Monday, October 4, 2004

The convenient bogeyman

/ iraq / terror / monopoly /

One of the latest atrocities in "liberated Iraq", involving the murder of 40 children, was again blamed on comic-book-type evil arch-villain Abu Musab al-Zarqawi... In the quest for the evil Zarqawi, the US indulges in precision bombing of random neighborhoods that kill an imprecise number of women and children...

So Riverbend (who's thankfully starting to blog again more frequently), in the liked post logically asks:

One wonders who is behind the explosions and the car bombs. Bin Laden? Zarqawi? Possibly... but it's just too easy. It's too perfect. Bin Laden hit the WTC and Afghanistan was attacked. Iraq was occupied. At first, any explosion or attack on troops was quickly blamed on "loyalists" and "Baathists" and EVERYTHING was being coordinated by Saddam. As soon as he was caught, it became the work of "Islamic extremists" and Al-Qaida and Zarqawi suddenly made his debut. One wonders who it will be after it is discovered that Zarqawi has been dead for several months or that he never even existed. Whoever it is, you can bet his name will three syllables or less because that is Bush's limit.

A week ago, four men were caught by Iraqi security in the area of A'adhamiya in Baghdad. No one covered this on television or on the internet, as far as I know- we heard it from a friend involved in the whole thing. The four men were caught trying to set up some explosives in a residential area by some of the residents themselves. One of the four men got away, one of them was killed on the spot and two were detained and interrogated. They turned out to be a part of Badir's Brigade (Faylaq Badir), the militia belonging to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Should the culprits never have been caught, and should the explosives have gone off, would Zarqawi have been blamed? Of course.

Admittedly Zarqawi is far too active for an allegedly dead person. Not only that, he's eager to claim responsibility for an attack that killed 40 innocent children... why? To win friends in Iraq? This is the kind of murderous thuggery that no one claims responsibility for... unless one has a Hollywood-type manichean view of the world as divided between the Forces of Evil and the Forces of Good, in which case Zarqawi is simply acting out his evilness, one fails to understand what possible good would it do the group to celebrate this as a "heroic operation"?

Adrian Blomfield in the Age, quotes an unnamed US agent, about the elusiveness of this Zarqawi concept:

"We were basically paying up to $US10,000... a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," one agent said.

"Back home this stuff was gratefully received and formed the basis of policy decisions. We needed a villain, someone identifiable for the public to latch on to, and we got one."

Seymour Hersh, also sees Zarqawi as a "composite figure":

...Zarqawi is mister everybody, he’s never liked bin Laden, and it’s not clear that the person that we claim responsible for all those acts is he. Some of the people who know the Arab world very well and very carefully and listen to his statements. He’s a Jordanian, and many of the comments that have been alleged to have been in his name are not made by him. In other words, the suggestion is that he’s a composite figure. He’s very convenient.

I don’t want to suggest to you that we’ve ever been propagandized by our government [laughter], but it’s very convenient. It’s very convenient to keep on telling the press that Zarqawi’s — my favorite one is that nice kid that was beheaded, remember. The guy that beheaded him had a hood over him. He was described very confidently by the American establishment government as Zarqawi. Well, if they can see through hoods...

Elsewhere in Iraq Naomi Klein explains the obvious about yet another Iraqi villain:

Muqtada al-Sadr's calls for press freedom may not include the freedom of women journalists to cover him. Yet he still deserves to have his right to publish a political newspaper — not because he believes in freedom but because we supposedly do. Similarly, Sadr's calls for fair elections and an end to occupation demand our unequivocal support — not because we are blind to the threat he would pose if he were actually elected but because believing in self-determination means admitting that the outcome of democracy is not ours to control.

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