Friday, August 17, 2007

al-Maliki places a low value on Iraqi life and Damien Cave pretends not to notice

In this morning's New York Times, Damien Cave contributes "While Kurds Count Bodies, Iraqi Leaders Try to Bridge Their Divide" and there is so much that goes unstated that to qualify it as merely 'bad' is an understatement. It's so bad that it's difficult to pick a starting point in noting the lows. Cave, of course, was the paper's filer on the Tuesday bombings in northern Iraq that were the deadliest since the start of the illegal war. So let's start with the victims since he's made it a point do a poor job there already.

Cave informs readers, "Security officials near Qahtaniya, where the explosions killed at least 250 people Tuesday night, said plans were being made for the Iraqi government to pay 2 million Iraqi dinars, about $1,600, to the family of each person killed in the blasts. " Now that the figure is insulting should be rather obvious.

The US equivalent of $1600 is an insulting figure even before context is included but, Cave being Cave, context never gets included.

So before the impression sets in that the puppet Nouri al-Maliki doesn't have the dough to toss around let's look at the cash he was tossing around last year. In July of 2006, al-Maliki visited the US and addressed Congress with a speech that ignored the victims of the chaos and the violence in Iraq but one in which he did not his concern for victims in another country (Lebanon) and the figure (US figure) he pledged to send that region was?

$35 million dollars. Dropping back to July 27, 2006:

Okay, he's committed to sending $35 million to Hizbollah (which might be off now judging by yesterday's remarks by Iraq's foreign minister). Where does Iraq find $35 million to donate to anyone? Forget the fact that US citiziens are footing a $300 billion bill currently on Iraq alone, he doesn't have $35 million in aid to share -- a point Zernike could have made if her only interest wasn't corpses. For those who've missed it, the UN has highlighted the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, they've noted the vast increase in malnutrition. Charity may start at home and stays there when your kids are starving. When you're kids are starving, you don't cough up the big bucks to hand over to someone else.
So here's what happened, al-Maliki came to the Congress and gave a speech where he slammed the so-called 'cut and run' option -- despite the fact that cut-and-run is what saved his own butt. If he hadn't 'cut and run,' he'd be dead by now. So it's okay for him, it's just not okay for American women and men. He went on to criticize the US for not doing enough in his mind during 1991's invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that he wasn't in Iraq. If it mattered so damn much to him, maybe he shouldn't have been living in Iran and Syria? If fighting was so important to him, maybe he should have stayed in Iraq? Since he didn't, maybe the last thing he's entitled to is to lecture about the 1991 invasion not doing 'enough'?
And maybe it's not a good idea to hit up another country for money while you're prepared to give $35 million in aid?

From the same period, you can also see Arianna Huffington's "Maliki's Testy Visit: Is This What Our Troops Are Dying For?" (The Huffington Post). So the Iraqis who died from Tuesday's bombings will each be worth the US equivalent of $1600 to their families but in the summer of 2006 he could proudly announce he was sending the US equivalent of $35 million dollars to another country. That's a detail that can really enhance readers' understanding so, no surprise, it's not one you'll find in Cave's article.

al-Maliki can send $35 million dollars out of the country but thinks $1600 is an acceptable amount to pay the families for each loved one they lost.

When the country's own leader signals their lives are cheap, is it any wonder that the chaos and violence continues?

And when Cave can't include any perspective for readers on that subject, what good is he?

He's 'good' at repeating the US government spin. Which he does with regards to the alliance al-Maliki's formed which shuts out the Sunnis. Cave could note that this violates the White House endorsed, Congressionally mandate 'benchmarks' two and sixteen. With Petreaus set to deliver some form of a 'report' to Congress on September 15th, Cave could note the realities of the benchmarks. But he doesn't. He could attempt to get analysis on the situation from independent voices, but he doesn't. He mentions "Western" and then runs with an unnamed US official to comment on al-Maliki's alliance and, wouldn't you know, it's too soon to tell. The talking point that was all over the place yesterday is in Cave's report today. From Nermeen Al-Mufti's "Al-Maliki's days are numbered" (Al Ahram):

A source close to Al-Maliki said that the prime minister may have to appoint Sunni ministers in order to keep the government going. His other option would be to form a government of parliamentary majority, which would include the Unified Iraqi Alliance, the Kurdistan Alliance, and independent parliamentarians.
Political analyst Alaa Al-Hodeithi voiced fears that a government of parliamentary majority may give Kurdish leaders a chance to impose their conditions on Al-Maliki. The Kurds want a referendum on Kirkuk before the end of the year, something that other Iraqis, especially the Turkmen, oppose.

So the article's of no use to anyone outside the US government. (He has served them valiently -- even while failing as a journalist.) Lloyd highlights Joshua Partlow's "Iraqi Shiites, Kurds Announce New Political Alliance" (Washington Post) and we'll note the following from the article:

For weeks, politicians have discussed an alliance among the four leading Shiite and Kurdish parties, with the hope that marginalized Sunni factions would join the coalition. But politicians from the largest Sunni bloc in parliament said they would remain apart from the new group, asserting that the ruling Shiites still have not met their demands for greater participation. The Sunnis' stance effectively undermines the coalition's chances of breaking the political gridlock that has frustrated U.S. and Iraqi officials.
[. . .]
Some Iraqi officials interpreted the new alliance as an attempt to manufacture a majority in parliament to help push through several pieces of stalled legislation. But with the Shiites and the Kurds already in close alignment, the announcement struck several observers as little real progress. The agreement also does not replace the current political blocs in parliament, but adds another layer of alliances to them.
"This is not the solution for Iraq's problems," said Hachim al-Hassani, a secular Sunni lawmaker, who said he planned to join the alliance despite his criticism of it. "The solution for Iraq's problems is for the real parties to get together and agree on an agenda to fix Iraq's problems."

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