Media Matters and Iraq

Friday, December 08, 2006

Media Matters and Iraq

In this analysis, Media Matters complains that "some conservative media figures are blaming Iraqis for the situation in Iraq." But the issue raised by the group is a lot more complicated than its headline suggests.

Media Matters explains it this way:
For example, during his "My Word" segment on the December 6 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson posed the question: "Whose fault is the trouble in Iraq? Bush's fault?" He answered his own question: "No, it's the Iraqis' fault."

[Gibson] complained that Iraqis spend all their time killing their neighbors while "we're trying to fight foreign invaders." Gibson said that "what we have is Shia killing Sunni and Sunni killing Shia and letting the whole darn country go straight to hell." .... And the Iraqis will have no one to blame but themselves."
Gibson would never admit that the Bush administration rushed to war without careful planning or analysis of how they would build a stable post-war society in Iraq. Yet Media Matters' analysis leaves the impression that it believes Bush deserves all the blame. And I think that view is equally misguided.

Gibson's "what we have" statement is essentially accurate. A major part of the reason why Iraq is a violent, fragmented land right now is because of "Shia killing Sunni." Moqtada al-Sadr and other political figures have deliberately stoked ethnic and religious tensions to advance their own radical agendas.

Media Matters is right to criticize Charles Krauthammer for claiming in a recent column that the U.S. invasion was justified because "Saddam & Sons ... posed a permanent strategic threat to the region and to U.S. interests." That view has been largely discredited by the military's failure to find WMDs in Iraq.

However, I'm not sure why Media Matters felt like highlighting the following words by Krauthammer:
... vesting the (Iraqi) Sunnis with proportionate political and financial (i.e. oil) power ... is something the Shiites, at least those now comprising the Maliki government, seem incapable of doing.
Krauthammer's assertion is tough to argument with. Indeed, most progressive groups and politicos have echoed this view. In July, for example, posted this article, which summarized the views of Democratic leaders as follows:
... Maliki’s regime, despite being installed by the Pentagon’s puppeteers, maintains close ties to Iran, further complicating the ability of the United States to halt the civil war and disarm Iranian-backed Shiite death squads.
And months ago, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi observed, "For the most part, the violence is perpetrated by Iraqis against Iraqis," and she added that Prime Minister Maliki "seemed in denial" about the level of violence.

In this October report, Sen. Carl Levin, the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that although Maliki claimed to have developed an agreement to end all sectarian violence, "the details were sketchy and ... (the plan) omits the most important element — specific steps leading to disarming and disbanding the militias."

Amplifying Krauthammer's assertion, Levin's report stated that it was critical that Iraqi leaders "make the necessary political compromises, i.e. sharing political power and oil resources ...... The Administration must deliver the straight message that the Iraqi leaders, and they alone, can defeat the insurgency and they and they alone will decide whether they want to unify their country or whether they want to have a civil war. "

Sure, the tone of Gibson's and Krauthammer's remarks differs from the views expressed by Dem leaders. But there seems to be broad agreement that Iraq's current instability is due largely to a lack of will or desire on the part of Maliki and other Iraqi leaders.

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