Iran's hardliners and the same side as the Sunni fundamentalist group called al Qaeda in Iraq. All are working -- separately, but towards the same ends -- against the wishes of a majority of Iraqis, who polls show want a united, sovereign country in control of its own resources and free of meddling by Washington, Tehran and other foreigners.
[...little, comparatively] to do with the differences that distinguish the different branches of Islam -- Iraq isn't struggling with a religious civil war.
"Iraqis are fighting over fundamental questions about the future of their country. They're fighting over whether it will have a strong central government or be a weak confederation of semiautonomous states, over how soon and to what degree it will be independent of foreign influence, over who will control its massive energy reserves and under what terms they will be developed -- all of these things are tangible, concrete issues that are crucial in determining Iraq's future.
"We refer to this central political conflict as one between Iraqi separatists and nationalists. Loosely speaking, separatists favor a 'soft partition' of Iraq into at least three zones with strong regional governments, similar to the semiautonomous Kurdish'"state' in Northern Iraq; they are at least willing to tolerate foreign influence -- meaning Iranian, U.S. or other powers' influence, depending on which group one is discussing -- for the foreseeable future; they favor privatizing Iraq's massive energy reserves and ceding substantial control of the country's oil sector to regional authorities.
"Nationalists are just the opposite: They reject any foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, they favor a strong technocratic central government in Baghdad that's not based on sectarian voting blocs and they oppose privatizing Iraq's oil and natural gas reserves on the extraordinarily generous terms (to the oil companies) proposed by the U.S. government and institutions like the IMF. They favor centralized control over the development of Iraq's oil and gas reserves."
Miscellaneous remarks: CNN did the best job of at least mentioning the differences, if not fleshing them out fully, & was rigorously honest about pointing out the hype & the errors so far -the reasons we were led into Iraq, particularly, & also Anderson Cooper's questioning what may well be viewed in the future as the second major tactical error in Iraq (after disbanding the Iraqi military & turning loose a bunch of angry, confused, armed & unemployed men into the streets), now comes the American decision to arm warlords to rout Al-Queda. I can see that possibly coming back to bite us in the ass someday. (Anybody here remember that it was also America that armed a bunch of rag-tag freedom fighters in order to force Russia out of Afghanistan? Excellent training, as it turned out, for future Taliban fighters.)

Not to mention that we're arming insurgents in Iraq who oppose the very Maliki government we fostered there, but what the hell, Maliki et al. are incompetent, corrupt & can't govern, & can't seem to manage to push through the energy bill that would privatize Iraq's oil & let American petroleum companies in on the fun in a big way.
Yeah, mark me down as a cynic.

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Blogger sumo said...

Good roundup of the facts. And yes, it will come back and bite all of us in the ass...thanks to their stupidity. But while our asses are getting munched and melted...they will be in a safe bunker underground having a lovely time with their wine and cheese.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Richard Power said...

Fantastic site.
Let's sync up.
All the Best,
Richard Power

10:33 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Thanks for the comments!

Richard, what's your site? There's no link from your name.

12:11 AM  

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