February 23, 2005

Bogus Bloggers and Bush's USA

A few people have asked why I seem to be obsessed with the rampantly pro-war, pro-US blog Iraq The Model (aka ITM). It's a fair question, particularly coming from innocent passers-by who believe everything they read on the Fadhil brothers' sites (Ali now posts at Free Iraqi).

It's not just that I have been banned repeatedly and without explanation by the Fadhil brothers for politely posting my anti-war opinions. Nor is it the endless torrent of crude, personal abuse I have received, such as this recent salutation from a long-time ITM regular:
Despite such disincentives, I have been an irregular visitor to the Fadhil brothers' blog almost since its inception. Call me a sucker for punishment if you like, but I think exposing this bogus blog is important because it encapsulates a lot of what is wrong with the world today. Like Bush himself, the blog is both more and less that what it seems.

I can understand that the three Fadhil brothers, who suposedly grew up under Saddam's regime, might have been delighted with the US invasion and might have welcomed US troops with open arms. Though I do not agree, I can understand why they might have believed that their own release from dictatorship more than compensated for the tragic human costs of the US invasion. I can even understand why, swamped with the horrors of war and US occupation, they might have wanted to create a blog that concentrates on the positives rather than the widely-reported negatives of daily life in Bush's Iraq.

But there are a few things about Iraq The Model that are more than a little strange. Added together, they reveal Iraq The Model for what it has become: just another brick in Bush & Co's wall of lies and propaganda.

By refusing to even acknowledge the negatives, the blog necessarily provides a warped view of what is happening in Iraq today. That wouldn't matter so much if US newspapers and people like US neo-con Paul Wolfowitz did not actively promote the blog for propaganda purposes, or if so many Bush-loving folk did not religiously read the damn thing every day, then go out and vote.

Reading the ITM Comments sections, you can almost hear these people's sighs of relief as they reassure themselves that their own warped vision of reality coincides with that of others. Many visitors claim to have loved ones serving in Iraq or Afghanistan: their need to believe the Bush propaganda is deep and personal. Others are just ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who delight in the right-wing team bonding experience, competing to see who can supply the most hurtful put-down of those who defy their Orwellian groupthink. These idiots fancy themselves as intellectuals because they can cut-and-paste links while repeating GOP talking points.

The important thing to understand about Iraq The Model and other so-called "War Blogs" is that reality does not matter. This is 100% a "vision thing" and if you do not share the vision, you are wasting your time even visiting the sites, let alone arguing with the locals.

When I first posted anti-war, anti-Bush opinions at ITM, I was ridiculed and labelled a fool. The arguments heated up. I posted URL links to support my claims. And that's where things got interesting. When my reality-based arguments began to garner some support from lurking spectators, I was labelled a troll and banned. The uncomfortable facts I had posted were removed. Even the comments discussing them were removed. I sought to defend my name by posting via other ISPs, but - in the eyes of the ITM mob - that only confirmed my status as a troll.

(NOTE: I am proud to say that later commenters bemoaned by absence, claiming none of the regulars had really been able to compete with me. In fact, the same voices complained that the ITM Comments section had grown boring now that all non-conformists had been driven out.)

It's a behaviour pattern that has since come to typify the warbloggers: facts are either flatly denied, or ridiculed in a very childish manner, or simply ignored in a general torrent of personal abuse. Threats are also common: warbloggers like to dig out your personal information so they can harrass you offline. This is the new McCarthyism, pure and simple.

For example, many ITM regulars (including the Fadhil brothers) are incensed at Michigan University's Professor Juan Cole for constantly posting FACTS that prove the USA's war in Iraq is not going well. Their response? An organised spam campaign against Dr. Cole, an organised email campaign to silence him (in concert with other warbloggers and GOP sites) and - perhaps worst of all - dangerous attacks on his integrity. Here's one recent comment from ITM:
"Juan Cole? Isn't he connected to Al Quaeda?"
I guess that's a logical extension of Bush's "for us or against us" policy. But coming from people who claim that anti-war bloggers have endangered the lives of the Fadhil brothers by calling them CIA spies, this is sheer hypocrisy.

So let's have a good look at these allegations.

