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The Request
April 14, 2004 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Help U.S. Marines Equip TV Stations in Iraq US Marines seek to equip seven (7) television stations serving local communities within Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The Province includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. These stations will offer information that is more accurate and balanced than existing alternatives. The goal is to improve understanding between Americans and Iraqis, build trust and reduce tensions.
posted by David Dark (56 comments total)

 
Current TV news in Iraq often carries negative, highly-biased accounts of the U.S. presence. Unanswered, its effect is to stoke resentment and encourage conflict. The Marines seek to ensure the Iraqi people have access to better, more balanced information. By equipping local television stations and providing the ability to generate news and programming, the Marines will create a viable news alternative - one owned and operated by local Iraqi citizens.
posted by David Dark at 6:30 PM on April 14, 2004


But censored by the CPA or the local Marine commander I'm sure.
posted by smcniven at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2004


From WindsofChange.net
posted by David Dark at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2004


Truce? For this thread? It's a good thing to support regardless of politics right?
posted by loquax at 6:35 PM on April 14, 2004


In my humble opinion the best way to built trust is NOT to sell vaporware promises by television, but by doing something (for instace, repair electricity system, offer infrastructure building at -real- cost , hire locals). Granted that this is far more difficult then raising a couple antennas and starts selling how good we are, but facts are much more appreciated then shows everywhere in the world.
posted by elpapacito at 6:36 PM on April 14, 2004


Meant to link to this, where I actually found it. Sorry, last one, promise.
posted by David Dark at 6:39 PM on April 14, 2004


Thank you for the sales pitch, but no. I tend to spend my donation dollars right here at home, thank you.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:40 PM on April 14, 2004


Media and Falloojeh...
There has been a lot of criticism about the way Al-Arabia and Al-Jazeera.
were covering the riots and fighting in Falloojeh and the south this last week. Some American spokesman for the military was ranting about the "spread of anti-Americanism" through networks like the abovementioned.

Actually, both networks did a phenomenal job of covering the attacks on Falloojeh and the southern provinces. Al-Jazeera had their reporter literally embedded in the middle of the chaos- and I don't mean the lame embedded western journalists type of thing they had going at the beginning of the war (you know- embedded in the Green Zone and embedded in Kuwait, etc.). Ahmed Mansur, I believe his name was, was actually standing there, in the middle of the bombing, shouting to be heard over the F-16s and helicopters blasting away at houses and buildings. It brought back the days of 'shock and awe'...

I know it bothers the CPA terribly to have the corpses of dead Iraqis shown on television. They would love for Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia to follow Al-Hurra's example and show endless interviews with pro-occupation Iraqis living abroad and speaking in stilted Arabic. These interviews, of course, are interspersed with translated documentaries on the many marvels of... Hollywood. And while I, personally, am very interested in the custom leather interiors of the latest Audi, I couldn't seem to draw myself away from Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia while 700+ Iraqis were being killed.

posted by bureaustyle at 6:41 PM on April 14, 2004


What's wrong with Voice of America? And are they involved in this?
posted by amberglow at 6:42 PM on April 14, 2004


The donated equipment will be the property of the Iraqi stations. The stations can create their own news and choose their own programming with the agreement that they will prohibit airing of anti-coalition messages that incite the local population. The stations also agree to sell airtime at a fair market price so that the Marines can communicate their information efficiently and quickly when needed.

For example, images were recently broadcast of a mosque in Fallujah damaged during fighting. With these stations the Marines could have provided the full picture by airing video of combatants firing on them from the mosque grounds. These stations would have enabled Iraqis to understand the complete picture. News of reconstruction projects and humanitarian assistance that balances the news of conflict will also be provided on these stations. The stations will be free to criticize the Coalition.


It seems to be a non-profit, non-government initiative. One that can likely do well. Television is infrastructure, and it is important to balance views. Even if you feel the American involvement in Iraq is wrong, it's certainly not all wrong, and there are many with a vested interest in propagating anti-CPA, ethnic and religious hatred. Hopefully this could be a counter-balance and empower Iraqis to broadcast Iraqi views rather than external ones.

If this is not above board, my retraction is at the ready...
posted by loquax at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2004


i'd be happy to help

just as soon as they quit censoring american tv.

fuckers.
posted by tsarfan at 6:58 PM on April 14, 2004


loquax:

and choose their own programming with the agreement that they will prohibit airing of anti-coalition messages that incite the local population.

vis-a-vis

The stations will be free to criticize the Coalition.

