Sunday, November 26, 2006

Badger's Week in Review

Before getting down to Badger's Week in Review, I have some important information that will be difficult for some readers to accept, but I think we should face up to it. There was actually a useful bit of Iraq news in the New York Times this morning, Badger's relentless attacks on that institution notwithstanding. James Glanz writes that the 2003 US strategy going in included alliances with Shiite militias to help topple the Sunni regime, and the strategy now is to look for Sunni allies, including among the Sunni tribes, to help topple the Shiite groups. He does not put it quite that simply, but some of the facts are there, and it is worth a read. Up to now this idea of sectarianism at the heart of US strategy has been a talking point of the resistance and the other groups that are barred access to Western media.

Of course, that isn't the point of the Glanz piece, and if you had not been made aware of the importance of this point to people in the region, you could easily have missed it.

Getting back to the Week in Review: At the beginning of the week, Bush's decision to ask for help from rogue-nation Syria was seen as an indication he had run out of palatable options (such as relying on his moderate friends in Riyadh, Cairo and Amman); and at the end of the week remarks in Al-Hayat and A-Quds al-Arabi indicated he was still trying to get a toehold for talks with the armed resistance groups. Mid-week (you probably missed it, under Miscellaneous Updates), there was a report to the effect that al-Anbar "tribal leader" Sattar abu Risha, or Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, decided that the uniform of its US-supported tribal-alliance fighters would be the uniform of the Saddam-regime Special Forces. And as James Glanz tells us today:
[T]he United States is stepping up efforts to identify militias associated with Iraqi tribes, political parties, geographic regions and even insurgent groups — to placate and co-opt those they can, and even play some off against each other....Such efforts have sometimes seemed promising. In September, 25 tribes in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province [referring to the abu Risha group, the ones who will be dressed in Saddam Special Forces uniforms] agreed to cooperate militarily in order to combat the local influence of Al Qaeda. But so far, that agreement seems to have had little influence on security; American and Iraqi troops continue to die at a disheartening rate in Anbar.
That's it for the Week in Review.

But while we're in a reflective mode, let's take a moment to look ahead and pay attention to the next big thing in the Western media coverage of Iraq: Social Science. Here's how it works, according to our friend Edward Wong, of Abu Risha fame. First: "American professors who specialize in the study of civil wars say that most of their number are in agreement that Iraq’s conflict is a civil war", and one of the very important scientific indicators of that is what he calls with clinical precision the "spiraling bloodshed". We are at the forefront of something very important here, because "Scholars say it is crucial that policy makers and news media organizations recognize the Iraq conflict as a civil war." Why? A Stanford professor provides the answer: "There is a scientific community that studies civil wars, and understands their dynamics and how they, in general, end. This research is valuable to our nation’s security."

I have news for everyone. This is pseudo-science in the interests of maintaining US military involvement in Iraq on alleged humanitarian grounds. Suppose the Chinese take over California and the Stanford professors take up arms, but so do the local bikers. The professors fight the bikers, and other groups join in too in a pattern of "spiraling bloodshed". The Chinese say: Our experts say California is in civil war, and we must prolong our military involvement there until they work this out, which our scientific research tells us could mean years.

To put it another way, when the neocons were in power, the Social Scientists were nowhere to be seen. They weren't needed. Now that the Democrats are going to require a rationale for continued military involvement, they feel their moment has come. And like Sattar abu Risha, when they need a spokesperson, they know where to look.

Or as Azmi Bishara put it in the piece summarized here on Friday: "As befits a great nation, the lies and deceptions are never without a theoretical pseudo-scientific basis to rely on..."


Blogger annie said...

you probably missed it

not i! i tooth and comb everything you write.

invaluable analysis as usual. another badger appreciation moment.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes indeed. Your blog is invaluable. I check it every day.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just stumbled across your blog today, following a link from Juan Cole (what a great reference!).

Thank you for your work.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As befits a great nation, the lies and deceptions are never without a theoretical pseudo-scientific basis to rely on..."


I am not surprised at the expectations you describe. After all is said and done, the Republicans are not the only ones who work for the Capitalist War Profiteers. The war effort must go on with new reasons, new labels having an intellectual veneer.

7:07 AM  

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