People like Jeff Jarvis (who has a close personal relationship with the Fadhil brothers, having helped them get established) claim that the Fadhil brothers lives have been endangered by people like me who question the authenticity of Iraq The Model (never mind that any intelligent, free-thinking individual who visits the site quickly reaches the same conclusion). Jeff and his mates launched a concerted, hysterical attack on New York Times journalist Sarah Boxer for even canvassing such a possibility in print. They have now extended this criticism into a full-fledged crusade (in their own minds, at least) against the New York Times in particular, and the mainstream press in general.

Now, it's not that I am a big fan of the mainstream press, but wait a minute. The Fadhil brothers themselves actively promoted their blog and its pro-war, pro-US agenda all over the blogosphere. They were ecstatic when they were first interviewed by a reporter from USA Today. The article, which featured a large photo of the three Fadhil brothers frowing thoughtfully at a computer screen, helped launch them into the blogosphere's big time hit-parade. Two of them then went on a tour of the USA, funded by a supposed charity called Spirit of America, during which time they visited the Oval Office in the company of Paul Wolfowitz and met with George W. Bush himself! They also met with General Tommy Franks, former head of the US military in Iraq. You know, the guy who doesn't do body counts.

Yet they claim we, the anti-war bloggers, and journalists like Sarah Boxer, are the ones endangering the Fadhil brothers' lives?!?

What's more, the Fadhil meetings with Bush and Wolfie were widely publicized by the authors of all the same right-wing blogs that support Iraq The Model, many of whom had the delight of actually meeting the Fadhil brothers in person at a series of other meetings around the USA, all arranged by Spirit Of America.

And here's something strange about that Spirit of America tour: SoA CEO Jim Hake made sure that everybody at the events was aware of his No Photos Allowed policy. He explained that the brothers lives would be endangered if photos of them were available to Iraqi insurgents, as these comments from one fan demonstrate:
I’m back from the event with SoA. It was held at the Loew’s Hotel in Santa Monica, a rather chichi spot for a meeting and right across from RAND. The emotions were rather high, as some of the people present were long time commenters over at Iraq the Model. Omar and Mohammed were in good spirits after so much whirlwind travel, and were very casually dressed. My wife had to gently dissuade a young woman, an elementary school teacher, from trying to get a photo with them because Jim Hake had asked for no photos–I don’t think the teacher really knew the risk these guys were taking to be here.
And here's another fan who can't take photos:
I am in L.A. with the Spirit of America meeting. No pictures, because Iraq the Model’s Omar and Mohammed are here.
And here's another, from Blackfive:
There were signs on the doors to our lecture hall - "No Photographs". The reason behind this is simple - there are dissident bloggers and bloggers who's lives may be in jeopardy who were in attendence - they don't want to go home and get killed, jailed, etc. Omar and Mohammed are in that category. Of course, several people still took pictures.

And, no, I didn't bust their chops. Probably should have, though.
But what about that photo in the much-publicized USA Today article? And what about the brothers' own much-vaunted (ahem!) "Iraq Pro-Democracy Party" website (in English and Arabic), which features a big photo and not much else of value??? Is this hypocrisy, scare-mongering, US PsyOps at work, or just plain stupidity?

By the way, here's another strange thing about the Fadhil brothers's site, and warblogs in general. I got those quotes above from the Roundup of the SoA tour at Kesher Talk - "the Jewish weblog". The site has links to 16 Jewish Publications, 5 Jewish Charities and 32 other Jewish Links. Now why is such a site promoting Iraq The Model?

You tell me.

Kesher Talk is hosted on the Web site of Howard Fienberg, a former (ahem!) "journalist" whose work includes "Global Warming Didn't Do It: The real threats against public health", "Nuclear, Free!", "Battling conspiracy theories, Internet innuendo is tough" and "Students Do Support War on Terror". If that doesn't sound like a resume from a man ready to tow the Bush propaganda line I don't know what does!

Feinberg spent 5 years working with the NGO "Statistical Assessment Service", presumably learning how to manipulate statistics to prove ideological theories. In January 2003 he became the new Legislative Assistant for Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) handling "energy, science, and the environment, among other issues". Obviously he is well qualified for the job!

And so it goes, on and on and on... A sparkling golden money trail of lies, links and propaganda! That's the magic of Bush's America!

