lundi 21 avril 2008

Prof. Juan Cole on the Myth of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Sunday, April 20, 2008

McCain, the Retired Military "Analysts" and the Myth of al-Qaeda in Iraq
I am quoted in this NYT piece today on John McCain's allegations that the US is fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq and that there is a danger of "al-Qaeda" taking over the country if the US leaves.Those allegations don't make any sense. McCain contradicts himself because he sometimes warns that the Shiites or Iran will take over Iraq.

He doesn't seem to realize that the US presided over the ascension to power in Iraq of pro-Iranian Shiite parties like Nuri al-Maliki's Islamic Mission Party and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. So which is it? There is a danger that pro-Iranian Shiites will take over (which is anyway what we have engineered) or that al-Qaeda will? It is not as if they can coexist.

Since the Shiites are 60 percent and by now well armed and trained, and since the Sunni Arabs are only 17 percent of the population and since only about 1 percent of them perhaps supports Salafi radicalism--how can the latter hope to take over?

Even if McCain only means, as his campaign manager tried to suggest, that "al-Qaeda" could take over the Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, that doesn't make any sense either (McCain has actually alleged that al-Qaeda would take over the whole country.)

The Salafi radicals have lost in al-Anbar Province. Diyala Province, one of the other three predominantly Sunni areas, is ruled by pro-Iranian Shiites. That leaves Salahuddin and Ninevah Provinces. Among the major military forces in Ninevah is the Kurdish Peshmerga, some of them integrated e.g. into the Mosul police force. Hint: The Kurds don't like "al-Qaeda", i.e. Salafi radicalism. Jalal Talabani is a socialist.

So the Shiites and the Kurds among the Iraqis, now more powerful than the Sunni Arabs, would never allow a radical Salafi mini-state in their midst. They would crush them. And substantial segments of the Iraqi Sunni population have already helped crush them.

Moreover, Shiite Iran, secular Turkey, Baathist Syria and monarchical Jordan would never put up with a Salafi radical mini-state on their borders. They would crush it. Jordan's secret police already appear to have played a role in killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who had his own "Monotheism and Holy War" organization that for PR purposes he at one point rechristened "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia" (he actually never got along with Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri).

McCain's whole discourse on Iraq is just a typical rightwing Washington fantasy made up in order to get you to spend $15 billion a month on his friends in the military industrial complex and to get you to allow him to gut the US constitution and the Bill of Rights. The NYT revealed today that the Pentagon and the Bush administration has been propagandizing retired military "analysts" who appear frequently as talking heads on television, to ensure that the Bush point of view has hegemony on the airwaves.

Bill Maher has joked that we have heard from two sets of analysts, the generals and the retired generals. It is these secret networks of corrupt agents of influence that have Orwellized our society in recent years. And it will go on unless the public wakes up and demands a change. If you see a network or cable news segment with *only* Establishment commentators (i.e. two retired generals, or one and someone from the American Enterprise Institute), then get up an email campaign to complain to the anchor. Threaten an advertiser boycott. Our country is in danger from this stuff. McCain gets his ridiculous talking points on Iraq from these corrupt "analysts" and people like them inside the Pentagon.

In fact, it is well known that Defense Intelligence Agency analysts face trouble in writing reports on Iraq because they get stung by the Pentagon's own propaganda machine!

So then the analysts read Rubin in Arabic translation and report him back to their bosses as Iraqi public opinion! Then Rubin defended this sort of thing to the NYT without revealing his links to Lincoln (just as the retired generals did not tell CNN about their secret links).The kind of political pressures for conformity and 'good news' analysis of Iraq faced by the analysts is illustrated in Alex Rossmiller's book, Still Broken (note: I make a cameo).

At the moment no guerrilla group in Iraq even calls itself al-Qaeda. Zarqawi's organization appears to have collapsed in Ramadi with his death, which is a part of the story of the rise of pro-American 'awakening councils' there that no one mentions.

Note: For Michael Rubin's profile please click on the link below:

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