As the Iraqi government attempts to secure a capital city ravaged by conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs, its decision to bring a third party into the mix may cause more problems than peace.
Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad, a conflict they consider someone else's problem.
The Iraqi army brigades being sent to the capital are filled with former members of a Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, and most of the soldiers remain loyal to the militia.
Much as Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces across Arab Iraq, the peshmerga fill the ranks of the Iraqi army in the Kurdish region in the north, poised to secure a semi-independent Kurdistan and seize oil-rich Kirkuk and parts of Mosul if Iraq falls apart. One thing they didn't bank on, they said, was being sent into the "fire" of Baghdad.
"The soldiers don't know the Arabic language, the Arab tradition, and they don't have any experience fighting terror," said Anwar Dolani, a former peshmerga commander who leads the brigade that's being transferred to Baghdad from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.
The above is from Leila Fadel and Yaseen Taha's "Kurdish Iraqi soldiers are deserting to avoid the conflict in Baghdad" (McClatchy Newspapers). Nothing on it in the New York Times because selling the war is much more important to them than reality. The proposed escalation comes at a time when more and more countries are pulling out of Iraq and, now, it appears the Kurds are also saying "no." It's so much easier to fluff as James Glanz does today in "Draft Law Keeps Central Control Over Oil in Iraq." No, it doesn't. Read the article (Glanz didn't write the headline) and you'll see that if you do this or that (for instance produce over 150,000 barrels of oil a day) you avoid the centralization. "Eventual privatization" Glanz mentions before moving on quickly and you know the issue of the foreign companies getting 75% of all profits isn't dealt with. Should an occupied country with a war still raging allow a puppet government to determine their future profits? No. But Glanz isn't up for that either.
Smart bookers would be contacting Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) immediately because, while others have pooh-pahhed the issue -- she has stayed on top of it. Juhasz will be among those participating at the Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq, beginning at ten a.m. and ending at four today and tomorrow, at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus where issues that a military 'judge' refuses to allow Ehren Watada to present as his defense will be explored in public. (Also putting the hearing far ahead of the Congress.)
At the Times, the headline writer must really hate David S. Cloud because as many problems as Cloud's piece has, one of them is not claiming that Casey said escalated troops would be back in the US by the end of summer.
Tamara was the first to note Margaret Kimerley's "Racism, Fascism at CNN and ABC" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):
Racist and fascist speech is alive and well, transmitted over the airwaves and cables of major U.S. media. Hosts who call for the burning alive, torture and lynching of minorities and leftists are paid big bucks to spread hate, while bloggers who 'out' the culprits can be shut down.
"And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags ..."
"Every night I get down on my knees and pray that Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames."
"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong?" -- Glenn Beck, CNN, ABC commentator
People who fantasize about choking and burning usually keep their thoughts to themselves. Such sentiments are generally frowned upon in civilized society. At the very least they are disdained, and at the worst they invite calls to the police and to the men in white suits.
None of those scenarios apply if those words are spoken by political conservatives in the corporate media. The more venomous, fascistic and racist their statements, the more likely they are to enjoy career success.
Read the above or the entire thing (judging by the e-mails, many already have read the whole thing) and note how media criticism can be written from the left when you're not fearful that you won't get booked, won't get your book reviewed just so, won't . . . . Go down the list. Little foppish males continue to eat up valuable print space (AlterPunk among them) without ever saying anything. Kimberley writes strong. Like it matters because it damn well does.
Back to the Times. Sabrina Tavernise falls hook, line and sinker for a story she better pray doesn't blow up in her face. The US military didn't confirm who they had. For a paper that supposedly doesn't trust al-Sadr, they certainly rush to print a one-sourced claim backed up by al-Sadr's spokesperson. While Tavernise pimps "I am changing," the real world is far less glittery.
Gareth notes Colin Brown's "The battle to save Iraq's children" (Independent of London):
The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors.
They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life.
