Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Two important articles, and a comment on the coverage

Here are two essential articles I’ve enjoyed reading recently:

John Keegan and Bartle Bull, ‘What is a civil war?Prospect Magazine (UK), December 2006

Frederick Turner, ‘Baghdad Vigilantes and the Dark Side of Civil Society,’ TCS Daily, October 25, 2006

My only qualm about Turner’s thought-provoking piece is that the Sadrist ‘death squads’ are not directing their viciousness at Sunni insurgents exclusively but rather at lay Sunnis too. I think that Keegan/Bull’s point about chaos in Iraq being mistakenly characterized (conveniently for some, I may add) as civil war is spot on.

My little quip of the today: I have this sneaking suspicion that most Western news bureaus in Baghdad are being subjected to a very sophisticated disinformation campaign. I've been looking at the recent coverage and something does not add up; it goes beyond the bias most of these reporters have against the war to begin with, or the backgrounds of their Iraqi stringers and fixers. I think they are being played. I don't have much information to back it, just instinct at this point. But played by whom? And how? Editors back in the States should look into revising sourcing methods for Iraq before it becomes apparent that they may have been duped.


Anonymous lester said...

you would certainly know about very sophisticated disinformation campaigns. like the office of special plans, the rendon group, and the iraqi National Congress.

11:43 AM, November 27, 2006

Blogger madtom said...

Well for one it's easier and cheaper to just say you "burned" someone alive that to actually go out and do it. And I you call in a "burned" alive report, some journalist just might come out to check out the report, and then you have a prime target for kidnapping and ransom come to you. Again cheaper and safer. And if you can cause a little political panic and all around mayhem, all the better.

11:48 AM, November 27, 2006

Anonymous OhBoy said...


I've had some suspicions of fraudalent stories lately, too.

Aside from the obvious fabrication of six Sunnis being burned alive, many articles today have been publishing alleged brutal Shia on Sunni violence by citing single individual sources.

I just recently read an article about a Sunni man who is alleging that he and a few others were kidnapped by 2 men and a woman and taken captive in a Husseiniyah where he claims to have seen a Sunni man beheaded. Sounds a bit far fetched to me.

Is there any way you could alert any influential figures you know within the Iraqi government about these fabrications? There should be a counter campaign to let the world know that many of these stories are false.

6:44 PM, November 27, 2006

Anonymous neo-lester said...

also, could you deliver the message to them in person?

8:20 AM, November 28, 2006

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi Ohboy,

48 hours ago we were led to believe that a civil war will erupt once the curfew is lifted. There was palpable excitement in the air as the news bureaus were reporting this. A macabre adrenaline-rush brought about by a media feeding frenzy. But someone was feeding the press and their stringers this expectation, as well as flooding discussion boards and generating sms messages to this effect. Someone was trying to condition people to believe that the dam has been broken and that "this is it!"

The media ate it up. But the curfew had been lifted for two days now and we haven't seen that massive surge of violence.

Those handling security in Iraq should pay more attention to how the insurgents manipulate the media. This is less a free speech issue than a national security one: Iraqis are dying because of this. I'd detain journalists and stringers, yes even western journalists, to get to the bottom of this. This is not so radical, after all, Judy Miller served time for not revealing her sources, and most US-based journalists cheered this outcome to spite her and the neocons.

Surely unmasking insurgent networks is more honorable a task than tainting Scooter Libby for something that Armitage turned out to be responsible for, huh?



1:41 PM, November 28, 2006

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi madtom,

Most newspapers are trying to cut down spending...you should be hired as a 'slimming-down' consultant!

You're absolutely correct: reporting is costly and dangerous, fiction isn't.



1:44 PM, November 28, 2006

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