What qualifies as criticism and what as inciting message? Who decides?
posted by Gyan at 7:07 PM on April 14, 2004


And why can't the $80 billion or that "extra" money from Iraqi oil pay for this?
posted by birdherder at 7:09 PM on April 14, 2004


Gyan: Yeah, I know - but still, seems to be better than the alternative which is no homegrown Iraqi programming (as far as I know). Beyond that I do believe that good things are happening in Iraq despite the current violence and they deserve to have attention drawn to them. Not only CPA positives, but all the good things volunteer organizations and various NGO's are doing. Iraqi's must know that despite what it may seem like it at times, not all foreigners want to massacre them and steal their homes and riches. How do you get that message across? I can't really think of a way other than this and programs like voice of america. It may be a type of propaganda, but it's a *good* type within limits, much the same way radio free europe was. Again, assuming the link is above board.
posted by loquax at 7:24 PM on April 14, 2004


Umm, I agree anything that aids Iraqi infrastructure is good, but we can't even manage to collectively accept public television in this country, primarily in the face of accusations of "bias." So now we're to believe objective public television representing the Iraqi viewpoint clear of any bias is being provided by the same entities?

I really don't want this to be a partisan bitchfest, but, come on. "Access to better, more balanced information?" Why not just say "fair and balanced" with a wink and admit what this is all about?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:55 PM on April 14, 2004


You cannot possibly believe Fox News and al Jazeera are equidistant from the a reasonable center. Have you ever seen al Jazeera?
posted by techgnollogic at 8:33 PM on April 14, 2004


I didn't say that. But Fox News was still created claiming that a "balance" to counter an opposed "bias" was needed. The same logic applies here. Clearly these two aren't the same in level of rhetoric, but the idea that this is for the benefit of the Iraqis and not the Americans in Iraq is disingenuous- something a news station should not be. Propaganda should not be the basis for objective journalism in a developing country; replacing propaganda with slightly-better propaganda isn't that much of an improvement.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:40 PM on April 14, 2004


Here's a To-Do list for Iraq (PDF). It seems like there are, as elpapacito said, many more important things to throw money and time and attention and resources toward.
posted by amberglow at 8:50 PM on April 14, 2004


The point of this project is sort of that YES there are a lot of important things to throw money and time and attention and resources toward in Iraq, and we're DOING SO and al Jazeera isn't SHOWING any of it.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:57 PM on April 14, 2004


These stations will offer information that is more accurate and balanced than existing alternatives.

says who? if chalabi, bremer and boys are deciding what is broadcast ... you think accuracy and balance will really happen? if you do you might want to check chalabi's lies to date.

lets do side by side comparison of al jazeera, fox news, and NPR for "fairness, balance" and accuracy .... then pick the winner as the leading source and model for the new stations in iraq.
posted by specialk420 at 8:58 PM on April 14, 2004


XQUZYPHYR - You're completely right, in a perfect world. But clearly special rules apply to Iraq, especially now. Even if you're opposed to the initial war, you have to be hoping that the American agenda is implemented rather than agendas being proposed by others, even if the American agenda is not ideal. At least that way, Iraqi's of the future will be able to make informed decisions on their own. If that means doing whatever it takes to make sure the country doesn't go to hell, including propaganda, I'm all for it. Of course this doesn't apply in general, but I think it does in Iraq.

But beyond that, the linked article really doesn't seem to have an agenda beyond not inciting hatred for the CPA/Americans/Non-Iraqis. It really doesn't seem to me that they're proposing a propaganda network, just a local alternative to the foreign al Jazeera and al Arabia. Who knows how it will turn out. At the very least, if the Americans are run out of the country, whoever's in charge afterwards will have new PC's and equipment.

On preview: Amberglow, this does appear to be independent from the CPA, and if the Iraqi's believe that all the CPA wants to do is ruin the country and enslave the people (which I hope, at least, we all agree is not the case), nothing on that list will be accomplished.

Is the radio free europe comparision really not vaild here? I know for a fact that it really did bring the truth (or at least, a much closer version of the truth) to many many people totally brainwashed by the ludicrous anti-americanism rampant in Eastern Europe. And that probably doesn't compare to what's being said about Americans in parts of the Middle East today.
posted by loquax at 9:00 PM on April 14, 2004


Hell will free over before I personally fund Stazi TV. Except with my tax dollars of course.
posted by zia at 9:29 PM on April 14, 2004


ONe thing that you all seem to be missing is that you assume that the people watching al jazeera are idiots. THey're not. They know it's biased, but they watch it because it's live, on the scene, it's interesting, it's entertaining, and it reflects the feelings of many (not all) of the target audience. In that way it is like Fox news, lots of people who watch it find it biased, but they have cool graphics and keep it humming all the time. Also, the pictures on Al Jazeera are not doctored, they are real, and that counts for a lot.

