Petraeus and Crocker, less convincing this time

Chris20weston20big20brother20hey20o The power of description is a mighty power indeed.  Congress and the MSM give televised witnesses a splendid opportunity to "frame" discussions in such a way that the old "saw" that holds that one is entitled to a particular point of view but not to invented facts becomes irrelevant.

This week’s stalwart duo has relentlessly and endlessly described the Badr/ISCI/Dawa hold on power in Iraq as the "government of Iraq" so many times that it must seem to most people that Maliki is the reincarnation of George Washington rather than merely one of the contestants for power in that miserable place.

Then, there are the "special groups."   These two words are being used to conjure up direct Iranian responsibility for our remaining difficulties in Iraq.  We seem to be expected to believe that were it not for the Iranians all would be well in Iraq. 

The endless repetition of these two propaganda "themes;"

– Maliki’s legitimacy above all other contenders

– direct Iranian intervention as the cause of Shia infighting,

have been the music of the Petraeus/Crocker show before Congress.

This propaganda technique of the endless repetition of truth, half truth or outright lies is the essence of the propaganda trade.

This is how we were sold the war.  pl

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27 Responses to Petraeus and Crocker, less convincing this time

  1. meletius says:

    You know, I’m curious if Petraeus received orders to “support” the Maliki “offensive” against al Sadr, or if he just gets to decide these “policies” on his own. Who decided that we were going to support this attack on the militia of a popular political party that was once part of the “government”? Petraeus? Cheney?
    Why isn’t this just simple interference in the internal political processes of the colony? Was Petraeus even asked what was the justification for the assault on Basra for which we quickly came to the rescue?
    Don’t the senators care why our airplanes are dropping bombs in congested urban areas, necessarily killing and discomfitting hundreds of civilians?
    Petraeus testified both that he knew about the offensive beforehand and that it was a “surprise”. Huh? And if he thought it was such a “bad plan” (like he says now), what did he tell Maliki about it at the time? Did he object to the “poor plan” beforehand? Why not?
    And why can’t the senators ever ask any worthwhile questions–such as the above?

  2. anna missed says:

    – direct Iranian intervention as the cause of Shia infighting,
    This is undoubtably true, considering that the Maliki/Badr government is the primary cats paw of Iran, as it continues to fund, train, and financially support the Badr and swell the ranks of the Iraqi Army. And yes, the current Maliki/Badr operation Knights Assault, on Basra and Sadr City have indeed caused the infighting amongst the Sia community. They are after all attacking their fellow Shiites.

  3. stanley Henning says:

    Adding to this, nothing could have been more disgusting than listening to Frederick Kagan’s orchestrated (and empty) responses to LTG (Ret) Odom’s assessment of the current Iraq situation on PBS yesterday — a perfect example of amateurish ignorance writ large, reminding one of the “body count” approach that ignored all the human factors in the Vietnam era.

  4. Tuli says:

    My favorite part was about the “12 Benchmarks” that couldn’t be delineated. It tells the whole story.

  5. b says:

    Well, maybe there is “direct Iranian intervention as the cause of Shia infighting”
    Did Iran order Maliki to attack Sadr’s movement?
    Impossible? Why?

  6. Bill H. says:

    At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law:
    “The only thing more dangerous than believing the enemy’s propaganda is believing your own.” Joseph Goebbels

  7. Charles I says:

    I think this account from the BBC of an SAS raid north of Baghdad on an insurgent bomb-making factory shows the turer origin of the curretn conflict:
    “. . .an insurgent bomb-making team moved from Baghdad to a heavily Sunni area outside the capital.
    They found a house in one of the nicest parts of town and got to work. It seemed, said one US officer I spoke to, that the whole neighbourhood knew they were there.
    This represented a huge failure for the coalition, since the neighbourhood included the city’s Iraqi police chief, who lived opposite the house, the commander of the local Iraqi Swat team, who was just as close, and a judge.
    The officer told me: “This target was surrounded by the Iraqi police, authority figures, a judge. My question to them was and has been for the past week: ‘How come all the local civilians… know all these people came in and don’t belong here but you as commanders of police don’t go in there and check it out?’
    One very damaging possibility is that the local police knew all along, and turned a blind eye as long as the bombs were intended for coalition soldiers and not their own men.”
    The raid ends in ambush, KIA’s, airstrikes, the terrorists – the Judge and police Chief’s neighbours, mind – hiding in women & children as they flee the 40 mm cannonfire, angry neighbours later standing around a smoldering crater, the whole nine yards. The lengthy piece focuses on SAS operations far afield from Basra in particular, but it speaks volumes more about conditions in general than General Petreaus. Worth the read on both counts.

