Saturday, January 08, 2005

Iraq, through the eyes of the media

It's no small wonder that there is a large segment of the American population that has a very negative viewpoint on the Iraqi War. I can't blame many of them, for the news that they get paints a very negative picture. Bombings, insurgents everywhere, beheadings and killings everywhere. And the US military doesn't know what to do about it. But is that the reality? There's no question that there is an insurgency, and that there are bombings and what looks like controlled chaos in Iraq. But that's not the whole story. To a large extent, that's what the media wants us all to believe. Abu Ghrahib? They beat that story to death. Fallujah? They didn't report it. Which is more important? To be sure, both are, in their own rights. But it's not the media's job to be selective. That's our job, as a consumer public. It's no suprise that many in the more liberal media- the New York Times, Newsday, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC, have all been steadlily losing readers and advertisers. Hell, Newsday (and it's sister publications, the Chicago Tribune and Hoy) was caught red-handed trying to inflate it's readership by between 80,000- 100,000 readers a day. And now they're facing lawsuits from advertisers, and the loss of both more readers, and revenue. In the meantime, more conservative media- Fox News, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, talk radio, etc, are all flourishing- and the liberal media has no idea how to handle it. Except snipe, which really doesn't help them in the long or short term. Here are some things that the liberal media has neglected to talk about:

-What about the schools in Iraq? They're preforming better than they did prior to the Iraqi War. And boys and girls are both going to school, in record numbers.
-What about the power grid, and infrastructure in Iraq? It's producing more than twice the electircal output of Iraq prior to the war. Cable tv access is abundant. Water facilities are running better than they were prior to the war.
-What about law and order? There are now over 100,000 Iraqi policemen. Prior to the war, only about 30% of all hospitals were running at anything close to efficiency. All are now.
-By the end of Janurary, there will be around 15 Iraqi Brigades, mostly a combination of Kurdish, Turkoman, and Shi'ite Iraqis.
- The Iraqis have an interim constitution, and are building political parties. Even Muqtada Al-Sadr has joined the political process, and as a result, Najaf and Sadr City (the slums of Baghdad) are essentially quiet zones.
-At least 80% of Iraq is secure and will have free elections, with no fear of any reprisals or terror attacks.
- Most of the bombings in Iraq are now confined to two major areas: a 4 mile radius in Baghdad, and Mosul. The fall of Fallujah, Samarrra, Ramadi, and Najaf dramatically reduced the insurgency's ability to wage war.
- For the war dead, there are some 350 soldiers who were KIA during the actual conventional war between the Hussein Iraqi army, and then there are some 300 soldiers who were killed in accidents, suicides, and deaths of natural causes. The rest were KIA in either offensive operations after the war (Najaf, Fallujah, etc), or in terror attacks. That actually leaves ALOT less soldiers KIA by terror attacks. The "1,000 dead" number is faulty at best, and the media accepts it as the norm, without doing the actual statistical breakdown.
- Btw, the Iraqi war- from March 2003 to present day- has the lowest casualty rate among ALL American wars ever fought.

What does this mean? This is the stuff that the media doesn't report on. It doesn't bleed, therefore it doesn't lead. The American- and international media- increasingly wants to view the war through the same mindset that gave us the reporting from Vietnam. And, as a historian, I can safely say that much of the reporting in Vietnam, and subsequent books about the subject, are useless to historians. They're hopelessly biased, and at times, outright lies. One would think that the media would learn it's lesson, but they haven't. There are those in the media who would play the role of "objective journalists" really are just faking it. They want to portray the war in the light that they want to; give both sides of the conflict an equal bearing. Who's side has more moral and ethic responsibility? The Coalition forces, who have created, as I have stated, a better Iraq, or insurgents, who want nihilism for nihilism's sake? The media doesn't ask these questions, but they should. Eventually, the piper will come calling for them, and it won't be pretty. They're rapidly nearing the time when they'll have crossed the line (in fact, the AP already has; they're actively working WITH the insurgents), and when that does, all that they have written will have come home to roost. They'll have alot to answer for.

However, none of this means that the media's role should be to play propagandist for the US military; far from it. But what this does mean is that they have a moral, legal, and ethical responsibility to give us the news, not what they think will help John Kerry get elected, or what represents the pinnacle of "gotcha" newsmaking. If there's a problem, do report it. But if there's a victory, do report that, as well.


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