Here's a comment from the Washington Post's Pulitzer-winning reported Anthony Shadid:

"I'm probably a minority on this point, but I think Jazeera and Arabiya reflect attitudes more than they propel them. The coverage is striking, and some may very well say it incites people. But we're dealing with a climate both in Iraq and the Arab world that is angry. Besides, I've always been struck by the sophistication of Arab viewers. They're used to decades of censorship, and they always take into account who is sponsoring or who owns the station. I don't want to whitewash the impact of those stations on sentiments here. They have a huge impact. But I think we'd see a lot of the anger and unrest with or without their coverage." LINK

I understand Arabic pretty well and have watched Al Jazeera many times. It is inflammatory but at the same time it is compelling. It is mostly independent, and it is definitely trying hard to be part of mainstream world journalism, NOT some sinister force of darkness that many Americans seem to think it is.

In any case, I applaud the setting up of local media, which is a great thing for Iraqis, but to compete for viewership, they would have to equally compelling, which will be hard.
posted by cell divide at 9:39 PM on April 14, 2004


Stasi, zia?

Do you mean that Stasi? What do you mean? Do you think the United States has a Stasi? Do you think the United States is operating like a cold war communist government? Please explain what exactly you were referring to.
posted by loquax at 9:47 PM on April 14, 2004


Great. Soviet Union occupies Eastern bloc countryies. Soviet Union sets up its own local media to put out its message.

Great. America occupies Iraq. America sets up its own local media to put out its message.

I didn't contribute to the Soviet Union's fund raisers for "Tass in Your Home Town", so I really don't think I or anyone I know will be contributing to America's version, particularly given the American military's sorry history of restricting accurate reporting...and its outright killing of journalists.

(Also, I guess we can assume that since the latest incarnation of the high signal posse for some reason didn't feel they should piss in THIS particular thread, it's now OK even with them to make single source Iraq front page posts, right?)
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:51 PM on April 14, 2004


This has got to be an Onion article.

Help the military install a propaganda voice box into a nation they're holding down by the throat? While the rest of the world stares in horror, I'm supposed to tap into my scant personal funds to pony up more cash so that a hated occupying superpower can fill the airwaves of a humiliated and battered nation with reminders of all the good shit they're doing?

I tell you what, the first show broadcast on the Democracy from the Barrel of a Gun network should be the backside of 120,000 soldiers--God love and preserve them from this hideous administration--as they leave, and the second show should be George, Cheney and Rummy doing the perp walk on their way to the Hague.

That's must-see TV.
posted by squirrel at 12:50 AM on April 15, 2004


How about good old auntie and her ubiquitous world service.
posted by johnnyboy at 1:51 AM on April 15, 2004


The US government is well aware of how powerful the media can be in controlling information. Witness the US backed coup in Venezuela where the first act of the usurpers was to shut down the government TV channel.

Is it democratic to use propaganda?
posted by asok at 4:27 AM on April 15, 2004


It's hard to believe that anyone could take this completely at face value. Wait, strike that, it's not like they're being sneaky, they come right out and say:

The stations can create their own news and choose their own programming with the agreement that they will prohibit airing of anti-coalition messages that incite the local population. The stations also agree to sell airtime at a fair market price so that the Marines can communicate their information efficiently and quickly when needed.


Doesn't this just mean that this will be CENTCOM television? Or FOX news?

I agree that this money would be better spent bringing electricity, food and potable water back to the Iraqis.

But propaganda is nice too.
posted by sic at 4:47 AM on April 15, 2004


In my humble opinion the best way to built trust is NOT to sell vaporware promises by television, but by doing something (for instace, repair electricity system, offer infrastructure building at -real- cost , hire locals). Granted that this is far more difficult then raising a couple antennas and starts selling how good we are, but facts are much more appreciated then shows everywhere in the world.

Two problems with this. First you are basing your conclusion that this project should not go ahead on the unconfirmed premise that this station will (either solely or otherwise) be broadcasting empty promises and therefore can have no positive effect. This is seemingly just assumed as truth with nothing in the article to support it. Secondly, you imply that since there are more directly pressing matters at hand secondary concerns should be dismissed. While there are people starving to death in the world do you then hold that that research into leukaemia should not be practised and all its funding and efforts focus on ending world hunger instead?
posted by ed\26h at 5:18 AM on April 15, 2004


This is only one of the projects that the Marines have done through this site. It's sad some of you have focused on this one to tear them apart for it too.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:28 AM on April 15, 2004


I agree that this money would be better spent bringing electricity, food and potable water back to the Iraqis.

There is nothing given to show that the progress in restoring food, utility and sanitation is solely or even chiefly limited by funding. There is no reason to believe why both these projects cannot co develop simultaneously without hindering one another.
posted by ed\26h at 5:33 AM on April 15, 2004


David, are you familiar with this program tieing in the active Marines' duties?

There is more to this than just a plea for tv broadcasting equipment. This is only one project that the Marines are working on. This may be the same system that funded the Iraqi schools which my brother helped rebuilding.
Also the Navy has a system of similarity that my other brother has done volunteer work through. Sure the other armed services do too.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:52 AM on April 15, 2004


You cannot possibly believe Fox News and al Jazeera are equidistant from the a reasonable center. Have you ever seen Fox News?
Check out bureaustyle's link to Riverbend's most recent post...

