The Associated Press and Its Sources

On the eve of the election in Iraq, the Associated Press went around the world, looking for people who didn’t think anything good would come of the democratic process there. The AP’s article, datelined Paris, is titled “Skeptics Question Worth of Iraq Election.” It begins:

Is an election guarded by U.S. forces and marked by assassinations and car bombs better than no election at all?
As Iraqis living abroad started casting ballots Friday, that is a divisive question, with skeptics dismissive of U.S. arguments the election could plant the seeds of democracy for the Middle East or be free and fair with American soldiers standing guard.

But who exactly are these “skeptics?” The AP quotes a handful of individuals and a couple of newspapers–not exactly a meaningful sample of world opinion. Let’s take the AP’s “skeptics” one at a time.
The first one is “Gaza City resident Hassan Sarhan,” who says: “You can’t have free and fair elections under occupation. They simply don’t mean anything…It’s all a sham.” Hassan Sarhan offers no explanation of why this should be true, but it’s probably not hard to find an anti-American in Gaza. Whether he has any particular insight into the situation in Iraq is another question; the AP offers no clue as to who he is.
The AP’s second “skeptic” is Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon, who says: “It is difficult to hold free and honest elections in Iraq under the shadow of U.S. occupation.” The AP doesn’t identify the “Grand Ayatollah” further, but in fact, he is the “spiritual leader” of Hezbollah. There’s a shock: Hezbollah doesn’t like elections, or American policy in Iraq (or anywhere else).
The AP’s next “skeptic” is Rupert Cornwell, who says that President Bush’s claim that the “flag of liberty” is being planted in Iraq was a “typical flourish of high-flown rhetoric.” Cornwell continues, “Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place. And will continue to do so.” But Cornwell isn’t really a skeptic. He’s a dyed in the wool, true-believing, far-left crank, who makes no secret of his pathological hatred for President Bush. Here is a sample of his prose:

Those malign political gods who have now turned against George Bush have timed matters to perfection. Today the President dedicates the new Second World War memorial in Washington, the imperial city’s latest monument to great campaigns past. Congress approved the project exactly a decade ago – but who could have imagined then that the most glorious war of America’s modern history would be remembered while it is bogged down in a misconceived and utterly inglorious conflict in Iraq that may well drive Mr Bush from the White House?
All the parallels fostered by Mr Bush have been revealed as the shams they are….Abu Ghraib has now dispelled the notion that the US is the good guy in this particular fight.
Mr Bush’s election handlers hope this weekend’s ceremonies in Washington and the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings will stiffen the national spine to “stay the course” in Iraq. More likely, as they honour these old men with their medals and their memories, Americans will realise this Iraq war, conceived of a strange cocktail of ignorance, idealism, arrogance and Bush family pride, is the opposite of what their country stands for.

Amazingly enough, this hard-core Bush hater, identified innocuously as a “columnist” by the AP, is “skeptical” about Iraq’s election.
For its final “skeptic,” the AP goes to Germany, where the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (South German Times) writes, under the headline “The Iraq Disaster”:

[Iraq] threatens to sink into murderous anarchy….The election cannot bring the Iraqis democracy because all the conditions are missing, because freedom can’t prosper on the battlefields.

An innocent American reader might assume that the South German Times is one of those sober European papers that are more subtly intellectual than their American counterparts. Umm, not exactly. The Times is a viciously anti-American rag that featured this picture of President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wearing Mickey Mouse ears along with a fictitious obituary of President Bush:
image_fmabspic_0_0-1106149504.jpg
Here are excerpts from the “obituary”:

President Bush led the United States into four wars, oversaw the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare, and enforced a drastic shrinking of elementary, secondary, and collegiate education. He spearheaded the transformation of President Bill Clinton’s budget surpluses of 1999 and 2000 into permanent deficits of more than a trillion dollars a year, thus profoundly reducing the amount of capital available to address the needs of the vast majority of citizens and inhibiting the creation of new jobs with any promise of advancement or financial security….
With U.S. Armed Forces tied down in Iraq, Mr. Bush turned to what critics called a “private army subject to no law and operating at the whim of a single individual”–that is, to large numbers of private contractors employed by U. S., Serbian, Nigerian, and Saudi corporations–to launch land, sea, and air attacks meant to destroy nuclear facilities in both Iran and North Korea. [T]he Iranian and North Korean invasions were beaten back by sustained resistance and, in North Korea, the use of explosives that Mr. Bush denounced as “tactical nuclear weapons,” though this was later proved not to be the case. Nonetheless Mr. Bush then ordered what he described as “pinpoint” nuclear attacks on the nuclear sites in Iran and North Korea, which, while achieving their goals, also led to the One-Day War, a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan that left Bombay and Karachi in ruins and led to the fall of the governments of both countries, and to the withdrawal of the American-led coalition forces from Iraq. The result was the series of still-continuing civil wars throughout the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent that, while involving no unconventional weapons since 2006 have, according to the United Nations, caused the deaths of 12 million people and the displacement of millions more.

Gosh, what a surprise! The South German Times is “skeptical” about President Bush’s Iraq policy and is rooting against progress in that country.
In short, what the Associated Press has done is to assemble a rogues’ gallery of anti-American, anti-Semitic Bush haters and, without identifying them to its readers, presented these far-out extremists as though they represented a sober consensus of world opinion to the effect that the elections in Iraq can do no good.
The AP may have sunk to a new low.

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