Something I’ve noticed lately: there is a newish and rather important instance of US doublethink going in regard to the war in Iraq. I’m refering to the labeling of the ‘true enemy’ in the ongoing occupation of the country. On the one hand, we hear continually of the presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and that it is the true enemy. Invariably in both official press releases and in mainstream media coverage, ‘insurgent’ translates into Al-Qaeda. A truck bomb, a roadside bomb, anything of the sort is blamed on Al-Qaeda. Yet, as various commentators have pointed out, Al-Qaeda in Iraq is only responsible for some of these things: the conflict is terribly complex. However, blaming a group that bears the name ‘Al-Qaeda’ is on one level necessary for the Administration- it lends weight to the widely broadcast fear that ‘they will follow us home if we leave,’ and that surely fighting Al-Qaeda is something we should be doing, what with September 11 and all that- right?
Yet at the same time the Administration is committed to blaming its troubles on an entirely different actor: Iran (and to a lesser extent, Syria, but even then mainly as some sort of vector for Iran, the true enemy). Resolutions are passed, condemnations issued, indignant press releases released- Iran is supplying the insurgents with all manner of perdiferous armaments, and it is these arms that are killing US troops! Such an allegation is a tacit admission that perhaps other groups than Al-Qaeda are involved, including, say, Shi’a militias. But the focus is upon Iran: Iran is in essence killing US troops. If Iran could be eliminated as a threat in Iraq, all would be well in Iraq.
Yet this is an immediate contradiction: Al-Qaeda and Iran cannot both be ‘the true enemy,’ the prime cause of all that ails the US in Iraq (and elsewhere: Al-Qaeda is the global threat; Iran seeks regional if not world domination). A possible resolution might be that in fact Iran is supplying Al-Qaeda, and there are signs that this tack is being taken- witness allegations that Iran is arming the Taliban (something strenuously denied by military personel on the ground in Afghanistan). There is still the problem that no one can, right now anyway, seriously deny that the bulk of alleged Iranian support, military and otherwise, is going to Shi’a groups, not Al-Qaeda (a group that likes to kill Shi’a). Hence two Enemies Number One, both of which must be sustained in their current narrative positions- not for the sake of understanding the actual situation, but for the sake of fielding justifications for the Administration.