Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Infamy, Infamy...

Engaging Moonbat Mode. Be warned.

Via the Religious Policeman (who you really should be reading if you're not) I see that Iraq The Model* has won the Weblog Award for best Middle East or Africa blog. Iraq The Model is a very interesting blog written originally by three brothers and now by just two. I've stumbled across it a number of times but I'm certainly not a regular reader. They do have a very interesting attitude towards the current situation in Iraq and it would appear that the blog is very popular with "pro-war" US readers in particular. To illustrate, you might like to have a quick look at who links to them and why. (This is one of those stories from way back when so apologies if it's old news to you. Short version here.)

I've been reading some of the current posts on the blog as well as some of the archives. It really is fasinating stuff. Here's their summary of the current situation:
Anyway, the worst possible outcome of this struggle isn’t going to be thick black, the same way that the best outcome isn’t expected to be pure while; it’s all shades of gray and we hope we can end up with the lightest one possible.

This is from 30th November 2003:
I’m asking every honest man and woman and every honest government in the world to give a hand. This is not a USA vs. Saddam battle. And not an Iraqi people vs. Ba’athists battle. This is the war of the free world against terrorism. This is a war between all the good and all the evil. If this is what they call resistance, and if this is what they call patriotism, then I am the first betrayer. People of the world: you can not stay neutral, we're all on the list.
Free world against terrorists? That seems to be a bit of an over-simplification of the problem in Iraq. And all that good versus evil, with us or against us stuff sounds almost familiar.

Discussing Al Jazeera's new english language channel, they said (28th October, 2004) :
We will all be able to watch and enjoy the indispensable and most honest news station of all times, Al Jazeera. We tried many times to describe to you how biased and hateful the channel is but some of you kept saying “No way, you must be exaggerating. No channel can be more biased than the BBC or CNN”.
That sounds very familiar. You get the idea. These bloggers really are very supportive of the efforts of the US administration and the views of neo-conservatives.

So supportive are they, in fact, that some people have raised questions as to their integrity. Suspicions of hidden agendas were fuelled when two of the three brothers visited the United States and "accidentally" met President Bush. It was this which apparently motivated the third brother, Ali, to stop participating in the blog. In his final post, he wrote:
I just can't keep doing this anymore. My stand regarding America has never changed. I still love America and feel grateful to all those who helped us get our freedom and are still helping us establishing democracy in our country. But it's the act of some Americans that made me feel I'm on the wrong side here. I will expose these people in public very soon, and I won't lack the means to do this.
The New York Times took up the story in January 2005 and actually spoke to Ali. It is an interesting article which was widely mocked, scorned and ridiculed by the heavyweight "pro war" bloggers. As far as I can tell, Ali never did explain what it was which made him feel he was on the wrong side.

The thing is, astroturfing does happen in all sorts of ways. We know that the US government has planted favourable news stories in Iraqi newspapers. Given that, do you think the US administration would have the slightest problem with supporting and encouraging, and then prompting, manipulating and exploiting these three Iraqi bloggers who were already pro-US and pro-invasion? Not likely. I doubt they'd even consider it an ethically questionable endeavour.

The fact that there are some Iraqis who are generally pro-US and pro-invasion and who can be exploited in this way isn't any great mystery. Some people (let's be honest, it's the same rabid anti-war reactionaries who appear to be intent on giving us semi-sensible lefties a bad name) seem to have difficulty believing that such could people exist at all but they clearly do. There are just not very many of them. That's not speculation, it's what the latest survey from Iraq said. 10% of Iraqis have quite a lot of confidence in the coalition and 6% have a great deal of confidence. Unfortunately, 23% have not very much confidence in them and 54% have none at all. Anyway, I very much doubt that these chaps are CIA stooges; they're part of the 6%. That fact doesn't trouble the very many pro-war bloggers who seem intent on portraying them as the silent majority in Iraq though.

Reading Iraq The Model, it's hard to shake the feeling that it has all been approved before it is posted. It appears probable that Ali found that he could not live within the constraints imposed on him at Iraq The Model. He's set up his own blog which is still generally very supportive of the coalition but which does stray "off message" in a way that Iraq The Model does not. More power to him for that.

* I'm not linking I'm afraid, and I'll tell you for why. The commenters on Iraq The Model are inclined to be slightly, ahem, impolite to those expressing opinions they don't agree with. If I link this post, there is a very small possibility that I'd get a link back and a comment loon invasion to go with it. Highly unlikely but why take the risk? Please do google away or go via the technorati link if you fancy reading it though.

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