PS: Click here for a previous long-winded diatribe against Iraq The Model...


Squigoth said...

Well technically you're a fake as well Gandhi... You have this huge anti-Bush blogg and you're not even a US citizen as far as I can tell. At least the brothers are Iraqi and are entitled to have more weight to thier own opinions of thier OWN country than an outsider (like you or I).

Don’t get me wrong: this is your blogg, post what you want. It’s just that now that I know your not an American I just can’t take you that seriously any more…Sorry

Squigoth said...

CORRECTION: I just can’t take you that seriously any more about national US politics…Sorry

gandhi said...


Firstly, ITM is not national US politics.. No, wait a minute, you are probably right about that!

I've never pretended I wasn't Australian. Our PM took us to war in Iraq against the wishes of most Aussies, now he is increasing our troop numbers against most people's wishes. Meanwhile we get a Free Trade Agreement with the USA that many people are unhappy with. In the UN, Australia now votes religiously with the USA and Israel. We are becoming just another US state.

I think I have a legitimate interest in what Bush is doing, even in domestic US politics (a US-led depression will affect the whole world), but I have no vote - this blog is my vote, if you like.

Once again, however, you are attacking me personally rather than critiquing my FACTS and arguments... :-(

Squigoth said...

I'm not attacking you personally, the brothers mostly talk about events, bloggs and politics related to thier own county Iraq, you on the other hand mostly talk about Bush and the USA...a nation you are not a part of.

Those are the facts I'm “critiquing” you on (and it’s a minor one at that). And again, like I said before, this is your blogg and you’re entitled to put whatever you want on it.

Quit being so thin-skinned.

gandhi said...

Well, what can I say, Squigoth? Thanks for your valuable input...

Wadard said...

I think that, given Bush won't sign the Kyoto protocol, and take a first, albeit tiny step in the right direction, and the fact that a healthy enviroment is eveybody's entitlement, then I don't see why anyone in the work should not object to and campaign against Bush if they want to.

In this globalised world American politics is everyone's politics. When the US stops interfering with foreign gov'ts domestic politics then the outside world might drop their critique.

Wadard said...

work = world

Judith said...

FYI, Howard Fienberg has not run Kesher Talk since sometime in 2003. Howard and I have never met, but I used to send him URLs to use on the blog. Because he took a new job where he couldn't blog, he turned it over to me. It is still hosted at his site. So your attempts to make him seem sinister are beside the point, and typical of the insinuations in this post.

Many Jewish blogs, as well as other blogs, have followed the Iraq War and the reconstruction with interest. I assume you singled out KT because I took it upon myself to track their tour and link to everyone who wrote about them, which probably meant that KT showed up frequently in google searches for ITM. I did this for the same reason most bloggers write about and link to things: because it interested me. Of course you have to make this into something sinister, because to conspiracy-mongers like yourself, Jews are behind everything. Well, I would love for Jews to take the credit for making Iraq a thriving wealthy democracy, but in fact many people from many backgrounds are making it possible, especially the brave Iraqis.

People all over the world are acting in non-violent ways to make their countries decent places to live. Ukraine, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Khazakstan . . . They are defying tyrants and terrorists by assembling in huge numbers, singing, waving flags, voting, making speeches. In fact, they are using the tactics of your namesake Ghandi.

But you do not honor your namesake by sneering at them and elevating the violent terrorists who are trying to derail their efforts. You're pathetic.

njoriole said...

Dear John-
For your information, it is not simply that "Bush won't sign the Kyoto protocol..." Kyoto was, in fact, voted upon by the US Senate already (under some one you, no doubt, believe has impeccable environmentalist credentials-Bill Clinton). As I recall, the roll-call vote was "Against-97; In favor-0" It must be terribly inconvenient to your narrow world view ("Republican/conservative-BAD!") to realize that a fair number of those 97 were/are Democrats. The fact is that Kyoto is a farce, whose only real purpose is to hobble the American economy, on the assumption that that is, in and of itself, a good thing.

Flaneur said...

I don't think democracy is up to the challenge of ending war, stopping environmental destruction or resolving a host of other conundrums facing the modern world. I'm trying something radically different:

Check these links:


Blog Archive