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A weekly look at events in Iraq, and on the home front.
This week: an examination of the propaganda war that's ongoing in the wake of the Shrine bombing. With our western reporters absent or holed up in Baghdad hotels, propaganda may be all we're hearing this week - and may in fact be the real battle.
The New York Times says More Clashes Shake Iraq; Political Talks Are In Ruins
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 23 — A groundswell of sectarian fury continued to roil Iraq on Thursday after Wednesday's bombing of a major Shiite shrine, leaving at least 138 people dead in the past two days and political negotiations over a new government in ruins.In addition to the death toll, as of Friday, there were published claims that as many as 184 Sunni mosques in Iraq had been attacked in retaliation for the bombing of the shrine of Imams Ali al-Hadi and Al-Hasan al-Askari.
The threat of full-scale civil war loomed over the country as Sunni politicians lashed out at Shiite leaders on Thursday, accusing them of igniting anti-Sunni reprisals, and at the American military, charging it with standing idly by as the violence erupted. The most powerful Sunni Arab political group said it was suspending talks with Shiite and Kurdish politicians on forming a new government.
But Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for Multi-National Forces-Iraq, described a somewhat different situation on the ground in the wake of the bombing:
It's important that you understand from our perspective the repercussions from that attack yesterday. Candidly, I'm watching the media, I'm listening to discussions about attacks across Iraq that we, the coalition, can't see, we can't confirm. So I'm going to tell you in detail what we've seen since yesterday when the attack occurred until the time of this press conference so that you understand what we have indeed seen and we can confirm.Note the General's candor - he admits that confirmation of the full extent of any damage nationwide can not be accomplished in a matter of hours. He was probably surprised when in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the Shiite shrine accounts of over 100 attacks on Sunni mosques were presented in US media as confirmed facts.
In general terms, across Iraq, based on the direction of the prime minister and the Iraqi government, and religious leaders like Sistani, we're seeing peaceful demonstrations. Sistani put out three fatwas yesterday and he called for calm, and he directed peaceful demonstrations. And that's what we're seeing. We've seen peaceful demonstrations, about 20 all across Iraq over the course of the last 36 hours.
Now, there have been violent demonstrations and there have been some attacks against mosques. And let me talk to you about that in some level of detail. We've seen across Iraq seven major mosque attacks. The one that we're most concerned about happened in the vicinity of Dora here in Baghdad, which was a complex attack of both small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades that caused significant damage to two mosques.
We're also concerned about the killings that we have seen. We've seen a Sunni imam killed in Basra, and we've seen a Sunni imam killed up the vicinity of Baghdad, an we've seen a Sunni sheikh killed and his son kidnapped in the vicinity of Husiniyah (sp) here by Baghdad.
What I've shown you is the things that I can indeed confirm, and over time, the reports will come in, the exact situation on the ground will become clear. But that takes time.
Remember, we have about 160,000 coalition soldiers all around Iraq, and they report to their chain of command what they're seeing, which gives us great fidelity on operations around Iraq. In addition to that, the Iraqi security force and the Iraqi government has their reporting chains, and those reporting chains do indeed come together at the very top. So over time, as those reports come in and are confirmed, we'll ensure we share those with you.
But today, as of now, seven attacks across Iraq that resulted in damage to mosques; two Sunni imams murdered and one sheikh murdered; and then other less significant attacks. We've seen some drive-by attacks -- people driving by mosques, sticking a weapon out the window and firing rounds at the mosque, with no resulting damage. But that's where we are.
So we're not seeing civil war igniting in Iraq. We're not seeing 77, 80, 100 mosques damaged. We're not seeing death in the streets. We're seeing a confident, capable Iraqi government using their capable Iraqi security force to calm the storm that was inflamed by a horrendous, horrific terrorist attack yesterday against the Golden Mosque in Samarra.