The idea that the American occupation forces who have invaded Iraq and given off its infrastructure and the most lucrative contracts to US companies, while committing massacres of hundreds of civilians, most recently in Fallujah, have anything but the most odious propaganda to disseminate, is so strikingly bizarre, that, concurring with sic, I personally find it amazing that anyone is taking this seriously. This is like a Soviet Pashtun language radio station in Afghanistan in the 80s. Indeed, the whole mentality seeping from the American extreme right lately, is very reminiscent of Soviet style groupthink and conformity... They seem to accept as news the most obvious propaganda...

As for the "good things" being done in Iraq... even the British left behind schools and buildings for the poor brown folks - that didn't make them any less of an imperialist, colonial power...

One more thing: I'm sure that Arab audiences would certainly find the indiscriminate bombing of a mosque full of non-combatants justified, if one had shown a local with a gun on the minaret... Normal humans care more for the lives of dogs than the US invaders for the lives of Arabs.
posted by talos at 6:10 AM on April 15, 2004


The thing I love most about metafilter is making ludicrous comparisons, like "USA=USSR" or "Bush=Satan", and then backing down from them when called on it, claiming hyperbole for the sake of allegory. It's offensive to the extreme, arrogant and patronizing. If people want to attempt to demonstrate how exactly the United States is like the USSR by posting relevant, fair and thoughtful posts and links, I'm all for it. Throwaway comments like those make your position look stupid.
posted by loquax at 6:16 AM on April 15, 2004


bombing of a mosque full of non-combatants justified
There was a blog linked in a previous Iraqi thread in the last week that mentioned an eyewitness account by their mother. She had returned from the mosque which was full of weapons waiting to ambush the US military. Any one remember it?
posted by thomcatspike at 6:35 AM on April 15, 2004


this may be a propaganda machine waiting to happen, but then again it may actually be an attempt to bridge the gap and understand each other. if our Exalted Leader with the Magical Tie won't initiate this, maybe the common soldier who is actually in country will see the advantage of actually understanding the people they are supposed to be helping.

at any rate, elpapacito, fixing the infrastructure is indeed important. that's what my brother's civilian affairs unit is supposed to be doing. he's stationed pretty close to fallujah. anything that might help keep the US military and iraqi civilians in that region from trying to kill each other is fine by me.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:58 AM on April 15, 2004


As for the "good things" being done in Iraq... even the British left behind schools and buildings for the poor brown folks - that didn't make them any less of an imperialist, colonial power.

This is a refutation of an opposing argument which states that since the US are building infrastructure in Iraq, that means they are not an imperialist, colonial power. In actual fact, no opposing author has made this argument but you have falsely implied that they have.

By putting "good things" in quotes, are you saying you do not believe these things are good, that they are simply not happening or something entirely different?

I'm sure that Arab audiences would certainly find the indiscriminate bombing of a mosque full of non-combatants justified, if one had shown a local with a gun on the minaret

This statement includes two cases of subverted support. You must first establish that the mosque was intentionally bombed, intentionally bombed indiscriminately and full of non combatants. The other case of this is where you state that a coalition broadcast would show "a local with a gun on the minaret".
posted by ed\26h at 7:01 AM on April 15, 2004


ed\26h:

Ok, I guess you some kind of fixation that is very common these days : if you don't support something, then you're opposing it.
Bzzz. Wrong. It's a common error typical of polarized mindset.

First you are basing your conclusion that this project should not go ahead on the unconfirmed premise that this station will (either solely or otherwise) be broadcasting empty promises

Where exactly is my (or shall I say your) conclusion that this project "should not go ahead" , which is your way
to suggest that I want to stop it ? You're drawing conclusions out of your axiom "either pro or contra" , not out of my words.

This is seemingly just assumed as truth with nothing in the article to support it.

Would you expect an article whose purpose is to raise money and support ASAP to introduce the doubt that something may go awfully wrong, or that it is possible that the project will start broadcasting illusions of a better future ?

That would beat the purpose of the article, which is to raise money.

Secondly, you imply that since there are more directly pressing matters at hand secondary concerns should be dismissed

Again, watch your fixation of dismissal and rejection. Where do I imply dismissal ?

While there are people starving to death in the world do you then hold that that research into leukaemia should not be practised and all its funding and efforts focus on ending world hunger instead?

Ahhhh that's the mother of all attempts of making me look like a monster ! This is an analogy based false question which suggest the outcome that I support what you're suggesting in the question, so I must be a despicable illogical tyran. Bad elpapacito bad !

(And yes I would happily stop research into leukemia -for a while- if I had very strong almost unquestionable evidence that by doing so I would stop world hunger ; because after doing so, I could reallocate all the resources that were taken away from world hunger to leukemia and probably solve that problem as well.Unfortunately it doesn't seem to even be possible, at the moment.)

