Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uninformed or misinformed?

A common sentiment from nearly three dozen interviews with young Iraqis around the country recently is a persistent disenchantment with both their political leaders and the way democracy has played out here. "The youth is the excluded class in the Iraqi community," said Swash Ahmed, a 19-year-old law student in Kirkuk. "So they’ve started to unify through Facebook or the Internet or through demonstrations and evenings in cafes, symposiums and in universities. But they don’t have power."

The above is from Tim Arango's "Rise of Iraq Youths Stunted by Political Elites" (New York Times). Baghdad and Kirkuk have especially seen student-led protests. Le Monde has done the best job profiling these young protesters. In the US, until this morning, only the Washington Post had even reported on them in any significant manner.

Iraq is a country with a young population. The median age in Iraq is 20.9 years-old. (That's 2011 figures -- prior it was 19.7.) Nouri al-Maliki turns 61-years-old this June (we are aware he dies the bits of hair he has left, right?).Not only is it difficult to see him as representative for that reason, it's also difficult when you consider that he's spent more years out of Iraq (exile) than what is the median age in Iraq. He does not represent the people of Iraq in any sense of the word.

Caleb T. Maupin (Workers World) is one or the other. Panning for gold from his latest:

And it should be rather easy for the youth protests to get attention but the reality is that either people don't care or they're whores for Moqtada al-Sadr.
On April 9, eight years after this stage-managed rally, the streets of Baghdad were filled with students, youth, workers and others from all across Iraq. Their message was very different from the one in 2003.
This year's protest began on April 8 when a crowd of 300 gathered in a square in Baghdad to protest the crimes of the U.S. occupiers, as well as the economic devastation following the U.S. invasion. According to CNN, this crowd has gathered every Friday since Feb. 25 to protest the disappearance of health care, employment and the other economic benefits that existed under the Ba'athist government. These benefits have been replaced by the bullets of U.S. troops and the mercenaries who protect the oil, which has been stolen to benefit imperialist corporations.
This April 8 the crowd grew to 2,000 people, who marched holding placards with names of dead relatives and demanding an end to the occupation. (CNN World, April 8)

The bulk of the article is sticky copy for Moqtada al-Sadr. Moqtada's cult of personality were media intensive in Baghad -- the foreign media center of Iraq -- and, as a result, a local event was treated as a national one. In addition, there's also the fact that the two movements have nothing to do with each other. al-Sadr's cult has avoided participating in all other protests. Why? Moqtada long ago told them not to, told them to give Nouri 100 days. The uneducated Shi'ite thugs living in the slum of Sadr City and dependent upon Moqtada's largess (true of those in Basra as well) do as they're told. They're not leading a thing and a cult is never a movement.

By contrast, the youth of Iraq have been leaders of the protest movements in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul. They are organized. They have withstood criticism from the likes of Moqtada and other Shi'ite thugs (including Nouri) who have attempted to paint their protests as the work of Ba'athists and terrorists. There is no reason to group this movement in with Moqtada al-Sadr unless someone is a whore for Moqtada or really uninformed of the events taking place in Iraq.

You really have to be stupid to confuse Moqtada's cult with actual protests. But stupidity is all around. It can be found, for example, on the editorial board of the Pensacola News Journal which argues, "Indefinitely maintaining several thousand combat-capable troops in Iraq, as the Pentagon is mulling, would cost billions of more (borrowed) dollars. Will Iraq pay for it? It seems unlikely for a country that still can't provide adequate electricity or clean water, or field military and police forces competent enough to provide security." This site's position has always been: Out of Iraq NOW! But that doesn't mean I look the other way when people can't get their facts right.

The Pentagon?

I'm so tired of the inability to call out Barack Obama. If Barack disagreed with the Pentagon, Gates would be told to stop talking about leaving and hand over his resignation immediately. That's reality.

There are other realities that I would not be surprised if the average person didn't know but I would expect an editorial board weighing in on Iraq to be aware of.

Is James Jeffrey in the Pentagon?

Then why are they unaware of his statements -- his public statements in testimony to Congress -- on this issue? Oh, that's right, they couldn't be bothered with covering it in real time. Having sat through his testimony to two Congressional bodies in the last six months, I am aware of his public position. I guess to uninformed editorial boards just now attempting to catch up, this is "news." Just like they missed Joe Biden's statements in 2010, Philip J. Crowley's statements, . . . All of the 2010 statements.

Here's some more reality the uninformed and misinformed keep missing. Barack always maintained that US forces could stay longer in Iraq. He did so to the New York Times. The Cult of St. Barack wanted to ignore that during the primaries but that didn't make it not happen. What did he say then? It's what he's said repeatedly since? He'd listen to the commanders on the ground.

They heard that -- even if editorial boards didn't. And the reaction from the uninformed is rather hilarious. The same group was not at all bothered when Gen David Petraeus was calling out US civilians. But now they're convinced there's a war against Bambi being fought by the US military.

The military's conclusions regarding Iraq are no different than the National Security Agency. Can so many editorial boards be this stupid? (We've called out another this week?) Or is this an attempt to sell something? The same way the US public was sold the illegal war by the press? If it is a hard-sell, they're obviously trying to continue the illegal war and, at the same time, trying to minimize any fall out for Barack over it.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "Students and Faculty Occupy a Building in Protest at California State University East Bay" (Political Affairs):

HAYWARD, CA 4/13/11 -- Students and faculty at California State University, East Bay, marched to the administration building on the campus and then occupied the building in protest. Organized by Students for a Quality Education and the California Faculty Association, the civil disobedience protested budget cuts and fee increases for students, and cutbacks on staff and benefits, while administrators' salaries are increased.
The building occupation demanded the resignation of CSU Chancellor Chuck Reed, and a list of other demands discussed and adopted during the occupation. Similar building occupations took place on other campuses. Some students wore face paint with scars symbolizing the painful slashing impact of budget cuts.
Before the march and building occupation, students and faculty organized a "People's University." Workshops talked about the attack on education and the rights of public workers, especially teachers, throughout the U.S., as well as campus issues that included lack of childcare, parking and student services. Other SQE demands included democratizing the state university's board of trustees, budget transparency, fair treatment for unions and workers, and a recommitment to the California Master Plan for Higher Education.
According to the California Faculty Association, "the California State University has lost some $1 billion, let go more than 3000 faculty, slashed course offerings and tripled student fees. Tens of thousands of eligible students have been turned away or given up because of rising costs and inability to get necessary classes."

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