by Steve Burns, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
It must be an iron law of American “journalism” that any report of violence in Iraq must also use the violence as an occasion to raise concerns about the required Dec. 2011 withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. Here, for example, is how the New York Times reports on Monday’s bomb attacks that have killed more than 80 people:
Coming a little less than two weeks after the Iraqi government said it would negotiate with the United States about keeping some of its 48,000 troops here after the end of the year, the violence raised significant questions about the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces.
First of all, if the bomb attacks “raise significant questions about the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces,” then shouldn’t they also “raise significant questions about the capabilities” of the 50,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq? After all, if those 50,000 troops (and an unspecified number of mercenaries) couldn’t help prevent Monday’s attack, why would keeping them in Iraq past the end of this year help prevent any future bomb attacks?
Second, does the U.S. military possess some special terrorist-fighting capabilities that the Iraqi police and military don’t have? If so, what are these capabilities, and why aren’t they employing them now? And why didn’t they make use of their special (and mysterious) bomb-attack-preventing abilities over the past eight years, when a 200,000-strong U.S. occupation presided over an even higher level of terrorist violence?
Step outside the U.S. media sphere, however, and you’ll find the thinking is a little more sophisticated – here’s how the Toronto Globe and Mail reported on the same attacks:
Theodore Karasik, a Middle East security expert at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said that al-Qaeda may be using reverse psychology. Greater violence could lead to calls for the U.S. to extend its military presence, but the terror group knows that the U.S. is very unlikely to resume a full-scale combat mission and that the troop numbers would be too small to make much of a difference. “If the U.S. extends its military presence, al-Qaeda in Iraq can use it as a tool by saying, ‘Look, the Americans have reversed their decision to leave and are staying on as occupiers.’ They could use this as a justification for more attacks,” Karasik said.
So maybe terrorist groups actually want the U.S. to stay in Iraq, as a recruiting tool and as further justification for their existence? Rest assured, when the New York Times says a terrorist attack “raises significant questions,” that’s not the “significant question” they’re thinking of.