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March 30, 2006

Losing Reception


If GDub thinks he’s having trouble with Iraqi images on U.S. TV, he seems to overlook the bigger issue of what the Iraqi’s are watching.

With our military superiority largely mitigated by political turmoil, we have become enveloped in a massive perceptual battle — on radically unfamiliar and increasingly adversarial turf.  Only magnifying the problem is the fact that the Gulf, in the past two years (and especially in post-Saddam Iraq), has experienced an explosion of autonomous TV news.

The LAT (which I believe has been far superior to the NYT in its Iraqi coverage lately) had a good summary piece (Unfair, Unbalanced Channels) on Tuesday on the Iraqi news networks.  Just as the country is partitioning along factional lines, so, too, are the increasingly popular TV organizations.  Although the U.S. was catching no break from the Sunni-oriented Baghdad TV, the Shiite-run Al Furat and the government sponsored Al Iraqiya (recently turned over by the U.S.) are now taking a progressively fundamental Shia line — and whipping the U.S. with it.

On Sunday, two days before the LAT piece appeared, an incident took place in Baghdad that was one of the most confusing I’ve read about.  According to religious officials, U.S. and Iraqi army forces stormed the Mustafa mosque in Northern Baghdad and killed 16 Shiites alleged to be worshipping.

According to U.S. military spokespeople, however, the Mustafa mosque was actually six blocks away.  Rather, the U.S. claims it attacked an insurgent compound inside a community center which was being used as a base for weapons storage and the staging of terror strikes.  The location had allegedly been under surveillance for a month.  The military claims that hostilities only broke out when they were aggressively attacked, and that all but one of the insurgents were killed by Iraqi forces.  The military insists that the televised scene of the so-called massacre, depicting unarmed bodies and scattered Korans, had to have been staged.

At this point, the military can claim and clarify all they want.  However, about the only thing the Iraqis are going to see are dead worshipers (placed or not); used bullet shells from the scene (of a type only used by Americans); more scenes of American soldiers kicking in people’s front doors; and maybe a shot or two of a U.S. general preaching to the choir when the U.S. Senators come to town.

(image 1: Reuters.  March 26, 2006.  Sadr City, Baghdad. Via;  image 2: AP,  March 26, 2006.  Associated Press Television News. Via YahooNews; image 3: AFP/David Furst.  Ramadi, Iraq.  March 26, 2005.  Via YahooNews; image 4: Mohammed Hato/AFP/POOL/File.  Baghdad. March 4, 2004. Via YahooNews.)

  • momly

    Time to leave yet?

  • itwasnt me

    The 4-TV set up reminds me of some kind of “modern” are exhibit. Maybe it should be in consideration for the inevitable monument to our Iraqi war dead.
    Substantively, your post once again points out how bush talks big but does nothing. As a psychologist, I’d love to hear your take on bush’s id – this isn’t passive/aggressive, is it? Cowardice? Withholding personality disorder? Shame-based personality?

  • The BAG

    itwasnt me,

    There are a number of places where I’ve taken up Bush’s character.  Short of tracking down a list, here is one post that does a general take on the “all hat/no cattle” persona.   

  • black dog barking

    The absence of a functioning legal system makes it possible to stage atrocities — whoever has the pictures wins the argument regardless of the facts. With no competent investigating authority there’s no way to change the hoaxed perception. “When they stand up we’ll stand down” doesn’t mean much unless the new Iraqi Army is being trained to restore all civil authority. And that sounds like the blueprint for a new dictatorship.
    Plan For Victory.

  • jt from BC

    The LAT, yep improving…
    ‘Unit’s’ military expert has fighting words for Bush.
    Eric Haney..was a founding member of Delta Force, the military’s elite covert counter-terrorist unit. (some interview responses)
    “Utter debacle..We have fomented civil war in Iraq.. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world..our credibility is utterly zero..They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they’re going to have from now on.. The harm..done is irreparable.. torture is because they like to do it. It’s about vengeance, it’s about Cheney). The American people come around. They always do.” (03/26/2006)

  • ummabdulla,,1741699,00.html
    ‘If you start looking at them as humans, then how are you gonna kill them?’
    They are a publicity nightmare for the US military: an ever-growing number of veterans of the Iraq conflict who are campaigning against the war. To mark the third anniversary of the invasion this month, a group of them marched on Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. Inigo Gilmore and Teresa Smith joined them
    …He says that soldiers who served in his area before his unit’s arrival recommended them to keep spades on their vehicles so that if they killed innocent Iraqis, they could throw a spade off them to give the appearance that the dead Iraqi was digging a hole for a roadside bomb…

  • anon

    Rather, the U.S. claims it attacked an insurgent compound inside a community center which was being used as a base for weapons storage and the staging of terror strikes.
    Actually, the US military later admitted that the compound attacked contained a mosque. See this telegraph article for details:
    Iraqi and American special forces who attacked an insurgent headquarters in Baghdad were not aware that their target contained a mosque until after the battle, America’s most senior soldier said yesterday.
    It is a typical tactic. Deny the facts when the story first comes out and admit your mistake later when nobody is paying attention.

  • chris

    Riverbend of the blog Bagdhad Burning mentions a scrolling ‘headline’ on local TV news stations the other day that stated, ““The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”
    Wish I had a screen shot! Here’s a link:

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