OK, enough left-parody. Various hawkish bloggers like Jeff Jarvis have become very upset by Dr Cole’s post. They think that to accuse a foreign writer of being paid by the CIA is a disgraceful, McCarthyite (or Stalinist, depending on the writer’s own personal prejudices) trick.
This is bollocks.
The CIA has an enormous information budget, and has long funded writers, journalists, dissidents and suchlike throughout the world. Given that a great many people have turned to Iraqi blogs to get their info on the situation on the ground, the CIA would be remiss not to offer Iraqis cash to write blandly pro-American propaganda.
ITM consists *entirely* of blandly pro-American, right-wing propaganda – right down to the disingenous, Charles Johnson-esque ‘I used to support the left, right up until they refused to go along with blowing up shit and making piles of naked prisoners, and then I realised this meant they hated freedom’. Sure, some opposing blogs (such as Riverbend) are exceedingly pessimistic and may well be focusing on the negatives and ignoring any positives, but ITM is simply inconsistent with any narrative of occupation by a liberation army ever recorded. Even Allied forces in WWII faced more hostility from the locals (as opposed to the Evil, Democracy-Hating Pro-Terrorists) than ITM suggests is happening in Iraq.
It’s possible that Iraq is actually a historical exception and ordinary citizens do simply lurve the Americans. Perhaps unlikely, but not logically impossible. It’s also possible, and rather more likely, that ITM is a self-deluding Yankophile. But if I had to guess whether or not the CIA was funding Iraqi bloggers, then I’d vote yes. And if I had to pick the Iraqi blogger most likely to be funded by the CIA, then ITM would be right up there.
Juan Cole may be wrong, but he’s saying nothing unreasonable.