Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Grab a life preserve, huge waves of Operation Happy Talk still crashing

Iraqi politicians expressed dismay Tuesday that the top two American officials based here offered little criticism of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki during their two days of testimony before Congress, even though Maliki's government has made little progress toward national reconciliation.
Some called the testimony by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. David Petraeus another U.S. blunder and wondered why the two didn't offer the same strong criticism of Maliki's government in Washington that they'd made recently in Iraq.
"They wrote something that sticks to the U.S. administration policy," independent Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman said. "The surge has worked, but it is all temporary . . . without some sort of reconciliation. We don't see any reconciliation."
Bassem Sharif al Hajeemi, a member of parliament from Fadhila, a Shiite Muslim party that left the government in March, said he was disappointed that Crocker and Petraeus continued to support the Maliki government.
"There are many things that the U.S. has done wrong in Iraq, and one or two years later they say, 'That was a mistake,' " Hajeemi said. "This is another wrong."

The above is from Leila Fadel's "U.S. support for Maliki dismays Iraqi opposition" (McClatchy Newspapers). Oh yeah, Iraq. Far beyond the waves of Operation Happy Talk lapping around in DC and being splashed on the world via the media coverage, there's Iraq. Where Reuters reports another huge robbery took place today: "Gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms stopped bank employees driving in two vehicles and stole around $55 million in southern Baghdad, police said."


In June we saw Pace and Gates engage in the spin and the waves of Operation Happy Talk go in and out like the tide but nothing ever changes the realities of life in Iraq. Nor does the spin of an 'announcement' (live address to the nation!) by the Bully Boy that there will be a drop in the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq qualify as "news" or a "surprise." The escalation was never to go past April 2008. Short of a draft or record recruiting levels, it couldn't. This was all known, this was all discussed publicly (including by US military flacks in Iraq). But it's being presented as 'news' and a 'development.' It's neither. But maybe when you're going to have to put Bully Boy on the air -- in primetime -- and lose out on advertising revenue (on spots already sold), it's in your interest to spin it as 'news'? Another example of the way news is 'shaped' before being served can be found in this AP paragraph:

Democrats are in a box on the Iraq war debate, lacking the votes to pass legislation ordering troops home by spring but tied to a support base that wants nothing less.

The only box is the one they constructed themselves. Just another example of what Norman Solomon was pointing out yesterday on KPFK's Uprising when he explained the way the press continues to present avenues for Congress as much more limited than they are and how they reduce Iraq to whether or not the escalation is working while repeatedly avoiding the issue of the legality of the Iraq War.

With all the attention the press is giving the spin (while passing it off as reality or a close approximate), they continue to speak in terms of Sunni and Shia as though no one else remains in or was ever in Iraq. Reuters notes the new report from Minority Rights Group International in "Iraq's minorities face terrible choice:"

What about Mandaeans, followers of John the Baptist, whose faith is pre-Christian? They are unable to protect themselves as others in Iraq have been forced to, because their faith forbids them to take up arms.
Yazidis too are under attack. Their figure of worship is Maluk Ta'us, the fallen angel - the Yazidis believe he was forgiven by God. Their faith has led to them being accused of "devil worship" and they are being slaughtered for their beliefs. Both the Mandaeans and Yazidis have had fatwas issued against them.
Other minorities include BahA¡'A­s, Faili Kurds, Jews, Palestinians, Shabaks and Turkomans. Together they make up 10 percent of Iraq's population.

Beginning this Friday most PBS stations will begin houring an hour long edition of NOW with David Brancaccio:

"Third Time Around" (NOW #337)
On the heels of a much-anticipated progress report in Washington, NOW travels to Iraq for an exclusive, hard look at the war through the eyes of the U.S. men and women fighting an elusive enemy that prefers roadside bombs to pitched battles. We first met the Third Infantry's First Brigade from Georgia's Ft. Stewart in January, only weeks before they headed back to Iraq for the third deployment in four years. They left behind newborn babies, young children, fiancées and wives. As the long months of the "surge" unfold, we see them fighting in the country's volatile Anbar province, while back at home their newborns become toddlers, and birthdays and anniversaries come and go. "I think my biggest hope for this next year is just for it to go quickly and smoothly. I don't want anything major to happen to any of my guys or the rest of the squad or platoon," Soldier Michael Murphy tells NOW. "My biggest concern is just to make it home with ten fingers and toes."What are the personal and political costs of constant redeployment? Is the war effort at a turning point, or a breaking point? "Do American soldiers think that this is a war worth fighting? Do they think this is a war we can win?" Andrew Krepenevich, a former army officer who now runs a Washington think tank told NOW. "In a sense, you're battling not only for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, but the heart and mind of the American soldier.""Third Time Around", an hour long NOW special, airs Friday, September 14. (Check local listings).
* A preview of the September 14 special:
* The original NOW episode where we first meet the soldiers:
* A web-exclusive video extension featuring Ft. Stewart soldiers and their spouses:

But for those needing something a little softer in their alleged news, flip over to NBC where a grinning Meredith declared on Today, "Iran's certainly looming on the horizon." (Yes, Matt Lauer is headed for Iran.) Maybe she was grinning to make up for the scowling Condi?

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