Pentagon Calls Bushit on White House Al Qaeda Claims

Joshua Holland: And Keith Olbermann shows how tough it is to counter a massive propaganda campaign.
The WaPo's Thomas Ricks was on Keith Olbermann's show last week to discuss his recent article about the Pentagon's war-gaming for a post-occupation Iraq [ht: Raw Story].

It should come as no surprise to anyone following the war over the past four years that the Pentagon's planners concluded that the reality in Iraq is the exact, 180-degree opposite of the claims most commonly made by the White House -- and other supporters of the president's War on Terr'r -- to justify the continuing occupation of Iraq, a country whose only "terrorists" prior to the invasion of 2003 were groups opposed to the rule of Saddam Hussein himself.

The Pentagon's war-gamers found that a U.S. withdrawal would not lead to al Qaeda taking over the country and it would not strengthen Iran's hand. In fact, if the U.S. were to pull out, the DoD planners believe Iran would get sucked into the same situation that we're in now: mediating between factions in a multi-faceted civil war.

Watch the clip to your right. It's a good example of how the media could challenge the kind of spin parroted by the pro-war set if they so desired.

But let me take it one step further. This exchange is also illustrative of how hard it is to push back against a narrative when it's echoed by a mountain of consistent propaganda. Specifically, Olbermann does a good job taking apart the claim that "al Qaeda" will take over Iraq, but he's forced to do so within the frame that the war's supporters' choose: as a fight in which "al Qaeda" -- meaning, interchangeably, the insurgent group "al Qaeda in Iraq" and the group that is headed by Osama Bin Laden -- plays a leading role in Iraq in the first place.

That's not the case -- al Qaeda in Iraq is but one of several primarily Sunni insurgent groups, and it's not believed to be the biggest or the most powerful. The Islamic Army in Iraq is thought to be bigger, and the 1920 Revolutionary Brigade is comparable, yet we don't hear them referred to by name very often, and they are certainly not used a sharthand for the entire insurgency.

At various times, occupation officials have also said that the Shiite resistance groups and militias, and not the Sunni-dominated groups, were the leading cause of instability in Iraq, but all-too-often this basic fact appears to have disappeared down the memoryhole.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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