I'm not sure how much I can add to Amos's report of Angry Arab's presentation. But I think one might want to focus on the morally heinous obfuscation of the scale of sectarian violence in Iraq, particularly because we seem to have something of an audience (see their comments) that considers AbuKhalil not only credible but worthy of our respect. As you can read in detail in Amos's post, AbuKhalil asserted last Thursday evening on the campus of UC Berkeley that western media organizations like the New York Times deliberately suppress the fact that the majority of the violent attacks that the Iraqi insurgency or resistance or whatever commits are directed against coalition forces, not against Iraqi targets. Amos has his references for this, but I believe the authority of the International Crisis Group was also invoked.
I don't think today's NYT, in a statistical and visual piece entitled "Four Years of War in Iraq" could be any clearer. As for the number of attacks:
The average number of attacks tracked by the American-led coalition continues to rise. Coalition forces draw the majority of attacks, while Iraqi security forces and civilians sustain the majority of casualties.This is a distinction that was sorely missed in AbuKhalil's polemic. If the high ground is, as the professor argued, simply counting the corpses, I think the NYT has it. Under the sectarian violence graphic, one finds the important qualification: "Note: a single incident can cause multiple deaths."
But what's at stake? I think critics of the US policy in Iraq like AbuKhalil rightly fear and ridicule a shift in the American political discourse toward a "blame the Iraqis" line. It may be politically expedient for the likes of Joe Biden or Barack Obama to dump on the Iraqis in stump speeches, but it doesn't do justice to the colossal mistakes of the Bush policy and it doesn't contribute constructively toward a solution to this problem. Still, I think that if one, in the interest of defending Iraqis against American incriminations, obscures the character or scale of civil strife and ethnic cleansing in Iraq, no one's interest is served, least of all the interest of the Iraqi people. The civil conflict in Iraq is by no means being fought in a world apart from American military operations. How the two correlate, and how the civil conflict itself is a monster with multiple, multiple heads are issues that deserve serious study and discussion.