Friday, March 03, 2006

Is the violence out of control? Clearly not.


The Pentagon Central Command has a Chief of Engagement Operations to “do electronic media engagement” with, well, bloggers. If a blog is run by “supporters,” they ask it to put up a link to CENTCOM, but if it’s run by “determined detractors,” they might extend a “friendly invitation... to visit the command’s Web site.” There they will be forced to read stories which are “positive” but also “very factual” – not just factual, but very factual – until they crack and promise to blog that there is no civil war in Iraq and that we are beating the terrorists. “Media engagement” is a little like real engagement, which is symbolized by a diamond ring because “a diamond is forever,” just like detention in Guantanamo Bay. I have not been contacted by the “team,” nor do they say which blogs they have contacted, but they say that they did post a comment on some unnamed blog that wrote about American forces using Iraqis as human shields, saying no they didn’t. Does anyone know what blog this is, have a link for the post?

Gen. George Casey says that only (only!) 350 Iraqis were killed in the recent sectarian violence, which is of course not true, and that anyway that’s pretty much normal, that the Samarra de-domeification didn’t actually increase the level of violence in Iraq. Casey, who has clearly been spending too much time around Rumsfeld, then began answering his own questions: “So has there been violence and terrorism here in Iraq in the wake of the Samarra bombings? Clearly. Is the violence out of control? Clearly not.” Ah, so 350 dead, that you’re admitting, but it was actually under control. Okay. Um... whose control? Casey also said that bribing Iraqi newspapers to print puff pieces is “within our authorities and responsibilities,” so they’ll keep doing it. Oh sure, the Iraqis get cash, me, all I’d get is a friendly invitation to visit the CENTCOM website. Hardly seems fair.

Echidne of the Snakes notes that on the CNN website, Bush’s comment today referring to Pakistan as part of the “Arabic world” has been altered to “the [Muslim] world.” Let me demonstrate to CNN how you deal with mis-statements: the Cable News [sic] Network.

Bush has increasingly identified The Enemy in his rhetoric as something called “radical Islam.” He used the term in the State of the Union address, and said today that he would talk with Musharraf about “reduc[ing] the appeal of radical Islam.” Unlike “terrorists” or “evildoers,” this term focuses on the ideology underlying the actions, while trying to avoid the ramifications of Bush’s early use of the word crusade by separating the good Muslims from the bad Muslims. The positive thing about that is that it doesn’t tar all Muslims as potential terrorists, the negative thing is that it makes Bush the arbiter of what is or is not a proper part of a faith he considers to be fundamentally mistaken, which is as silly as if he condemned “radical Scientologists” for deviating from the sacred words of L. Ron Hubbard.

Which leads us to Tony Blair, who says that he prayed over his decision to join the war against Iraq. So I guess it is a holy war, a Christian crusade, if you like, after all. Here’s his, to me, semi-coherent statement:
In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well.
Adam Jones, who pointed this out in comments, says, “Nice to know He’s willing to be flexible over that whole First Commandment thing, isn’t it?” So Blair deployed not only a dodgy dossier, but a dodgy Decalogue.

Secretary of War Rumsfeld, who like Tony Blair’s God is all-knowing, says “We know that torture is not occurring [at Guantanamo]. We know that for a fact.” And as usual he brings a little perspective to Iraq:
You know, we look at the violence that’s taking place there, and compare it to the United States or to Europe or something, kind of ignoring the fact that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people killed in the United States of America every year in homicides.
So that’s ok then. And of course the prisoners have all been trained to claim that they were tortured, so it’s all just acting. Method acting. “The reality is that the terrorists have media committees.” Yes, I think they call them electronic media engagement teams.

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