Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraq: Media Should Focus Americans on the Reality

Iraq: Media Should Focus Americans on the Reality

"Iraq now faces many key issues that could tear the country apart, from the issues of Kirkuk and Mosul to that of religious law. James Zogby on Wolf Blitzer wisely warned the US public against another "Mission Accomplished" moment. Things may gradually get better, but this flawed "election" isn't a Mardi Gras for Americans and they'll regret it if that is the way they treat it."

- Juan Cole

The cheerleading in the media is misleading America about the reality on the ground in Iraq. Take a look at Juan Cole's blog entry about the reports coming in about yesterday's elections in Iraq.

Another dose of simple reality from director of a Washington think tank, Robert Weiner Public Affairs:
".. when we accept the reality of the low turnout, we will be better able to protect against the possibility that the elections will be like the war: the insurgents only committed minimal violence at the outset -- and then logarithmically increased their efforts afterward. In this case, because of the U.S. protection of the polling places, the insurgents effectively conceded; but now they could very likely go after all the hundreds of winning candidates as well as keep up their widespread violence. The possibility of civil war in Iraq remains strong -- we must not once again count our chickens too soon. This overriding instability and threat of attacks, which we have tried but not succeeded in stopping, is of course the reason for the low turnout, and the crisis continues."
In the Arab news, a plea for President Bush to finally get the international community on board (and stop bowing to the military wishes of dependent and needy Iraqis) :
"There could be a workable UN peacekeeping operation in Iraq, but first the Iraqis have to badly want it and second, the richer nations of the world have to properly fund it and man a good portion of it."
A few mainstreamers are keeping it real.

For example, Fareed Zakaria, a pundit at ABC News, reminds us that Elections are not "Democracy".


Officials Cite Turnout Despite Terror

The headline sounds really promising, doesn't it?

Great voter turnout despite the fear of terror.

It just so happens to have been written by Peter Grose in 1967.

About Vietnam.

When will we ever learn?

As history will show you, the mainstream media was not all that "liberal", even at the height of the civil rights/Vietnam era:
The Johnson administration sponsored "demonstration elections" in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967 to show that we were respecting the will of the Vietnamese people. Although that country was occupied by a foreign army (U.S.) and otherwise thoroughly militarized, free speech and freedom of the press were non-existent, and not only the only "mass-based political party" (NLF) but all "neutralists" were barred from participation, the New York Times took these elections seriously. Their news reports stressed the heavy turnouts, and the editorials noted the "popular support" shown by the peasants willingness "to risk participation in the election held by the Saigon regime" (ed., September 4, 1967). In both news and editorials the paper suggested that the elections might lead to peace, because by legitimizing the generals it "provides a viable basis for a peace settlement." As the whole point of the exercise was to keep in place leaders who would fight, this was promotional deception of the worst sort.

A Daily Kos reader has found a CIA discussion about the 1967 pre-election period. Take a look. Draw parallels to Iraq if you'd like. If you ask me, you can't help but draw parellels.

See LBJ's letter to Saigon in telegram 34017, September 8. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 15-1 VIET S).
"I have just received a detailed and most moving account of your election from the distinguished Americans whom you invited to Viet-Nam as observers. They returned believing in the fairness of the procedures and observed the intense interest of the Vietnamese people in this major step toward creating your own popularly chosen and constitutionally based government. Their individual reports were a testimonial to the courage and determination of the Vietnamese people to remain free and to create their own political institutions in their own way. The election was a milestone along the path toward the goal you have set for yourselves--a free, secure and peaceful Viet-Nam. But it is not the end of the journey. Many hard tasks remain. Not the least of these now is the creation of a strong, effective and broadly based government that will help you and your country achieve the objectives you set forth in your campaign. The American government and I, personally, look forward to continued close cooperation with you and your colleagues in the days and months ahead.."
Sound familiar?

At the American Street, Neil Shah says:
"What really made the South Vietnamese struggle in their battle to fend off the communist block in the North, was their ineffectiveness in crafting a government that was actually answerable to the people. Plagued by mind-boggling levels of government corruption and led by self-concerned and illegitimate leaders, there was never any real effort to establish a stable democratic state by a significant portion of SV’s themselves, despite countless efforts by the U.S. The significance for Iraq is that it will have to face many obstacles, including the current insurgency and the likelihood of communal violence, to actually establish a viable state (read: monopoly on means of violence) and that its success will depend more on Iraqis themselves than anything that can be done by the U.S."
Based upon what I've seen so far in Iraq, I don't think a sufficient number of the people have the drive and courage it currently takes to turn this into a sustained or successful Iraqi-based democratic revolution.

There is no doubt, we saw courage in the ones who voted yesterday, yet we also know how many Iraqis chose not to vote due to a feeling of injustice, the appearance of U.S. occupation, political dissent, and mistrust.

Don't expect me to opine a la "pie in the sky" about the glory of newfound determination in these people. We have not been able to train enough of them to adequately defend themselves against field mice, let alone sophisticated insurgents. Iraqi troops run at the slightest provocation. They are going to need the support and force of the world community for decades to come.

If President Bush fails to call upon the international community now, with humility, then you can expect our military to be misused and at grave risk for decades to follow.

UPDATE/9pm: See's feature by William Rivers Pitt - The Story of the Ghost

*A tip of the hat to William Bollinger, who made me aware of this story.

'Just Say No' To Gonzales

'Just Say No' To Gonzales

I oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales for one main reason:

I believe that a vote for the confirmation of Mr. Gonzales would be a vote to marginalize the slap to the face of the Rule of Law, in light of the Abu Ghraib 'torture memo'. It would be like saying that the torture just didn't matter, in the long run.

The world is watching us from a distance, but the world is not such a large place these days. We have seen how the distance has closed in upon us. We remember the morning of September 11th, 2001. Let's show the world we still have a soul, even after what we faced on 9/11, as a nation of decent and civil people.

Vote "NO" to Gonzales' confirmation!


The following is a statement which appears today on the main page at the Liberal Coalition website:
The Liberal Coalition opposes the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. As individual bloggers, many of us have written our own statements against the nomination; links to those posts are below. Promoting the man who authorized the use of torture to the nation's highest law enforcement position makes a mockery of that position and the notion that the U.S. is a nation of laws. His confirmation will signal that the United States can no longer be viewed as a champion for human rights and will diminish its ever-shrinking credibility on human rights issues.

Presidents are traditionally given a lot of leeway when it comes to their attorney general nominees. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. If authorizing torture does not cross that line, nothing will. We urge the Senate to vote no on Gonzales.

Bark Bark Woof Woof
Dohiyi Mir
Echidne of the Snakes
First Draft
Left is Right
Make Me a Commentator
Rook's Rant
rubber hose
Scrutiny Hooligans
Steve Gillard (link is to the original statement on Kos to which Steve is a signatory)
Words on a Page
Yellow Doggerel Democrat

This post has been submitted to the no to Gonzales site.

LINK-Original Post by upyernoz