Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Newsday, again

There are two articles in recent Newsday papers; both create the atmosphere of insinuating that there's a "civil war brewing in Iraq" when in reality, it's alot of editorial fluff, with very little sourcing (that doesnt' actually say anything important), and a total dismissal of ANY military analysis from either the Americans, the Iraqis, or the coalition. Even if you check Newsday's website, they try to hide that Operation New Market is underway in Iraq. But it's one of the main leads at Fox News' website.

One article was written by Mohammad Bazzi, who's apparently reporting from Beiruit. Unless he's actually shuttling back and forth between Iraq and Lebanon, he's making long distance phone calls on Newsday's tab. His most recent article Iraqi Civil War? What's interesting is that he talks to people who could, tangenitally, be figures in Iraq. But often he doesn't, and we're left with people who it's clear he's using as a cheap prop to make his story work. It's an old tactic- say that A= C but you can't prove or even come up with ANY evidence of C, so you get someone to talk about something that could be B, and then you do A + C= B.

He even gets his evidence wrong- like this:

It is unclear how long al-Sistani and Shia politicians will be able to
restrain young Shia militants. One such force is the militia loyal to renegade
Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which fought extended battles twice last year with
U.S. forces. Al-Sadr's militia surrendered most of its weapons to the Iraqi
government, but its members are still difficult to control because they do not
look to senior clerics such as al-Sistani for guidance......Against this backdrop of violence, al-Sadr appeared publicly last week for the first time in nine months. He accused the United States of inciting sectarian hatred and called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces. He also urged his followers not to retaliate against Sunnis.

I think it's more a case that Al-Sadr has no real support anymore. That's why no one gives a damn for him. He recently had an anti-American rally a few days ago, and only 6,000 supporters showed up in three cities. That's it. I'm guessing the largest group was in his slum territory (Sadr City), and that's a really pathetic showing. He's got no real base of support, and he's trying to find out what he can and can't get away with, politically. The rallies are harmless, and if he wants to complain- let him. That Bazzi completely overlooks this, is suprising. He makes Al-Sadr out to be a big bad boy (and he's right, he's NOT a nice guy), but he doesn't look at the reality that he is not a power broker on any level. And Al-Sadr hasn't been quiet AT ALL for the past few months, it's just that reporters haven't been doing a great job of reporting about him. He's been complaining on and off about the political process in Iraq for months now.

In the article he cites killings that have happened through Iraq (mostly the Baghdad area)- but doesn't come up with any actual reasons for A) why they're dead B) who killed them and C) what the government and local authorities are doing about it. It's all insinuation. And may I remind you, that it's a news artice- NOT an editorial.

His lead is the most telling part of it all-
The signs of sectarian warfare are everywhere in Iraq these days: clerics assassinated outside their mosques, dozens of execution victims turning up in ditches and car bombers inflicting heavy casualties on the country's Shia Muslim majority.
Nearly four months after Iraq's election, when millions of Iraqis defied insurgent threats by voting for a new parliament, sectarian violence now threatens to drag the country into civil war. Most victims so far have been Shias targeted by Sunni insurgents. But the recent discoveries throughout Iraq of more than 50 bodies - men from both sects, apparently abducted and executed - highlight a new problem: a wave of retaliatory killings between Sunnis and Shias.
It is the worst-case scenario that many Iraqis have feared since the insurgency's early days: that persistent attacks against the Shia community would drive Shia militias to seek revenge against Sunni civilians, prompting a new cycle of violence that would destroy any hope of dampening the insurgency and bringing Sunnis into the political process.
Problem: he doesn't actually have ANY evidence that the killings were retaliatory. He doesn't cite anything to say that they are. He just insinuates that he THINKS thats what it is. I'm pretty sure that it's the insurgents trying to make it look like someone else is doing the killings. Keep in mind, that not all the insurgents are car bombers- and that many of them don't actually want to die. They're cowards, and don't particularly like the concept of fighting American and Iraqi soldiers in combat. Thus, they capture people off the streets, kill them, and then let it pass off as reprisal killings. Actually, they've been doing this for a while. And it's suprising that Bazzi really can't find all that many people to talk to- on the streets (keep in mind that he's not IN Iraq)- to tell him what's going on. Thus, why he's all but stuck with bad evidence and misleading insinuations. I've seen better reporting from people INSIDE Iraq. And his total misreading of both Operation Matador and New Market are also telling. He doesn't think the US military is worth talking about.

And he also gives himself a cheap mulligan, with his "its the worst case scenario" line. Yeah, it is the worst case scenario- and if he's wrong about it, he'll just say that it was "a scenario that I kept an eye out for". Actually, he works for Newsday, which isn't the nicest newspapers to the US military, nor to the Bush administration. Articles like his are the norm, while they completely ignore the US military at any chance they can get. Hell, it's movie reviewers review movies according to their political content (I'm not kidding- go read John Anderson's Master and Commander: Far Side of the World review).

Here's my idea to Newsday: send him to Iraq, and let him do his reporting there. If he refuses, stop taking articles from him. I'm actually interested in finding out WHEN he went to Lebanon- before or after the Cedar Revolution? If it was before the Cedar Revolution, I want to know how long it is before he's kicked out of the country. Because he will be. I've seen a few articles from him already, and they each have the same falliacies. I'll keep an eye on his works in the future, and report anything here, at Imperial Requiem.


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