In a direct appeal to Tony Blair, the doctors describe desperate shortages causing "hundreds" of children to die in hospitals. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs.
"Sick or injured children who could otherwise be treated by simple means are left to die in hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources," the doctors say. "Children who have lost hands, feet and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated," they add.
They say babies are being ventilated with a plastic tube in their noses and dying for want of an oxygen mask, while other babies are dying because of the lack of a phial of vitamin K or sterile needles, all costing about 95p. Hospitals have little hope of stopping fatal infections spreading from baby to baby because of the lack of surgical gloves, which cost about 3.5p a pair.
Remember all the faux outrage over the p.r. manufactured lie that babies were being tossed out of incubators in the first Gulf War? Hollow. As demonstrated by the lack of concern over this. (The Times isn't even interested. They've got an escalation to sell and an industry to privatize.)
John R. MacArthur exposed the propaganda of the first Gulf War and Eddie notes a highlight by him, "Who's the Journalistic Hypocrite?" (Harper's magazine):
Whenever liberals moan about the sorry state of American print journalism, I'm reminded of A.J. Liebling, the great New Yorker press critic of the 1950s and '60s, who remarked that “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
The same goes for quality. You want free-thinking, courageous reporting, unpolluted by government intimidation and big money interests? I'm afraid that in a country hooked on private enterprise, it's the special privilege of owners to hire good journalists and encourage them to do honest work. Get used to it or else get busy raising a billion dollars to start your own daily newspaper. Meanwhile, you're free to blog yourself silly (or shout out the window).
Granted, the increase in corporate ownership of newspapers and magazines has muddied the question of who actually controls the press, but there's usually still a dominant shareholder to hold accountable, be it Rupert Murdoch at News Corp. or Donald Graham at the Washington Post Co. Blame Murdoch, not Judith Regan, for the O.J. confession debacle; blame Graham for any number of sins committed by Bob Woodward.
Nevertheless, we shouldn't absolve individual reporters of all responsibility for journalistic malpractice. There was nothing preventing James Risen of the New York Times from breaking his big, suppressed scoop about President Bush's illegal National Security Agency wiretapping program before the November 2004 election. Just because his bosses at the Times were too cautious to print the story promptly (they waited more than a year) doesn't mean that Risen couldn't have gotten the story printed elsewhere—in time, perhaps, to drive Bush from office.
Likewise, nothing compelled Nicholas Lemann, a noted author and dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, to write his shoddy, disingenuous appraisal of the left-wing journalist I.F. Stone, published in the New Yorker last November. As unfair as it was, Lemann's piece got me thinking again about Liebling's dictum, not only because I admired Stone's journalism, but because Stone took Liebling to heart. When his last newspaper was shot out from under him in the early 1950s, Stone started his own newsletter and himself became an owner.
Which makes Lemann's article all the more disturbing, since it runs down Stone's reputation under cover of the "The Wayward Press" rubric--the very moniker that Liebling made famous when the New Yorker was an independent and liberal magazine that regularly took on the conglomerate media.
Everything in Lemann's piece is hedged, including the snide and highly conditional praise. He cites, with a yawn, what he calls the "official catechism" on Stone: "courageous"; "stood up for civil liberties"; "an impassioned advocate of civil rights" for blacks before it was popular; "opposed the Vietnam War well before the Gulf of Tonkin incident"; "aggressively questioned the government at a time when the best-known journalists were cheerleaders," etc. Lemann acknowledges Stone's "dazzling mind" and "erudition," and then with faint condescension informs us that "Izzie," as he was known, was an "excellent, if unconventional, reporter."
God knows Lemann is a conventional reporter, so in case you didn't know how fatally left Stone was, Lemann makes sure you won't forget it [. . .]
There will be another entry later today. We're heading to the airport, so this is very rushed. Follow along if you were able. The Times isn't interested in Iraq today except to sell you war, war, war. They'd sell their own mother at this point if they thought it would even eight more months to the illegal war.
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john r. macarthur