Created on Sunday, 06 January 2008 02:27
Written by Ramzy Baroud
Despite â€˜Good Newsâ€™, Iraq is not Okay
by Ramzy Baroud
n recent months we have been inundated by media reports bringing good news from Iraq, with countless testiminials to the great improvement in security enjoyed by the country in general and the Baghdad area in particular.
This progress is attributed solely to the judicious â€˜surgeâ€™ of US military presence, and the astute tactics enacted by occupation forces in a place that once personified despair and violence. Indeed, reports repeatedly point to the figure indicating that violence in Iraq has dwindled by 60 percent in the last three months.
BC reporter in Iraq, Jim Muir, is one of the leading enthusiasts
of the apparent miracle. In his report, â€˜Is Iraq Getting Better?â€™ he
indulges in over-generalized estimations which just happen to be
shared by the US military.
- â€œOver the past three months, there
has been a sharp and sustained drop in all forms of violence. The
figures for dead and wounded, military and civilian, have also greatly
improved...People walk in crowded streets in the evening, when just a
few months ago they would have been huddled behind locked doors in
their homes. Everybody agrees that things are much better.â€
Muir goes further in discussing the role played by Sunni militias in
bringing peace to Baghdad. He quotes a militiaman as saying;
- â€œAt the
beginning, people saw it as an occupation which had to be resisted. But
then they saw that the Americans were working in the interests of the
The BBC represents only a mild example in this
charade, which is instilled mostly by the Bush administration and its
allies in the military and in the mainstream media. It is mind-boggling
how the latter could accept the so-called transformation from chaos to
semi-order without any real questioning.
Meanwhile there are a
few sources of information regarding the violence resulting from the US
invasion of Iraq. One of these is the US military itself, which keeps
track of and publishes information pertinent to the violence only when
itâ€™s relevant to attacks on US installations and personnel. Confirming
or denying these reports in their entirety is unattainable by any
independent source. Considering the politicized nature of the US
military public relation strategies, such reports should hardly attest
to what is indeed unfolding in Iraq.
Another source of
information is the Iraq government and army.
Itâ€™s no secret that those
at the helm of both of these institutions are working under the command
of the US military. Spokesmen for the Iraqi government coordinate their
statements â€“ with a few exceptions â€“ to confirm those made by the
It seems odd that the bulk - if not the entirety - of
reports on the improvement in security are predicated principally on
information released by the US military, Iraqi official sources or
willing collaborates of both (conformist Shia sources, tribal Sunni
leaders). The latter group reportedly receives a monthly imbursement
for helping guard their areas against al-Qaeda.
Moreover, an estimated
80,000 Sunni fighters â€“ many of whom were apparently insurgents
fighting the US military â€“ get paid $300 US each to perform various
What else do media â€˜investigativeâ€™ reporters expect
to hear from those who get paid to improve security in Iraq? Can they
possibly discredit their own efforts, thus losing badly needed incomes?
It's interesting how the US military can now lend its trust to arming
and funding the same people who were supposedly blowing up their
vehicles a few months ago.
A third source of news is the
implausibly huge number of statements made by various organizations in
Iraq â€“ some fighting the US and British forces, others fighting amongst
themselves due to differences of ethnicity or agenda.
Iraqâ€™s death squads were found to be none other than Al-Badr Brigades,
the militant arm of some leading members of the Iraqi government. Much
of the killing was also attributed to al-Mahdi Army, based mostly in
Baghdadâ€™s al-Sadr City.
Internal politics and secretive dealings have
contributed to the cessation of violence attributed to al-Mahdi
militias. The Iraqi army and police are said to be assembled from these
two large Shia militant groupings, and much of the violence seems to be
of their own making.
Isnâ€™t it possible that the US allies decided
to cease their violence and ethnic cleansing in Baghdad to give the
impression that President Bushâ€™s genius â€˜surgeâ€™ strategy has paid off,
thus discrediting all of his detractors, both at home and abroad?
it not ingenious that the Iraq â€˜success storyâ€™ is now, retrospectively,
associating such upbeat and positive terminologies - security, peace,
safety, hope - with a most sinister act, that of military invasion of
a sovereign country and the subjugation of its people?
isnâ€™t the media asking these questions instead of indulging in â€˜good
newsâ€™ which is likely to propagate and justify the unwarranted and
There are more sources that are closer
to credibility than any of the ones above. Independent reports such as
the survey of Iraqi households in the Lancet, estimating that by July
2006, 655,000 Iraqis died as a consequence of war. UK-based polling
agency Opinion Research Business reached even a higher number, in
September 2007, suggested that 1.2 million people might have died as a
result of the war.
But no number can do justice to the hurt felt by the Iraqi people, so many of whom perished by the firepower of their â€˜liberatorsâ€™.
December 28, 14 Iraqis were reportedly killed, and 64 others were
wounded in a Baghdad square crowded with shoppers following the Friday
prayer. I wonder if the many families that collectively share the
latest tragedy in Baghdad will find some peace and comfort in the
figures and statistics issued by the US military and disseminated
cheerfully be the media. I wonder how the people of the bloody Tayaran
Square would respond to the question: â€œIs Iraq getting better?â€
Would any reporter even bother to ask them their thoughts?
Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers
and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian
Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).