Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Would you allow this man to be a president?

Sen. McCain says, "Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It’s called ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq.’ My friends, if we left, they wouldn’t be establishing a base. They’d be taking a country, and I’m not going to allow that to happen." He's running largely on the strength of his claimed foreign policy expertise. He says -- and he reiterated yesterday -- that if the United States withdraws from Iraq, al Qaeda will take over the country.

The pundits and so-called "reporters" who work for the corporate media, including, as in the link above, the New York Times, aren't going to tell you that this is completely nuts. They treat this analysis as credible and therefore, undoubtedly, many people will believe it.

Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim movement. Most Kurds are Sunnis but al Qaeda in Iraq is purely an Arab phenomenon. Sunni Arabs make up about 20% of Iraq's population. The Shiite majority, rather than the U.S. occupation forces, are the principal target of al Qaeda in Iraq. Within that 20% minority, al Qaeda and religious fundamentalists in general who might be inclined to support or at least tolerate them are a further small minority. Iraq has been among the more secular and religiously tolerant Islamic societies; intermarriage between Sunnis and Shiites was common prior to the recent troubles, and many tribes have members of both sects.

The only reason al Qaeda in Iraq exists, and has any basis for continuing to exist, is because of the U.S. occupation. There is no way, no prospect, no conceivable scenario, under which al Qaeda in Iraq could take over the country, or even carve out a regional base where they could operate freely, in the absence of U.S. forces. Not only would Iraqis never allow it, neither would Iraq's neighbors.

Either McCain actually believes this, in which case he is not just ignorant, but delusional; or he is a remorseless liar. Probably both are true. But will the New York Times bother to tell you?

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