Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marc Santora misses the basics

Marc Santora offers "Iraq Arrests 2 Sunni Leaders, Raising Fears of Violence" in today's New York Times and Santora's not a bad reporter most of the time (and has had some strong moments) but the paper's asking a lot for readers to take anything with his byline today seriously.

Por que?

Santora 'reports':

Mr. Maliki could be rewarded for those gains when voters go to the polls this winter to choose a new Parliament and prime minister.
An Iraiq federal court, on Monday, set a date of Jan. 30 for national elections. It will be the first time voters have the opportunity to select a new Parliament since 2005, when Mr. Maliki came to power.

Do you see the problems?

One, unless there's been a change in the Iraqi Constitution, the citizens do not "choose" the prime minister. The Parliament does. Two, "Mr. Maliki came to power" in 2006, not 2005. And only after the US nixed the Parliament's original choice.

Santora's reporting about targeting Sahwa members in Diyala Province with two arrested Monday: Sheik Riyadh al-Mujami and Jabbar al-Kharzaji. That part may or may not be completely accurate. But when the basics, such as how the prime minister is chosen and when al-Maliki was chosen, aren't there, the whole report's called into question.

Monday, May 11th, Sgt John M. Russell appears to have shot five US service members in Baghdad at a stress clinic. The five killed were Charles K. Springle, Michael Edward Yates, Christian Bueno-Galdos, Matthew Houseal and Jacob Barton. Richard Tompkins (UPI) reports that Russell is now at camp Arifjan in Kuwait "for futher questioning and legal processing." Tompkins notes Russell has been "charged with five counts of murder and one of aggravated assault."

Ernesto Londono's "Plunging Oil Prices Force Iraq to Cut Security Jobs" (Washington Post) covers the 'economic downturn' for Iraq and potential concerns that result. This one is probably the most telling:

U.S. officials say they fear the budget crunch will prevent the Iraqi government from keeping billions of dollars' worth of U.S.-donated equipment in working condition, representing a potentially colossal loss for a key American investment.

Not a lot of sympathy for Iraq's corrupt government which has spent billions in the last month on weapons. IRIN reports on more apparent corruption:

A new survey by the Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation of 120,000 families which had qualified for state food handouts in 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, found that 18 percent of families had not received the nine-item food ration for 13 months; 31.5 percent for 7-12 months; 14.5 percent for 4-6 months; 22 percent for 2-3 months and 14.5 percent for one month.
The survey also revealed concerns about the quality of food items: 16 percent of the surveyed families said the ration items in April were bad, 45 percent said they acceptable, while 29 percent said they were good.
Top on the list of bad items was tea, followed by rice, flour and sugar, the survey found.

Meanwhile Alsumaria reports, "Around 30 Iraqi asylum seekers who sought refugee in a church in Copenhagen moved on Sunday to another church in a district crowded by Iraqi refugees in protest to an agreement reached last Thursday between Denmark and Iraq to repatriate refugees whom asylum applications were rejected."

Mia notes Chris Hedges' "The Disease of Permanent War" (Information Clearing House):

The embrace by any society of permanent war is a parasite that devours the heart and soul of a nation. Permanent war extinguishes liberal, democratic movements. It turns culture into nationalist cant. It degrades and corrupts education and the media, and wrecks the economy. The liberal, democratic forces, tasked with maintaining an open society, become impotent. The collapse of liberalism, whether in imperial Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Weimar Germany, ushers in an age of moral nihilism. This moral nihilism comes is many colors and hues. It rants and thunders in a variety of slogans, languages and ideologies. It can manifest itself in fascist salutes, communist show trials or Christian crusades. It is, at its core, all the same. It is the crude, terrifying tirade of mediocrities who find their identities and power in the perpetuation of permanent war.
It was a decline into permanent war, not Islam, which killed the liberal, democratic movements in the Arab world, ones that held great promise in the early part of the 20th century in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. It is a state of permanent war that is finishing off the liberal traditions in Israel and the United States. The moral and intellectual trolls-the Dick Cheneys, the Avigdor Liebermans, the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads - personify the moral nihilism of perpetual war. They manipulate fear and paranoia. They abolish civil liberties in the name of national security. They crush legitimate dissent. They bilk state treasuries. They stoke racism.
"War," Randolf Bourne commented acidly, "is the health of the state."
In "Pentagon Capitalism" Seymour Mellman described the defense industry as viral. Defense and military industries in permanent war, he wrote, trash economies. They are able to upend priorities. They redirect government expenditures towards their huge military projects and starve domestic investment in the name of national security. We produce sophisticated fighter jets, while Boeing is unable to finish its new commercial plane on schedule and our automotive industry goes bankrupt. We sink money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies to fight global warming. Universities are flooded with defense-related cash and grants, and struggle to find money for environmental studies. This is the disease of permanent war.

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the washington post
ernesto londono

chris hedges