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Reporting From Baghdad
Posted on Sep 6, 2007
By Scott Ritter
Rhetoric aside, however, American officials who make these claims have been unable to back them up with hard facts and figures. There is an al-Qaida presence in Iraq. However, the majority of what is known as “al-Qaida in Iraq” is composed of Iraqis, not foreigners. The whole phenomenon is a direct result of the American occupation of Iraq, and would dissipate the moment America left the country. Likewise, the accusation of direct Iranian involvement in anti-American violence is questionable. Iranian political support of Iraqi Shiite groups who violently oppose the American occupation of Iraq is real, but then again we know this: We invited the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to join us in toppling Saddam. Based out of Iran, functioning as a de facto arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command, SCIRI did as we asked. Why, then, are we shocked when SCIRI maintains ties with the very entity that created and nurtured it? It is Iraqi Shiites who are killing Americans, not Iranians. And they would kill us with or without the support of Iran.
Now we come to the third and perhaps most difficult question: “Why?” In some odd way, Katie Couric’s jaunt to Iraq answers that question: Because Americans truly don’t care. Oh, we care about vague softball issues, such as “conditions in the street,” “fear,” and of course, “how the American troops are really doing,” especially when they are fed to us in 30-second sound bites or three-minute “in-depth” stories. Little feel good segments planted in between commercials, designed not to infringe on our intellectual curiosity for more than 30 minutes so we don’t loose our focus watching the latest “reality” show or made-for-television drama.
The fact is, Couric’s made-for-television news is to what is really happening in Iraq as “CSI: Las Vegas” is to what is really happening on the streets of Sin City. CBS knows that, which is why they are packaging Katie in this fashion. The shame is that for most Americans watching, they think they’re getting the real deal. They are not, but will continue to wallow in their ignorant indifference. Katie will struggle to tell us that our kids keep dying in Iraq to “improve the quality of life” and “reduce the level of fear” on the streets of Baghdad. She solemnly informs us that “our boys and girls” are suffering, but they know it is in support of a just and noble cause. Katie will continue to report the story in Iraq from the perspective of an American political dynamic, not Iraqi reality.
She won’t go visit one of the American mercenary units in Iraq, the private military contractors who challenge the American military for numerical supremacy. She won’t burrow into the never-never land of legal ambiguity that allows these mercenaries to commit murder at will, to treat Iraq (and Iraqis) as second-class citizens in their own nation, and whose continued abuse of Iraq results in a deep and undying hatred for all things American. Katie may catch a movie in a hardened underground theater on one of the Pentagon’s mega-bases, or go shopping in a PX inside the “Green Zone” to get a “feel” of life for our troops, but she won’t venture up north, into Kurdistan, where other secure outposts of foreign occupation sit, out of sight and mind. If Couric would visit the Iraqi Oil Ministry, she might be shocked to witness the legal maneuvering and exploitation carried out by foreign oil companies (including, directly or indirectly, American oil companies).
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Instead of going to Iraq to report on why Americans keep dying, Katie could just stay here, in America. There are any number of corporations whose boardrooms she could visit. Or she could smooth-talk her way into a number of country clubs, to interview the human face of the “military industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us about a half-century ago. She might take a look at congressional campaign financing, where the profits from these corporations fund the campaigns of the politicians who continue to do nothing about Iraq. Then, and just then, would Katie come close to answering the question of “Why?”
But she won’t. Or should I say, she can’t. CBS is owned by General Electric. GE is working hard to get favorable trading status with any number of foreign trading partners. The U.S. trade representative is working hard on GE’s behalf. Hard-nosed “reporting” by the likes of Couric would not go over well in the bowels of the White House, where instructions to the U.S. trade representative are issued. “I’m Katie Couric,” her broadcast could begin. “Tonight I am declaring independence from corporate control over how I report (i.e., read) the news.” Answering the “why” of Iraq requires confronting the layers of corruption and corporate domination of America on so many levels that even if Katie wanted to, she couldn’t—at least not from her perch as anchor of the CBS Evening News.
In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today. A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris. From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the “Petraeus Report” will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq. Once again, Americans will be searching for a solution to a problem they have yet to properly define.
Just ask Katie Couric. Or better yet, watch her.
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