If you read the newspapers and watch TV, your only news of Iraq may be a running tally of casualties.
That was the chief complaint of the Associated Press’s coverage of the Iraq war mentioned in this space yesterday.
Is the media fair when it comes to Iraq?
It’s a far cry from what the MSM reports:
“It was a very early morning in July 2004, and after making myself a steamer-sized cup of hot tea at my desk in Corps Plans, I walked into the coalition military’s Joint Operations Center (JOC) in Al Faw Palace, Baghdad.
“Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had left Baghdad a couple of weeks earlier, and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s interim Iraqi government was — as the bad pun went — an interim rocky government. But Allawi’s government not only had popular support, it had spine. Day by day, Allawi emerged as a smart, adaptive and courageous leader. The Allawi government was rapidly building a democratic Iraqi future.
“I took a seat in the back of the JOC’s eight-tiered ampitheater. A huge plasma screen draped the JOC’s front wall, like a movie theater screen divided into ceiling-high panels capable of displaying multiple computer projections. A viewer could visually hopscotch from news to weather to war. In the upper right-hand corner of one panel, Fox News flickered silently — and for the record, occasionally CNN or Al Jazeera would flicker there, as well. Beneath Fox ran my favorite channel, live imagery from a Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle circling somewhere over Iraq.
“The biggest display, that morning and every morning, was a spooling date-time list describing scores of military and police actions undertaken over the last dozen hours, The succinct, acronym-packed reports flowed like haikus of violence: ‘0331: 1/5 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division, arrests suspects after Iraqi police stop car’; ‘0335 USMC vicinity Fallujah engaged by RPG, returned fire. No casualties.’
“The spool spun on and on, and I remember thinking: ‘I know we’re winning. We’re winning because — in the big picture — all the opposition (Saddam’s thugs and Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda) has to offer is the tyranny of the past. But the drop-by-drop police blotter perspective obscures that.”
“Collect relatively isolated events in a chronological list and presto: the impression of uninterrupted, widespread violence destroying Iraq. But that was a false impression. Every day, coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the ’insurgents’ were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one rig on CNN and, ’Oh my God, America can’t stop these guys,’is the impression left in Boise and Beijing.”