Iraq's Hutu Radio
They're saying things that I can hardly believe,
They really think we're getting out of control. - Elvis Costello
Did you hear about last Friday's "catastrophic tragedy" in Iraq? The handcuffed and headless bodies of 100 Shiites - "children, women and men" - were taken to Kerbala from south Baghdad, writes Iraqi blogger "Sam Hammorabi." Reputedly, Sunni militia had been killing the Shiites "every day and hour passing." The arrival of the corpses "provoked a storm of anger and cry among the people there." Hammorabi adds the dash of colour that the slaughtered children "were bloodstained all over."
I first saw this here where it was commented on with some clucking about how the Sunnis "must be suicidal," and the credulous metaphor that US forces were the cure for the cancer of Iraqi barbarity. But did it happen? That depends what you mean by happen.
Do these 100 headless corpses, children covered in blood, exist? Well no; it appears that they don't. Not beyond "Sam Hammorabi's" blog. Does this seeming fiction increase the likelihood of their existing, and many more besides? Naturally.
Back in October 2004, Hammorabi posted graphic images of children killed by a "Zarqawi" bombing in Baghdad. Funny thing about that: a Reuters crew filmed their "identical twins, who died that same day after a US airstrike in Fallujah." Why would "Sam" lift photos of children killed by US bombs and apply the atrocity to another "foreign fighter"?
Look to "Hommorabi's" links for the answer: FoxNews, The Washington Times, MEMRI, the US Embassy, and the blogger "Mover Mike" (January 2, 2006: "John Kerry promised, on national TV, to sign form SF-180 and release his military records. He has yet to do so.") Now, why would this clearly Bush-positive blogger be publishing material to incite civil war?
In a March 2 interview with Australian Television, Robert Fisk asked a similar, rhetorical question:
The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities. I'd like to know what the Americans are doing to get at the people who are trying to provoke the civil war. It seems to me not very much. We don't hear of any suicide bombers being stopped before they blow themselves up. We don't hear of anybody stopping a mosque getting blown up. We're not hearing of death squads all being arrested. Something is going very, very wrong in Baghdad. Something is going wrong with the Administration.
In the same broadcast, professional coincidentalist Daniel Pipes was as forthcoming as modesty permitted: "should there be a civil war, it is not necessarily all that bad for our interests. By no means am I endorsing it, by no means do I want one. I'm looking at it in a cool way and saying there are advantages to it."
Eighty percent of Americans have been conditioned to believe that civil war in Iraq is likely. The Iraqi government has been "assured" US forces will remain "as long as needed." (I'm fairly certain that, if I searched for it, I could find similar assurances from Leonid Brezhnev to the Czechoslovak government after the Prague Spring.) And yet, from an aid worker's email:
Since the bombing of the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, local media and friends have deluged the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Iraq with information. Iraqi Islamic television reported that the U.S. military and Iraqi police were seen at the shrine the night before it was bombed. The next morning, two shrine guards were found alive but handcuffed inside. Baghdadiya television aired the same report. The Minister of Housing and Reconstruction said the job would have taken ten men about twelve hours to set up enough explosives to do this kind of damage. We have not heard this information reported outside Iraq. The U.S. made offers to rebuild the shrine, but the Iraqi Islamic Party asked that repair be delayed until an independent investigation was completed. Samarra citizens have locked down the shrine to preserve evidence.
While the New York Times and other media focus on ethnic hatred, sectarian violence, and civil war, we receive other reports that most of the western media ignore. A team friend calls us daily with stories of Sunni/Shi'a unity, cries for peace, and the deep passion of all Iraqis to live as one family. In neighborhoods that have been hotbeds of violence, we hear of Sunni and Shi'a working together to repair and rebuild damaged mosques. Shi'a Iraqis have protected Sunni mosques in their neighborhoods. In a Basrah shrine, Sunni and Shi'a have gathered to pray together.
Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis mean as much to this administration as Hutus and Tutsis did to Clinton's. The only difference may be that Rwanda was allowed to bleed, while Iraq is made to bleed. I'm still troubled by how the US refused to endorse UN action against the incitements to genocide broadcast by Rwanda's RTLM, claiming that it was "the best radio for information and that its euphemisms were subject to many interpretations." Even as the score ran into the hundreds of thousands, the US demured. (And where should we peg America's media on the long, hard slide from the end of the Fairness Doctrine to RTLM, given the likes of Ann Coulter who argued John Walker should have been exectuted "in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too"?)
Disinformation unchecked is an agent of death, but it's only by much death that some can hold dominion.