Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wherein I Blame the Media, The Left and My Own Eyes

Ralph Peters writing of his trip to Baghdad in March of this year, complaining about the media's esaggerations - and erroneous labeling - of violence in Iraq:

I'm trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.[...]

All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None.

On Sunday, reacting to multiple car bombs near Shiite Mosques that killed around 20 and wounded roughly 60 on Saturday:
Shiite militiamen rampaged through a Baghdad neighborhood Sunday morning, killing more than 50 people and leaving many of the bodies littering the streets, according to Iraqi officials and witnesses. The attacks were apparently retaliation for a car bombing at a Shiite mosque the night before.

The dramatic display of sectarian killing began when armed men, some dressed in black, entered the al-Jihad neighborhood of western Baghdad. They set up checkpoints to stop cars, burst into homes, and singled out Sunni Arab residents for execution, witnesses and police said. Some of the corpses were handcuffed and pocked with bullet holes while others were pegged with nails, witnesses said.
A conservative blogger cited, approvingly, by Glenn Reynolds [emphasis mine throughout]:
Contrast [Ralph Peters' account] with the headlines you’ve read over the last week. It’s one thing to be biased. It’s quite another to be declaring and hoping and praying for civil war, in the hopes that one might feel vindicated. That is, agitating for war in the hope of burnishing of one’s anti-war credentials.

I would be quite curious to do a quick count of citations of the phrase “civil war” that have appeared above the fold in the major pubs over the last 10 days...then, multiply that out by the readership of those publications.

Liberal friends of mine took to the phrase “war-mongering” in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Remember, a monger is one who yells and sells, as in fish from a cart. What, then, have the mainstream media become?

On Monday, the violence continued:
Two bombings in a Shiite enclave killed at least 10 people and injured dozens today, while gunmen executed seven civilians in a bus in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, plunging Baghdad into another round of daytime sectarian violence.

At least 13 Iraqis died in other shootings and bombings around the country, bringing the day’s death toll to at least 30 and highlighting the immense challenges facing the new government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Such attacks have become the hallmark of what many Iraqis now call a low-level civil war.

Wretchard, at the Belmont Club, chastising the media for drumming up the civil war narrative in order to stubbornly cling to anti-American narratives in the face of mounting evidence of a "defeated" insurgency:

Politically what's interesting is how the narrative has changed. Nobody is talking about the Sunni insurgency succeeding any more. Even the press hardly makes the claim of an insurgency on the brink of success. [...]

Instead of insurgency the talking points have changed to how Sunnis might soon become victims of an ethnically hostile Iraqi army in a Civil War. Going from a boast of conquest to a portrayal of victim is usually an indicator of something. In my view, the shift of meme from the "insurgency" to a "civil war" is a backhanded way of admitting the military defeat of the insurgency without abandoning the characterization of Iraq is an American fiasco.

On Tuesday, the violence continued:

A series of brazen attacks struck the Baghdad area and northern Iraq, killing at least 39 people and wounding more than 40.

Gunmen in the capital intercepted a minivan with Shiite passengers planning to carry a coffin to the holy city of Najaf. All 10 people on board were killed in the attack in the volatile southern neighborhood of Dora, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

Glenn Reynolds commenting on the media's inaccurate characterization of Iraq as being in a state of civil war.

The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don't, a lot of people will blame the media.

The numbers for May are clearly biased:

The central morgue said Tuesday that it received 1,595 bodies last month, 16 percent more than in May, in a tally that showed the pace of killing here has increased since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq. [...]

The morgue, which takes bodies from Baghdad and its outskirts, offers a rough measure of the violence. The toll for last month, provided by the morgue deputy, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media, was roughly double the 879 bodies the morgue received in June 2005. [...]

The morgue stank of bodies. Visitors burned paper and wood in the parking lot to mask the smell. The reception area was full with 40 Iraqis, mostly women, standing and sitting on the ground, waiting to look at bodies and photographs of bodies.

Officials in Baghdad receive 10 to 20 bodies a day, mostly victims of killings by Sunni and Shiite militias, American officials said.

Jeff Goldstein attempts to lay the blame for the tragic violence tearing at the fabric of Iraq, while at the same time tut-tutting certain characterizations of that violence:

And this is (and has been) a crucial component of the war—one that many on the anti-war side are loathe to admit: that their constant naysaying, though it is well within their right to voice, has objectively hurt the war effort...” [...]

I suggested that those who were anti-war—having registered their disagreement—are therefore doing no good by working hard to bring about our defeat at this point in the campaign, or by openly crowing for a civil war.

The perfidy of the press knows no bounds. Get ready for Stabbed In The Back 2.0: Holiday In Afghanistan:

The latest news reports all seem to agree: Afghanistan is falling apart. Once again, pack journalism is trying to shape our foreign policy....Almost all of this picture is misleading.

Saying that Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse is a prediction that could become self-fulfilling.

Can't we at least think of a new script. It is the summer blockbuster season after all, and the same old re-made calp-trap is starting to wear thin, no?

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