Press Release  ·  May 24, 2004

The story behind the Shiite rebellion in Iraq

As Americans watch the United States occupation of Iraq disintegrate into chaos, the June 21 In These Times examines how the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq have fanned the uprising of Iraqi Shiites, have created a climate that nurtured abuse, and have made it harder to implement a successful exit strategy.

In “Portrait of a Rebellion,” Juan Cole, one of the world’s leading scholars of Iraqi politics, examines the roots of this spring’s uprising in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Najaf. Cole focuses on the personal history and religious faith of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and provides a detailed analysis of the internal politics of both the Shiite and Sunni communities. He also explains how President George W. Bush’s decision to target al-Sadr is among the administration’s worst policy blunders.

In “Imperial Barbarians,” David Moberg writes, “Politically, Bush must pretend that the abuses are the work of a few bad apples. The real problem is the rotten apple-barrel of American policy.” From Vietnam to Iraq, the United States has a long history of employing torture. Moberg writes that by building on the collective self delusion of America as a privileged nation with a divine mission, Bush policy is following in the footsteps of old imperial powers and, at the same time, dictating that American-style capitalism is the only acceptable model. Moberg concludes, “the United States, its power unrivaled, faces the prospect that its imperialism will become barbarism, not its alternative.”

In “End of the Barrel,” John R MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s, explores how the U.S. media has flip-flopped in its coverage of Iraq. Examining the contradictions between David Remnick’s New Yorker and Arthur Sulzberger Jr’s New York Times coverage of the war one year ago and how they report on it today, MacArthur writes, “Reading the mea culpas from previously pro-invasion pundits and ‘experts’ across the media spectrum these past few bloody months, I found myself wanting to shout out loud, ‘We told you so!’ and ‘You can’t have it both ways!’”