In fact, within hours of the shrine bombing, the New York Times had reported that at least 27 Sunni mosques had been attacked in Baghdad alone
The Iraqi police, whose ranks include many followers of Shiite militias, largely stood by during the attacks on Sunni mosques on Wednesday and Thursday, as did many Iraqi soldiers.The story would also note that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a cleric and the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite political coalition, failed to make any sort of apology for the dozens of attacks on Sunni mosques and imams — a key demand made by Sunni Arab political leaders, who withdrew in protest on Thursday from talks over forming a government.
Other Times stories would describe a "wave of killings of Sunni Arabs", and the victim's response:
The attacks, mostly by Shiite militiamen, were troubling not only because they resulted in at least 170 deaths across Iraq, but also because they showed how deeply the militias have spread inside government forces. The Iraqi police, commanded by a Shiite political party, stood by as the rampage spread.The Washington Post would claim that 120 mosques had been attacked, adding that "Shiite militias -- including the Mahdi Army, loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- continued to attack Sunni mosques, engaging in drive-by shootings, occupying the buildings and setting them ablaze, or detaining worshipers inside."
Now, after watching helplessly as their mosques and homes burned, many Sunni Arabs say they should have the right to form their own militias.
Time Magazine would caption a photo of the demolished shrine with a claim that "a string of similar attacks to Sunni targets took place across Iraq."
And even as a government imposed curfew established calm in the region, reports of the numbers of Sunni mosques attacked would skyrocket. By Friday night published claims would reach as high as "184 Sunni mosques" that "had been damaged, some destroyed". But perhaps as an overdue admission that the claims were becoming a bit outlandish, media reports began to qualify the numbers by actually citing the sources.
The Association of Muslim Scholars claim 168 Sunni mosques were attacked, 10 imams were killed and 15 imams were kidnapped.In the US
Some 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked around the country, 10 imams killed and 15 abducted since the shrine attack, according to the Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars.In Australia, a report that
The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars said that since Wednesday, at least 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked, 10 imams killed and 15 abducted.would even explain that "Their claims could not be immediately verified."
The main Sunni religious group said 184 Sunni mosques had been damaged, some destroyed; 10 clerics had been killed and 15 abducted.This is, in fact, the modus operandi of the Association of Muslim Scholars - an Iraqi Sunni/Ba'athist group formed in the wake of the 2003 invasion. Their role in the current conflict is to fight the "information war" while others conduct the actual shooting. After any atrocity committed by Sunni "insurgents" in Iraq, the Association immediately insists a similar atrocity has been committed by American or Shi'ite forces.
In October, 2004 a suicide car bomber slaughtered three dozen children in Baghdad. The AMS immediately accused American and Iraqi troops of widespread atrocities in Samarra.
"The hospital is full of bodies, children are buried in the gardens, and there are bodies filling the streets," said Muhammad Bashar al-Faidhi, one of the members of the group in Baghdad who said he was basing his accusations on witness accounts. It was impossible to independently verify his claims."It was impossible to independently verify" - in fact, reporters actually on the scene told a very different story. But due to the quick work of the "Muslim Scholars" both accounts appeared simultaneously in the press.
That same month, an Iraqi Sunni blogger reported
Last Monday, while I was in Basra watching TV in the afternoon, Al-Fayhaa channel broadcasted a film they said it was sent to the station via e-mail. I have to say that the credibility of the film is questionable but since I found that no one in the media, whether inside or outside Iraq commented on it, I decided to tell you about it and perhaps we could together find some answers.
The film was taped on July 11 this year as written on the screen and it showed six young men, all Iraqi as there looks and accent showed, and they were reading written confessions about attacks they launched against Iraqis and coalition troops.
All those six men (the youngest is 21 years old) mentioned that they were given orders from the "Association of Muslim Scholars" to perform certain operations against "Iraqi collaborators", multinational troops and some moderate She'at clerics. One of the men said that he received (350 000 ID) from a member of the association to assassinate a She'at cleric and when the first attempt failed, he was ordered to try again as he stated.
In November 2004 the BBC reported that the AMS was protesting raids on mosques in Ramadi that had discovered weapons caches:
Yesterday coalition forces raided seven mosques in Ramadi, detaining four people and seizing bomb-making materials.Note that unlike American sources the BBC is willing to acknowledge the ties between the AMS and terrorist groups in Iraq.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group suspected of links to rebels, condemned the mosque raids as an example of alleged American hostility toward Islam.
