Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Media Silence on Iraqi War Success

The Belmont Club (hat tip Larwyn) notes that:

"The sudden and precipitous drop-off in the media coverage of Iraq is largely due to the reluctance among pundits to advertise the fact that they were wrong. Iraq is unmentionable because things are going well. Well for Iraq means not so well for pundits who staked their reputations on failure. Abe Greenwald at Commentary Magazine writes: "After years of telling us the war on terror was creating more terrorists, the mainstream media has mysteriously woken up to the fact that Islamic extremism is on the wane. Newsweek is the latest publication to run a support-for-jihad-is-fading piece.". The Washington Post has quietly and recently done so as well. Better to concede past mistakes in judgment quietly the better to deliver more judgements of the same quality in the future. But it comes at the price of clinging to the same false premises and ignoring the most glaring lessons. Greenwald writes:

"'there is an important omission in the sudden coverage of moderate Muslims: No one talks about the effect of the Iraq War. The MSM can dodge the issue all they like, but the fact remains that the Coalition’s toppling of Saddam facilitated the first organized rejection of fanatical Islam in the Middle East. Back in November 2005, while everyone stateside was crying fiasco, a group of Sunnis in Anbar province joined forces with a clutch of U.S. Marines and began to wrest their country back from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers.'"

In 1921 Walter Lippmann enumerated the reasons why the press could not be expected to provide reliable information needed for public deliberation. One is the need to sell newspapers. However, he was mildly sanguine about the technical ability of the media at that time to execute its news-providing mission competently. Things have turned out worse than Lippmann expected. Groupthink and political correctness dominate the media. The progressives of Lippmann's time had varying philosophies. Some were more or less socialist or conservative. The post-Depression New Deal liberalism resulted in two philosophies: (1) a moderately conservative progressivism that has mirrored social democracy and (2) social democracy. However, the media are almost all in the latter camp. One of the characteristics of social democrats is the inability to tolerate dissent and deliberation. Even in areas where their qualifications are weak, such as military strategy and foreign policy, the left looks to leadership from a few elite newspaper analysts. The result is a policy debate that is emotionally driven but poorly conceived.

Let us celebrate that things are going well in Iraq. General David Petraeus's fourth generation warfare strategy has worked. Rather than discuss why and begin to think about ways to improve it, the media react stupidly and public policy debate continues to be inarticulate and foolish.

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