Iraq: Violence is down – but not because of Americas surge

#1
Not sure how widely known Patrick Cockburn is known, outside of the UK, but interested to hear the views of US members on the following article:

Have quoted a few paragraphs, but the whole article is worth a read.

Particularly interested in views on the US media coverage, and whether the para quoted in blue is the way it is seen in the USA? Comments?

As he leaves Iraq this week, the outgoing US commander, General David Petraeus, is sounding far less optimistic than the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, about the American situation in Iraq. General Petraeus says that it remains "fragile", recent security gains are "not irreversible" and "this is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade... it's not a war with a simple slogan."

Compare this with Sarah Palin's belief that "victory in Iraq is wholly in sight" and her criticism of Barack Obama for not using the word "victory". The Republican contenders have made these claims of success for the "surge" – the American reinforcements sent last year – although they are demonstrably contradicted by the fact that the US has to keep more troops, some 138,000, in Iraq today than beforehand. Another barometer of the true state of security in Iraq is the inability of the 4.7 million refugees, one in six of the population, who fled for their lives inside and outside Iraq, to return to their homes.
...

Playing down such killings, the Iraqi government and the US have launched a largely successful propaganda campaign to convince the world that "things are better" in Iraq and that life is returning to normal. One Iraqi journalist recorded his fury at watching newspapers around the world pick up a story that the world's largest Ferris wheel was to be built in Baghdad, a city where there is usually only two hours of electricity a day.

Life in Baghdad certainly is better than it was 18 months ago, when some 60 to 100 bodies were being found beside the roads every morning, the victims of Sunni-Shia sectarian slaughter. The main reason this ended was that the battle for Baghdad in 2006-07 was won by the Shia, who now control three-quarters of the capital. These demographic changes appear permanent; Sunni who try to get their houses back face assassination.
The perception in the US that the tide has turned in Iraq is in part because of a change in the attitude of the foreign, largely American, media. The war in Iraq has now been going on for five years, longer than the First World War, and the world is bored with it. US television networks maintain expensive bureaux in Baghdad, but little of what they produce gets on the air. When it does, viewers turn off. US newspaper bureaux are being cut in size. The result of all this is that the American voter hears less of violence in Iraq and can suppose that America's military adventure there is finally coming good.

An important reason for this optimism is the fall in the number of American soldiers killed. (The 30,000 US soldiers wounded in Iraq are seldom mentioned.) This has happened because the war that was being waged against the American occupation by the Sunni community, the 20 per cent of Iraqis who were in control under Saddam Hussein, has largely ended. It did so because the Sunni were being defeated, not so much by the US army as by the Shia government and the Shia militias.
Source: Patrick Cockburn - Independant on Sunday
 
#4
ABrighter2006 said:
ronnie12398 said:
Patrick Cockburn is just an anti-American leftist who runs that crackpot website CounterPunch. He's an extremely biased source.
Okay - what about the comments referring to US Media coverage - fair or not?
I think the US news-media are biased, lazy, and incompetant just in general anyway. But not biased in the sense that they are pro-American, just that the MSM here in the US is so ratings and entertainment oriented and they all seem to hire Brit's, Canadian's, Australian's, and South African's as their foreign correspondents which probably should tell you something about their interest in foreign affairs.

I personally don't believe anything Cockburn says because I know he's got an extreme anti-American agenda.
 
#5
ronnie12398 said:
ABrighter2006 said:
ronnie12398 said:
Patrick Cockburn is just an anti-American leftist who runs that crackpot website CounterPunch. He's an extremely biased source.
Okay - what about the comments referring to US Media coverage - fair or not?
I think the US news-media are biased, lazy, and incompetant just in general anyway. But not biased in the sense that they are pro-American, just that the MSM here in the US is so ratings and entertainment oriented and they all seem to hire Brit's, Canadian's, Australian's, and South African's as their foreign correspondents which probably should tell you something about their interest in foreign affairs.

