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Who Knows Best About What’s Going on in Iraq?

American Geek points us to an article written by Jack Kelly. The subject is whether the media will re-think how they portray Iraq now that media folks are second guessing media reporting on Hurricane Katrina:

“On Sept. 28th in the city of Tal Afar in northern Iraq, a female suicide bomber blew herself up outside an Iraqi army recruiting center, killing 7 and wounding 37. A producer for a national television news program cited this to me as an example of a “worsening insurgency.”

I asked the producer if he’d considered the possibility that the female suicide bomber — against which there are cultural taboos in Iraq — might be a sign of desperation on the part of “insurgents.” He hadn’t.”

Kelly’s thesis is this:

“It’s hard to square the fact of al Qaida being driven out of Iraq with journalistic prattle about a “worsening insurgency…” Americans are becoming aware of how badly journalists mis-reported Hurricane Katrina. The light may soon dawn about reporting from Iraq.”

Kelly cites evidence and arguments as to how the press is distorting or misunderstanding the situation in Iraq. Kelly sees significant victories in Iraq that point the way toward resolution of conflict in Iraq. On the point of an Iraqi constitution:

“Journalists fret that if Iraqis reject the proposed constitution when they go to the polls Oct. 15, this could trigger a civil war. Sunni Arab leaders have urged their followers to vote against the constitution… A poll taken in mid -September by the Iraqi Center for Development and International Dialogue suggests this outcome is unlikely. That poll of 3,625 Iraqis showed 79 percent favored the constitution, with only 8 percent opposed… The Sunni/Shia split has been exaggerated by the Western news media, he said.”

Who knows best about what goes on in Iraq? Americans, except for the 120,000 or so soldiers, can only know what goes on there through the media. Many conservatives argue that the media is biased towards anti-war or left-leaning policies. So, when we read stories such as:

Iraq may be on path to civil war, CIA officials warn (January 2004)

“WASHINGTON ? CIA officers in Iraq are warning that the country may be on a path to civil war, current and former U.S. officials said yesterday, starkly contradicting the upbeat assessment President Bush gave in his State of the Union address.”

and U.S. intelligence gloomy on Iraq… Estimate, contrasting Bush statements, says civil war possible (September 2004)

“WASHINGTON – A U.S. intelligence report prepared for President Bush in July offered a gloomy outlook for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst scenario being a deterioration into civil war, government officials said Thursday. The alarming possible future in Iraq as outlined in the classified National Intelligence Estimate is in line with the view of many analysts and members of Congress, and the Bush administration has slowly begun to shift away from an optimistic tenor.”

and Experts: Iraq verges on civil war (May 2005)

WASHINGTON — An unchastened insurgency sowed devastation across Iraq Wednesday as experts here said the country is either on the verge of civil war or already in the middle of it… “It’s just political rhetoric to say we are not in a civil war. We’ve been in a civil war for a long time,” said Pat Lang, the former top Middle East intelligence official at the Pentagon.”I think we are really on the edge” of all-out civil war, said Noah Feldman, a New York University law professor who worked for the U.S. coalition in Iraq. He said the insurgency has been “getting stronger every passing day. When the violence recedes, it is a sign that they are regrouping…” The increased violence coincides with the approval of a new, democratic government two weeks ago. But instead of bringing the country together, the new government seems to have further alienated even moderate Sunnis who believe they have only token representation. “That is a joke,” said Sunni politician Saad Jabouri, until recently governor of Diyala Province, in an interview here. “The only people they allowed in the government are ones who think like them,” he said of the majority Shia faction, who mostly come from Islamic parties.

and Undeclared Civil War In Iraq (September 2005):

“(CBS) Behind the blood and chaos of the insurgents’ bombs, there is an undeclared civil war already underway in Iraq, between the Sunni minority who ruled this country under Saddam and the Shiite majority. CBS News correspondent Lara Logan reports there is a secret, ruthless cleansing of the country’s towns and cities. Bodies ? blindfolded, bound and executed ? just appear, like the rotting corpses of 36 Sunni men that turned up in a dry riverbed south of Baghdad.”

We are not to believe them? It’s best to find all sources of information, but when the journalists are quoting government and expert sources, it’s hard to say they they are lying for whatever purposes they have for lying.

2 comments to Who Knows Best About What’s Going on in Iraq?

  • Morgan

    Did we hear constant negativity from the media during the military campaigns in Mogadishu, Kosovo or when Iraq was bombed during the Clinton presidency? I looked pretty far back and I couldn’t find a single mainstream press going after that administration during those military actions. In fact, I didn’t hear about any war protestors, any mothers of slain soldiers or any disgruntled soldiers.

    Was everyone just as happy as a clam or did the press just not cover the bad side of those? Somehow, I think it was the latter.

    The election of a Democrat president is far too important to the press these days to allow the truth to get in the way of their reporting.

  • The problem with this whole situation is that you can cite knowledgable, credible, people on either side of the issue. It is not black and white — lots of gray here.

    The main point I think that Jack Kelly was making was: How can we trust all of the reporting about Iraq when those same news agencies were so far out in left field on Katrina?

    Everyone knows that quoting out of context can slant a reader’s perception of what was actually said. How do we know that is not being done in the case of Iraq? Especially in light of the slanted, hysterical, wildly inaccurate “reports” that were being broadcast to the world about New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina?

    I think that was where Jack Kelly was coming from. Just because someone shouts something longer and louder than anyone else does not make it true. But that is precisely what our media has been generally resorting to for the past few years.