Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Rant: What News is News?

I have often puzzled in a vague sort of way about something upon which others seem to have spent more serious thought – the way it is with the “news”.

What puzzles me is how Iraq has suddenly disappeared, so to speak, from the radar screen, at least here in Denmark.

Here in Denmark, all through spring and early summer there had been a constantly increasing drumbeat about what is quaintly called “sectarian violence” that is the smoldering civil war and train wreck in slow-motion that is the breakup of Iraq.

Suddenly, even though July was the worst month for violence and number of people killed in Iraq and August doesn’t look any better, Iraq is no longer news.

The keys to this change would seem to be Gaza, Lebanon and the Big (Terror) Bust in England. Why this happens, I don’t know, but it started with a build up. First, there was the election in the Occupied Territories of a new parliament which did not deliver the sort of democracy which been assumed would now bloom after the demise of Yasir Arafat. Instead Hamas received a resounding majority and one would think from the reaction that Sean Fain had gotten the majority in the English Parliament.

A naïve person like myself would think well, Hamas is many things, with a range of views, the obvious thing would be to encourage those elements of Hamas interested in a commitment to parliamentary work and the compromise it requires. The Hamas had a tremendous backing from their landslide victory and real political capital to draw on so they had more maneuver room than Fatah ever could have.

Obviously, what was obvious was not obvious to either the Israeli, American and European governments. They all came down hard on the Hamas making demands which played into the most radical elements of the Hamas and strengthened their hand.

Thinking back, it’s kind of obvious now why what was obvious was obviously not (obvious).

Any show of a wish to work with the Hamas in a parliamentary way would mean compromise for us as well as some acknowledgment that the Palestinians actually have a number of legitimate complaints which also must be addressed.

Therefore the money stopped, wages to government employees could not be paid, violence broke out between Fatah and Hamas broke out. We sat back and watched, with a faint hope Fatah would win. They didn’t.

Then came the incident in the Gaza where an Israeli soldier was kidnapped from a border control point and the IDF responded with overwhelming force, destroying infrastructure, arresting half of the Palestinian Parliament.

Suddenly everything went to hell in the north. A couple of Israeli soldiers are taken prisoner in a raid which cost the lives of several Israeli soldiers. But everything is smothered in the enormous “shock and awe” response of the IDF which had been in planning for at least a year waiting for a provocation of this sort from the Hezbolah. In the month-long war so much is destroyed, deaths in the thousand plus, infrastructure destroyed, environmental catastrophes and the IDF lost way too many soldiers and with it the aura of invincibility.

A fragile cease-fire has now been established and these “birth pangs” are supposed to be the start of a New Middle East and the growth of democracy in the region. This is also obvious, if you are blind as a bat.

That reality of course is that Iraq is still out of the news cycle, we have sidled closer to a major attack on Iran, most likely involving the use of nukes and with that a giant step towards World War.

It must not be.

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