  8. John Howley says:

    The wrong people were at the hearing table. Should be Gates and Rice not their subordinates.
    The White House manipulated the entire discussion by putting Petraeus and Crocker up front. Those two individuals share Bush’s personal interest in maintaining our glorious stalemate through the end of his (and their) term of office.

  9. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. New book on Sadr by Patrick Cockburn, nice timing:
    “In any real accommodation between Shia and Sunni, the Sadrists must play a central role. Muqtada probably represented his constituency of millions of poor Shia better than anybody else could have done. But he never wholly controlled his own movement, and never created as well-disciplined a force as Hezbollah in Lebanon. None of his ambitions for reconciliation with the Sunni could take wing unless the Mehdi Army ceased to be identified with death squads and sectarian cleansing.
    The war in Iraq has gone on longer than World War I and, while violence diminished in the second half of 2007, nothing has been resolved. The differences between Shia and Sunni, the disputes within the respective communities, and the antagonism against the U.S. occupation are all as great as ever. The only way the Sadrists and the Mehdi Army could create confidence among the Sunni that Muqtada meant what he said when he called for unity, would be for them to be taken back voluntarily into the areas in Baghdad and elsewhere from which they have been driven. But there is no sign of this happening. The disintegration of Iraq has probably gone too far for the country to exist as anything more than a loose federation.”
    2. Old book for background:
    Yitzhak Nakash, The Shi’is of Iraq (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
    I suppose rereading the old Alcibiades story would provide appropriate context per certain whores.

  10. frogspawn says:

    Why does Joseph Goebbels hate America?

  11. Carl Osgood says:

    In an interview on radio on Monday, Phil Giraldi noted that Maliki’s assault on Basra was precede by Dick Cheney’s visit to Baghdad. “I have heard that in the aftermath [of the assault] that al Maliki was complaining bitterly to his closest aides that Cheney had been the one who pushed him into it,” Giraldi said. Giraldi added that the report was unconfirmed but that it “seems to indicate that the activist role Cheney pursues is becoming dominant.”
    Sen. Kennedy asked both Petraeus and Crocker if the Basra assault was discussed in any of Cheney’s meetings in Baghdad. Apparently they were both caught by surprise by the question and then answered “not in any meetings that I participated in.”
    Since anyone with an once of brains knows that US supply lines extend 300 miles from Kuwait to Baghdad through Shiite dominated territory the quesiton naturally follows: Is Cheney preparing the ground for a U.S. assault on Iran by goading the Maliki government into securing those supply lines?

  12. Montag says:

    Well, blaming the whole thing on “outside agitators” worked so well to maintain Segregration in the South, didn’t it?
    Yeah, that Odom-Kagan matchup on the Lehrer Newshour was a hoot! Gen. Odom came across as the no nonsense family Doctor telling the patient that he’s sicker than he thinks and some radical lifestyle changes are in order. Kagan was a snakeoil salesman promising the patient that everything can be fixed if he buys a bottle of Kickapoo Joy Juice–from Kagan.
    I’ll bet Gen. Odom would have agreed with what James Garner said in “Support Your Local Gunfighter,”–“It’s bad enough I gotta kill you, without listening to a whole lotta stupid talk first.”

  13. Mo says:

    b, not impossible but unlikely. Sadr is the fly in the ointment, the thorn that you have to be wary of.
    If Iran wants to “unleash hell” on US forces in Iraq as retaliation for an attack on them, Sadr would be their go to guy. And they are smart enough to keep that card at least until Bush is out of the White House.
    And even if they have no influence on him at all, which would be naive to think, like the Syrians and Hizballah, they would still like to use the card as a bluff. Who would know?

