In recent months we have been inundated by media reports
bringing good news from Iraq, with countless testimonials to the great
improvement in security enjoyed by the country in general and the Baghdad area
in particular. This progress is attributed solely to the judicious �surge� of
US military presence, and the astute tactics enacted by occupation forces in a
place that once personified despair and violence. Indeed, reports repeatedly
point to the figure indicating that violence in Iraq has dwindled by 60 percent
in the last three months.
BBC reporter in Iraq, Jim Muir, is one of the leading
enthusiasts of the apparent miracle. In his report, �Is Iraq Getting Better?�
he indulges in over-generalized estimations which just happen to be shared by
the US military.
�Over the past three months, there has been a sharp and
sustained drop in all forms of violence. The figures for dead and wounded,
military and civilian, have also greatly improved . . . People walk in crowded
streets in the evening, when just a few months ago they would have been huddled
behind locked doors in their homes. Everybody agrees that things are much
Elsewhere, Muir goes further in discussing the role played
by Sunni militias in bringing peace to Baghdad. He quotes a militiaman as
saying, �At the beginning, people saw it as an occupation which had to be
resisted. But then they saw that the Americans were working in the interests of
The BBC represents only a mild example in this charade,
which is instilled mostly by the Bush administration and its allies in the
military and in the mainstream media. It is mind-boggling how the latter could
accept the so-called transformation from chaos to semi-order without any real
Meanwhile there are a few sources of information regarding
the violence resulting from the US invasion of Iraq. One of these is the US
military itself, which keeps track of and publishes information pertinent to
the violence only when it�s relevant to attacks on US installations and
personnel. Confirming or denying these reports in their entirety is
unattainable by any independent source. Considering the politicized nature of
the US military public relation strategies, such reports should hardly attest
to what is indeed unfolding in Iraq.
Another source of information is the Iraq government and
army. It�s no secret that those at the helm of both of these institutions are
working under the command of the US military. Spokesmen for the Iraqi
government coordinate their statements -- with a few exceptions -- to confirm
those made by the latter.
It seems odd that the bulk -- if not the entirety -- of
reports on the improvement in security are predicated principally on
information released by the US military, Iraqi official sources or willing
collaborators of both (conformist Shia sources, tribal Sunni leaders). The
latter group reportedly receives a monthly imbursement for helping guard their areas
against al-Qaeda. Moreover, an estimated 80,000 Sunni fighters -- many of whom
were apparently insurgents fighting the US military -- get paid $300 US each to
perform various guarding duties. What else do media �investigative� reporters
expect to hear from those who get paid to improve security in Iraq? Can they
possibly discredit their own efforts, thus losing badly needed incomes? It's
interesting how the US military can now lend its trust to arming and funding
the same people who were supposedly blowing up their vehicles a few months ago.
A third source of news is the implausibly huge number of
statements made by various organizations in Iraq -- some fighting the US and
British forces, others fighting amongst themselves due to differences of
ethnicity or agenda. Moreover, many of Iraq�s death squads were found to be no
other than Al-Badr Brigades, the militant arm of some leading members of the
Iraqi government. Much of the killing was also attributed to al-Mahdi Army,
based mostly in Baghdad�s al-Sadr City. Internal politics and secretive
dealings have contributed to the cessation of violence attributed to al-Mahdi
militias. The Iraqi army and police are said to be assembled from these two
large Shia militant groupings, and much of the violence seems to be of their
Isn�t possible that the US allies decided to cease their
violence and ethnic cleansing in Baghdad to give the impression that President
Bush�s iingenius �surge� strategy has paid off, thus discrediting all of his
detractors, both at home and abroad?
Is it not ingenious that the Iraq �success story� is now,
retrospectively, associating such upbeat and positive terminologies --
security, peace, safety, hope -- with a most sinister act, that of military
invasion of a sovereign country and the subjugation of its people?
Why isn�t the media asking these questions instead of
indulging in �good news� which is likely to propagate and justify the
unwarranted and humiliating occupation?
There are more sources that are closer to credibility than
any of the ones above. Independent reports such as the survey of Iraqi
households in the Lancet, estimating that by July 2006, 655,000 Iraqis died as
a consequence of war. UK-based polling agency Opinion Research Business reached
even a higher number, in September 2007, suggested that 1.2 million people
might have died as a result of the war.
But no number can do justice to the hurt felt by Iraqi
people, so many of whom perished by the firepower of their �liberators.�
On December 28, 14 Iraqis were reportedly killed, and 64
others were wounded in a Baghdad square crowded with shoppers following the
Friday prayer. I wonder if the many families that collectively share the latest
tragedy in Baghdad will find some peace and comfort in the figures and
statistics issued by the US military and disseminated cheerfully be the media.
I wonder how the people of the bloody Tayaran Square would respond to the
question: �Is Iraq getting better?�
Would any reporter even bother to ask them their thoughts?Ramzy
Baroud is a Palestinian-American author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has
been published in numerous newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People�s
Press, London). Read more about him on his website: ramzybaroud.net.