The Big Think

February 2, 2006

War News

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:39 am

Fact and Fiction about the war in Iraq. Some good stuff here that is generally not reported in the media. Told by a reporter who just spent a significant amount of time in Iraq.
What concerns me the most about this post is the following statement:

Defanging the Middle East is a vast undertaking. But again, wars have never been easy or antiseptic. Even after the hostilities of World War II were over, the U.S. occupied Japan for seven years of stabilization and reconstruction, and West Germany for four years (the first year, the Germans nearly starved).

And a guerilla war like we face in Iraq generally requires even more stamina. Eliminating a terror insurgency has historically taken a decade or two. It’s like eradicating smallpox; you must squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, and show great patience.

I wonder what happens at the next change of civilian leadership here in the States. If the next administration is wont to pull out of Iraq, will the resulting power vacuum engender the kind of terrorist leadership that we’re slowly ridding Iraq of now? I hope not, lest all those 2000+ solders’ deaths be in vain. And what of Iran?

The author also has some revealing statistics describing how very badly our national media has failed to accurately report the war:

One media critic (Arthur Chrenkoff) did a content analysis of a typical day (January 21, 2005), and counted this breakout of freshly published stories on Iraq:

• 1,992 covering terrorist attacks
• 887 essays alleging prisoner abuse by the British
• 289 about American casualties or civilian deaths in Iraq
• 27 mentions of oil pipeline sabotage
• 761 reports on public statements of terrorists
• 357 on U.S. anti-war protestors
• 121 speculations on a possible American pullout
• 118 articles about strains with European nations
• 217 stories worrying over the validity of the upcoming January 30 Iraqi election
• 216 tales of hostages in Iraq
• 123 quoting Vice President Cheney saying he had underestimated reconstruction needs
• 2,642 items on a Senate grilling of Condoleezza Rice over Iraq policy

Balanced against these negative stories, Chrenkoff ’s computer search found a grand total of 96 comparatively positive reports related to Iraq:

• 16 reports on successful operations against insurgents
• 7 hopeful stories about Iraqi elections
• 73 describing the return of missing Iraqi antiquities

Tendentious reporting is clouding understanding and spawning inaccuracies. In January 2005, for instance, the New York Times editorial board had become convinced that civil war was just around the corner in Iraq and suggested “it’s time to talk about postponing [Iraq’s first] elections.” Less than two weeks later came the popular outpouring that inspired observers around the globe. Snookered yet again by over-gloomy reporting, the Times insisted on October 7 that Iraqis were “going through the motions of democracy only as long as their side wins.” Just days after, the minority Sunnis announced they were joining the political process, and turned out in force to vote on the constitution, and then in Iraq’s historic parliamentary election.

Many other establishment media organs have been equally out of line. When Iraq’s unprecedented new constitution was ratified by 79 percent of voters (in a turnout heavier than any American election), the Washington Post buried that story on page 13, and put this downbeat headline on it: “Sunnis Failed to Defeat Iraq Constitution: Arab Minority Came Close.” The four top headlines on the front page of the Post that same day: “Military Has Lost 2,000 in Iraq,” “The Toll: 2,000,” “Bigger, Stronger, Homemade Bombs Now to Blame for Half of U.S. Deaths,” and “Bush Aides Brace for Charges.”

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