Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Does anyone remember the Middle East War that really matters?

In watching the news networks in the last few days, I (and others) have been amazed at how the little fracas in Iraq has been shoved off the radar screen. Consider
( courtesy of the Duck...) this fact:

CNN will surely remind us today that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war - now branded as Crisis in the Middle East - but you won't catch anyone saying it's Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks' evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60
percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report. On Thursday, Brian Williams of NBC read aloud a 'shame on you' e-mail complaint from the parents of two military sons anguished that his broadcast had so little news about the war.

This is happening even as the casualties in Iraq, averaging more than 100 a day, easily surpass those in Israel and Lebanon combined. When Nouri al-Maliki, the latest Iraqi prime minister, visited Washington last week to address Congress, he too got short TV shrift - a mere five sentences about the speech on ABC's World News. The networks know a rerun when they see it. Only 22 months earlier, one of Mr. Maliki's short-lived predecessors, Ayad Allawi, had come to town during the 2004 campaign to give a similarly empty Congressional address laced with White House-scripted talking points about the war's progress. Propaganda stunts, unlike Law & Order episodes, don't hold up on a second viewing.

The steady falloff in Iraq coverage isn't happenstance. It's a barometer of the scope of the tragedy. For reporters, the already apocalyptic security situation in Baghdad keeps getting worse, simply making the war more difficult to cover than ever. The audience has its own phobia: Iraq is a bummer. 'It is depressing to pay attention to this war on terror,' said Fox News's Bill O'Reilly on July 18. 'I mean, it's summertime.' Americans don't like to lose, whatever the season. They know defeat when they see it, no matter how many new plans for victory are trotted out to obscure that reality.

The specter of defeat is not the only reason Americans have switched off Iraq. The larger issue is that we don't know what we - or, more specifically, 135,000 brave and vulnerable American troops - are fighting for. In contrast to the Israel-Hezbollah war, where the stakes for the combatants and American interests are clear, the war in Iraq has no rationale to keep it afloat on television or anywhere else. It's a
big, nightmarish story, all right, but one that lacks the thread of a coherent plot.

The conservative nuts will blame the "biased MSM" for not broadcasting the truth and the good news about Iraq. That line of thinking ignores the fact that no one has yet to explain exactly, why Americans need to die for a bunch of useless Arabs who refuse to do anything for themselves. ( Or are at least incredibly slow about it.....). I've explained this before, but the lives that matter to me ; and the only ones I really care about, are AMERICAN. So its hard to for me to get excited about Lebanon, even though I am fanatically pro- Israel and I agree with Israel for striking back at Hezbollah. The problem in Lebanon is that Israel is going to have to kill a lot more Lebanese before this is over. However, its Israelis and more stupid Arabs that are invovled. At least Americans are not there any more.

Not so in Iraq. Not only are there 135,000+ US troops, there are also uncounted numbers of Americans working as contractors. And they work in a hot, thankless environment, amidst a people who don't show appreciation for what they do. And have an albatross called Islam around their neck.

But Iraq is old news you say. I beg to disagree. 4 brave Americans died in that hell hole yesterday. That's the only number that matters to me. Brave Americans who deserved better. Brave Americans who chose to serve. Americans who are , being only half heartedly supported by their own government in terms of pay and benefits, and who are lead by a Secretary of Defense who is only dedicated to reducing the numbers of their comrades and reducing their equipment. Led by a man who refuses to realize that if this is indeed a "long war" the services need to be resourced properly; by civilian leadership who considers their compensation "expensive".

The war in Lebanon is a sideshow. Lets get Americans focused on the game that matters to them. Its being played in a different field than that of Israel. NEVER FORGET AMERICANS IN UNIFORM!


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