The US Army accused local militants of violating the mosques by using them for military purposes. A US Marine spokesman said American troops provided backup for Iraqi soldiers but did not enter the mosques.
Later the group demanded that Sunnis boycott the January, 2005 elections. (Some would interpret the demands as threats against any potential Sunni voters). After the January elections, they would condemn the new government while demanding to be included in the writing of Iraq's constitution. But within days they would announce their refusal to assist in preparring the constitution as long as the country remained under US occupation. Virtually all subsequent difficulties with developing the constitution could be traced to actions of the group.
Additional details of the relationship between the AMS and terrorist groups would be revealed following the kidnapping of Italian "journalist" Giuliana Sgrena
Giuliana Sgrena, a 56-year-old reporter for the Communist daily Il Manifesto, was kidnapped near Baghdad University.And now the group claims atrocities against Sunnis in Iraq - stories that shove the actual bombing of the Samarra shrine into the background of the daily news.
A group calling itself the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed to have kidnapped the woman and gave Italy 72 hours to withdraw its troops from Iraq. But it made no threats to kill her nor said what would happen if its demands were not met.
"After the judicial committee of the Jihad Organization interrogated the Italian captive Giuliana Sgrena, it has been found that the Italian captive is not involved in spying for the infidels in Iraq," the group said in a statement posted on a website that frequently carries messages from Islamic militants.
"In response to the appeal made by the Muslim Scholars' Assn., we, in the Jihad Organization, will free the Italian captive in the next few days," the statement added.
One might wonder why American media sources decline to offer details of The Association of Muslim Scholars, opting to refer to them as simply "an influential Sunni group" or "group of influential Sunni clerics". In fact, it's worthwhile to question why early reports of the mass destruction of Sunni Mosques didn't even acknowledge the group as the source of the claims.
Just prior to the Samarra attacks, Richard Miniter offerred an intriguing suggestion that could explain much of the bias in US media coverage of Iraq:
Richard Miniter: Everyone talks about intelligence failures, no one talks about media failures. The media is the people's intelligence service, and it's failing us.In fact, in at least one case last year a CBS-employed stringer was arrested for helping "insurgents" with a car bomb.
You want to talk about why it's so biased?
Remember before the war, CNN, Eason Jordan made that ridiculous thing where we had to hire the fixers from Saddam's ministry or they'd be executed. We had to cover the Iraqi dictatorship in a certain way... paid Iraqis...
Roger Simon: The blogosphere was all over that one...
Richard Miniter: Who does CNN have working for them now covering the Iraq war?
The same people, the same Iraqi fixers.
So lets see, it's 1946, it's Germany, I need to understand German. Why don't I hire some Nazis to interview some Jewish survivors and explain post-war Germany by hiring Nazis?
They're hiring Ba'athist Sunnis, that's why the coverage is so bad. They went from imbedded with the US troops and just reporting what they saw, and the effect was marvelous. It was accurate, it was up to date, it was interesting, it changed all the time.
And now it's formulaic and ideological.
Because their fixers, their intermediaries between their safe little lives in the Palestine or al Rashid Hotels and the outside world are former members of the regime.
We noted previously that the role of the AMS in the current conflict is to fight the "information war" while others conduct the actual shooting. That might not be completely accurate.
On Saturday two attacks targeted the funeral procession for Atwar Bahjat, the well-known Al Arabiya correspondent killed with two crew members Wednesday while reporting on the violence engulfing Samarra, where the Al-Askariya "Golden" Mosque was bombed.Though we are left to determine for ourselves why this last fact is important to the story.
Two police officers were killed and five others wounded, as the cortege, led and guarded by Iraqi police and soldiers, entered the western Baghdad neighborhood of Abu Ghraib, Iraqi Emergency Police told CNN.
The incident happened near the home of Harith Al-Dari, the head of the Muslim Scholars Association, and along a road that splits, linking Baghdad with Syria and Jordan.
