Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Uh oh!There's some sort of strange dynamic going on in the coverage of this war. The media is manic-depressive, perhaps. Before the war started, they brought up their familiar bogeyman: the quagmire. When the CotW (Coalition of the Willing) quickly and successfully struck into Iraq, the media then acted as if the whole war were going to be a weekend getaway in scenic Asia. Then, when Iraqi forces had the temerity to resist, the media swung back into defeatest mode. Headlines blared horror stories of coalition "setbacks," as if being slowed down by a day were a brilliant counterstroke by the Iraqi military.
Now, with coalition forces just 50 miles from Baghdad, the media is acting as if Saddam Hussein has virtually won the war. And press conferences with U.S. military leaders take on a surrealist tone:
Q: What's going on? How can this be happening?
A: It's a war.
Q: Have we lost already?
Q: Did you expect Iraqis to shoot back? Have we lost already?
A: Yes, we've lost, and no, this whole shooting thing has caught us by surprise. We didn't even expect them to have ammunition. We figured they'd just fart at us a few times. Boy, were we stupid. They really outmaneuvered us with that one.
Q: What about these Iraqi tactics? Some of them fight, and then run away and hide. Did you ever hear of these tactics? Have we lost already?
A: Yeah, we lost already. It never occurred to us that they might use unconventional tactics. Our military academies only taught us how to move forward and back. All this Iraqi sneaking around from side-to-side has confused us. Thank god the media alerted us to the fact that the Iraqi military might fight dirty. We'd never have thought of that one.
Q: We hear that some Americans were captured. Have we lost the war already?
A: Of course we lost the war. We didn't think a single American soldier would be injured or captured. Now all our plans are out the window! Whatever shall we do?
Q: Didn't you predict that this war would only take a short time? It's been almost a week, and the war isn't over! What's going on? Have we lost already?
A: Yeah. We don't know what we were thinking. We really thought that the boys would be home by Monday. Gosh, we blew it.
Q: Are we going to lose the war?
A: Yes. Look for Iraqi tanks on the banks of the Potomac tomorrow. Thursday at the latest.
I certainly don't mean to make light of the plight of American POWs, and the fallen soldiers are a tragedy. Even one dead is one death too many. But it's a war, and these things happen -- and yet, if you listen to the media, you'd think that a single casualty signals that this is Vietnam, and that the marines might as well pack their bags now and go home. We're just a few days from seizing Baghdad, depending on how stiff Republican Guard resistance is. In less than a week, our troops crossed half a country, brushing aside all resistance. And yet we're already hearing, "I told you so"s from the media. Sheesh. Shouldn't there be a rule that you have to wait at least a week before commenting on a war's success?
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