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The Media’s Schizophrenic Tapdancing on Surge “Success”

March 25th, 2008

Recent news: as civilian violence in Iraq escalates again, the Mahdi Army cease-fire seems on the brink of collapse. But even while the media reports on this and correctly identifies this as a possible end to the relative calm in Iraq this past 6 months, it still stubbornly insists that it would threaten the “success” of the Surge™. Come again? Either the surge was more responsible for the relative calm, or the Mahdi cease-fire did. You can’t have it both ways–but they’re trying to:

Is ‘success’ of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel?

BAGHDAD — A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr’s Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr’s followers that they’ll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

The freeze on offensive activity by Sadr’s Mahdi Army has been a major factor behind the recent drop in violence in Iraq, and there were fears that the confrontation that’s erupted in Baghdad and Basra could end the lull in attacks, assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.

Now, read that carefully, or go to the web page and read the whole thing. The headline claims that the surge is responsible for the relative calm, but the story clearly lays out that it’s the cease-fire that has done this.

Likely what happened was that the reporter on the ground who knows what’s what in Iraq wrote the story, and then an editor buying into the whole “Surge Success” bamboozle here at home pasted the headline on it, either because he believes it, or because he realizes that since everybody thinks the surge is a success, they’ll be confused if something else is credited.

Either way, Bush gets credit for something that had nothing to do with him. More Liberal Media™ fun!

As for the news itself, it is nothing close to fun, even in the sarcastic sense. This could signal a descent back into pre-cease-fire violence, lessened only by the balkanization of Iraqi sects and the relative lack of people left to violently butcher.

If that happens, what will be said about the surge? That it still worked, but the insurgents spoiled it? I’d say you can always bank on the U.S. media’s schizoid break with the reality of the situation, and that they’ll claim exactly that–despite how meaningless and self-contradictory it is.

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