When the shots rang out, security officers ordered people in the convoy to abandon their vehicles and hide behind nearby houses.
Later, as the procession resumed toward the cemetery, a roadside bomb exploded, causing an unknown number of casualties, including deaths, said al-Nasery.
"The incident happened near the home of Harith Al-Dari, the head of the Muslim Scholars Association".
A roundup of those accused in the bombing of the shrine of Imams Ali al-Hadi and Al-Hasan al-Askari would produce an interesting line up.
Following the lead of Iran's President, Vice President, and "Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Iranian News agency reports that Friday "prayers" in Tehran were used to condemn the "agents of the Western arrogance, US leaders, Mossad, CIA and the Zionists" responsible for the mosque bombing in Iraq:
Substitute Leader of Tehran's Friday Prayers Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani here condemned the criminal act of bombing the holy shrines of Imam Hadi and Imam Hassan Asgari in Samarra, Iraq and called for unity between all Muslims of the world.Translations of the "prayers" also indicated the Ayatollah claimed that "Iran's nuclear issue, cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and bombings in Samarra were all part of a Western conspiracy to attack Islam."
Addressing thousands of worshipers at Tehran University Campus, the Ayatollah said Shia and Sunni Muslims would rebuild the holy shrines but the agents of the Western arrogance, US leaders, Mossad, CIA and the Zionists would be blamed for this heinous crime forever.
The holy shrines of Imam Hadi and Imam Hassan Asgari (PBUT) were the targets of a terrorist act on Wednesday morning and were severely damaged.
Ayatollah Emami Kashani said the Muslim world is aware of the plots hatched by the enemies and calls for more unity and integrity.
The Ayatollah also stressed on Iran's certain right to have access to nuclear technology.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Thousands of protesters have rallied in Iran, voicing anger at the U.S., Israel and an attack on a holy Shiite shrine in Iraq.Meanwhile, in Iraq, the Ba'ath party claimed the Badr Corps (an Iranian-backed Shia militia in Iraq), the United States, and Iran were behind the attack. "The Badr Corps bombed the Shia shrine on behalf of Iran and with encouragement from American forces in Iraq."
After prayers, protesters began marching through Tehran with posters while chanting "down with America."
Speaking at the rally was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, who says the U.S. and Israel are to blame because they are trying to divide Shiites and Sunni Muslims.
In an amazing coincidence, in a web forum posting The Mujahidin Shura Council in Iraq (an umbrella group of several Sunni terrorist organizations) also placed blame for the bombing on Iraqi Prime Minister al Jafari, the Badr Corps, and the government of Iran. According to the statement, the bombing was an effort to distract attention from the crimes of these groups (a likely reference to recent militia killings). They further promised a strong retaliation against the Shia.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani yesterday accused the "takfiris" - those Muslims who regard other Muslims as infidels - of carrying out the bombing in order to cause sectarian sedition. (The US does too - but while fellow Muslims call them takfiri, we call them al Qaeda.)
The U.S. ambassador in Baghdad remains optimistic
In his first acknowledgment of the turmoil, Zalmay Khalilzad is asking Iraqis to resist the push toward civil war. And he says there is "an opportunity to bring people together" to defeat the promoters of sectarian attacks.And a milblogger there offers a unique perspective: "The situation remains tense here in Baghdad." But, he adds, "I’ve never heard it this quiet."
Khalilzad also tells reporters he's optimistic the biggest Sunni Arab bloc in the Iraqi parliament will return to talks to forge an inclusive government. The Sunnis pulled out after reports of widespread retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques.
Khalilzad says leaders from all sides are talking about rebuilding Shiite and Sunni mosques as a way to restore calm.
Update: Things move fast -
THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.The union of two of the most potent anti-US groups in Iraq might be cause for concern. They've coordinated before, when Sunnis in Fallujah were battling US forces while Sadr's militia did the same in Najaf and elsewhere. But Sadr's agreement with the US ended that battle and helped clear the way for the coalition to strike Fallujah in force.
Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a "pact of honour" with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.
But this statement, while open to interpretation, is promising:
The sheikhs condemned "those who excommunicate Muslims" a reference to the "takfireen" or Islamist extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who justify killing fellow Muslims by declaring them non-Muslims.(Via CDR Salamander)
Last week's edition of Meanwhile Back at the Front can be read here.
(The author of these compilations, an Iraq war veteran, runs the web log The Mudville Gazette.)
Why continue to smear as cowards the reporters working in Iraq when you know full well more reporters have died in this war already than during the entire Vietnam War?
The war is a disaster. Don't blame the messenger. Blame the Leader.Posted by Mark Zimmerman at February 25, 2006 09:06 PM
Mr. Zimmerman -
I don't think that the question is being raised as to whether or not the reporters are cowards.
I believe that the question is:
Are these reporters doing any better a job of getting to the truth in Iraq than the reporters who covered Katrina in New Orleans did?
Those reporters -
*Told us of rapes and murders in the superdome -
A report that turned out to be hugely exaggerated
*Told us of thousands of dead floating in the streets -
A report that turned out to be hugely exaggerated
*Told us of thousand of looters stealing everything in sight -
A report that turned out to be hugely exaggerated
*Told us of thugs shooting at Rescue helicopters -
Which didn't happen at all
They also focused on New Orleans to the near exclusion of all the other locations hit by the hurricane.
How did people in other cities and states fare? Anybody who doesn't have a friend there know?
They stressed the negatives about that situation, and still do.
Reporters aren't interested in good news....
The headline is never going to be "Thousands Saved" It'll always read "One Dead"
Their desire is to report -something- right now!
They also desire to make it dramatic!
The truth will eventually out, but it's difficult to put any faith in the reporting which we receive about events as they are occuring.
I think that you can agree that these problems have nothing to do with cowardice, but are actually valid concerns for those of us reading the news.
Posted by lokki at February 25, 2006 09:32 PM
Cowardice is your term, not mine. I've acknowledged the contributions of reporters like Jonathan Finer of the Washington Post, David Zucchino of the LA Times, Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald, Joe Galloway with Knight-Ridder, and even the much-maligned Kevin Sites of the notorious Fallujah shooting video. I could go on, but the bottom line is I respect these folks tremendously, whether I agree with them or not. You're going to have to try that accusation elsewhere - I suggest at someplace where you are more familiar with the position of the author.
But with much of the nation under curfew reporters are not on the street. The stories coming from Iraq this week are based entirely on hearsay, but presented otherwise. To capture a more complete picture of what's really happening it's worth examining the sources of those reports.
Lokki's comparison is a good reminder of just how wrong such reports can be.Posted by Greyhawk at February 25, 2006 11:17 PM
Right. You didn’t call them cowards. You quote someone else saying, “Because their fixers, their intermediaries between their safe little lives in the Palestine or al Rashid Hotels and the outside world are former members of the regime”
I repeat, more reporters have been killed covering this war than Vietnam. If they’re holed up in Baghdad, it’s because there’s no security. This is a worn-out meme, the claim that all is well, except for the media’s biased reporting.
Zimmerman: Biased reporting or bald faced lies, however you choose to refer to the crap that tends to pour from these stringers, is of little consequence. Greyhawk and others will and have provided more examples of their treasonous slanders, than you've got fingers and toes to count. Cry me a river, you jerks bore me to tears, with your inane denials. More asinine assumptions are further proof of what was just said, while refuting nothing.
There are actual reporters there getting the truth out as was indicated in Greyhawks comment, while I might respectfully disagree with one of his examples. Till the overwhelming amount of bias in the MSM begins to reflect some decency and respect for truth, they can't be trusted as reporters of truths.Posted by forest hunter at February 26, 2006 03:04 AM
"the claim that all is well, except for the media’s biased reporting."
I missed the part where I made that claim too. To you Iraq is a far-off land you hear about in newspapers and on TV but I've been there, and will likely go back. It's a war zone, by definition, everything is not fine there, not even close. Face it, we're examining the results of a terrorist attack on a religious shrine here. It's hardly an indicator that everything is fine.
The response to the event is critical. A civil war sells more papers than would reports on the hard work of rebuilding a shattered country, so we must accept the reality that newspapers have a motive for exaggerating what's happening. In doing so they enhance the prospect of further violence, as people like you take their word as gospel truth and respond to what they are told has happened (i.e., 180+ Sunni mosques attacked).
My suspiscion is that that the shrine bombing may actually serve to unite more than divide. If the Association of Muslim Scholars is actually willing unite with Sadr's element and condemn the takfiri, that represents a significant development - further evidence of the Sunni/Baathist elements breaking with the al Qaeda crew. I remain somewhat sceptical though, time will tell.Posted by Greyhawk at February 26, 2006 10:42 AM
Greyhawk: This will work to the advantage of the Iraqi citizens in spite of the never-ending wishes for a US failure by virtually every disrespectful POS on or in the scope. There's about to be a unity of unlikelies.Posted by forest hunter at February 26, 2006 11:23 AM
“It's a war zone, by definition, everything is not fine there, not even close. Face it, we're examining the results of a terrorist attack on a religious shrine here. It's hardly an indicator that everything is fine”
The point is, are we winning or not? By all objective measures—oil and electricity, the numbers of effective Iraqi forces, the number of insurgent attacks—we're losing. Supporters of Bush are left arguing there are no objective measures. This I see as the goal of your post, to demean the press and thus render the negative news meaningless.
“so we must accept the reality that newspapers have a motive for exaggerating what's happening. In doing so they enhance the prospect of further violence, as people like you take their word as gospel truth and respond to what they are told has happened (i.e., 180+ Sunni mosques attacked).”
Man, what a statement! You don’t even know me, yet you can generalize about ‘people like me’? It’s trivial to harp on errors in reporting as you do in this post. Of course there’s going to be inaccurate reporting after an event like this. It’s impossible for reporters to move around Iraq, remember? It’s that bad over there.
“My suspiscion is that that the shrine bombing may actually serve to unite more than divide.”
Another pollyannaish Bush supporter. This event will further enhance the role of sectarian militias, the biggest obstacle to the building of effective Iraqi forces.
"By all objective measures—oil and electricity, the numbers of effective Iraqi forces"
There are currently 43 Iraqi battalions that control their own battlespace. 53 Battalions "In the Lead". They don't have their own air support or logistics support or heavy artillery support, so they can't be judged as "fully independent". It doesn't mean they aren't "effective". ISF are assuming battle space at a rate of 1 battalion a week now. The Iraqi Army tank division completed training this week.Posted by Soldier's Dad at February 26, 2006 05:08 PM
If we're losing, who's winning? I'm actually interested in your answer.
"It’s trivial to harp on errors in reporting as you do in this post." What errors, specifically?
As for the "Bush supporter" bit, my concerns are more personal than political. I'm in the fight, and that trumps politics. Questions of how the above post may affect the Bush administration never entered my mind when I was writing it.
As for the American press, in this instance I do wish they'd been more candid in admitting they're presenting second hand news, and forthright in acknowledging sources, etc. What's trivial about that?
“If we're losing, who's winning? I'm actually interested in your answer”
It appears to me the sectarian forces are winning--Sadr, the Sunni Islamists (not al Qaeda), and the Iranian allies, such as Hakim. I understand Sadr made a pact with the Association of Muslim Scholars, or some such Sunni insurgent front group, to end the violence. If this holds, it will reinforce the legitimacy of sectarian militias and emphasize the impotency of the American-supported government. This appears to be the general trend of events in Iraq since the invasion. Rather than establish a secular democracy, if Sadr is successful we’re headed for a Sunni/Shiite Islamist regime, which will be a serious threat to our interests. This is the Iranians’ goal, to forge an alliance with Sunni Islamists, as they have done with Hamas.
“What's trivial about that?”
