December 2 , 2008
US President Barack Obama is working to move the mighty American war-machine from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
To do that he needs an agreement with Iran about Iraq (and it would seem that agreement has already been found) and a propaganda campaign to convince the public opinion a) that the war in Iraq is over and the US will withdraw from the country and b) that Aghanistan and Pakistan are the centre of terror.
In this frame, let's see how the British liberal media presented to their readers two major events of these past days.
Jonathan Steele and Patrick Cockburn are two major, well-respected British mainstream media journalists who find much space and attention also in the progressive left and its publications and in the anti-war movement as well. Steele writes for the Guardian, Cockburn for the Independent.
A few days ago, writing about the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) between the US and the Iraqi "government", Jonathan Steele wrote in the Guardian:
"The deal gives Iraq's national resistance almost everything it fought for (...) From the American point of view, the main thing the pact does is to allow the US to withdraw with dignity. No hasty Vietnam-style humiliation, but an orderly retreat from an adventure which was illegal, unnecessary, and a disaster from the moment of conception. Like most Iraqis, I am content with that." Has Corporate America been investing billions of dollars in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, building all those permanent military bases and the biggest embassy in the world just to sign a goodbye agreement and pushing for its approval? Is this what Steele would like us to believe? I don't know you but I don't think the huge permanent military bases will be converted in theme parks run by Disneyland anytime soon.
Anyway, let's see how "content" Iraqis are. Ali al-Fadhily, an independent Iraqi journalist living in Baghdad who has worked in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail commented on the SOFA:
"The vast majority of Iraqis are against it. But those in power realize that it is the US existence in Iraq that keeps them in power, and so they [were] keen on signing it as soon as possible regardless of its conflict with the interests of Iraq and its people." Amnesty International called the attention on a particular point that is completely neglected by most commentators:
Thousands of Iraqis detained by US forces are at risk of torture or even execution, following the ratification of a security agreement between the US and Iraqi governments. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which will take effect on 31 December, around 16,000 prisoners held by the US will be transferred to Iraqi custody. No need to comment on this since we all could see and appreciate the New Iraq's justice system when the puppets lynched the legitimate government of Iraq. Remember that horror show?
Contrary to Steele, Robert Dreyfuss writes in the Nation a gloomier (but I think much more realistic) picture:
"What Maliki wants is for the United States to continue to build up his armed forces while allowing him free rein to consolidate political power at the expense of the nationalist and secular opposition. That's what Iran wants, too. It might be tempting for Obama to go along, but if he does, Iraq may explode. Of course, Iraq may explode whatever Obama does. But as he pulls US forces out, he'd better work hard to get Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other world and regional powers to help underwrite true reconciliation in Iraq. It's his only chance to avoid renewed civil war in Iraq." From the Guardian to the Independent. Patrick Cockburn writes in the Independent (article now re-published on CounterPunch) about the terrorist acts in Mumbai:
The origins and motives of the men who slaughtered so many people in Mumbai will emerge in the coming days. But already the butchery should be underlining one of the greatest of the many failings of the Bush administration post-9/11. Pakistan was always the real base for al-Qa'ida. It was the Pakistani ISI military intelligence which fostered and partly directed the Taliban before 2001 and revived it afterwards. It is Pakistan which has sustained the Islamic jihadi fighters in Kashmir where half the Indian army is tied down. Yet the Bush administration in its folly allied itself to General Pervez Musharaf and the Pakistani army post-9/11, ensuring that jihadi groups always had a base. (...) The real political background to Mumbai is succinctly summed up by Ahmed Rashid in his excellent book Descent into Chaos: How the War against Islamic Extremism Is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. In Pakistan, he writes, "a nuclear-armed military and an intelligence service that have sponsored Islamic extremism as an intrinsic part of their foreign policy for nearly four decades have found it extremely difficult to give up their self-destructive and double-dealing policies". Unless Barack Obama can persuade them to do so he will achieve no more as president than Mr Bush. When Patrick Cockburn writes, "The real political background to Mumbai is succinctly summed up by Ahmed Rashid in his excellent book..." I wonder if that Ahmed Rashid is the same Ahmed Rashid I read a few months ago in CounterPunch:
It is with some alarm and dismay that I watched Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" provide platform to right-wing Paksitani journalist Ahmad Rashid, long an apologist for Bush's war-on-terror, to recycle propaganda from British tabloid press and other discredited sources. His tale about al-Qa'ida recruiting white converts for terrorist acts in Europe originated with the British security services as part of their fearmongering campaign to build support for the 42-day detention without charge plan. No shred of evidence was ever offered. Patrick Cockburn doesn't seem very concerned about the real responsible for what happened in Mumbai, what really matters it would seem is selling yet another war, this time against Pakistan.
As 9/11 was used to invade and occupy Afghanistan and start the so-called "war on terror", these terrorist acts in Mumbai (whoever the responsible is) will be used to escalate the conflict in the region, destabilise Pakistan and getting India even more involved. Already during the US presidential campaign, Obama said he would focus on Pakistan; the escalation of the conflict in that area seems to go according to plans and with the state-corporate media beating the drums of war...
P.S. Read also: Escalation (and Patrick Cockburn kisses Pakistan goodbye)