Perhaps because I have lived in countries with insurgencies, I’m a little cynical about the US press covereage of Iraq. They seem willing and able to report Iraq as Viet Nam, while I see it as Colombia, or Algeria, or Luzon, or maybe even Mindanao.

The problem? The politicization of coverage as an “us versus them” coverage. This occurs on both left and right, but the right has been hit with reality, and is now a bit more humbled, whereas the left side of the blogosphere and much of the press merely echoes the party line.

It’s really nice to have a simple “BadBushyHitler” answer for a complicated situation. Just call names, and you feel superior to warmongering fascists. And just say you want peace, so remove all troops immediately, and voila, instant peace.

And if you believe that one, I have a museum in Cambodia that I want to show you. The dirty little secret is that when you let murderers win, they tend to go on murdering, whether it be in Cambodia or Zimbabwe.

So I was bemused to read the various stories about Basra.

Compare and contrast

MSNBC

3 soldiers die in Baghdad; The inability of the Iraqi security forces to curb the militias has cast doubt on their effectiveness two days before the two top American officials in Iraq — Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker — are to brief Congress on the prospects for further reductions in the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

Iraqi forces were plagued by desertions and mutinies in units sent to Basra, where a government offensive against militias stalled and triggered fighting elsewhere.

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From StrategyPage:

Iran takes a beating
April 6, 2008: The battles with the Shia militias resulted in neighborhoods close to the Baghdad coming back under government control. …Behind the scenes, negotiations continue with Iranian officials and leaders of the various Shia militias.

The government has demonstrated that it now has much more powerful security forces, and, more importantly, the political will to fight, and defeat, the militias. That’s a major change, and the Iranians have to deal with a major loss of influence in Iraq. The amnesty for militia members is drawing hundreds of takers.

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The difference?

MSNBC reports the “if it bleeds it leads” style of reporting.

Strategy Page see the battles in the light of geopolitics and history.

MSNBC is supporting the Democratic line…no context.

For example, the “desertions” were mainly from a unit that was new to combat.

The “fighting broke out elsewhere” ignores that Sadr decided the best fight was to have his guys in Baghdad lob a few rockets into the greenzone. So the US and Iraqis are now fighting those gangs.

Without context, you will interpret a half dozen deaths in a major city as civil war. You also might not know that some of Sadr’s gangs have been terrorizing Sunni families in revenge.

And finally, you won’t know that such “militias” can often have large numbers leave them and settle down if given jobs and amnesty.

The Philippines did this in Luzon, and the Huks are now history. The NPA is languishing, and only Saudi money keeps the various Moro terrorists active now that the MILF is busy trying to sign a peace treaty.

So I know that there is an overlap with “insurgencies” and criminality and with outsiders who fund the insurgencies, be they leftists or Islamicists.

Similarly, without seeing the Iranian and Saudi/Syrian proxies in Iraq, you are missing the picture.

Finally, by spinning insurgency as a “quickie” war rather than an ongoing problem, you are missing the point.

Do we want the Caliphate in Iraq and the Philippines? Or free countries able to elect their leaders?

Given a choice, most people want the latter.

And the love of common people to just live their lives in peace, not under some Utopian rule by a dictator, is another story that the MSM in the US usually misses, and not only in Iraq….

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes about human rights in Africa at Makaipa Blog.

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