“Unfortunately, the American people don’t know much about the progress being made — because the media has focused on the difficulty and challenges, not the successes.”

So says Donald Rumsfeld, in a memo circulated to White House cabinet members* last year. Fair enough. He has a point — I mean, there are good things going on in Detroit on a daily basis, but we’re less likely to hear about those than we are about drive-by shootings, etc. The Detroit Chamber of Commerce would doubtless like to have Rumsfeld issuing like-minded memos on its behalf.

So I’m waiting for the next Rumsfeld memo, in light of how everything in Iraq has seemingly gone from Shitty to Shittier in the last few weeks. If looting and “scattered resistance” were enough to dupe our Gigantic Liberal Media Conspiracy into forgetting about all the progress we’ve made in Iraq:well, how about now?

Shi’ite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has sparked a wave of violence recently, leading to the deaths of — last time I counted — fourteen U.S. troops. Sadr’s Mahdi Army has its own courts, its own prisons, and numbers estimated in the tens of thousands,” according to the New York Times. He’s never been particularly happy about the American presence in Iraq, but recent violence has been in response to American shuttering of al-Sadr’s newspaper, Al Hawza.

Arguably the worst part of all this is that the Shi’ites are supposed to be our friends. They were supposed to benefit from Saddam’s removal, from the end of Sunni rule, from elections. That they’re so willing to lash out at their ‘liberators’ should be a big red flag. As should the announcement of a new ‘Ministry of Defense.’ As Baghdad Burning‘s Riverbend notes: “The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on Iraqis — the head of the occupation announcing a ‘Ministry of Defense.’ To defend against what? Occupation?

You can read more about the recent violence in Barry Grey’s article The Real Lessons of Fallujah,” a passionate polemic that refers to America occupation as “foul and degrading” and “one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the United States.” I hesitate to pass this link along, just because it comes from the World Socialist Web Site and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. Not that Socialists are less trustworthy than anyone else, necessarily — I’m just not all that familiar with Grey or the overall quality of WSWS’ reporting, and that they disagree with what’s going on over there should come as no surprise to anyone.

Nonetheless, there’s some interesting stuff in Grey’s piece. He mentions the New York Post editorial that claimed the corpse mutilation that took place at Fallujah was for the benefit of reporters’ cameras, and implied “someone” at the Associated Press has a mutually beneficial relationship with the insurgents in Fallujah.” (The AP has responded here).

Meanwhile, Hannah Allam at Knight-Ridder has written an interesting piece on Arab reaction to Fallujah, which is basically a collective shrug:

“Who cares?” said Fida Alsha’er, a columnist for a Jordanian women’s magazine. “It’s another example of how American life is considered something very expensive, very important, while the Arab life is worth nothing.

*How did cabinet members respond to Rumsfeld’s memo? By dutifully making high-profile visits to Iraq. Best of the lot: Health & Human Services Secretary (and Bush re-election fake newsad stooge) Tommy Thompson, who remarked that Iraq’s hospitals would be fine If they just washed their hands and cleaned the crap off the walls.