Thursday, March 08, 2007

Other Items

The Pentagon is to send an extra 2,200 military police to Iraq to help deal with an anticipated increase in detainees during US forces' latest security crackdown.
The announcement follows the controversial decision by the US president, George Bush, to deploy 21,500 more troops to help the Shia-led government of Nuri al-Maliki.
The increase in military police numbers was requested by the new US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus.
Gen Petraeus said, however, at his first news conference in Baghdad since taking charge of American forces last month, that he saw no immediate need for more US combat troops other than those already announced.
Baghdad has seen encouraging signs of progress despite "sensational attacks", he added, pointing to a fall in sectarian killings and fewer people leaving their homes in recent weeks in the capital.
However, nine US soldiers were killed in two separate roadside bombings this week in spite of a security crackdown by US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad now in its fourth week.
And the increase in American forces has not prevented a spate of attacks in the past three days on Shia pilgrims making their way to the holy city of Kerbala. At least 150 have been killed, including more than 100 outside the capital.

The above, noted by Gareth, is from Mark Tran's "2,200 US military police to join Iraq 'surge'" (Guardian of London). Now the above can be considered an example of reporting. But what happens when you're trying to sell the war? What happens when Elite Fluff Patrol member meets War Pornographer? The New York Times teams up David S. Cloud and Michael Gordon to sell the illegal war yet again and the title is "Buildup in Iraq Needed Into ’08, U.S. General Says."

Selling the war means you fluff and puff and wait until paragraph ten to mention any actual numbers -- something Tran does in the first paragraph. Apparently the hope is that you will have bored everyone long before the ninth paragraph and they'll never grasp (a) Bully Boy lied again and (b) how many service members he wants to add.

Selling the war (and the escalation) means you include statements like this: "The American military is stretched so thin that the last of the brigades is not expected to begin operations until June." For that statement of opinion -- not fact, though it's presented as such -- to be true two things have to be accepted (a) there has been zero progress for Iraqi security forces and (b) for all of 2006 Bully Boy had the American military stretched thin.

Selling the war means you pen this:

In its effort to blunt the Congressional opposition to the new strategy, the Bush administration has cited what it calls early signs of progress, including a reduction in sectarian killings in Baghdad. But military officials say it is far too soon to draw any firm conclusions.

By contrast, note Tran's "however" -- that's called reporting. The "however" is how Tran notes the realities -- the mass killing of Shi'ite pilgrims, the large number of US service members killed. If you're not interested in reporting, if you're just there to sling your ass and peddle the illegal war, you leave that out. Which is why Gordo couldn't be a reporter even if he applied himself (and he can only make a living peddling his ass via cozy relations with the military -- if he had to stand under a street corner, he'd starve).

Now are you seeing much on MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" ((which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML)? No? No surprise.

Yifat Susskind authored the report and this is from her "Iraq's Other War: Violence against Women Under US Occupation" (Common Dreams):

Last week, Houzan Mahmoud* opened her e-mail and found a message from Ansar al-Islam, a notoriously brutal Sunni jihadist group. The message read simply, "we will kill you by the middle of March." Houzan is an outspoken Iraqi feminist. The 34-year-old journalist and women's rights activist believes that hope for Iraq's future depends on building a society based on secular democracy and human rights. For this, she has been condemned to death.
Houzan is hardly alone in this regard. Since the US invaded Iraq, women there have endured a wave of death threats, assassinations, abductions, public beatings, targeted sexual assaults, and public hangings. Much of this violence is systematic-directed by both Sunni and Shiite Islamist militias that mushroomed across Iraq after the US toppled the mostly secular Ba'ath regime. We've heard about the brutality of the Sunni-based groups, but much less about the Shiite militias that are the armed wings of the political parties that the US boosted into power. Their aim is to establish an Islamist theocracy and their social vision requires the subjugation of women and the elimination of anyone with a competing vision for Iraq's future.
The "misery gangs" of these Shiite militias now patrol the streets of Iraq's major cities, attacking women who don't dress or behave to their liking. In many places, they kill women who wear pants or appear in public without a headscarf. In much of Iraq, women are virtually confined to their homes because of the likelihood of being beaten, raped, or abducted in the streets. As the occupying power, the US was obligated by the Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from violence against women. But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women. In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shiite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hope that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency.
Today, we are told that the Shiite militias are a threat, that they have used Iraq's police and security forces to wage a sectarian civil war against Sunnis, and that new formations of radical Shiite groups are attacking US soldiers. Bush's new Baghdad security plan is aimed in part at reigning in the Mahdi Army in particular, though the group has been systematically torturing and killing women for more than three years.

Added: As Erika points out the silence on the report is all the more shocking when "this is the one day when the media tries to make a show of remembering women." Erika's referring to International Women's Day. Eleanor Smeal and Ruth Rosen will be among the voices on KPFA,
and WBAI and KPFK will also be broadcasting (over the airwaves and online) special programming.

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