That high-pitched whine you’re hearing is the sound of politicians and their media amen corner complaining about the “negative” coverage coming out of Iraq. To hear them tell it, everything is just hunky-dory over there it’s the “biased” reporters, and not the concept of conquering and subjugating a country in the holy name of “democracy,” that’s the problem. Congressman Jim Marshall (D-Georgia), just back from a trip to our newly-won province, commiserated with Brit Hume on Fox News:
“I came away with the impression that things are going well. Certainly a good bit better than seems to me, the overall American seems to think. And the important thing is for Americans to understand that the news media tends to dwell on the negative. It happens in your own hometown, the typical TV show, the typical newspaper article focuses on murders and rapes. And that’s what you’re seeing right now. What you don’t see is the progress.”
The War Party, in desperation, is turning to bromides accentuate the positive! You catch more flies with honey than vinegar! If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all! as a last resort. The party line is now: You don’t see the good things, like “building schools,” as Rep. Marshall would have it. Yeah, they’re building schools in Iraq! with $87 billion of your money, while your kid goes to a broken-down state-run dump of a school with metal detectors at the door, sub-literate teachers in the classroom, and the look and feel of a prison.
Ain’t life grand?
USA Today asks: “Is the cup half full or half empty in Iraq?” Time‘s Brian Bennett opines:
“What gets in the headlines is the American soldier getting shot, not the American soldiers rebuilding a school or digging a well.”
So they’re shooting at us as we build schools and dig wells is there some subtle message in this? Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that the ironic juxtaposition of these wildly disparate headlines would provoke increased skepticism rather than support for the war.
Sure, there are problems, says Bennett:
“But he also sees a city where restaurants are reopening daily, where women feel increasingly safe going out to shop, where more police means intersections aren’t as clogged as they were this summer. ‘My neighbors are nice,’ he says. ‘My street is a pretty quiet place.'”
Gee, they’re really working miracles over there! I wonder when they’re going to get to our block. Back here in the United States, the recession is closing restaurants, no one feels safe going out to shop, and slogging through clogged intersections is a lifestyle. Bennett’s street is a pretty quiet place: well, bully for him. If he wants some excitement, he should try Oakland, California, the murder capital of the West Coast.
Fox News’ Greg Kelly happily chirps:
“This time around, it seems considerably on the road to normalcy. It’s still dangerous. You still hear gunfire, but a lot less of it. There’s less hostility and the streets are cleaner.”
And the streets are cleaner? How easy it is to impress the Americans. Never mind that gunfire going off in the background, just as long as the street outside his house approaches Western standards of hygiene. According to this hack, who should be writing press releases for the Pentagon instead of passing off the same as “news,” Western journalists given a guided tour of Iraq’s Potemkin villages are supposed to dutifully report back home all the wonderful “progress” being made you know, the schools, the wells, the massacres of entire wedding parties.
“It’s not illegitimate to cite a Democratic Congressman’s view that the relentlessly negative media spin on Iraq is making our job over there far harder than it might otherwise be. That’s the truth. The only hope the Baathists have is that we will give up and do a Somalia. Moreover, disunity at home gives the Saddamites and other terrorists hope and prolongs the conflict.”
If you report “bad” news, you’re a Baathist at heart. Journalism, in this view, is just another form of terrorism. Media outlets that don’t toe the party line are enemy combatants. As the realization sinks in at home that American troops are stationed atop an active volcano, the War Party is doing its best to manage if not control the flow of information.
With the quagmire narrative gaining ground, however, the Pentagon’s Panglossian PR agents masquerading as reporters and pundits are launching a vigorous counter-offensive. To the ideologues of the War Party, such inconvenient facts as the almost daily casualties suffered by the Americans and other coalition troops are unimportant, to be brushed aside as rooting for the enemy.
The lives of thousands of reservists are disrupted and endangered, but why should Andrew Sullivan care? He’s walking along the beach in Provincetown, holding hands with his boyfriend, wistfully contemplating the sunset while thinking up new ways to justify the unfolding disaster.
Ain’t life just grand?
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
It may be in poor taste to say “I told you so!” but it cannot be said enough to those who won’t recant their support of this rotten, failing, morally indefensible war. Didn’t we tell them that each and every rationale for war was a brazen lie, most especially the alleged Iraqi “link” to Al Qaeda? The visit of 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague never happened. The mysterious terrorist training camp in Iraq supposedly utilized by Al Qaeda somehow never turned up. Out of all those documents that the London Telegraph “found” in the rubble, all those tall tales of secret messages passed back and forth between the Iraqi dictator and agents of Osama bin Forgotten, all those thousands of words written by Laurie Mylroie and other fantasists “proving” Iraqi complicity with Al Qaeda nothing! Vanished, along with those infamous weapons of mass destruction, in the fog of war.
Ah, but the President and his advisors never said that: they never explicitly came right out and accused Saddam of masterminding 9/11. That’s the best defense the War Party can come up with. But the evidence that the President did indeed make an explicit claim is to be found in the text of a letter, dated March 18, 2003, from George W. Bush to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate:
“Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
“Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:
“(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
“(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”
A more explicit claim linking Iraq to 9/11 would be hard to compose. Clearly, the President was saying Iraq planned, authorized, and committed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, or aided those who did and Congress, in granting him the authority to act, concurred. It was all a lie, every jot and tittle of it, and now the liars are backpedaling as fast as they can, hoping that some new crisis will take the spotlight off their fabrications. It’s a strategy that may well work.
The death of Edward Said is bound to provoke all sorts of commentary, from respectful eulogies to facile deconstructions, and, already, even outright celebration this latter coming from the website of Lucianne Goldberg. Goldberg experienced her 15 minutes of fame during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when she got her hot little hands on the infamous tapes, and propelled her son, Jonah, to prominence as (now former) online editor of National Review. Lucianne.com is the neocons’ version of Freerepublic.com, where the comments reflect a mindset that has to be read to be believed.
Please note that this is a website that explicitly forbids the posting of articles from Antiwar.com, classifying us along with the KKK and the Aryan Nations as a “hate group” (!). Well, they ought to know all about hate: the hissing of these vipers won’t die down for days.