Analysis must not be a war casualty

My following article appears on ABC’s Unleashed:

The Iraq war has virtually dropped off the media radar.

The country remains far more dangerous than Afghanistan and yet Barack Obama’s “surge” against the Taliban and al-Qaeda is the biggest international story of the day.

Even leading neo-conservative William Kristol writes in The Washington Post that Obama has “acknowledged that he and his party were wrong about the Iraq surge in 2007 – after all, the rationale for this surge is identical to Bush’s and the hope is for a similar success”.

What a difference a few years make. Baghdad-based reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, Jane Arraf, lamented this decline in coverage by arguing for renewed interest from global news services “in a country with 130,000 US troops fighting a war that still costs tens of billions of dollars a month”.

It’s a distortion that the US military is happy to continue.

Explosive revelations occur but soon sink without a trace. Former UN weapon’s inspector, Hans Blix, told The Daily Mail that the Iraq conflict was “illegal”. A British inquiry currently investigating the reasons behind the invasion found that former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon “banned” preparations for the war in 2002 and 2003 to hide information from the public.

Former defence chiefs said that the US simply presumed that Tony Blair’s government would participate in the invasion even if no attempts were made to resolve the struggle with Saddam Hussein through the UN.

Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tells The New Statesman that he “regrets” the huge loss of life in Iraq. A few in the mainstream media even dare to call for legal accountability for Western leaders who launch wars of aggression.

History is being re-written as official denials become the basis for further investigation. “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied”, said reporter Claud Cockburn.

The corporate media in America and Australia barely acknowledge that there is even a war in Iraq. A study by the US-based media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that anti-war voices were virtually invisible in The New York Times and The Washington Post this year, despite the general public growing increasingly opposed to American involvement in the world.

Leading commentators are part of the problem.

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argued in late November that US foreign policy over the past two decades “has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny”.

He included Iraq and Afghanistan in his calculation. Over one million civilians have died in both these countries since 2001.

Time columnist Joe Klein told Obama that he should, like former President Ronald Reagan, create a narrative to support ongoing wars in the Middle East, even if the chosen stories were untrue.

Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria instructed his readers that, “Obama is searching for a post-imperial policy in the midst of an imperial crisis”. Tell that to the killed and maimed in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, all suffering under American bombs.

Sloganeering has replaced serious analysis. Real war consequences are ignored. The embedded mindset has taken over the media asylum.

So, here’s what’s really happening.

There are over 250,000 private contractors deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai even accepted the depth of the problem with a little noticed comment recently. “Within the next two years,” he said, his government intended to end “operations by all private national and international security firms” and transfer the duties to “Afghan security entities”.

The ability of a puppet regime to dictate terms to its master is highly questionable, as we have seen this year in Palestine with the US-backed Ramallah clique.

It an open secret that private contractors are one of the key reasons for increased hostility of Iraqi and Afghan civilians towards occupation. Insurgency breeds on tales of debauched US embassy guards in Kabul drinking, fighting and using prostitutes.

An interview with Erik Prince, founder of military contractor Blackwater (now called Xe), in next month’s Vanity Fair will only confirm the impression of a cowboy running riot in Muslim lands.

Some Iraqi bloggers are still writing about freedom from foreign intervention, a dream that will not occur during Obama’s term. No American official has ever answered the basic question of how many US troops or military trainers will remain in Iraq beyond 2011.

Indeed, permanent bases in Iraq suggest a long-term presence. A few brave journalists, such as independent Dahr Jamail, are documenting the effect of the Iraq mission on returned US army personnel.

Unsurprisingly, Iraq’s oil remains a hotly contested commodity, though the politics behind the ownership of the black gold barely cracks a mainstream mention.

One of the few major reports I’ve read this year about the overall geo-political plan for American forces in the Middle East was published last month in TomDispatch and highlighted the expanding reach of Washington in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait. This is occupation re-branded for the 21st century’s second decade.

Writes journalist Nick Turse:

“The money the Pentagon has recently been pouring into the nations of the Persian Gulf to bulk up base infrastructure has only tied the US ever more tightly to the region’s autocratic, often unpopular regimes, while further arming and militarising an area traditionally considered unstable.”

Obama now owns the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and yet few reporters are willing to ask why escalation guarantees success.

The US President spoke last week on the 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan and stated:

“For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination.”

The boots on the ground across the globe prove otherwise and resistance is growing from Bolivia to Palestine.

The multi-polar world has arrived with a thud. Washington is not pleased.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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