I personally don't believe anything Cockburn says because I know he's got an extreme anti-American agenda.
I lived in Toronto for a bit and get Canadian TV out of Vancouver here in Seattle. Canadian news ain't no intellectual walk in the park either. It's pretty much like American news with a different accent and focus by and large.

A non-news example in sports was this; I spent a lot of time on CBC watching the Olympics. The Michael Phelps hype was as strong in Canada as the US down to the stupid network announcer who asked an American swimmer if he thought Phelps would win his next race by a large margain. The swimmer looked at the reporter with disgust and replied "I hope not, I'll be trying to beat him". Nice to know their reporters are just as dumb as ours.
 
#6
ABrighter2006 said:
ronnie12398 said:
Patrick Cockburn is just an anti-American leftist who runs that crackpot website CounterPunch. He's an extremely biased source.
Okay - what about the comments referring to US Media coverage - fair or not?
AB2006, this my perspective as a Brit living in the US, but must point out I do tend to avoid US news media and stick to BBC America and news website, so this is probably worthless!...

As I see it there is a general presumption that things are improving considerably in Iraq because of the massive reduction in American causalities and this being the result of the Surge. The rightwing Republican media particularly emphasise that the Surge has worked.

However, at the moment the media is pre-occupied with the Presidential race and this appears to be the main reason for the reduced coverage on Iraq.

More interesting for me is the almost non-existent coverage on Afghanistan, even before the Presidential race took over. Also there is rarely any mention of Coalition contribution or casualties in either Iraq or the Stan. Actually the rightwing media like to criticise Europe for their lack of effort in the War Against Terror and for being a safe haven to Muslim extremism.

Come next year with a new President, whoever it maybe, I'm sure Iraq will be back firmly in the media's radar and how the new incumbent is going to proceed. Also it looks like Afghanistan might get more airtime here as more US troops are transferred from Iraq there.

Also it must be realised that the US media is very partisan based on whether it has a Democratic or Republican bias. The leftwing are still looking at Iraq with doom and gloom while the rightwing think it's all going peachy. Most of the time the media seem more interested in slagging each other off than actually reporting the news.
 
#7
PsyWar.Org said:
ABrighter2006 said:
ronnie12398 said:
Patrick Cockburn is just an anti-American leftist who runs that crackpot website CounterPunch. He's an extremely biased source.
Okay - what about the comments referring to US Media coverage - fair or not?
AB2006, this my perspective as a Brit living in the US, but must point out I do tend to avoid US news media and stick to BBC America and news website, so this is probably worthless!...

As I see it there is a general presumption that things are improving considerably in Iraq because of the massive reduction in American causalities and this being the result of the Surge. The rightwing Republican media particularly emphasise that the Surge has worked.

However, at the moment the media is pre-occupied with the Presidential race and this appears to be the main reason for the reduced coverage on Iraq.

More interesting for me is the almost non-existent coverage on Afghanistan, even before the Presidential race took over. Also there is rarely any mention of Coalition contribution or casualties in either Iraq or the Stan. Actually the rightwing media like to criticise Europe for their lack of effort in the War Against Terror and for being a safe haven to Muslim extremism.

Come next year with a new President, whoever it maybe, I'm sure Iraq will be back firmly in the media's radar and how the new incumbent is going to proceed. Also it looks like Afghanistan might get more airtime here as more US troops are transferred from Iraq there.

Also it must be realised that the US media is very partisan based on whether it has a Democratic or Republican bias. The leftwing are still looking at Iraq with doom and gloom while the rightwing think it's all going peachy. Most of the time the media seem more interested in slagging each other off than actually reporting the news.
You igit they aren't reporting about Iraq because they have nothing bad to report from it. The MSM declared it lost just like Harry and Nancy did, now they are focused on destroying Gov. Palin and getting their stooge Obama in.

Oh please do tell where is this "right-wing" media you refer to? It would be a pleasure hearing that then the drivel we are subjected to......
 
#8
Not sure what point you're making. You are basically agreeing with what I said but criticising me for it - or have I missed something?
 
