Friday, January 02, 2009

Truce by press fiat!

"The war has ended," said Heidar al-Abboudi, a street merchant.
The war in Iraq is indeed over, at least the conflict as it was understood during its first five years: insurgency, communal cleansing, gangland turf battles and an anarchic, often futile quest to survive. In other words, civil war -- though civil war was always too tidy a term for it. The entropy, for now at least, has run its course. So have many of the forces the United States so dangerously unleashed with its 2003 invasion, turning Iraq into an atomized, fractured land seized by a paroxysm of brutality. In that Iraq, the Americans were the final arbiter and, as a result, deprived anything they left behind of legitimacy.
Not to say that there is peace in Iraq. As many people are killed today as on any day in 2003 and 2004. Nor is there victory. For any Iraqi, the word, translated into Arabic, draws a dumbfounded look. Victory for whom? Certainly not the tens of thousands of civilians -- perhaps many more -- killed in the frenzied clashes of those once inchoate forces.
Rather, it is the day after.

The above is from Anthony Shadid's "In Iraq, the Day After" (Washington Post). Truce by press fiat, apparently?

Shadid, who can't help being an amalgam of three different Merle Haggard songs, appears to be gunning for a new title: Queen of the False Analogies.

Where the excerpt stops, Shadid wants to talk Lebanon and this and that. Can someone slap him and yell, "Snap out of it!"?

Lebanon is nothing like the situation in Iraq.

Nor is the illegal war over.

It is a new phase. The White House has armed and funded and rewarded a thug (al-Maliki) who is attempting to consolidate his power and there will be huge struggles (chaos and violence) as a result. That didn't happen with Lebanon and that's not 'crazy' talk. It's Senate on Foreign Relations talk and no one wanted to heed that April warning.

We were there that week for the Davy & Ryan Variety Hour. The press followed them as if it were a wolf pack. And, by the end of the week, when Petraeus and Crocker had left, the press followed suit. One of the most important Senate hearings of the week, one of the most important hearings on Iraq, got completely ignored by the press.

And, again, that's not 'crazy' talk, it's not 'conspiracy' talk. It's the statements of the then-chair. You might have heard of him: Joe Biden. Incoming vice pesident? Ring a bell?

Apparently the Washington Post was not delivered in Yusufiya today. That town outside of Baghdad is in the news this morning.

Reuters reports tribal Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Salih was entertaining a group of "Sunni Arab tribal leaders" for lunch when a bomber arrived and detonated his or her bomb -- killing his/herself and wounding somewhere between 42 and 100 people (depending on the source). And the death toll? BBC reports at least 30 dead.

But those 30 can take comfort in the fact that they died AFTER the war was over and that they died in a place just like Lebanon.

Bad reporting and false analogies will not end the illegal war. If we wanted to be really cruel we could do a hilarious riff on the grad student who only read one 'classic' from the canon and attempts to work that into every discussion repeatedly -- whether it applies or not. If we wanted to be really cruel, you understand.

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