As best I can tell, there are two realities. We, along with 70 percent of the American people, live in one, the real one; the people who are most often invited to the Sunday talking head shows live in the other. The latter appear to be in an evil parallel universe (with apologies to the long-time commenter EPU) in which up is down, good is evil and everything is going well in Iraq, if we’d just trust the neocons and give our President’s surge a chance to achieve its inevitable success.
In EPU land, one would expect Fred Kagan to tell Fox News how well his surge is working, and expect Lindsey Graham to lecture Jim Webb about how we ought to trust the Commander in Chief and his Generals in Iraq rather than allow Congress to interfere in their war. But in reality land, we know Graham says these things not because he believes them but because he knows the war is a Republican disaster and is desperately laying the foundation for blaming the Democrats for losing Bush/Cheney’s neocon Republican war, so that their party is not sent into oblivion for the next 30 years.
In our real universe, scores of people are still being blown apart or shot every day. And our soldiers, who have to listen to a President and his military spokesmen lie to the American people about who we’re really fighting, or where suicide bombers come from, are struggling to keep our Shia allies from killing our new Sunni allies. From today’s New York Times:
About a month ago, the Iraqi brigade, which is predominantly Shiite, was assigned a new area and instructed to stay away from Nasr Wa Salam, Colonel Pinkerton said. But he said he believed that the Iraqi soldiers remain intent on preventing Sunni Arabs, a majority here, from controlling the area. He cites a pattern of aggression by Iraqi troops toward Abu Azzam’s men and other Sunnis, who he believes are often detained for no reason.
Recently, and without warning, Colonel Pinkerton said, 80 Iraqi soldiers in armored vehicles charged out of their sector toward Nasr Wa Salam but were blocked by an American platoon. The Iraqis refused to say where they were going and threatened to drive right through the American soldiers, whom they greatly outnumbered.
Eventually, with Apache helicopter gunships circling overhead and American gunners aiming their weapons at them, the Iraqi soldiers retreated. “It hasn’t come to firing bullets yet,” Colonel Pinkerton said.
A few weeks ago, he said, a Sunni detainee was beaten to death while in custody of the Muthanna Brigade. And in the past year, he said, Muthanna soldiers detained two of Abu Azzam’s brothers, both of whom said they were abused, and raided Abu Azzam’s house.
Colonel Pinkerton’s experiences here, he said, have inverted the usual American instincts born of years of hard fighting against Sunni insurgents.
“I could stand among 1,800 Sunnis in Abu Ghraib,” he said, “and feel more comfortable than standing in a formation of Iraqi soldiers.”
Back in the EPU of Washington talk shows, Lindsey Graham, who, like Joe Lieberman, gets his information from Fox News and from what Webb calls “dog and pony shows,” assures us we have al Qaeda on the run, while Bill Kristol assures us there is no civil war in Iraq. Apparently, when the Shia Iraqi troops we’ve been arming and training are willing to confront American troops so that they can kill the Sunni militias our guys are trying to work with, and only back off when we call in Apache helicopter gun ships, that doesn’t count as evidence of civil war. Is it any wonder that our soldiers are increasingly coming to the conclusion that it’s time to come home?
Meanwhile, Brit Hume explains that it is not the Iraqi government that is failing but rather the Democratic Congress; no one mentions that in the real world, it is the Bush/Cheney Presidency that is utterly collapsing beneath the weight of it’s own incompetence, duplicity and arrogance, and that the White House’s open defiance of Congress, the will of the American people and the rule of law has created a Constitutional crisis that will decide whether we can keep our republic.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Slahaldeen Rasheed (IRAQ)