NEW YORK–I’ve just seen two reports about absolutely looney Bush administration steps in Iraq and Lebanon that have more to do with public relations management than they do, in either case, with “on the ground realities.”
First, check out this snippet from The American Prospect‘s Garance Franke-Ruta regarding “Why It’s Taking So Long” to evacuate Americans from Lebanon:
A reliable source tells me that the reason the United States has been so slow in evacuating its citizens from Lebanon is that the public diplomacy (i.e., P.R.) issues raised by evacuating under Israeli assault are so complicated.
Individuals within the State Department, I am told, have been reluctant to create an impression that the Israeli assault on Lebanon is as bad as it is or that civilian U.S. citizens are being threatened by U.S. ally Israel. If a conflict this severe had broken out in, say, Indonesia, the American embassy would have been shut down the next day and its personnel and families rapidly brought to safety. That’s how things normally work. (See Laura Rozen on the evacuation from Albania here.)
In this case, however, the diplomatic message sent by shutting down the U.S. embassy in the face of Israeli bombing would have contradicted the U.S. government message of support for the Israeli mission against Hezbollah terrorists, which, when added to the general concern within lower-level diplomatic circles about ever creating a Fall of Saigon-style visual for the news media, have led the Americans to be slower than they could have been about getting U.S. citizens out of harm’s way.
CNN’s Nic Robertson has been doing a very good job of field reporting on the tension inside Lebanon — and reporting the dramatic impact on the lives of innocent victims inside Lebanon from Israeli bombing campaigns. However, Robertson on more than one occasion has had to really scramble and duck for cover at times that they were warned of incoming attacks.
Innocent Lebanese — as well as innocent Israelis — are dying in this mess. And they all should be mourned for — but knock out someone like Nic Robertson in one of these flamboyant assaults and the dynamics of support for Israel’s actions in the power corridors of Washington will be turned immediately upside down. (Note to Nic: Keep ducking and running those bombs.)
But THEN, get this latest report from the Republican National Committee on bringing a “market economy” to Iraq after decades of state planning. As a friend of mine wrote, “you just can’t make this stuff up!”
Here is the pdf of the RNC’s new report — Iraq Facts.
The first press accomplishment on the fact sheet is:
“Iraq And The United States Signed A Commercial Cooperation Agreement Monday To Move The Country Toward A Market Economy After Decades Of State Planning.” (Ryan Lenz, “Nations Sign Commercial Cooperation Deal,” The Associated Press, 7/17/06)
I can’t quite believe that anyone thinks that there are conditions in Iraq where a “market economy” is ready to displace a planned one — particularly when most Iraqis continue to live in darkness and inconsistent electric power provision and when the daily kill rate in Iraq is on average more than 100 people a day.
Figuring that Iraq has a little less than 10% of the U.S. population, the proportional death rate of something like 9/11 is ocurring ON AVERAGE every three days in Iraq.
Shame on the RNC for this report.
The only ones who benefit from the kinds of gushing free market and privatization schemes during times of such obvious calamity and systemic breakdowns are corrupt thugs, well-organized gangs, and robber barons among the elite power circles in that country.
If we turn over Iraq to these kinds of Chalabi-like self-dealers, then we will have even more to be ashamed of than we do now.
— Steve Clemons