Let's go back to the marines tv: given that there is a possibility that ANY media will be used to convey derailing propaganda, false illusions, demonizing analogies :) et al , what I'm suggesting is that , maybe it would be better to use the money into something that will directly benefit the iraquis (food,roads,medicines,etc) and that can hardly be derailed (even in the future, when the US and coalition will necessarily leave the country)

On preview: caution live frogs: I understand your very legitimate and human concerns and yes it may be TV as well, but honestly I don't think a TV is going to make any difference if you first don't fix iraqui basic needs ; zealots will remain zealots, common people is more concerned about food, drink, eat, sleep, work and whatever is related to basic everyday needs.
posted by elpapacito at 7:34 AM on April 15, 2004


Oh right, you don't oppose it then?... Wicked!
posted by ed\26h at 8:44 AM on April 15, 2004


ed\26h: "This is a refutation of an opposing argument which states that since the US are building infrastructure in Iraq, that means they are not an imperialist, colonial power. In actual fact, no opposing author has made this argument but you have falsely implied that they have."
Excellent, I stand corrected. Am I to infer that there is agreement in this thread about the colonial and imperial aims of US troops in Iraq?

"By putting "good things" in quotes, are you saying you do not believe these things are good, that they are simply not happening or something entirely different?"
c. something different. It reffered to loquax initial statement that this "is a good thing to support"... I was quoting loquax. Sorry if this wasn't clear.

"This statement includes two cases of subverted support. You must first establish that the mosque was intentionally bombed, intentionally bombed indiscriminately and full of non combatants.
The other case of this is where you state that a coalition broadcast would show "a local with a gun on the minaret".

Actually I was refferring to this statement mentioned in another of loquax's comments:

For example, images were recently broadcast of a mosque in Fallujah damaged during fighting. With these stations the Marines could have provided the full picture by airing video of combatants firing on them from the mosque grounds. These stations would have enabled Iraqis to understand the complete picture.

Pointing out that what passes for "collateral damage" is, correctly in my view, seen as murder by the local population, regardless of the circumstances... But since you've mentioned it let's go there: "Intentionally" is certainly the case according to US reports:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. Marines on Wednesday defended their decision to attack a mosque compound in the Iraqi town of Falluja saying the fact insurgents were firing from inside meant it lost its status as a protected structure.

note that the wording suggests that the presence of insurgents inside the mosque was by US Marine's standards sufficient to make the mosque lose its status a s aprotected structure... Which is interesting if one compares this to the probable reaction of these same troops had the building been full of Americans instead of Arabs. There is no known way to bomb a small structure "discriminately".

A South Korean source has this to say about the occupants of the mosque:

US Marines from the1st Marine Expeditionary Force move into Fallujah. US marines pressing an offensive in this Iraqi town west of Baghdad bombed a central mosque filled with worshippers and killed up to 40, a marine officer said. (AFP/Cris Bouroncle)

An Associated Press reporter in Fallujah saw cars ferrying the dead and wounded from the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque. Witnesses said a helicopter fired three missiles into the compound, destroying part of a wall surrounding the mosque but not damaging the main building.

The strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers, witnesses said. Temporary hospitals were set up in private homes to treat the wounded and prepare the dead for burial.


Also eyewitness Dahr Jamail in Fallujah has this to say about the general indiscriminateness of the US soldiers attacks:

As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in.

One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning.

The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life.

After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive.

One victim of American aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children.


As for the "local with a gun on the minaret", again I'm not insisting on this. It was meant as "even if the broadcast showed.." in response again to loquax's point about "combatants" in the mosque.

Is that better?
posted by talos at 9:28 AM on April 15, 2004


If people want to attempt to demonstrate how exactly the United States is like the USSR by posting relevant, fair and thoughtful posts and links, I'm all for it. Throwaway comments like those make your position look stupid.
You joined recently, so lemme break it down for you.
foldy knows better. He's perfectly capable of posting seriously and respectfully, and when he does so can be very eloquent. But he spends most of his time in his 'I am possessed by the ghost of Bill Hicks' persona.
He has a lifetime free pass to ignore criticism of any kind. (It doesn't hurt that all of his detractors mysteriously happen to be hypocrites and cowards.)
posted by darukaru at 9:30 AM on April 15, 2004


Talos: Just to make it clear for anyone else reading, the quotes you attributed to me were mostly me quoting the site in the initial post, not my opinion. I only meant to show the stated intent of that site. I think this is good if they follow through with what they claim. If not, who knows.

darukaru: Thanks. I've been reading fold for a while, so I know his style, guess I just missed that it was him making the comment. So I retract my righteous indignation a little, but there have been a lot of those type of comments lately. I saw the Bush is Satan "funny quip" in another thread, and I really didn't appreciate the stasi reference in this one, unless I miss the meaning of it. Higher level of discourse!! I thought that's what everyone wanted!!
posted by loquax at 9:56 AM on April 15, 2004


