Friday, January 05, 2007

Theatre of the Absurd

Insurgency TV, available 24 x 7 via satellite… Four years into this… You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Listen to the reports about it on NPR:

12/22/06 Sunni Insurgents Launch TV Channel

01/05/07 Insurgent TV Channel Nettles U.S., Iraqi Authorities

The term “Al Zawraa” refers to a popular soccer team in Iraq. Last year it was also the name of a Sunni-oriented television station run by a Sunni member of the Iraqi Parliament, a former Baathist named Mishaan Jaburi. On November 5th, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, and Al Zawraa sharply criticized the verdict. The Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promptly had the station shut down, and Al Zawraa went undergound.

Today Mr. Jaburi is no longer in Iraq, and Al Zawraa has gone on to become the propaganda voice of the Sunni insurgency, running commentary and jeremiads in between hours and hours of snuff videos of attacks being launched by jihadists against American troops and Shias in Iraq. He is running Al Zawraa from a studio in Damascus, and is beaming the programming to the entire Middle East and North Africa through Nilesat, a satellite company owned primarily by the Egyptian government (the US subsidizes the Egyptian government to the tune of about $2 billion a year). Apparently, all it takes to broadcast these videos is a cellphone that can capture the footage, an internet uplink, and a dish to point at the satellite. Cellphones are also used as a common means to send the signals that detonate IEDs…

The only flack that Jaburi is catching from his Syrian hosts is for his constant drumbeat of verbal attacks on Iran, their ally. Jaburi was even seen recently as a guest on Al Jazeera, launching into one of his sectarian diatribes against a Shia guest.

American security forces closely guarded Saddam Hussein all the way through his captivity and essentially walked him all the way to the gallows, thinking they were handing him over in custody to the “Iraqi Government.” Thanks to one guy who happened to be there with a cellphone, we’ve seen the Maliki government representatives for who they really are, essentially a Shia sectarian death squad loyal only to Moqtada al Sadr.

What madness. Putting aside the legality, morality, and motives for the war for a moment... Who are we supposed to be working with and handing this place over to anyhow? Why should anyone risk his neck riding and up and down the same old streets over and over again for this anti-modern nonsense from all sides? Actually, what we are seeing is the modern being cleverly put into use for the benefit of the anti-modern. Technology is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Satellites, cellphones…. Last week Steve put up a great post about the amount of money that each individual citizen in the US is ponying up on military spending per year. For all that’s been poured into military spending and SDI (“Star Wars”) research over the last couple of decades, am I alone is considering it absolutely mind-boggling that for all that money, we are being confounded by satellites, cellphones, and the web? Aren’t we supposed to know this stuff better than anyone else? Vladimir Lenin used to say, “The capitalists will sell us the rope we’ll use to hang them with.” He and his successors failed in that, but did he stumble into a sort of truism?


    crystal said...

    I have to admit, I haven't been paying a lot of attention to what's going on with Iraq, but perhaps most wars are actually this messed up, but except for Vietnam, we weren't as tuned in technology-wise to realize it?

    Steve Bogner said...

    Yes, just *who* are we working with over there? The Sunnis and Shias want to do away with each other, and the Kurds want to be rid of them both. And here we are, an outside force, trying to make them stick together. In the process of doing that, we are the scapegoat and are getting used to fuel the violence. At least that's how it seems to me.

    Jeff said...

    Hi Crystal,

    Maybe you're onto something there. It just seems incomprehensible to me that there is nothing that we can do about stopping a signal from a known satellite, by persuasion or otherwise.


    Good point. If there are any moderates there to be found at all to work for a sincere political solution, I don't know where they are. They all seem to have decided that they are more interested at this point in waiting us out so they can settle old scores.

    crystal said...

    Jeff, aren't you going to let me tag you for the theology meme? I was looking forward to seeing what you'd come up with.

    Jeff said...

    Sorry, Crystal. I haven't had a lot of time at the computer this week. To tell you the truth, I haven't read a lot of systematic theology. When I read about religion it tends to be spiritual reading, history, scripture, or biblical scholars. Do biblical scholars fit in for theologians in a pinch? I think they've actually been more influential than theologians over the last 25 years... I have a few ideas. I'll give it a shot when I get a chance, thanks. :-)

    crystal said...

    Thanks, Jeff. I think many of the people who did the meme had books that weren't "theology" per se, or even books (some articles were noted). I don't think I really listed anything in mine that could be called systematic theology.