The new violence is still far below earlier levels, but it raises questions about the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has seemed desperate in recent weeks to prove that he is a strong leader capable of heading the country again after elections early next year. His mantra has been that he has guided Iraq in a way that makes the nation more secure and unified. This message has in part been designed to appeal to Iraqis who are tired of sectarian violence.
But the destruction of the foreign ministry in particular is a metaphor for the less comfortable truth. Blast walls around it and other government buildings had recently been taken down on al-Maliki's instructions. He wanted to prove how secure the capital was, and how capable Iraqi forces are. Had he based his actions on reality, not wishful thinking, many lives could have been saved. Groups still bent on tearing Iraq apart would not have had such an easy target.
The above is from USA Today's editorial "Iraq's troubling turn" about the increased levels of violence and specifically Wednesday's attacks in Baghdad which claimed at least 101 lives. In the New York Times, Steven Lee Myers' "Iraq Military Broadcasts Confession on Bombing" is the way the New York Times likes to do it, LIE to the readers. They really haven't been concerned about Nouri's government offering for-show confessions on TV (and for minor crimes, say "sexuality," the crimes are a form of 'reality' TV in Iraq). They haven't felt the need to tell their readers about it and they're pleased as punch to run with whatever they see on their TV screens. Who are the real pajama bloggers?
Real news outlets are less quick to swallow. Reuters headlined their story "Iraq shows video it says is confession of bomber." BBC goes with "Iraqi 'bomber confession' aired." The New York Times, eager to become state run media, never questions only repeats. So it offers: "In brief, edited excerpts of videotaped remarks, the man, identified as Wisam Ali Khazim Ibrahim, calmly explained how he had organized one of the two bombings, which killed almost 100 people on Wednesday and wounded hundreds more." In the best Judy Miller style, it waits until paragraph five to point out that the 'testimony' cannot "be confirmed independently".
Big surprise, the likely forced confession fingers Ba'athists (in Syria!!!!) for the attack. But here's the thing, if the confession was genuine, wasn't it stupid to air it?
Iraq's not announced any other ringleaders and presumably were the 'confessor' telling the truth and doing so of his own accord, he would have supplied the names of all involved. Or are we not supposed to notice that?
So shouldn't the 'confession' have been kept under wraps until after the Iraqi government announced a series of arrests?
As far as confessions go, it's as underwhelming as St. Augustine's. But maybe there's something in it for someone. Myself, I'll rank Laura Nyro's "The Confession" (from her Eli & The Thirteen Confessions) far higher:
Would you love to love me baby?
I would love to love you baby now
Would you love to love me baby?
I would love to love you baby now
I keep hearin' mother cryin'
I keep hearin' daddy through his grave
Little girl, of all the daughters
You were born a woman
Not a slave
Oh I hate my winsome lover
Tell him I've had others
At my breast
But tell him he held my heart
And only now am I a virgin
Love my love thing
Love is surely gospel
For those who have forgotten, Steven Lee Myers always loves these forced confessions and always runs with them. You get the feeling he misses the Salem Witch Trials if not the Inquisition.
Lucky for Steven Lee Myers and ratings, Qassim Atta has promised that the confessions of the previously arrested 'cell' will be on TV later this week. (Liz Sly and Saif Hameed reported on the arrests of the 'cell' for the Los Angeles Times.) Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) opines:
If these attacks had taken place in Europe, then the prime minister and his entire government may have presented their resignation to the national parliament. In this case, it is unclear whether Maliki and his team will be forced to resign, although many are calling on Defense Minister Abdul Qadir Obeidi, Interior Minister Jawad Boulani and National Security Minister Shirwan Waili, along with the commander of Baghdad Security, to step down.
Lawmakers feel that with former US president George W Bush no longer breathing down their neck, they have more room to maneuver and that officials brought to power in the first place by the United States can be ousted. There is a general feeling that Maliki has lost the US umbrella that has protected him since 2006, and is more vulnerable today than ever.
Iran's Fars News Agency blames the US occupation for the violence. Meanwhile Alsumaria reports, "In a meeting with ministers, MPs, scholars and tribal Sheikhs, Prime Minister Al Maliki noted that some politicians cashing on Iraq attacks saps national interest of the country." Cashing in? On security? Nouri wants to play that card? Really? Who rushed to take credit for security previously? I believe that was Nouri. Now that the situation is different, suddenly he's concerned that some might make political hay out of 'security'. Now he's concerned. Poor Nouri. Ernesto Londono reports at the Washington Post that a Shi'ite coalition of politcal parties does not include Nouri. Apparently, they didn't want him to play in their reindeer games. This was made clear when they refused to promise that they'd re-appoint Nouri as Prime Minister should they secure the needed majority in the January 2010 elections. The New York Times repeately fails to grasp that last part: the prime minister is not elected by the people. Londono reports that the new coalition is thought to have closer ties with Iran.
Turning to US politicians, John J. Monahan (Worcester Telegram & Gazette) reports on US House Rep James McGovern:
Mr. McGovern visited Iraq in March 2005. At that time he concluded U.S. military operations had fueled the insurgency that emerged after initial success in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, as terrorists associated with al-Qaida and other organizations used the threat of an extended U.S. presence for recruitment purposes.
While there is a timetable in place to withdraw more than half of the U.S. troops from Iraq by next summer, Mr. McGovern said, "They are talking about leaving a pretty significant force behind and I’m worried about that."
He quoted Vietnam-era president Lyndon B. Johnson's complaint that it is easy to get into a war and "hard as hell to get out” of one. "We still have 30,000 troops in Korea," Mr. McGovern noted. "We are going to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq. How do we sustain that?" he asked. "I think we need to get out of Iraq and let them run their own country."
Meanwhile Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) files a major report on Iraqi refugees who make it to the United States and what they find:
Each morning, Avan sets out a typical Iraqi breakfast of flatbread, cheese and pickles. Although she has been in the U.S. for months, her watch remains on Iraqi time.
"When I look at my clock, I remember my family," she said in halting English. "I think about where they are going now, what are they doing."
Money remains a nagging worry. Anwer pores over job listings and has applied at several neighborhood grocery stores. But because of the economy, overqualified Americans are lining up for every vacancy.
Until last fall, about 80% of refugees assisted by the IRC found jobs within six months. Now it's less than 50%, according to the group, which last year resettled 9,209 refugees from around the world.
The Iraqis are some of the most educated and skilled refugees to come here, aid workers say. Used to a middle-class life, many hope to work as doctors, lawyers or accountants. But recertification is costly and time-consuming. So they are advised to at first pursue more typical refugee work as shop attendants and cleaners.
Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Speaks to the VFW" went up yesterday as did Kat's "Kat's Korner: John Fogerty rushes to country-lite" which is Kat's latest album review.
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