Well, maybe I overstated my case. It’s the quote “their safe little lives” that set me off. This is a repugnant statement, with Jill Carol still in captivity. You have a point, that there is a substantial amount of hysteria in the reporting on recent events. But this is to be expected when events are so fluid and given the constraints journalists have to work under. And it is a reality, which affects Iraqis more than us. The destruction of the mosque targeted Iraqi opinion more than American.
I agree with you on that specific line from Miniter - that was over the top. The gist of his comment is thought provoking - it seems likely that news organizations would still be relying on their old, pre-war connections for news. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but it's something to consider when evaluating their reports.
I believe about 90% of the population of Iraq are people who just want to live their lives in peace - from my experience this is true of most societies worldwide. (But that also translates to following the path of least resistance in most cases - hence the long reign of Saddam Hussein and other thugs 'round the globe.) But while some may want to use this event as evidence of government weakness, I think most of these "average Iraqis" know it's the bombers who are to blame - not the people who didn't stop the bombers.
As for those bombers, like al Qaeda on 9/11, I think they overplayed their hand on this one, and lost a big chunk of support from "middle Iraq".
Civil War remains a distinct possibility. The odd thing is, those who seem to want it most (some elements in the Sunni population) are the ones who will inevitably lose. This week's bit of the old ultra-violence may shock some in that group to their senses. If not, exponentially more bloodshed is inevitable.Posted by Greyhawk at February 26, 2006 11:01 PM
Just as a random thought, I wonder if Operational Activation of the 9th Iraq Division(3 Heavy Brigades of T-72 tanks with 4,000 troops each) had any sort of impression on Moqtada and Pals. It wouldn't be American Tanks rolling to crush his "Medhi Army", it would be Iraqi tanks.Soldier's Dad at February 27, 2006 12:07 AM
"But while some may want to use this event as evidence of government weakness, I think most of these "average Iraqis" know it's the bombers who are to blame - not the people who didn't stop the bombers."
I think that's true, but the longer this goes on, the more credence gained by the Islamists, that THEY are the ones to stop the bombers, not the American-supported government; and that one of the first steps towards stability is to get rid of the "occupiers". This is the significance of what we're seeing, I think.
"As for those bombers, like al Qaeda on 9/11, I think they overplayed their hand on this one, and lost a big chunk of support from "middle Iraq"."
al Qaeda takes a very long view. It's in their interests to Lebanonize Iraq with continued instability, creating a base for recruitement and training, and to attack the infrastructure of the West, the Saudi oil fields.
I have no doubt al Qaeda destroyed the Samaara mosque, trying to make it look like a Western operation, by tying up rather than killing the guards and carefully setting out the explosives, rather than using a car bomb. It's in al Qaeda's interests to keep us pinned down as long as possible, creating chaos and confusion in Iraq.Posted by Mark Zimmerman at February 27, 2006 12:09 AM
I'm a little weary of those who expect world events to fit themselves into neat little timed packages... World War II won in a 104 minute movie. The Civil War on a two DvD set. World War I in a comic book. Well,unfortunately wars are long and ugly affairs. There were many days in World War I where more men were lost in an hour than have been lost in our years in Iraq.
But: It's not about winning battles, anyhow. The insurgents will never win a single battle worth mentioning in Iraq. Their only hope is that whiners like Mr. Zimmerman get frustrated and force America to quit the field before the insurgents do. Unfortunately they have the example of Vietnam to give them hope.
Frankly none of that matters a damn, anyhow, so let's drop that subject as irrelevant.
Ask yourself the question, fearful Mr. Zimmerman, what happens if America comes back home and turns our weapons into plow shares? Please tell me how you see the situation in five year.... and in ten.
Do you believe that the Islamists will all go home to weave rugs and smoke hookahs?
Will they abandon their attacks in American, English, Spanish, Algerian, Indonesian, Filipino, Dutch, Danish, Russian, Saudi,Iraqi, and Thai citizens?
We tried staying home and ignoring them under Mr. Clinton, you'll recall. They bombed the World Trade Center, so we gave them Afghanistan, and told them they could do what they wanted there if they would leave us alone.... it worked pretty well too, until September 2001 (Except for a few other attacks like the USS Cole and so forth).
