Tristero has a superb post up at Digby's that calls into serious question the reporting skills of those we rely upon in the major media outlets to inform us about what, exactly, is going on in Iraq, specifically with regard to a survey of opinions about what civil war in Iraq would look like done in the NYT by Kenneth Pollack:
Pollack's emphasis on Shia-Shia conflict seems an academic distortion, going for the unusual angle. But that's nothing compared to this unattributed whopper:Meanwhile let's recall the snaggletoothed quote-unquote "experts" Matthews is dredging from the primordial ooze and propping up on MSNBC:Some experts, however, say Iran may understand the dangers of a war. Even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denunciation of the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra last week, in which he blamed Zionists rather than Sunnis, could be seen as an act of restraint, these experts say -- an effort to play to Shiite anger without fanning flames between Iraq's Islamic communities.Now this is such an unspeakably stupid analysis of what Iran is up to that it could only come from a high Bush administration official. I'm quite serious. Another clue it's from a Bushite is its sense of loony "accentuate the positive" thinking. And indeed, the context gives a pretty clear clue where this idiocy probably came from. Backing up one paragraph we read:While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proclaimed that the world has isolated Iran more than ever because of its nuclear ambitions, Iran has in fact tightened relationships with it local allies as events in Iraq have played out. In recent months, Iran has been deepening its alliance with Syria and the Shiite movement Hezbollah in Lebanon, and now it appears ready to strike up a friendship, backed by financing, with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.Am I saying Condoleeza Rice is the moron who sees hope in Iran's anti-Zionism/semitism? No, not exactly. But anyone who is making the fundamental error Rice is making - focusing on Iran's "world" isolation while downplaying its strengthening of regional ties, including to Hamas - is quite capable of misconstruing Ahmadinejad's remarks to mean Iran is not doing whatever it can to grasp as much purchase within Iraq as possible. And if it came to a war that led to Iraq's total disintegration, it is unclear what Iran stands to lose.
Some experts, however, say Iran may understand the dangers of a war. Even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denunciation ...
The article also floats the idea of a negotiated breakup of Iraq into three states. Good luck. Who gets the oil regions, boys and girls? Who gets the desert? And who moves? And who sez Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are just gonna twiddle their fingers and not interfere?
There is much more interesting speculation and detail about how truly incredibly complex the mess in Iraq is, and how few alternatives exist that won't quickly lead to disaster for the people of the region, and the people of the United States. Will Turkey invade to defend the Turkomen against oppression if Iraq's Kurds officially set up on their own? Will the Arab League step in to intervene? And looming above it all are nukes. Iranian nukes coming soon. Potential Sunni Arab nukes depending on how the situation worsens (calling Dr. A. Q. Khan!).
So, Mr. Tom Friedman, are you enjoying the real live political experiment now? So, Mr. George Packer, still think that those of us who absolutely knew Bush/Iraq would open the gates of hell have "second-rate minds?"
Hey, y'never know! Maybe Ahmadinejad really was sending a signal that Iran wasn't interested in an Iraq civil war when he blamed Zionists - Israel -for the attack. True, that could be because he wants to attack Israel first, but at least it's not supporting civil war in Iraq!
Yes, it's possible. And maybe there really is a Bigfoot. And maybe tomorrow, cold fusion will work and, as Woody Allen predicted in Sleeper, cigarette smoking will turn out to improve your health and longevity. You never know...
CHRIS MATTHEWS:....Could this civil war, which we're on the edge of, perhaps, be foreseen?The neocon monsters had an awful lot of help bringing the world to this awful place. They could not have done it without the help of compliant -- and one can only assume willfully ignorant -- journalists. May it be tied to their tails like a tin can for all eternity.
RICHARD PERLE, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well first of all, I don't believe we are on the edge of a civil war. I think we need to stay calm, which is what we in the leadership in Iraq are urging, urging Iraqis to do.
MATTHEWS: Why is our nervousness about a civil war in any way a triggering mechanism for more civil war? What matters whether I'm nervous about this or not? Why do we have to remain calm?
PERLE: Well it doesn't matter in that sense, but I think there's a lot of hyperbole. I was just listening to Mr. Reagan.
MATTHEWS: One hundred and sixty eight mosques have been torched in the last 24 hours.
PERLE: I don't believe that serious damage was done to 168 mosques and I don't believe that we're on the verge of a civil war although it was certainly the intention of the people who blew up the mosque in Samarra.