Sunday, August 23, 2015


Emma Sky spoke with Kevin Sylvester (CBC's The Sunday Edition) about her book The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq:

But the biggest missed opportunity happened following the first national elections in 2010, when the sitting Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, failed to gain a majority.

"Iraqis had become convinced that politics, not violence, was the way forward." she says. "All the various groups came out to vote, and the bloc that won ran on a platform of 'no to sectarianism.'"
Sky believes this presented an opportunity to oust Nouri al-Maliki, a man who was consolidating his own power base, in favour of a true - or at least fledgling - democracy.
"But it was a close result. Maliki refused to accept the results," she said. 
The U.S. decided that backing al-Maliki, even with his faults, was the best chance for stability. This wasn't something the military supported.
"The ambassador at the time, Chris Hill, had no experience of Iraq and didn't really want to be there."

Sky writes that Hill spent most of his time trying to make the embassy in Baghdad "normal." He even brought in rolls of sod to make a lawn where he could practise lacrosse.

It was one of the most important moments in Iraq since the 2003 invasion started.

And yet it's the incident so few people know of.

Why is that?

Emma Sky's written a serious book.

It's the kind that supposed to get you booked on public affairs programs.

And is there any more high profile public affairs program than Charlie Rose's ridiculous and ongoing show?

The book came out in April but still no Charlie Rose appearance.

He has five hours on PBS to fill each week.

It would be strange unless you remembered that the last book that told the truth about the importance of 2010 was also ignored by Rose.

As Ava and I noted in 2012's "TV: Media continued fail:"

Gwen Ifill doesn't know a damn thing about foreign policy so asking her to moderate the segment was laughable.  Equally laughable was not going with a NewsHour foreign policy guest for the segment.

In fact, we're thinking of one in particular: Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times.

Gordon's appeared multiple times on The NewsHour.  Strangely, he wasn't booked for the segment on foreign policy last week.

Why would that be?

If you're wondering, he's not suddenly press shy.  To the contrary, he has a new book to sell, one he co-wrote with Bernard E. Trainor, The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. The book came out Tuesday.

Generally, that means you can expect to see and hear Gordon all over PBS and NPR. Strangely, that has not been the case.  No NPR coverage last week of the book.  No come on The NewsHour for a discussion.  Frontline loved to have him on in the past but now now.  Charlie Rose?  He has appeared 12 times in the last ten years on Rose's PBS and Coca Cola program.  But he was no where to be found last week.

Did Gordon show up at the PBS office party loaded on booze with little Gordon hanging out of his fly?

No, he did something far worse than that.

He dared to criticize Barack -- the ultimate media faux pas.  From  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

And that, boys and girls, is how you get vanished by PBS and NPR.

The NewsHour has had Sky on to discuss the book and Iraq, to their credit.  But Charlie Rose feels like he'll lose all his hagged out celebrity 'friends' (horse faced Sarah Jessica Parker among them) were he to allow what the White House did in 2010 to be discussed on his cheesy ass program.

(Charlie Rose is the only one who thinks Sarah Jessica Parker is still a celebrity.)

By such factors are the decisions made about what America will or will not see on so-called public affairs programming.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4497.

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