Monday, December 06, 2004

Chafee v. Chrenkoff - Just what are the "Cold, Hard Facts" on Iraq?

Every couple of weeks, Arthur Chrenkoff of the Wall Street Journal writes an editorial subtitled "A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq." Today is no exception, and it comes coincidentally to a major news story from this evening. The CNN piece is entitled: "Senator: Public needs 'cold, hard facts' on Iraq," subtitled: "A moderate Republican senator who recently returned from Iraq said conditions are worse than last year and the American public needs to hear "the cold, hard facts."

Guess who the "moderate" Republican US Senator is? Yup. None other than The Senescent Man's very own US Senator, Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

First of all, it is kind of amusing that CNN calls him a moderate. If he's a moderate, then the run-of-the-mill Republican Senator must be a right wing extremist. One wonders what they think of truly conservative Republicans in Congress.

But what's especially fascinating is juxtaposing Senator Chafee's newsworthy observations for CNN against Chrenkoff's observations in the WSJ this week:


Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island said the situation he encountered was "frightening at times."

"It's a very tenuous security situation," Chafee told CNN. "I'd been there a year ago -- what a change [for the worse]."

The pilot of the C-130 aircraft was forced to "do some evasive maneuvers," causing some anxious moments, Chafee said.

"We really need cold, hard facts and honesty," Chafee said. "The situation is tough over there." [Meaning what, we're being lied to?]

He said insurgents "pretty much" control Mosul and large parts of Baghdad, as well as the 10-mile stretch of road from the airport into the capital.

"If with 100,000-plus troops over there, we can't control that 10-mile road, it shows what's happening politically," the senator said. "The people are not as friendly as they were a year ago towards Americans."

[A] Chaldean Archbishop [from] Kirkuk, is a very frustrated man these days. "It is not all death and destruction," says the archbishop. "Much is positive in Iraq today. . . . Universities are operating, schools are open, people go out onto the streets normally. . . . Where there's a kidnapping or a homicide the news gets out immediately, and this causes fear among the people. . . . Those who commit such violence are resisting against Iraqis who want to build their country."

[The Archbishop continues:] "Western newspapers [moderate US Senators] and broadcasters are simply peddling propaganda and misinformation. . . . Iraqis are happy to be having elections and are looking forward to them because they will be useful for national unity. . . . Perhaps not everything will go exactly to plan, but, with time, things will improve. Finally Iraqis will be given the chance to choose. Why is there so much noise and debate coming out from the West when before, under Saddam, there were no free elections, but no one said a thing?"

[The Archbishop's] frustration is increasingly shared by other Iraqis, who can hardly recognize their country from the foreign media coverage [like CNN]. Westerners, too, both military and civilian, upon their return are often finding to their surprise and concern they had lived and worked in a different country to that their loved ones, friends and neighbors back home saw every night on the news. "Our" Iraq is a place of violence, uncertainty, and frustration; "their" Iraq is all that, but also so much more: work and renewal, hope and enthusiasm, new opportunities and new possibilities.
The CNN piece on Chafee's report is here. The WSJ article is here. You can decide whose perspective is more correct. Please feel free to comment.

One wonders just what "cold, hard facts" Chafee could possibly be jabbering about? The so-called "facts" from his dreary little myopic visit to Iraq which was carefully controlled to keep the Senator out of harms way during full blown wartime? Or the perspective we receive fortnightly from the people who live in Iraq day-in and day-out, who wonder why all Westerners are fed is the bad news, exacerbated by the "cold, hard" wind of politicians who cared not a whit when they were living under the daily oppression of Saddam?

Ah, Rhode Island! We cope with the quirkiness of our beloved "moderate" Senator Lincoln Chafee. But for how long?

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