FWIW, I welcome the higher level of discourse (e.g. ed\26h's analysis to logical structure) that this thread exhibits. It's a welcome respite from the shrillness and name-calling that typically characterize political threads.
posted by squirrel at 10:19 AM on April 15, 2004


squirrel, I totally agree. Good reading ed\26h.
posted by loquax at 10:25 AM on April 15, 2004


A South Korean source has this to say about the occupants of the mosque:

US Marines from the1st Marine Expeditionary Force move into Fallujah. US marines pressing an offensive in this Iraqi town west of Baghdad bombed a central mosque filled with worshippers and killed up to 40, a marine officer said. (AFP/Cris Bouroncle)

An Associated Press reporter in Fallujah saw cars ferrying the dead and wounded from the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque. Witnesses said a helicopter fired three missiles into the compound, destroying part of a wall surrounding the mosque but not damaging the main building.

The strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers, witnesses said. Temporary hospitals were set up in private homes to treat the wounded and prepare the dead for burial.


South Korean source? The article was written by: by Bassem Mroue and Abdul-Qader Saadi and says distributed by the AP at the end.

Also eyewitness Dahr Jamail in Fallujah has this to say about the general indiscriminateness of the US soldiers attacks:

As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in.

One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning.

The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life.

After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive.

One victim of American aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children.


Reading what he wrote, he never saw the American's attacking and only assumes it was American's who shot these people.
posted by Plunge at 3:03 PM on April 15, 2004


q: where are iraqi's getting their news now? who do they trust?

a: they do not trust the americans, and american backed media. they increasingly listen to their tribal leaders ... and their clerics.
posted by specialk420 at 3:39 PM on April 15, 2004


Plunge: about the South Korean source. Mea Culpa, I edit faster than I should... website... I meant website. Still my point remains, unless one sees the Associated Press as a hotbed of radicalism.

About the snipers: Do you have a better guess. The US army wasn't exactly coy about planting snipers:

Now, after several days of fierce firefights with insurgents hiding in mosques, they are under orders to treat each one as a possible guerrilla redoubt.

"Expect snipers on all minarets. They will do it to draw fire and cause collateral damage in the hour of prayer," instructs Maj. Lawrence Kaifesh, a civil affairs officer who spent his first few months in Iraq sipping tea with Muslim clerics and tribal sheiks.


So we know that there were American snipers in Fallujah and we also know that British Miltary commanders are very upset at the Americans' aggressive tactics:

Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.

One senior Army officer told The Telegraph that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command.

The officer, who agreed to the interview on the condition of anonymity, said that part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans".


This from the Telegraph mind you, not exactly the radical left...

Face it, the US military seem to be committing war crimes and crimes against humanity en masse. Despite my obvious distaste for all occupation forces, I cannot say the same of the British. That's why things are much more peaceful in the areas where British troops are in charge. Even Israeli tactics against Palestinians seem downright compassionate compared to what is happenning in Fallujah....
posted by talos at 4:18 PM on April 15, 2004


talos.

Am I to infer that there is agreement in this thread about the colonial and imperial aims of US troops in Iraq?

The only thing it is safe to conclude from the fact that a certain refutation has not been made, is simply: That certain refutation has not been made.
posted by ed\26h at 3:22 AM on April 16, 2004


About the snipers: Do you have a better guess. The US army wasn't exactly coy about planting snipers:

The article that you linked to says nothing about the US army planting snipers. The quote you pasted is a warning to the US soldiers to beware of Iraqi snipers shooting from Minarets. How does that imply that the US Army planted snipers?

However, your article does say this:

But the troops are also under strict orders not to shoot unless shot at first and unless they can take precise aim at their targets. The tension between these imperatives -- to hunt down and attack anti-American insurgents without hurting or alienating the civilian populace -- is palpable in every encounter.

And this:

Before heading out on the patrol, Bednarcik instructed his men to watch out for people carrying large white bags, because several civilians had been caught this week lugging sacks full of weapons and ammunition. But he also cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

"They might be bad guys, or they might just be going to work. We don't want some trigger-happy Joe Marine to shoot an innocent person and turn another Iraqi family against us," he says.

-------------------------------------------------
That's why things are much more peaceful in the areas where British troops are in charge.

Utter nonsense. The British troops are in charge of two small, passive Shi'ite populations in the South. The Americans are in charge of nearly the rest of the country and are trying to passify the Sunni Triangle, for crying out loud. Send the British to Fallujah and see how well they are received.

Face it, the US military seem to be committing war crimes and crimes against humanity en masse.

Again, nonsense. The US military is going out of its way to avoid killing innocent people. The US military has the capability to commit war crimes against the population, en masse, but when it does so, you'll know.
posted by David Dark at 3:48 AM on April 16, 2004


The US military has the capability to commit war crimes against the population, en masse, but when it does so, you'll know.

