False Media Prophets
The Washington Post and The New York Times have changed their tune. Both powerful newspapers bellowed intense “jingoism” at Iraq’s invasion. They thoughtlessly went along with what in columns I called an expression of national egotism. You wouldn’t know it if you read either paper today.
They are filled with stories and commentaries that feed the growing consensus that putting U.S. troops’ feet on the Middle East ground was a bad mistake. Both media giants bought into the Bush White House racism that writes off Arabs and Afghans as inherently inferior. Vice President Richard Cheney was singularly vocal on that theme.
Hundreds of thousands of lives, both Afghan and Iraqi, were wasted, along with trillions of dollars. Don’t let your eyes dwell upon official costs; they don’t include billions more wasted on private companies and mercenaries. In dwelling on our own dead, we trivialize the other families and individuals lost; ironically, that’s how the most important print media in this country figured, going in: Iraqis and Afghans were eminently expendable.
Chinese communist leader Mao dubbed the people as the water that allow guerillas to swim. He was right, of course, as we’re learning in battles when the other side has the support of the indigenous population. Gen. Stanley A. McCrystal said he will change all that and lure residents on our side. It is much too late; too many rockets, missiles and bombs have smashed families already. On evidence they prefer the crude and simplistic Taliban tyranny to our well-meant apologies and reckless intentions.
Eight years ago, when the strikes against the Afghans began, we were painfully blinded by the suicide jets plowing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Seizing Kabul and its dominions made us feel better; we were heavily into revenge. Our leadership could not see the difference between a handful of radicals and the entire Muslim world; as bloody takers of revenge, we encouraged extreme action from that part of the world population.
The Post and the Times blindly reflected the national mood, instead of calmly balancing the citizens’ fury with words of wisdom: the United States is now paying the price. Have no doubt, Iraqi voters will legally invite our armed forces to leave in the January referendum. The Afghans are too disunited to proffer such a polite invitation; they will simply kill so many of our sons and daughters we will have to go, following the Russian retreat 20 years ago.
To hasten the Western powers collapse in that arena, the United Nations and individual nations – including this country – are on the verge of certifying the elections even though they were demonstrably rotten and crooked. The argument is heard: What can we do otherwise? Easy, get the hell out! And let the local parties and politicians decide what’s best for themselves. Please no forecast about how many lives will be lost. They are already dying. And America gets the blame.
In a sense, I should thank The New York Times and The Washington Post’s powers-that-be, they did wake up eventually.
Thank God – by any name.