WEEK 9 – 14 Jan 07: President Bush announces the Surge. Iraqi political cartoons depict a behemoth labeled ‘The Coalition’ entering the ring to smash the terrorists. The Iraqis often depict the terrorists as wearing black pointy hooded masks while the behemoth has physical similarities to the Multi National Corps Commander, then Lieutenant General Ray Odierno.
“Hit me, Mac. Hit me.”
– Martini (Danny DeVito) to Mac (Jack Nicholson) in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we had a Civil War in the Baghdad Information Environment. Right now, that seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away as the propaganda and rhetoric have heated up dramatically.
The propaganda outlets, whether they be newspaper, web sites or even television, are encouraging their Sunni or Shia brothers, as the bias goes, to come to Baghdad and defeat the other. They make outlandish claims of thousands of fighters marching down the streets and shooting down multiple helicopters when we have had nothing but safe flights. The propaganda sites take credit for everything that does and doesn’t happen in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Baghdad media outlets like Sharqiya and Iraqiya are broadcasting their stories with a definite bias towards their owners’ sect and their target audience’s religious and ethnic background. Other Mid-East outlets, like Alaam, Manar and Jazeera are doing the same.
Jazeera, as an example, had a good time with the US capturing the Iranian officials at a Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI – a political party) related house. It seems SCIRI and Iran were caught with some cards up their sleeves. All together, the Information Environment is shaping us for a greater Pan Arab conflict to make others kick in some chips.
Of course, President Bush upped the ante with his announcement to send thousands of more troops to Iraq to secure Baghdad and Al Anbar. The US will also send more people to support the Provincial Reconstruction Teams and economic support to support reconstruction. Soon, other coalition partners will likely fold.
The Government of Iraq, for its part, seems to be calling the President by kicking in more Iraqi Security Forces to support. Most Iraqis seem to have noticed but many are taking a pass. Some are glad and some are not. A few more pragmatic Iraqis don’t care as long as they get security.
Most of the regional countries seem to be ‘checking’ with comments a build up is good but they aren’t committing anything (at least over the table). The only naysayer seems to be the Iranians who say we are doomed. Coalition Forces raided an Iranian consulate in Irbil yesterday and so far have only released one of six captured Iranians. It makes me wonder who is bluffing.
The US pundits, meanwhile, are claiming that by raising troop levels in Iraq for one last all or nothing bid. President George W. Bush has staked his Presidency on Iraq with a double or nothing bet. Yet, the President didn’t say that. He said we were going to be here for a long time.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you can check. You can raise. You can call. You can fold. It is up to you. But, I’m “All In”.
Like I have a choice?