Given the PR concerns, that doesn't speak very highly of the US army.
posted by Gyan at 4:03 AM on April 16, 2004


ed\26h

"The only thing it is safe to conclude from the fact that a certain refutation has not been made, is simply: That certain refutation has not been made."

In the world of logical automata maybe. In human speech and discourse (and even more so in political discourse) there is context.
You're saying "I didn't say that". Indirectly I'm asking: "are you saying the opposite"?" The reply "No, it doesn't logically follow that I do", is logical, but hardly conducive to a conversation.

The issue is this: if the US can be validly seen as another imperial power (and I certainly think so), the infrastructure they build should be seen as tools for preserving a colony. Infrastructure built under occupation, under imperial rule, isn't something generally good, and in no way does it demonstrate good intentions. They are means of establishing necessary networks for the perpetuation of their military presence and/or propaganda mechanisms for the perpetuation of occupation or military presence.

David Dark:
I'm inexcusable: not only did I drag the wrong bookmark, but I managed to misread it! It was rather late and I was tired but this was sheer sloppiness. I apologize. The evidence for the presence of US snipers in Fallujah is presented here (middle left). Note, that there seems to be not a single report from the refugees that flee Fallujah or the few non-combatant third parties that are sending news from there that the snipers are anything but. I'd suggest that the burden of proof for a rather unlikely case of Fallujahns shooting their family, relatives and ambulances rests on those that make the case. THe bullet types used in the attacks would be a good indicator. Healing Iraq mentions something about this:

The body count in Fallujah till now is 518 Iraqis dead (160 of them women, and about 50 children) and 1250 badly injured. Doctors from Fallujah mentioned that a large number of the dead women and children were shot in the head and that they were saving the extracted bullets to prove that they were being targetted by Marines snipers in the city.

The British troops are in charge of two small, passive Shi'ite populations in the South.
The British may be in charge of two small Shi'ia populations in the south. But Shi'ia populations elsewhere under US control have not exactly been peaceful lately, have they? It speaks volumes about the US army's conduct that an allied officer distances himself and his troops from their actions - using words that evoke the Nazis no less.

I'd say that there is ample indirect evidence for the sort of crimes I mention from the casualty figures and the witness and victim reports of sniper attacks (unless someone can demonstrate that the attackers were in fact locals, which no one that I'm aware of has).

Again, nonsense. The US military is going out of its way to avoid killing innocent people. The US military has the capability to commit war crimes against the population, en masse, but when it does so, you'll know.

UK forces disagree with "the going out of its way" part. From the Telegraph article again:

"British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets.

The American approach was markedly different: "When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

"They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later. They are very concerned about taking casualties and have even trained their guns on British troops, which has led to some confrontations between soldiers."


As for the ability to commit war crimes: there is no army in the world incapable of it. The Bosnian Serb Croat and Muslim militias were quite effective criminals despite their small numbers and ancient weapons. Is this a good thing?
posted by talos at 5:59 AM on April 16, 2004


You're saying "I didn't say that". Indirectly I'm asking: "are you saying the opposite"?" The reply "No, it doesn't logically follow that I do", is logical, but hardly conducive to a conversation.

Actually, I am not only stating that I did not say that, but that no one has said that and it seemed to be an attempt to preemptively undermine any opposing argument. If this was not the intention one would have to wonder why you choose to state an irrelevant and arbitrary fact.

The issue is this: if the US can be validly seen as another imperial power (and I certainly think so), the infrastructure they build should be seen as tools for preserving a colony. Infrastructure built under occupation, under imperial rule, isn't something generally good, and in no way does it demonstrate good intentions. They are means of establishing necessary networks for the perpetuation of their military presence and/or propaganda mechanisms for the perpetuation of occupation or military presence.

Even if I were to ignore the fact that your conclusion is based on a premise which is more questionable than the unsupported conclusion itself, for your argument to succeed you would need all of the following to be sound.

It is not possible for an imperial, colonial power to build infrastructure in a foreign country without that infrastructure being exclusively for the purpose of military presence, propaganda or preserving a colony.

and

It is not possible for an imperial, colonial power to partake in any actions in a foreign country without the directly focussed intent(s) of expanding that empire and/or propagating colonies.

and

It is not possible for an imperial, colonial power, when in foreign country, to have good intentions.

