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Iraq Pundit Hits the Mark

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Sitting here in the hinterlands of America it’s hard to know where to go for straight news and informed commentary on the situation in Iraq. The political pundits and journalistic talking heads are great at explaining why Neocons are evil or why Iraq is vital to our strategic interests, but they don’t have the experience, the contacts or the political neutrality to present the situation from the Iraqi perspective. The answer is to go to the source and find people who have spent significant time in Iraq or even actual Iraqis. Their first-hand experience seems a lot more valuable, so for a while I’ve been reading Iraqi blogs.

For a long time my favorite Iraqi blog has been the legendary Iraq the Model, where the Fadhil brothers hold forth on all aspects of Iraqi society and politics from within the walls of Baghdad, providing personal insights and inside information you can’t get anywhere else.

I’m not going to abandon them, because no one can beat them as a source from inside Iraq, but I have now added Iraq Pundit to my list of must-reads. The blog is written by an Iraqi expatriate, so it can’t be as strong on news direct from Iraq as ITM is. It makes up for this with incisive wit and informed, sensible commentary. It’s well written, sarcastic and often quite funny, skewering the pompous punditry of self-proclaimed experts like Juan Cole and rabid anti-war leftist Helena Cobban.

Of Cobban he says:

If you’re not following the analyses of Iraq offered regularly by war critic Helena Cobban, then you’re missing a chance to become hopelessly lost in a labyrinth of analytic lunacy. Why should you want to? Well, look at it from my point of view. Cobban’s work is a tonic for me. As a Middle Easterner, I have to put up with regular deluge of lame conspiracy theories from other Middle Easterners who perceive the world as one big knot that only they can untie. That can be tiresome. Thus, I welcome lame, stupid conspiracy theories of the West, if only for the relief. True, it’s mostly comic relief, but I’ll take what I can get.

He then goes on to very effectively dissect the logical fallacies in one of her rambling musings about the multifarious evil deeds performed by the US in Iraq. He expertly counters her questionable logic and exposes Cobban for the half-informed partisan hack she clearly is.

In analyzing a comment by Juan Cole he says:

Speaking of morally challenged hectoring, the inimitable Juan Cole has this to say about Iraqi support for the insurgents:

“Too many Sunni Iraqis support them by now, and hate the US and its Iraqi allies. And, the new Iraqi military is too listless and sectarianized to make something like this work over the long term.”

Izzatso? Where did Prof. Cole get these insights? Do they show up along with his bill at his Ann Arbor kabob house? The central issue about insurgents is this: The terrorists kill Iraqi civilians. They kill Sunnis. They kill Shiites. They kill Christians. They kill Sabeans. They kill Kurds. They kill everybody. Bombs and bullets don’t check lineage. If Iraqis who know of terrorist hideouts aren’t telling the authorities, it’s because they are afraid. Fear ruled us for decades and it’s hard to recover from that mind-set. So my informed comment is that no, most Sunnis don’t support the killing of their fellow Iraqis. And most Shiites don’t support the killing of their fellow Iraqis. Most Iraqi civilians want to live normal lives without the imminent threat of random slaughter.

Once again he cuts through the rhetoric and gets to the point that terror apologists like Cole prefer to soft-pedal, making very clear how Cole’s viewpoints are generated by his agenda, not any particular interest in facts.

He gets another great shot in at Cole when he writes:

But back to Jaafari. He has his defenders, most of whom share his dreadful judgment. One of them is the notoriously misinformed Juan Cole, who today wrote this:

“He maintains he was elected fair and square by his party. Hard to argue with.”

Hard for Cole, perhaps, but quite easy for anyone who knows what he’s talking about. Jaafari hasn’t been “elected.” He’s been nominated to the office (by a single vote). Iraq’s parliament still has to vote on his nomination.

These are just a couple of examples of what has been showing up on his blog regularly since July of 2004. It’s well worth a long, deep read. He is consistently perceptive and rational and willing to apply the hammer of truth to the sacred cow statues erected on the altars of the media and partisan politics. He also isn’t hesitant about criticizing the Iraqi leadership, especially Interim President Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who he sees as venal, inept and opportunistic.

What’s particularly refreshing is that while he’s certainly not a leftist, he doesn’t really have a right-wing or pro-Bush viewpoint either. It’s more of a common-sense, pro-Iraq perspective. He combines wit, good analytical writing and enough of a connection to Iraq to have some real understanding. The result is much more informative and enjoyable to read than the endless partisan spin being spewed out by so many bloggers and in the major media. One day reading Iraq Pundit will do more to give you an informed understanding of the situation in Iraq than you’re likely to get in a year of reading the New York Times or the Washington Post, fine papers though they are in many ways.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Maurice

    Thanks for the link. That’s all I need – more stuff to read!

  • ss

    You should check out Nuerotic Iraqi wife. She’s an ex-pat who went back to work in the Green Zone to rebuild Iraq. She was for the invasion, she’s glad Sadam’s gone, she hates the terrorists, she likes democracy.
    But she points out the lack of security and the fear people have to live in; the widespread corruption among multinationals and politically connected Iraqi contractors and the ‘don’t rock the boat’ willful blindness of American military officers and government personel that allows it to continue; the uselessness, greed, and sectarian idiocy of the new Iraqi leadership;
    the fundementalism that’s creeping in from neighboring states, the hollowness of DC’s spin machine; the demoralizing effect all this has on the Iraqis she works with who commute from the red zone to the green zone…
    She also continues to maintain hope for Iraq and ultimately, I think, faith in the Iraqi people.
    Her and I are in disagreement on the fundemental question, (she was for the invasion, I was against it) but I read her blog as often I can, cause she tells it like it is.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    SS, I have read Neurotic Iraqi wife, but she does substantive posts too infrequently and while some of it is very moving, her style can get rather irritating with all the elipses.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    Use of the expression “… Hits the Mark” suggests that the target is known before the argument is made, i.e., rationalization. Paul Wolfowitz committed the same revelation when he said that Eric Shinsekis estimate of 100s of thousands of soldiers was “wide of the mark”.

  • MCH

    A sign held by a lady at a recent anti-war demonstration read:

    “Someone please give Bush a blowjob so we can impeach him!!”

  • ss

    I can’t argue with either of those critisms, Dave. Alot of her posts are about her family, and she’s pretty erratic about posting at all.
    And all the cultural and political stuff comes with an openly personal slant. Still, because she is for transforming Iraq, but she’s extremely honest about what she thinks has been done wrong, and because her job puts her in a position to see first hand some of the mistakes that have been made, it can be pretty informative on a nuts and bolts level, too.
    For instance, she posted about the problems in the program to provide new medical clinics weeks before the MSM reported that the program had run out of money without achieving it’s goals. In that same post she said everyone involved in the program to build schools had acomplished alot and should be proud of what they’d done for Iraq, but she went on to say most of the reconstruction has gone more like the clinics than the schools. She wouldn’t name names because she’d signed a confedintiality agreement, but she placed the blame on foriegn contractors and what she called ‘the big shot’ Iraqi contractors. She didn’t blame the US for the shoddy work, but she didn’t let them off the hook for refusing to see it either.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Bliff, I’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at in #4. When I used the term ‘hits the mark’ I meant that he was providing just what I want from commentary about Iraq, factual information with access to sources inside the country and a familiarity with the region, and without the bullshit and spin. That, for me, is ‘the mark’.

    Dave