Friday, August 06, 2004

Anti-Iraq Iraqis and Radical Clerics

Listening to NPR today in the car, I hear news that U.S. forces had killed as many as 300 'anti-Iraq forces' under Moqtada al-Sadr, the 'radical Shi'ite cleric'.

Appreciate all that propaganda for a moment.

Sadr is certainly a catspaw for the Iranian Mullahs. However, he has never advocated a theocratic regime, nor does he condone attacking non-military targets. He is, if anything, an ardent nationalist, and devoted to achieving political power to defend the Shi-ite majority in Iraq. So how is he 'radical'? Because it is a very convenient prejorative term with which to taint him in the minds of Americans.

'Radical' is code for 'the enemy'. And not just that, but it is a signal that sympathy with him or his cause is not socially acceptable. The term's purpose is not just to identify him as an enemy, but to ensure that he and his allies can be destroyed without any ethical compuntions, or any need for justification; after all, he's a radical and he deserves what he gets.

Those fighting for Sadr are Iraqis, fighting an occupying power and the police of an imposed, unelected government. But they are anti-Iraq. The Bush Administration's response to criticism of this phrasing would be that Sadr's militia, and most of those who are fighting the occupation are not Iraqis, in fact, but so-called 'foriegn-fighters' who are seeking to destabilize Iraq and prevent the establishment of Democracy. So one would expect that many of those thousands who we have rounded up and jailed in Iraq are foriegners, right. Wrong. There have only been a grand total of 29 foriegners taken in Iraq. Is it all becoming newspeakish enough for you? Double+ungood.

Our media consistently eschews reporting on the strategic interests in play around the Iraq occupation, instead playing such stupid word games under the influence of the Adminstration. Seldom do the media seek to explore the deeper interests of the players, or illumate the actions of major forces within a strategic context.

Instead we are fed a constant stream of meaningless 'facts' on the ground without context or connections, but brimming with crude propaganda. The public has much more access to the tactical and operational details of the war than it does to our strategic purpose in Iraq, or the strategic concerns of other players. The result is the fundamental lack of agreement about what the hell we are doing in Iraq, and the constantly shifting rationales for the war advanced by the Administration and its appologists.

No wonder the public grows dissatisfied with the war: the propaganda machine is doing a lousy job of demonstrating to the public the purpose for which our troops, and the taxpayers, are making sacrifices.

I'm working on a fairly brief discussion of those stategic issues in Iraq, and will be posting here on this subject very soon.


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