But this is all academic when it is taken into account that to your entire argument is based on the US actually being a imperial, colonial power. Something, which in your post, you seem to have based simply on the fact that you think it is.
posted by ed\26h at 9:08 AM on April 16, 2004


Ed\26h:
So I'd have to post in the MeFi comment section a detailed argument about why the US is an imperial power... That would be based of course, on things such as military actions, historical precedent, military bases around the globe, perception of the US as an imperial and colonial power etc. Before that, I would of course have to precisely define what being an imperial power means, why it is bad, and provide a general framework, with examples, of cases of imperial powers. But even all this wouldn't suffice: every one of these would have to be carefully supported: I would have to back up e.g. the relation of having military bases around the world with the way an imperial power functions, I would have to cite troop numbers to demonstrate that the military presence is substantial. I would have to cite instances of cases where these bases were used to threaten opponents and smaller countries into submission, etc. etc. ad infinitum, or just after I define what the meaning of is is...

After that...where do I send my 13 volume treatise?

But wait maybe it isn't me that has to write a 13 volume treatise after all: Prima facie evidence (Grenada, Panama, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia) etc. would suggest that burden of proof falls on those that are making the seemingly counterfactual statement that, despite its numerous recent military adventures, the US is not, in fact, an imperial power and that contrary to most invaders and occupation forces in history, it is involved in Iraq out of purely humanitarian, and anyway not imperial, motives. I leave out the colonial purposefully - I think I'd term American actions as neocolonial, this is certainly not the way the British managed their colonies...

As for the breakdown of my statement into three premises, I'd say that if you replace "It is not possible" with "It's uncommon", I'd be prepared to back every one of them with historical facts, although some further qualifiers might be needed. But that would be another discussion.
posted by talos at 10:07 AM on April 16, 2004


You list the only alternative to posting no evidence at all to back up your statement is to post an infinitely detailed compendium of information that would surely be unfeasible given the scope of our environment. However, this isn't the case as more options exist. You supplement this fallacy with a false slippery slope which asserts that, furthermore to this being your only alternative, it would assuredly lead to you having to define adverbs like "is". Also, appealing to the fact that actually taking the trouble to support your statements would be a lot of work is no reason for anyone to take them as true.

Your second paragraph contains an argument from ignorance. You state that since there is prima facie evidence to support your case, it should be the job of any opponents to prove it wrong. Secondly, you state that any such refutation must prove that the US is involved in Iraq out of purely humanitarian motives, which suggests that this scenario and the one you support are the only two which exist.

If you were to replace the sections in my example premises which read "It is not possible" with "It's uncommon", you would no longer be safe in drawing a definitive conclusion. For example:

if the US can be validly seen as another imperial power, the infrastructure they build should be seen as tools for preserving a colony [...]

Would have to be changed to something resembling:

if the US can be validly seen as another imperial power, the infrastructure they build may be tools for preserving a colony [...]

But again, this all presupposes that I accept that the US is an imperial, colonial power.
posted by ed\26h at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2004


Also, appealing to the fact that actually taking the trouble to support your statements would be a lot of work is no reason for anyone to take them as true.

Actually I have backed up statements I made (with links). But proving the imperial character of the US military exploits is, I insist, far beyond the reach of what's definitively provable here, as this is a proposition that requires much more than a collection of a few facts to back it up. The fact that this isn't possible however, cannot be in and of itself a reason not to state my belief (and I hardly presented it otherwise). Any opposing opinions on the matter would be welcome - and would lead to a discussion of the issue.
However, as I stated, it seems that prima facie evidence suports my assertion. I would be willing to debate anyone that thinks the US history of military interventions does not in fact provide strong evidence as to the imperial character of the US - much as I would (reluctantly) debate any proponents of, say, creationism.

Your second paragraph contains an argument from ignorance. You state that since there is prima facie evidence to support your case, it should be the job of any opponents to prove it wrong.

I do insist that if I make an argument that runs contrary to prima facie evidence, it should be my duty to provide evidence to back it up. If I state " George Bush is in fact a woman", or that "the Roman empire extended all the way to China", I should have to prove this. On the other hand, it isn't anyone's job to prove that that George Bush is in fact a man or that the Romans never reached China.
And argument from ignorance this isn't. I'm not saying that if you can't prove me wrong, I'm right. I'm saying you can prove me wrong, given the widely known prima facie supporting facts, only if you provide supporting evidence. I'm saying, in reference to the simple example I gave above, that I don't need to prove George Bush is a man - you need to prove he's a woman.

Secondly, you state that any such refutation must prove that the US is involved in Iraq out of purely humanitarian motives, which suggests that this scenario and the one you support are the only two which exist.

Actually you didn't read carefully. I said:

[the] burden of proof falls on those that are making the seemingly counterfactual statement that... the US is not, in fact, an imperial power and that... it is involved in Iraq out of purely humanitarian, and anyway not imperial, motives.

if the US can be validly seen as another imperial power, the infrastructure they build may be tools for preserving a colony.

Change "may be" to "probably are" - which is the proper transcription - and I agree with the above statement. Definitiveness - 100% certainty - of the sort you describe can be applied, outside of mathematics, to very, very few things in the real world.
posted by talos at 11:11 AM on April 17, 2004


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