  14. Bobo says:

    First: You have to take your hat off to Petraeus & Crocker for taking on jobs that are the most difficult at this time. Performing them with degrees of excellence within the boundaries of their assignments.
    Second: Seeing them before congress leaves one to believe that your not getting a frank assessment. Most likely its the audience.
    Third: I assume we will see the Organ Grinder in a few days deciding that he will follow their recommendations to the fullest.
    Fourth: Its a Political decision to enhance, reduce, contain or leave our operations in Iraq. Right now we are at a standstill.

  15. J says:

    big headline in reuters: U.S. sees Iran and Syria “Lebanon” gambit in Iraq
    ‘they’ (bush-cheney admin. and their mouthpieces) think that we the public at large are empty headed and cannot discern between truth and the ‘big lie’, hence as you said — This propaganda technique of the endless repetition of truth, half truth or outright lies is the essence of the propaganda trade. This is how we were sold the war.

  16. Montag says:

    “Colonel Killed In Green Zone.” Here’s a shocking little article from the Huntsville Times about the death of Colonel Stephen Scott on Sunday, killed with two other soldiers while on a treadmill in the U.S. Embassy fitness center. It was a mortar round.

  17. Mad Dogs says:

    One aspect of the hearings this week that the MSM “missed” (subtlety is almost always missed by the MSM), was a sense that I got that Petraeus was a wee bit more deferential this time around with the Democratic questioning, and in particular, with the questioning from his likely future Commander-In-Chief (towards both Obama and Clinton).
    As a “political tea leaf reader”, Petraeus seemed to be recognizing that his future in the Army is now in the hands of a likely Democratic Administration, and that Junya is mostly irrelevant.
    While Petraeus doggedly made the expected Administration talking points, I got the sense that he knew and acknowledged that the Occupation’s days were numbered (a wee bit less than 300).
    Crocker, on the other hand, who is retiring about the same time as a new Administration takes office, seemed to be far less concerned about smooching Democratic butt.
    I got the sense that Crocker was mostly indifferent to the Democrats, and in a somewhat astonishing way, seemed to polish Bush/Cheney talking points all the while communicating that he has a mess on his hands, that it will still be a mess under the new Administration, and there ain’t likely anything that anyone can do about it. The mess is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

  18. I beg your indulgence so that I may assert some unkind words: the testimony offered seem to me to represent the darkest days of the whole damn carnival starting with the Project for A New American Century.
    When you have Mr. Crocker refining the grotesque paranoia of several congress persons to suppose that a-Q might take over the US as a next step rather than a last step, and, you have both General and diplomat sharpening the three points of the a-Q-Iran-Sadr arrowhead irrespective of any facts, you just know this is headed toward a horrific bloodletting in Iran.
    This is beyond sad and beyond terrible.

  19. Robert C. says:

    Two comments.
    1- the treadmill that poor Col. Scott was killed on probably cost more than the average Iraqi (or African) earns in a year. His death is sad, but empire has its costs.
    2- I read many blogs and newspapers. Yet for almost 3 years no-one has yet to explain why it would be “bad” if Iran exerted influene over Iraq. Oil willstill flow, they need the money. It is their neighborhood. The US influences Cananda (yes we do) and Mexico. Somebody please explain why it would be so dire if Iran influenced Iraq. It seems to me that only US hegemony would be diminished.

  20. condfusedponderer says:

    From the Kagan/Odom exchange:

    The Sunni community turned and started to work with the Shia against al-Qaida. And now you’ve had a Shia community that was tolerating and supporting Iranian-backed militias, has united with the Sunni, and formed a coalition against those militias.

    What is Kagan talking about?
    From all I know the Sunni work for themselves and thankfully take US money for furthering their interests – kicking out Al Quaeda in Iraq, and especially creating a counterweight to the central government. For all accounts the Maliki crowd has been unhappy with this, for obvious reasons.
    That said, I feel that I must have missed the news about a Sunni-Maliki reconciliation. Sounds to me as if all there is is Kagan’s cheerful assertion, but then, I may be wrong.
    Kagan’s narrative is that Iraq is united, and under Maliki’s leadership eventually cracks down on Iranian-backed Sadrist renegades (read: proxies) – propaganda.
    What I fear is that this rhetoric of a proxy war can be easily used to justify a strike on Iran, after all, de facto, so the narrative goes, they’re at war with the US already through their renegade Sadrist proxies – time to teach them a lesson. Considering the silence of both Rice and Gates and Cheney’s presence in the region on the issue of US v. Iran, the war-o-meter is up again.

