Monday, December 12, 2005

Score two for old media

An interesting article about troop morale in the LA Times Friday caught my attention because I think it helps to explain some of the conflict between the "good news" from some troops on the ground in Iraq and the "bad news" we often read about and see in the media. Here's the important quote from retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Randall L. Rigby:

"We have a group of soldiers now who are event-oriented. They get the school built and 400 kids have a place to go — well, that's all they see," Rigby said. "They don't look at the fact that [bombings by insurgents] are up fivefold.

In other words, they can both be right. Which is so simple it almost seems obvious. That also means conservatives who claim the liberal media is ignoring good news and troops on the ground have the true story, or liberals who think any kind of "embedding" that lets you see things from the troops' perspective, both have a narrow view.

Although let's be honest, lately it has been mostly conservatives bitching that the media ignores good news that troops report back. That's assserted with the confidence that troops on the ground can't possibly be wrong or have a limited view.

Speaking of conservatives with a narrow view, I was amazed by the reaction to a great LAT article today about how France warned the U.S. that the claims Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger were bogus over a year before Bush (erroneously, according to the CIA) said so in his 2003 State of the Union address.

Well, when I say reaction, I of course mean good old Instapundit. Here's what he had to say:

THE TROUBLE WITH THIS REPORT is that you have to ask yourself: Would you have relied on the French?

More importantly, the persistence of the whole issue demonstrates the colossal folly of the Bush Administration's effort to take the United Nations seriously in 2002, something that -- like Bush's failure to fire a lot of people at the CIA following 9/11 -- has led to considerable grief and no discernible benefit.

I know I probably obsess over the guy too much in my limited postings, but he infuriates me whenever I read his blog (2 or 3 times a week).

Now honestly, one can of course debate whether Bush should have gone to the U.N. first before invading (morally, at least; strategically it would have been a disaster since it would have alienated our major ally - the U.K. - and some of the moderates who ended up supporting the invasion).

But I am so frikkin sick of war supporters refusing to engage the actual evidence of how the Bush administration mislead us into the war, often by ignoring evidence that didn't support their views. It seems like it's hardly a debate anymore over whether Bush et al were dishonest in their sales case, since Republicans never seem to deal with the piles of evidence. They just point out that some Democratic critics are hypocritical (perhaps, but that's a seprate issue) or that "everyone" believed Saddam had WMD (not quite true, but elides many of the specific WMD claims, especially about nuclear weapons, Bush and his aides made that alot of people didn't believe).

It has at least been heartening to see my local paper staying on the beat of how the intelligence about Iraq turned out to be so very long, although of course it would have been great to get some of this information before the war, or before the election.

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