Friday, September 23, 2005

Basra Babylon

There's a blog called "Hullabaloo" where a writer named Digby writes mostly left-wing political essays that tend to get a bit blubbery (he writes too much), but when he's on, he's great. Click here to get to his site.

In the middle of an essay about "what are blogs good for," he wrote the following:

I realize that he is long out of fashion and probably politically incorrect to evoke in these conservative times, but I think that bloggers can be, at our best, the heirs to IF Stone, who famously said that the Washington Post was an exciting paper to read because "you would never know on what page you would find a page one story." Like Stone, we are always looking for the page one story that's buried on page 15. Our capacity to use collective energy to scour newpapers and other publications for the small details that can lead to a bigger story is one of the innovations of blogging. We are using the modern investigative tools at our disposal to follow up on the "shirt tail hanging out" as he used to call it --- the little detail that leads one to delve more deeply into the story and get to the larger truth. Technology, of course, is key --- but so is the aggregate energy of thousands of individuals putting it to work.

There was a particularly interesting Page 15 story this week about two British agent provocateurs in Basra, Iraq being caught by Iraqi police in Arabic drag in a car boobytrapped to the gills with explosives. There was a shootout and the Iraqis won. The British powers-that-be decided to take matters in their own hands, literally, and drove tanks into the walls of the local jail, incidentally freeing all the prisoners.

They finally "rescued" the two Brits from a Shiite "militia" house and whisked them away, precipitating some vigorous rioting by the local population who were not amused at the prospect of British posing as Arabs preparing to set off a murderous car bomb. The Iraqis have been claiming this kind of behavior was happening from the Americans, British and Israelis since day one of the invasion. Well, it seems they were right.

To read about more of the story, click here for a "Raw Story" account. For an explanation of what it all means, click here for Jeff Wells' "Rigorous Intuition" account, complete with censored photos of the two Brits. He ends his essay with this:

It doesn't make sense? Only if you haven't been paying attention. This is the subtext of the Iraq tragedy: blow up the Hajis and play the Sunnis on the Shias; create the chaos that introduces the conditions necessary for the long-game, and the long-held aspirations of the neoconservatives to divide Iraq into ethnographic bantustans.

I wonder what will be made of this story by those who think escalating bloodshed in Iraq is a measure of the failure of US policy, and not its success, and who believe black ops and false flags are figments of our paranoiac fantasies. Probably, as with so much that would bedevil their worldview if only they were intellectually honest enough to permit it, this too will be filtered out and forgotten. But our burden is we won't forget. And damned if the Iraqis will.

If you aren't too busy going to anti-war protest marches, The Love Parade, or the Folsom Street Fair this weekend, you can go to Webzine 2005 at the Swedish-American Hall on Market Street not far from the Castro District. On Sunday afternoon, I'm going to be a panelist on "neighborhood blogging." I'm a virgin panelist (for the very first time) so I'm both amused and nervous. To get to their website for more info, click here.


mike // potrero hill sf said...

Man, that neighborhood blogging panel would really rawk if we had a powerpoint presentation ; )

San Francisco Click said...

I have a small virtual tour presentation of the Civic Center area.

Let me know about your events, one day I might make a photo reportage about it.