  21. arbogast says:

    The constituency of the Republican Party is everyone in the United States making over $250,000 a year.
    It is absolutely amazing that this tiny sliver of the population is able to control the national dialogue about a “war” that has taken the lives of over 4,000 Americans, cost over a trillion dollars, lasted longer than both World Wars, destroyed a country, and tarnished beyond repair our standing in the world. Amazing.
    How is it that nationally televised hearings before Congress pit a uniformed General versus Senators and Representatives?
    What was a member of the military doing in that hearing room?
    The first and last question to Petraeus should have been, “What are we fighting for in Iraq to the best of your knowledge and how did you determine that?”
    It should have been Gates and Rice in front of the cameras, not a man in uniform.
    The Democrats deserve to lose.

  22. Larry Mitchell says:

    Maybe I don’t understand how the government is supposed to work, but I’m amazed at how the members of congress are grilling Petraeus and Crocker as though this were their policy. This is the president’s policy which the republicans in congress have been happy to support as long as it is not right around election time.
    These two guys are trying to carry out a strategy under the worst of conditions that will give this unfortunate policy a fighting chance. Congress in its role of oversight should be trying to determine whether this policy can ever work and whether we can afford it.
    They should be grilling these guys for the facts to determine whether the bench marks are being met to determine whether the policy has a chance to succeed. I don’t think they even have to talk to these guys to determine whether we can afford it.
    As for the American public, we need to remind our representatives in congress that they own this goddamned war whether they want to act like it or not. They need to quit acting like a room full of relatives each trying to wait out the other to see who is going to give in and change the baby’s diaper. This is just more congressional cowardice in my opinion.

  23. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    It was too bad that so few at the hearing or in the press paid attention to Sen. Hagel’s comments reminding everyone that both Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker were agents of Bush and therefore unable to state their own independent points of view. Gen. Petraeus said as much later in the hearing when he implied that both he and Amb. Crocker had chosen professions where they were dependent on others for employment.
    Although neither of them argued that water can flow uphill, given the increasingly high levels of uncertainty in Iraq, which now allows for the existence of an even broader range of possible positive and negative outcomes from which policy can be determined, they chose, consistent with the interests of their employer, to present as much of the positive as they could.
    I would not have expected them to do otherwise.
    One can only hope that Hagel’s comments will ultimately reflect the thinking of a majority of Congress so that they can more easily ignore the undefined almost wishful thinking metrics of Bush’s salesmen and develop some of their own that are more in step with the reality of the situation and the wishes of the people of this country.

  24. Mark Pyruz says:

    Mo, your commentary is correct, regarding Sadr and Iran.

  25. Curious says:

    The question of Iraq is diminishing greatly in term of priority.
    The federal reserve is depleted at $30B/week, we are at $500B now down from nearly $800. Once reserve hits under $200B, we will be in national banking panic.
    It doesn’t matter what happens in Iraq, everything will spiral down quickly.
    The question of Iraq political process, strategy or regional stability should have been answered 2 years ago.
    Now the war has reached different level of complexity. It’s a question if Treasury department is manned by corrupt or capable people.

  26. searp says:

    The truth has been hiding in plain sight for years.
    We have no constituency in Iraq, we have allies of convenience. These allies, being allies of convenience, change at whim – either our whim or their whim.
    So we blunder around in the maze that is Iraq, generally stirring things up, using devastating weapons when needed, in pursuit of an chimerical end state defined by propaganda for domestic political consumption.
    The utter pointlessness of it is really depressing. The essential evil of it all is masked by propaganda that has consistently represented our role in Iraq as humanitarian.
    There is no way to explain our acceptance of this propaganda except to think that we are utterly incapable, psychologically, of imagining that we have actually done considerable evil.

  27. Now that sufficient time has passed since the testimony by the dynamic duo, it is certain that the exercise was completely meaningless except for giving Presidential candidates some TV time. Still the General and Ambassador needed some time away from Iraq to see their families and line up support for future employment. Has a single appointee resigned over Iraqi policy in the Executive Branch? A list of those, if any, who did might be useful to the next administration. By the way does John McCain think we won or lost in Viet Nam? How about the other two? Last time the one who could make up his mind–he had better things to do–won and the one who still didn’t know what he thought lost. Perhaps the past is prologue.

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