Monday, September 26, 2005


Iraq & The Media

I agree with Bill C that it isn't entirely ignorant to believe we're losing in Iraq. Its the wrong impression, of course, but its understandable how one could get it. With that in mind, I came across three posts today, all dealing with a different aspect of media reporting.

Bill Roggio:
The attacks on Baghdad, while having no real military value, are achieving the desired political and propaganda effects of feeding the Western media’s passion for gory headlines that project failure in Iraq. It should be noted that Coalition successes in targeting al Qaeda leadership and operatives rarely, if ever, leads in the headlines, while al Qaeda successes get top billing. Today is no different - the headline At Least 25 Are Killed in Day of Violence Across Iraq [New York Times] sells, while al Qaeda Commander and 20 Terrorists Killed in Raid does not exist, unless you happened to stumble upon this site.
John Podhoretz:
A little more than two weeks until the constitutional referendum in Iraq, and the signs are remarkably good about this remarkable document's passage: Registration to vote is heavy, and religious and political leaders of the Shi'ites this week renewed their commitment to a "yes" vote. And yet I just saw an MSNBC report by correspondent Peter Alexander, who said there was nothing new in Iraq other than more suicide bombing attacks against American troops. Alexander offered the nonsensical time-frame observation that since Hurricane Katrina came ashore, 42 Americans have died. I don't know what that's supposed to mean, but its intention is clear: To make people feel negative and depressed about the situation in Iraq when in fact Iraq is probably on the verge of a vote as historic, if not more so, than the January vote.
Counting the wounded as casualties means Portillo's assertion is not only unfounded, but the opposite of the truth. The reader will notice that the proportion of wounded to killed has changed from 9.3:1 in 2004 to 6.6:1 in 2005. This is consistent with the DOD briefings that there are fewer attacks, but since these may involve larger explosives in the case of IEDs, the attacks kill a larger proportion of the targeted vehicle's occupants. Still, the number of killed and wounded is 73% of last year's figures. In the last three months, the number has been 50% of the same period last year. This was quite an interesting result, considering news accounts that Iraq is 'descending into chaos' and that things are going 'from bad to worse'. Counting the wounded, the figures for September 2005 so far are lower than for any month in 2004 and 2005. Yet the mood conveyed in the press is that things are sliding into the abyss. That may be true for other reasons, but with US casualties at a quarter to a seventh of their historical values in a month full of offensives and important dates, the honest analyst must at least ask himself if something is changing on the battlefield.
Too bad honesty has nothing to do with media coverage of the war.

(Note: This will probably be my last post for about two weeks. I'm off to California for the week, to be followed by a road trip back to Chicago.)


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