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The Troublemaker in the Middle

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Message Jonathan Korein
I've often found when reading the NY Times that the true story is hidden within the article as a quote from a local.

Let's take bin Laden as an example. Buried in an article on the CIA in the Pakistani tribal areas, a school teacher, when asked where bin Laden was, said "America brought Osama bin Laden to this region. They know his whereabouts better than me." Similarly, in an article on Edward Caraballo's experience in an Afghan jail, he mentions: ''They all love Bush, because he liberated their country, and they all say Osama bin Laden is Bush's friend.''

In yesterday's paper, the most truthful part is revealed, once again, by a local, in this case an Iraqi clothing merchant: "I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes -- it is America. Everything that is going on between Sunnis and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America." Not that they don't have a history. But in the current context, Ahmadinejad is quite right to blame the occupying forces for the destruction of the Askariya Shrine.

It took me a long time to believe that his axis of evil - America, Britain, and Israel - were actually involved in "terrorist acts" inside of Iraq. It just seemed so counter-productive. Didn't they have enough problems there anyway?

But the evidence started dripping in. First were reports that the military was planting bombs in the cars of Iraqi civilians. Then two Britains, dressed as Arabs, were found driving around with explosives.

And then, after the 400th second in command to al-Zarqawi was caught, it began dawning on me that he was being put in a bin Laden-like mythical position (1, 2, 3). Given that almost every incarnation of al Qaeda has had extensive western support, it stood to reason that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (perhaps they watch Jon Stewart) was essentially a cover for covert operations.

Elias Akleh began writing some interesting articles about coalition sponsered terrorism (1, 2). All of a sudden the early attacks on the UN and Red Cross in Baghdad, which had been so confusing at the time, made sense. And evidently there's a bit of history to these techniques.

And simultaneous with this, it was becoming clear that journalists were, indeed, being targeted - murdered - by Americans, and that the "Salvador option" talked about a year ago was surfacing as the vicious hit squads so reviled right now.

It took all this for me to realize just how ruthless our operations had become, above and beyond the normal horrors of war, and just how enamored of brutal covert operations the defense department was. Killing innocent civilians is just part and parcel of what they do.

So when I see a golden dome being blown up, followed by sectarian attacks, I tend to agree with the clothing merchant: "the troublemaker in the middle is America".

Why would they do this? It seems so at odds with what we're trying to achieve there. As yesterday's NY Times editorial says, the destruction of the shrine "was no everyday act of terrorism. It was a deliberate attempt to make it politically impossible to create a national unity government capable of leading Iraq to democratic stability." To understand why we would be working against our own overt goals, it must be understood that one of the major reasons for invading Iraq was to establish military bases there.There was never any intention of leaving; that would defeat the entire purpose of the war, which had nothing to do with Sadam or WMD. The last thing the neocons want is a stable government, heavily influenced by Iran, that would actually ask us to leave. And Iraq was getting way too close to that for comfort. As a senior administration official almost gleefully notes: "Just in the last 36-hour period, Sunni Arabs who were urging us to withdraw forces from cities like Baghdad are now urging us to stay. I don't know if the American military is reconsidering its posture, but I can tell you that the Iraqis are reconsidering."

I guess it feels good to be wanted.
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Jon Korein lives in the Philadelphia area. He has a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked as a programmer in research projects at UPenn and IBM, along with a number of smaller companies.
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