Sunday, August 17, 2014

Selling war?

Tracey Shelton (Global Post) reports:

For the Christians now in Erbil, the statement won’t offer much comfort. They want to leave Iraq for good. And they fear the international community has forgotten them.
For these families, displacement and violence is nothing new. This is the latest, albeit the most extreme, in a long line of threats to their minority group here in Iraq. But this time they say enough is enough. IS has now pushed many of these families, once determined not to leave their homeland, to call for migration.
“No more Iraq!" shouted one man outside St. Joseph's.
“We have nothing here anymore. We are homeless and penniless. Iraq is over for us. We do not trust this country,” said another.

What's being done to the Iraqi Christians is horrific and has been going on for years now.  Each year seems to bring a new group targeting them.

Deborah Amos (NPR) has probably done a better job of documenting that than any other reporter and you can refer to her Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East.  For the most part, they are ignored.

Carol Hunt (Irish Independent) writes:

We can be assured it's not just a humanitarian problem but also a political and security crisis when Barack Obama and David Cameron are forced to interrupt their holiday plans.
"Iraq," to quote one commentator, "is a bloody mess". Meanwhile, Europe is finally facing up to the escalating horrors - and dangers - of what is happening in Northern Iraq.
Last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan attended an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, which discussed the horrific brutalities being perpetuated in Iraq on innocent men, women and children by the Jihadi group now known throughout the world as IS (Islamic State).
"There are innocent men being shot and killed, women are being raped and sold into slavery," said Mr Flanagan, who was clearly shocked at what he had heard discussed at the 
extraordinary meeting, which also covered the 
situations in Syria, Gaza, Ukraine and Libya.

The Yazidis are targeted.  To the degree that is stated above?  Maybe, maybe not.

But the sensationalism in reporting on their plight is turning off a number of people who would otherwise be sympathetic.  The failure of the media to, for example, report on Iraqi Christians and the Yazidis is puzzling.

Is it a correct all?

IS marches into and takes over a town and the Yazidi are the first targeted, then the Christians.  But in Mosul and other places, the media looked the other way when it was the Yazidi being targeted and only expressed concern when it was the Christians.

So this emphasis on the Yazidis today might be an attempt at a corrective.

It might also be what many fear: An attempt to sell war.

I think Barack earned some deserved applause for his air drop of food and water to the Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar.  And, as I said before this week, applause can be addictive and people can repeat the same action that got applauded in hopes that they'll receive the same warm reception -- it's what keeps so many performers on the oldies circuit.

As Cher sings in "My Favorite Scars:"

Risk it all
If you ain't living you're surviving
Tell me why you tip your toes when you could dive in

So there doesn't have to be any grand conspiracy here.

It can be as simple as the news media attempting to self-correct having ignored the plight of the Yazidis in July and Barack seeking the same applause from earlier.

But it can also be an attempt to use the Yazidis to sell . . .


War's never stopped in Iraq.

So maybe we word it the Yazidis can be used in an attempt to sell increased US involvement in the ongoing war?

Damien Gayle and Sophie Jane Evans (Daily Mail) offer:

Islamic State militants today 'massacred' more than 300 Yazidi men - just one day after allegedly killing 82 others who refused to convert to Islam.
The insurgents stormed into the small village of Kocho in northern Iraq, where they spent five days trying to persuade villagers to take up their religion, local officials said.
When they refused, 82 male members of the ancient sect were reportedly rounded up and shot dead yesterday, while more than 100 women and girls were kidnapped.
And today, a further 312 Yazidis were allegedly murdered and their families abducted.

 Did the above happen?  In full?  Only partly?

We don't know.

But if it didn't happen -- in full or even in part -- what we do know is the Yazidis don't have a p.r. office. 

The Yazidis have been under assault.

If the assault has been or is being inflated, that's not on the Yazidis.  They are not part of the war machine.

BBC News notes UK PM David Cameron's latest 'action':

The PM, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said a "humanitarian response" to IS was not enough and a "firm security response" was needed. 
It comes as Church leaders expressed concern that the UK had no "coherent" approach to tackling Islamic extremism.

It's things like that which make people suspicious -- when government officials attempt to use an event or crisis to argue for more war ("firm security response").

Or take this press release from CENTCOM:

August 16, 2014
Release #20140818

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 16, 2014 - U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq Saturday (Iraq time), with a mix of fighter and remotely piloted aircraft successfully conducting airstrikes near Irbil and the Mosul Dam.
U.S. Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect U.S. personnel and facilities.
The nine airstrikes conducted thus far destroyed or damaged four armored personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armored vehicle.
All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

What does that have to do with Yazidis or Christians or Americans -- Barack declared strikes would continue to protect American personnel or the Yazidis.

That raises eyebrows and should.

Shashank Bengall, David S. Cloud and Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Anges Times)  call the bombings "a significant expansion of the air campaign in Iraq."

So while there's every reason to be skeptical of numbers tossed around and of events that can't be backed up (either just for now or can't be backed up ever), there's no reason to attack the Yazidis or to belittle them.  They're not trying to harm anyone and they are being persecuted -- part of an ongoing persecution they've faced throughout the war.

Mocking them and belittling them may make you feel good but it also makes you look like an ass, like the Andrew Dice Clay of the antiwar set.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, McClatchy Newspapers, Ms. magazine's blog, On the Edge and On the Wilder Side -- updated today:


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