Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth

In this long, but interesting article by Tom Engelhardt,12 Answers to Questions No One Is Bothering to Ask, He takes a look at what Iraq would look like if the U.S. made at least a tactical withdraw to the sidelines.

11. No, al-Qaeda will not control Iraq if we leave (and neither will Iran): The latest figures tell the story. Of 658 suicide bombings globally in 2007 (more than double those of any year in the last quarter century), 542, according to the Washington Post’s Robin Wright, took place in occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, mainly Iraq. In other words, the American occupation of that land has been a motor for acts of terrorism (as occupations will be). There was no al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia before the invasion and Iraq was no Afghanistan. The occupation under whatever name will continue to create “terrorists,” no matter how many times the administration claims that “al-Qaeda” is on the run. With the departure of U.S. troops, it’s clear that homegrown Sunni extremists (and the small number of foreign jihadis who work with them), already a minority of a minority, will more than meet their match in facing the Sunni mainstream. The Sunni Awakening Movement came into existence, in part, to deal with such self-destructive extremism (and its fantasies of a Taliban-style society) before the Americans even noticed that it was happening. When the Americans leave, “al-Qaeda” (and whatever other groups the Bush administration subsumes under that catch-all title) will undoubtedly lose much of their raison d’être or simply be crushed.

It is odd that the Right, traditionally ultra-nationalists, doesn’t understand the resentment Iraqis feel about the occupation of their country and its government being something of an arm of U.S, policy rather then genuine representatives of its own people. Either the Right doesn’t understand or understands and in typical hard headed fashion refuses to acknowledge this dynamic. Every Iraqi that dies directly or indirectly because of the occupation creates another friend or relative that is determined that we leave. The cycle of violence will never settle completely if we leave, but it certainly will not end if we stay. If AQ doesn’t take control when we leave the Iranians will. Not likely unless the Iranians want to take the place of Americans forces as occupiers,

Without the U.S. military in Iraq, there can be no question that the Iranians would have real influence over the Shiite (and probably Kurdish) parts of the country. But that influence would have its distinct limits. If Iran overplayed its hand even in a rump Shiite Iraq, it would soon enough find itself facing some version of the situation that now confronts the Americans. As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in the Nation recently, “[D]espite Iran’s enormous influence in Iraq, most Iraqis — even most Iraqi Shiites — are not pro-Iran. On the contrary, underneath the ruling alliance in Baghdad, there is a fierce undercurrent of Arab nationalism in Iraq that opposes both the U.S. occupation and Iran’s support for religious parties in Iraq.” The al-Qaedan and Iranian “threats” are, at one and the same time, bogeymen used by the Bush administration to scare Americans who might favor withdrawal and, paradoxically, realities that a continued military presence only encourages.

Iraq has presented other consequences. The opportunity for felons to get some military training, which might come in handy after their hitch’s are up, Military Waivers for Ex-Convicts Increase

The Army admitted about one-fourth more recruits last year with a record of legal problems ranging from felony convictions and serious misdemeanors to drug crimes and traffic offenses, as pressure to increase the size of U.S. ground forces led the military to grant more waivers for criminal conduct, according to new data released yesterday.

Such “conduct waivers” for Army recruits rose from 8,129 in fiscal 2006 to 10,258 in fiscal 2007. For Marine Corps recruits, they increased from 16,969 to 17,413

The expose in the NYT about the military sockpuppetry was oriented toward the Pentagon and the analysis, but neither group could have presented such one sided pictures of Iraq and Afghanistan without the help of the networks, Pentagon propaganda and The NYT Does Penance?

It is easy to pile on the NYT, as much as bloggers berate it we still most of us obviously read it everyday. Whether it deserves to be or not it is still the most important newspaper published in America. Still the NYTs influence is nothing in comparison to TV where most Americans get most of their news. These military analysts are the latest and most visible example of where TV journalism has failed as a reliable source of information for the majority of the public. The morning news shows are laughable when it comes to anything other then tabloid style news – celebrity misdeeds, sex scandals, new shoe styles,etc. Life is too serious to be two hours of hard hitting journalism every day, but how about doing the public a favor and force 30 minutes of actual news about their country into that two hours of chatty infotainment.

Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth. ~  Will Rogers