I went to Iraq a couple of weeks ago to resolve for myself the recent contrast between gloomy news coverage and optimistic Pentagon reports of our progress. My trip left no doubt that the Pentagon's version is far closer to reality. Our news coverage disproportionately dwells on the deaths, mistakes and setbacks suffered by coalition forces. Some will attribute this to a grand left-wing conspiracy, but a more plausible explanation is simply the tendency of our news media to focus on bad news. It sells. Few Americans think local news coverage fairly captures the essence of daily life and progress in their hometowns. Coverage from Iraq is no different.
Falsely bleak Iraq news circulating in the United States is a serious problem for coalition forces because it discourages Iraqi cooperation, the key to our ultimate success or failure, a daily determinant of life or death for American soldiers. As one example, coalition forces are now discovering nearly 50 percent of the improvised explosive devices through tips. Guess how they discover the rest.
We not only need Iraqi tips and intelligence, we need Iraqis fighting by our side and eventually assuming full responsibility for their internal security. But Iraqis have not forgotten the 1991 Gulf War. America encouraged the Shiites to rebel, then abandoned them to be slaughtered. I visited one of the mass graves, mute testimony to the wisdom of being cautious about relying on American politicians to live up to their commitments.
For Iraqis, news of America's resolve is critical to any decision to cooperate with coalition forces, a decision that can lead to death. Newspaper start-up ventures and sales of satellite dishes absolutely exploded following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. With this on top of the Internet, Iraqis do get the picture from America -- literally.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
A Democratic Congressman who recently toured Iraq criticizes coverage of the situation there plus Democratic candidates who are bashing the administration willy-nilly without thinking about how what they say affects the situation there.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 7:01 AM