This week, Iraqi police discovered a minibus parked in a Sunni Arab district of Baghdad. Inside were the bodies of 18 men. All were bound and blindfolded. Most had been apparently been hanged or garroted. Much was made of the fact the bodies were discovered in the predominantly Sunni Amiriyah suburb, suggesting the dead were victims of sectarian violence.

The New York Times screamed in its headline reporting the discovery, “Religious Strife Is Pushing Iraq towards Civil War.” The BBC sniffed, “No Reason for Optimism in Iraq.” The Seattle Times warned, “Iraq Roiling with Ethnic Animosity.”

Far less was made of the fact that Iraqi police on the scene initially identified the dead as mainly foreigners. Noted an early report from Reuters: “I saw the bodies when they arrived,” said a policeman at the hospital. “I saw blood and signs of beating. The police who brought them said they weren’t Iraqis,” he said.”

Bodies are being discovered in and around Baghdad, Reuters noted, reporting that, “similar incidents in the past have provoked anger among rival communities.”

The media is portraying the violence as “sectarian” Sunni vs. Shia violence, bolstering their flagging case that Iraq is on the brink of civil war.

As long as Iraq remains “on the brink of civil war,” there remains a case to be made that America’s “misguided” mission in Iraq is failing, and therefore, George Bush is a failure.

Therefore, while it is in America’s best interests to claim victory in Iraq, thereby demoralizing the enemy – while raising U.S. troop morale – it is in the liberal mainstream media’s partisan interests to portray every development in Iraq as evidence that we are losing to “religious sectarian violence.”

Theologically speaking, there is less difference between Sunnis and Shia than there are between Catholics and Protestants. One needs look at the violence in terms of politics, rather than theology.

Sunni Arabs make up only 15 percent of Iraq’s population. Sunni Kurds make up another 20 percent. Under Saddam, Kurds were persecuted, religious denomination notwithstanding. The Shia, who account for 60 percent of Iraq’s population, were mercilessly persecuted under Saddam, as attested to by the mass graves uncovered after the war.

Saddam was a Sunni. Saddam shared power with the remaining 15 percent of Iraq’s Sunni Arab population. After Saddam fell, the privileged 15 percent were suddenly thrust into the minority, not to mention targets of vengeful members of the former political underclass.

“De-Baath-ification” turned former political leaders, military officers, party officials and Baath loyalists into insurgents, attracting legions of foreign al-Qaida terrorists intent on driving America out and recreating Iraq in Afghanistan’s image.

In keeping with the adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” mainly Sunni Baathist insurgents joined forces with the foreign al-Qaida fighters in the war to drive out the Americans.

But when attacking Americans grew too costly and difficult, al-Qaida turned its attention away from American targets to Iraqi civilians, killing Shia and Sunni with equal enthusiasm.

Iraqi police officers and soldiers started turning up by the dozen, handcuffed and executed as a warning to others not to cooperate with the new Iraqi government. Iraqi civilians lined up at police and military recruiting stations became prime targets.

After awhile, scattered reports would slip by the mainstream media propaganda screeners, telling of insurgents and terrorists being fingered by ordinary Iraqis sick of the violence.

Other reports hinted at growing divisions between the al-Qaida terrorists and the main Iraqi insurgency.

In recent weeks, more bodies have been turning up all over Iraq. Some are Sunni insurgents – but significantly, many others are foreign fighters. Instead of being executed with a bullet to the head, as were Iraqi police and military in previous massacres, these guys were hanged.

A bullet to the head is simply an execution. Death by hanging carries unique implications, particularly in the Middle East. “[H]e that is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) Under Sharia Law, hanging is the punishment reserved for blasphemers. (Like when one Muslim kills another Muslim and claims it as a religious duty.)

The spectacle of al-Qaida terrorists on the run from the U.S. military and the Iraqi government – simultaneously looking over their shoulders for angry Iraqis toting coiled ropes – seems enormously optimistic from America’s perspective.

Ironically, compared to the tender mercies they can expect at the hands of their angry Islamic co-religionists, Guantanamo Bay is a tropical vacation.

While the BBC can find no reason for optimism in Iraq, the rest of us should be able to find at least of glimmer of hope. Unless one is a liberal.

Or a terrorist.

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