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A Good Thing You Don’t Hear About Iraq

In a world of information management, the most relevant news is the least published.

One of the principle points of American coverage of Iraq is the reflection of the audience. For the most part, coverage is simple and stupid because American’s knowledge of Iraq is at best, simple and stupid. Complex news and events are decoded and primed into headlines, morphing information to include terrorist, insurgent, al-Qaeda, Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish without any relevance to what is actually occurring. The media has pandered to American sensibilities (body counts, landmark dates, etc.) and skewed our belief of how things are going there (a quick trip to CNN.com reiterates this point — the first headline at this time reads “Two die in downing of U.S. copter in Iraq”).

My basic view is that we shouldn’t be in Iraq, but we are, so we have to live with that fact for the time being. Things aren’t going horribly, even though the training of troops seems to be going poorly, the lack of stability in the Iraqi government, and the increasing body count of American troops. But to acknowledge the difficulties while downplaying the progress has been a theme of the American op-ed room and television news. The media has captured a sense of everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and Americans seem to have silently accepted the cynicism that Iraq will be a partial success at best.

Reasons? This article is one of them, detailing the involvement of local militias fighting off foreign-backed insurgency units, (Read this NY Times article about local battles as well. Yes, maybe the phrase ‘local militia’ strikes a sense of fear, but these are what are being used for local protection. For every Western diplomat or journalist you hear as being kidnapped, there are 20 Iraqi’s in similar situations. While not being lawless, Iraq is poor, and where there was predicted to be civil war, there has only been crime showing the sign’s of poverty, rather than political motivation. Iraqi’s will be able to stand on their own two feet soon, and it’s good to see them being proactive about the safety (or at least foreign involvement) in their country. While it may be discouraging to see violence continuing, Iraqi’s are becoming increasingly involved in self-determination and the emergence of a politically and economically sovereign country.

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The Tipsy Bear

If there’s one animal that seems to get its head perpetually caught in the honey jar, it’s the drunken Polar bear looming about in Europe and Asia. Russia is a resource-wealthy nation with a well-educated constituency, but one that has been consistently stuck in top to bottom societies, from the Czar to the Communist regime to today’s autocracy-in-democracy clothing. Though the early 1990’s provided hope that the former Soviet nation would evolve into a stable and just society, Russia has regressed while watching it’s neighbors develop out of tyranny into democracy.

The most interesting recent development has been with former Soviet bloc countries as Russia attempts to hold onto its spheres of influence. It appears that the powerful in Russia enjoyed reciprocal relationships with the powerful in the post-Soviet nations, but as the trajectory of post-Communist nations turns towards legitimate democracy (specifically ex-Warsaw Pact nations as Romania and Soviet nations Ukraine and Georgia), Russia regressed to outrageous demands that looked to either starve or polarize their former colleagues. Oil continues to be Russia’s main weapon with elevated gas prices and an under-supplied world market, but its inability to compromise or produce an image of at best neutral, if at least not-corrupt, intentions have diminished it internationally. Eloquently stated in the Salon article, despite reduced capabilities, Russia continues to brandish regional ambitions like “phantom limbs” and pursue policies as if it were still a global leader.

But the counter-balance to Russia’s aggressive behavior has been its neighbors instead of the United States or the European Union. In April of 2005, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova joined forces in a new “Union of Democratic States”. These countries have received monetary and diplomatic support from the United States, and it has become clear to some in the global sphere that Russia needs to be isolated. This alliance has succeeded geographically, but Russia has found other avenues to remain diplomatically relevant, such as Iran and North Korea, where nuclear proliferation is the fundamental issue.

Once upon a time Russia was seen as leading the charge towards market economies and representative government in post-Soviet Europe and Asia. But as Putin becomes increasingly reactionary towards democracy in his own country and in others’, Russia’s foreign policy has suffered a parallel impact. Relying on what are now key issues — energy and nuclear concerns — Russia has held onto some of its power internationally and regionally. But as these issues become resolved, the once powerful nation will find itself trapped in an empty jar of honey.

Originally posted at Ablogistan.com by Alec.

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