#9
Both the Surge and Anbar awakening played a role in the current downturns, and the civilian toll is down as well, not just American troops. However, I think there is truth in this, and as mentioned, Petraeus said as much himself. It's NOT over. Now the Sons of Iraq and the Shia need to learn to play nice (a possible, but difficult task). Other issues include the safety of former and current Iraqi employees of the coalition (most notably interpreters), corruption in the central government, and the need to reboot the infrastructure and economy. Hopefully policy makers will utilize the breathing space the allowed by the Awakening and the surge to address these issues before the situation relapses.

And yes, I believe there is ALOT of truth to the blue portion. Nobody, pro or anti-war wants to talk about it anymore. Everyone has their mind made up, and are convinced that either we lost or that we won. And don't get me started on the absolute ignorance of the war in Afghanistan, I get red in the face when I try to discuss it with my countrymen.
 
#10
Chief_Joseph said:
stuff

And yes, I believe there is ALOT of truth to the blue portion. Nobody, pro or anti-war wants to talk about it anymore. Everyone has their mind made up, and are convinced that either we lost or that we won. And don't get me started on the absolute ignorance of the war in Afghanistan, I get red in the face when I try to discuss it with my countrymen.
The problem there is that the Administration did not know what they wanted to achieve by invading Iraq/toppling Saddam; consequently the win/loss is entirely in the eye of the beholder. I think we didn't win, but equally we have not lost (yet). A more important question is have the Iraqi population won or lost? Perhaps someone should ask them.
 
#11
deSTABlised said:
Chief_Joseph said:
stuff

And yes, I believe there is ALOT of truth to the blue portion. Nobody, pro or anti-war wants to talk about it anymore. Everyone has their mind made up, and are convinced that either we lost or that we won. And don't get me started on the absolute ignorance of the war in Afghanistan, I get red in the face when I try to discuss it with my countrymen.
The problem there is that the Administration did not know what they wanted to achieve by invading Iraq/toppling Saddam; consequently the win/loss is entirely in the eye of the beholder. I think we didn't win, but equally we have not lost (yet). A more important question is have the Iraqi population won or lost? Perhaps someone should ask them.
I think it wanted oil... nevermind. Anyway, yes, someone does need to talk to talk to the iraqis and figure out the issues of the SOI and Shia dominated ministries, lack of accessible power and clean water, as well as rampant corruption/laziness/incompetence in their government. These are among the "stuff" I mentioned.
 
#12
Chief_Joseph said:
deSTABlised said:
Chief_Joseph said:
stuff

And yes, I believe there is ALOT of truth to the blue portion. Nobody, pro or anti-war wants to talk about it anymore. Everyone has their mind made up, and are convinced that either we lost or that we won. And don't get me started on the absolute ignorance of the war in Afghanistan, I get red in the face when I try to discuss it with my countrymen.
The problem there is that the Administration did not know what they wanted to achieve by invading Iraq/toppling Saddam; consequently the win/loss is entirely in the eye of the beholder. I think we didn't win, but equally we have not lost (yet). A more important question is have the Iraqi population won or lost? Perhaps someone should ask them.
I think it wanted oil... nevermind. Anyway, yes, someone does need to talk to talk to the iraqis and figure out the issues of the SOI and Shia dominated ministries, lack of accessible power and clean water, as well as rampant corruption/laziness/incompetence in their government. These are among the "stuff" I mentioned.
If that really was the case, they'd have been better off cosying up to Saddam like the French and the Russians did, and arranging a free run for the oil majors. Had those idiots never heard of real politik? :roll:

Like you say, economic growth and public amenity is the fastest way to stability; if the average joe has water, electricity, a home and a job to pay for it all, he's much less likely to volunteer for wearing one of those exploding waistcoats.
 
#13
Fair one. Clearly it wasn't purely oil. Still, the amount of attention the CPA spent on securing oil pipelines as opposed to hospitals and training police is a bit dodgy.

Eek, I need to get this tinfoil hat off. Ah that feels better. I think I've gotten myself out of conspiracy mode
 
#14
Thanks for the responses guys - think the overall "higher awareness" of the US people where military matters are involved, probably helps in this.

Outside of those "close" to the mil in the UK, the general populace in the UK (IMO) is largely ignorant, apart from the soundbites - and that's if they can be arrsed to watch / read / listen to anything relating to the mil, in the first place.
 
#15
ronnie12398 said:
Patrick Cockburn is just an anti-American leftist who runs that crackpot website CounterPunch. He's an extremely biased source.
True, but he was right about the "Red Menace": in the early 1980s he countered the prevailing view of the GSFG as the "Fantasian Army" that could be at the Channel Ports in 2-3 weeks if the Kremlin gave the order, with a reasoned analysis which drew on sources largely ignored in the West. Cockburn asserted that the USSR was a socioeconomic basketcase on the verge of collapse whose armed forces, although large, were poorly equipped, badly trained/ led, with very low morale, who'd be incapable of sustaining any attack in the face of even moderate NATO resistance.

Cockburn was dismissed by all & sundry (notably by the CIA & academic "Soviet experts" of Group B) as a lefty loon with an axe to grind who wilfully ignored the "strategic realities". Well, thankfully, the crunch never came, but his analysis of the state of the USSR was spot on.

He may be wrong here, but maybe he's more perceptive than some are willing to acknowledge? As before, time will tell...
 
#16
Wessex_Man said:
ronnie12398 said:
Patrick Cockburn is just an anti-American leftist who runs that crackpot website CounterPunch. He's an extremely biased source.
True, but he was right about the "Red Menace": in the early 1980s he countered the prevailing view of the GSFG as the "Fantasian Army" that could be at the Channel Ports in 2-3 weeks if the Kremlin gave the order, with a reasoned analysis which drew on sources largely ignored in the West. Cockburn asserted that the USSR was a socioeconomic basketcase on the verge of collapse whose armed forces, although large, were poorly equipped, badly trained/ led, with very low morale, who'd be incapable of sustaining any attack in the face of even moderate NATO resistance.

Cockburn was dismissed by all & sundry (notably by the CIA & academic "Soviet experts" of Group B) as a lefty loon with an axe to grind who wilfully ignored the "strategic realities". Well, thankfully, the crunch never came, but his analysis of the state of the USSR was spot on.

He may be wrong here, but maybe he's more perceptive than some are willing to acknowledge? As before, time will tell...
CIA and Team B were two different kettle's of fish. Team B went in because the Reaganites on the Committee on the Present Danger felt that CIA was too left-leaning and that they were under-reporting Soviet strength in their estimates.
 
#17
According to New York Post columnist Amir Taheri, Obama attempted to delay US troop withdrawals from Iraq until after the US presidential elections by demanding Iraqi lawmakers delay Strategic Framework Agreement.

Sen, Barack Obama wants troops out of Iraq, but wants a delay in negotiations for removal.
http://www.nypost.com/seven/0915200...tried_to_stall_gis_iraq_withdrawal_129150.htm

Obama's double-dealing diplomacy.
http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=article&id=306456935180750

Obama's campaign denies the story, but the comments of Obama's national security spokeswoman only seem to confirm it.
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hi9TDNHvuBZpFsO8ZbiFYsnbIl3A

Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi, said Taheri's article bore "as much resemblance to the truth as McCain's campaign commercial".
"In fact, Obama had told the Iraqi's that they should not rush through a Strategic Framework Agreement governing the future of US forces until after George W Bush leaves office," she said.
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hi9TDNHvuBZpFsO8ZbiFYsnbIl3A

Seems like Obama and his supporters are trying to undermine the national security of both the US and Iraq. :roll:
 
#18
crabtastic said:
CIA and Team B were two different kettle's of fish. Team B went in because the Reaganites on the Committee on the Present Danger felt that CIA was too left-leaning and that they were under-reporting Soviet strength in their estimates.
Team B - of course! Sloppy of me, & I stand corrected. Yes, I know Team B was set up in opposition to the CIA's Team A, but it contained some former CIA & DIA people (eg D.O. Graham) along with Dickie Pipes & Co., which is what I meant to convey.
 

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