Saturday, August 25, 2007

Re-Framing, Iraq Style

By Cernig

No longer "terrorists" or even "insurgents", if a group is at last throwing in its lot (temporarily and for its own advantage) with US forces, they are now "concerned local nationals".
The updated vocabulary for referring to the 1920 Revolution Brigade, described by a U.S. commander on Saturday, is a sign of the abrupt change in tactics that has seen U.S. forces cooperate with former Sunni Arab enemies.

The 1920 Revolution Brigade was one of the main anti-American Sunni Arab insurgent groups in Iraq in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and has claimed responsibility for killing scores of U.S. troops in ambushes and bomb attacks.

But for the past several months its members have cooperated with U.S. forces to help drive the strict al Qaeda Islamists out of Sunni Arab areas, part of a new U.S. tactic of cooperating with former Sunni Arab foes against al Qaeda.

Colonel David Sutherland, the U.S. commander in Diyala Province, said his men prefer not to call the group by its name.

"The 1920s as they're called, we call them 'the Baquba Guardians', we call them the 'concerned local nationals'," he said. Baquba is the provincial capital.

"These are patriots who have come forward and have joined the security process. They are working with my soldiers and they are working with the Iraqi security forces," he said.

Ah, remember the heady days when Donald Rumsfield insisted those fighting the elected government of Iraq were terrorists not insurgents? When Matt Barber was piling on the media for the same thing and saying it would "embody the terrorists' false hope for victory"? When the Freepers were agreeing with Barber that "terrorist" was too wimpy and only the term "terrorist cockroaches" would do?

Whatever happened to all those keyboard heroes? Will they now rise up en-masse and denounce the US military as enemies of freedom who are embodying the terrorists false hope for victory? Well no, the cry now is that democracy has to be built from the ground up, not the top down. Which is what we lefties have been saying all along and which was directly opposed to the Bush administration's official line. Rumsfield set out the official line in those days which are gone from rightwing memory (link above):
"When the Iraqi people have their own constitution, that they wrote, that they voted for, and then they elect people under that constitution, it becomes increasingly clear that anyone going around killing the Iraqi people (is) fighting against a legitimate government," the secretary said.

"They are against a legitimate constitution, (and) they will be against people who have been legitimately elected under the Iraqi constitution," he said.
By and large, the members of the Sunni insurgency who have joined the so-called Anbar Awakening (which would be better termed the Anbar opportunism, at least so far) have showed sketchy co-operation with Shiite Iraqi security forces and no co-operation at all with Maliki's government. So are they still terrorists? For sure, they aren't as yet a wholehearted part of the solution and their decision to move towards such a position in any way whatsoever is not a success that can be ascribed to US actions.

At the end of the day, the re-framing may well be arrant hypocrisy but it won't effect the reality on the ground. As I said way back in 2004, if you want peace then eventually you have to talk to the terrorists, no matter what name you call them by.

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