"Residents were welcoming the New Year...celebrations...big parties at Baghdad hotels." - Renee Montagne, ME 1/1/2008.Too bad I missed the festivities in Iraq; 2007 was such a promising year. To ring in the New Year NPR had Renee Montagne chatting with Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq. Montagne begins with "As he looks back at the year just ended, Ryan Crocker says that some signs of progress in 2007, could make for new challenges in 2008." Uh oh, there's that Progress in Iraq ™ spin again - but new challenges, who knows - maybe she'll ask about the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the non-assistance for the 4 million plus refugees, the simmering conflicts in Kurdistan, the danger of arming the "Awakening" Sunnis, the failure of the British in Basra and the extremism there, etc. etc.
Consider how the exchange actually went:
Crocker: "The reduction in violence has led to refugee and displaced persons returned; this is clearly a good thing but it is also a process that has to be carefully managed."
"As young men get out of the militia business, as they have been doing, they need to have another business to get into. There will be a need for further efforts at political reconciliation."
Montagne : "Let's break down those positives and those challenges, starting with political reconciliation."
I assumed Montagne would, at least meekly, challenge this complete lie that refugee and displaced persons have returned. It never came up again, which is typical for NPR's disgraceful coverage of the US-created Iraqi refugee disaster. And then "further...reconciliation." She might have asked how you can have "further" when there hasn't been any!
Montagne does briefly challenge the "Awakening" strategy, asking Crocker if the arming of Sunni groups might "be a threat to reconciliation itself." But she lets Crocker off the hook as he claims that all the arming of groups is being done in a highly organized, systemic manner with "full coordination with the Iraqi central government." As if the US has done one thing in Iraq in such a way!
You have to wonder, as always, what preparation, if any, is done before these interviews. Do the hosts read any independent/dissenting assessments of the Iraq War (Juan Cole, AlterNet, IPS news)? Apparently not. You have to envy these professional liars like Crocker who can go on a news show interview and get away with saying anything they want, no matter how remote from reality it is.