They won't quit, Silly Rabbit (yes, that's you, Mr. Zimmerman).... so we don't have the luxury of quitting.... We have to fight the militant Islamists.
If not in Iraq, then where, if not now, then when?
This phenomenon of militant Islam is not going to go away on its own. It's going to last at least 10 to 15 years... perhaps much, much longer.
The 100,000 foot view of the situation says that all this unrest occurs because there are no jobs in the middle east to occupy the young men there.
There will be no jobs, ever, under the current governmental structure. The only way to start job growth is to promote capitalism. That will take 50 years to take root....guess we'd better get started then, eh?
The premise for the war in Iraq may have been just that, a premise. The need was to start a democracy that would promote businesses to hire the unemployed. Ultimately, democracy has a better chance of catching hold in Iraq than in any other middle eastern country. Will it work there? Who knows, but what's the other option? We tried ignoring things and that didn't work.
So, snarky Mr. Zimmerman, in summary you appear to me to be the kind with plenty of complaints, but no ideas. I've told you what I think.
Let's hear your plan for dealing with Islam for the next 10 years.Posted by Lokki at February 27, 2006 12:52 AM
Why do you assume I want to quit, Lokki? And why do you assume I'm "fearful"?
You want to calm things down in the Middle East? Start with justice in Palestine.Posted by Mark Zimmerman at February 27, 2006 01:21 AM
"There will be no jobs, ever, under the current governmental structure. The only way to start job growth is to promote capitalism. That will take 50 years to take root....guess we'd better get started then, eh?"
So, 50 years we're going to be there, Lokki? Fulfilling the Vision of the Great Leader, Bush? Meanwhile, the Iranians, the Russians, ect., are just going to sit on their hands? This isn't strategy, this is delusion.Posted by Mark Zimmerman at February 27, 2006 01:32 AM
"Start with justice in Palestine."
Nice Cliche... no plan
Fulfilling the Vision of the Great Leader, Bush
Just another snarky remark .... no plan....
This discussion is obviously over.
Why bother with you? There's work to be done.
"Start with justice in Palestine."
Nice Cliche... no plan"
Well, this was Powell's advance to Bush, after deposing the Taliban.
SO what's your plant, Lokki? Other than capitalism in Iraq in 50 years?Posted by Mark Zimmerman at February 27, 2006 02:38 AM
"The 100,000 foot view of the situation says that all this unrest occurs because there are no jobs in the middle east to occupy the young men there."
Where do you get this notion, "Lokki", that job creation is the answer? The 9/11 ringleaders were all highly educated, and all probably could have had good careers either in the Middle East, or in Europe.Posted by Mark Zimmerman at February 27, 2006 03:05 AM
Tommy and The Who-Pinball Wizard, aka Mark Zimmerman: All your armchair QB'n skills do exactly what Zimmerman. Lokki asked you a question hot shot. What is your omniscient plan or is your name Powell, in which case I'll ask you to forgive me sir?
Your 15:13 post "This I see as the goal of your post, to demean the press and thus render the negative news meaningless." That kind of view is precisely why discussion with those who sound as if they've got an agenda and won't allow them to see the goal of this post or any other. If you can, answer a few questions. Who is served by issuing hysterical news reports? No shit it's rough but changing the facts do what when reporting a news story? Who does it serve? Who's side are you on? Who's spirit and will are you trying to impact? The disaster is the war in people like you and not the progresses you refuse to see in IRAQ!
These assholes are banking on the nadless whiners to bleed our efforts in the ME, with the thousand cuts method. They don't think we'll get Jacksonian on their ass. We might not but, then again we might. Those with no sand should simply stand aside and STFU! Let the people do their job, finish the move and come home when the timing is right. Breaking the will and spirit of the enemy is made harder by lame reports and bald faced lies!Posted by forest hunter at February 27, 2006 05:21 AM
By the way, some of you might want to note that Mark and I were carrying on a fine, non-abusive discussion...Posted by Greyhawk at February 27, 2006 09:04 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(22) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)