Monday, November 26, 2007

NYT: Cave offers some truth about the myth of 'The Great Return'

The myth of 'The Great Return' lives on. In today's New York Times, Damien Cave offers what's dubbed a "NEWS ANALYSIS" that's entitled "Pressure for Results: The Politics of Tallying the Number of Iraqis Who Return Home" and there are two big problems. First, the lies have been sold on the front page and Cave's article is buried on A7. Second, the buses are mentioned for the first time and aren't really explained.

On the buses, Iraqi refugees are being bussed in from Syria. After being paid -- which Cave does deal with. It is a tiny trickle and not the huge number that the Iraqi government claims. From the article:

Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq and Iraqis' confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained.

Cave then goes on to try to offer examples of how the figures are wrong. But the figures are a lie and I'm not sure how effective it is noting that the the paper's staff is being counted in the figures (or how you prove that they are) or that violence over the weekend may be linked to some 'returnees.' (In fact, when the lies started, we noted that this would be the excuse for the violence -- it's the 'returnees'!)

The bussing in (as well as the paying off of refugees who have lost their homes) should have been addressed a long time ago. This tiny trickle is the al-Maliki government preying upon the weakest (Cave forgets to note the school year has started and there are problems in Syria in terms of Iraqis getting their children enrolled -- Jordan offered universal schooling). It's why the United Nations issued their statement last week that "it was not yet time to promote, organize or encourage returns." You're sending people into what is likely a death trap (and let's not kid that the press with their tales of 'the great return' and insistance that it was 'safe' haven't done their part to spread the lies).

Cave cites a UN poll of 110 families that have returned which finds 46% returned because they had no money, 25% due to Syria's increased requirements for a visa (no mention is made by Cave of Iraq's Palestinian population caught on the border between Iraq and Syria and living in refugee camps) "and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security." That "only 14 percent" heard the lie somewhere and it was from the press.

The myths and lies of 'the Great Return' existed for international audiences and chief among them were people in the US. It was to shore up al-Maliki at a time when he has done nothing, has nothing to show for his nearly 20 months in (puppet) power and when he was coming under criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Cave notes:

Furthermore, people are still leaving their homes -- 28,017 were internally displaced in October, according to the latest United Nations figures. In all, the United Nations estimates that 2.4 million Iraqis are still internally displaced, with many occupying someone else’s home.

The al-Maliki government has preyed on the weakest and the needy for a public relations stunt. Violence did not go away (even in Baghdad) and recent days should have put an end to the myth of 'safer.' In the US (big or small media), Cave's turned in the best (and only real) article dealing with some of the realities involving the tiny trickle from Syria to Iraq.

If you're not grasping why it's necessary for al-Maliki to invent lies of 'progress,' note this from Paul Tait (Reuters):

Iraqi security forces will not be ready to take control of most of Iraq's 18 provinces by the end of the year as had been hoped, the U.S. general in charge of training the nation's soldiers and police said.

As Tait notes, the previous message/spin had been (in June) that control of fourteen provinces would be handed over by the end of this year but the message today is, "I don't think we'll make that" (Lt.-Gen. James Dubik).

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