Monday, March 06, 2006

Baghdad Syndrome

It's almost certainly a waste of time chronicling the self-reinforcing narratives of the Iraq war boosters, but every so often a statement rises above the normal standard. Consider then the performance of American Enterprise Institute "scholar" Michael Rubin on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Report, a show that airs on the Fox News Channel and whose creation for the Public Broadcasting Service and migration to Fox News is itself a chapter in the myth of media liberal bias.

We mentioned Rubin before, as a recipient of cash from the Lincoln Group, a mysteriously rapidly growing public relations firm that the Pentagon hired to plant "good news from Iraq" stories in the Iraqi media. Strangely, Rubin has now departed from the usual complaint that the media only focus on bad news from Iraq; he now claims that they're not reporting the really bad news, which is the extent to which Iran is running the show. Leave aside the fact that the risk of increased Iranian influence is something that was a good argument against invading in the first place, Rubin alleges that the media would easily see this if they weren't such cowards:

Rubin: ... How many people know Hassan Kazemi Qomi? He's Iran's chargé d'affairs. But he's not a diplomat. He's actually a member of something called the Qods Force, which is a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards dedicated to export of revolution. And before his job in Iraq, he was Iran's chief liaison to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

[Paul] Gigot [host]: I bet you there aren't a half a dozen members of the press corps who really know that. Certainly, I don't read that in the American press at all.

Rubin: Well, the U.S. press corps should be a little bit less self-centered. Stop looking just at the Americans in the Green Zone. Look at the whole operation. Because the fact of the matter is, what's going on in Iraq, it's not just us and the Iraqis. All the neighbors are involved. And a good inquisitive journalist would start looking around and seeing.

When I lived in Iraq, oftentimes I would live without security. I would just stay overnight, if I needed to talk to an Iraqi politician, in their house. In the middle of the night, Iranian politicians, Iranian journalists, Iranian officials would come to visit them. This was not being seen by U.S. diplomats, because most U.S. diplomats and many U.S. journalists aren't allowed to go out after dark.

Gigot: Although it's very dangerous now to do that. I mean, you have had journalists kidnapped. So, I mean, it's a lot tougher to do it now than when you were in Iraq back in 2003. You agree to that?

Rubin: Oh, I certainly agree to that. But the fact of the matter is, this is another question. It's a lot more dangerous for us now. But what are the Iranians doing? Do they have an embassy? Do they have a Green Zone? How are they operating? And likewise, in shutting them down, it's not just a matter of having a strategy to shut our adversaries down, but also to make our work a little bit better.

You'd think with Jill Carroll's fate still unknown that pushing this line would be seen as a bit tasteless but apparently not. But is he advocating that the journalists should get their own militia? Everyone else seems to have one.

One other howler from the same show:

[Daniel] Henninger: But on the political side, just to highlight one point that Tunku made, India is desperately in need of energy. If they don't get this nuclear deal with the United States, their default is a gas pipeline with Iran through Pakistan. In other words, if we push them away, they move over to Iran.

Which is just wrong: there is no if-then linking the nuclear deal to the Iranian pipeline; the pipeline is going ahead anyway, with the implied approval of George W. Bush:

Q My question is to President Bush. President Bush, you talked about a strategic relationship with Pakistan. You also talked about helping Pakistan economically, and you just mentioned that the Energy Secretary is going to be visiting Pakistan. So Pakistan has some general energy needs, and in that respect, the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline seems to have hit some problems because of the opposition from the United States. So what are some specific options that you have to address Pakistan's energy concerns? And are you working on offering Pakistan a civilian nuclear deal? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: As I mentioned, Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman will be here to work with the Pakistan government. Our beef with Iran is not the pipeline; our beef with Iran is the fact that they want to develop a nuclear weapon.

Once again, the question for the US conservatives should be: Why is it that the rhetoric and reality of US policy towards Iran always move in completely opposite directions under Republican presidents?

No comments: