Friday, March 18, 2005

The New York Times: At It Once Again

What can one say about the lead editorial in today's New York Times. The writer does correctly note that the war began two years ago this weekend, but beyond that seems to get virtually everything else wrong. The outlook of the editorial is so relentlessly negative, and so reluctant to grant any credit for the progress in the Middle-East, that it is hard not to conclude that the Times strident partisan view ultimately results in an anti-American outlook.

Oh yes, I've heard the outraged cries, "dissent is patriotic!" and I agree. However, dissent based in partisanship that denies the very real foreign policy accomplishments of political foes is very hard to view as anything other than unpatriotic. If you think I'm wrong, then look at the number one "positive domestic consequence of the war" as stated in today's editorial:

"One of the few positive domestic consequences of the war has been the nation's determination - despite obstruction from the White House and its supporters - to honor the memory of each American man and woman who has died in Iraq."

Got that? Our number one domestic accomplishment has been to honor our dead! It was not the fact that there has been no terror attack on the U.S. homeland since 9/11; not the honor with which our troops have served; nor was it the commitment of Americans who sent toys to Iraqi kids (passed out by our soldiers), went to work rebuilding Iraq, or even supported our troop's families during a difficult time. We honored our dead. The Times has decided that our main accomplishment is something that most Americans do automatically. In doing so the Times shifts the focus to the negative.

Since the Times brings it up, it’s also instructive to focus on exactly what these men and women gave their lives for. In the past 31/2 years, our troops have invaded two countries run by murderous regimes, replaced the dictators with governments dedicated to democracy, held elections, rebuilt infrastructure to at least pre-war levels and in doing so freed millions from tyranny and death squads. Casualties, while tragic, are lower than any similar effort in the history of the world.

In fact, try finding a similar effort anywhere in the history of the world and you'll see that none exists. Past empires would have taken over the newly conquered territory and taken the spoils for their own use. Indeed, the anti-war crowd, of which the Times proudly notes its membership, accused us of just this goal with their chants of “no war for oil”. The U.S., instead has worked hard to turn the countries back over to their people giving them more direct control than they had prior to our invasion. There is also the little fact that we've done this with lightening speed. Apparently none of this is important to the Times.

Being the New York Times though, the editorial staff continues to desperately search for the worst nuggets of information to verify that their opposition to the war was correct. They do this with the determination of a drunk trying to suck the last drops of whiskey out of an empty bottle. In typical Times fashion they rely on prejudiced views of what "the proud people of the Middle East" must feel, while offering no direct quotes or evidence. According to the Times editorial staff, who no doubt interact with the average Arab in the street at their East Side cocktail parties:

"when the average Egyptian or Palestinian or Saudi thinks about Americans in Iraq, the image is not the voters' purple stained fingers but the naked Iraqi prisoner at the other end of Pfc. Lynndie England's leash."

This, despite the fact that evidence and quotes abound from stories in the Times itself and newspapers elsewhere that the images of Iraqi voters, in fact, had an enormous impact on Middle Eastern people. The Lebanese opposition leader, Walid Jumblat - a traditional critic of American foreign policy in the region, directly compared the voting in Iraq with the crumbling of the Berlin wall. Funny, I seem to remember that I even read this quote in the Times, but perhaps not.

As they say in TV land, but wait there's more. In today's editorial, the Times goes on to say,

"Those stains on the index fingers of proud Iraqi voters have long faded. As Robert Worth of The Times discovered in interviews with average citizens, an inevitable disillusionment has set in."

Odd the Times would include this statement in their editorial about Iraq on the day after a non-partisan poll is released that shows that 62% of Iraqi citizens are positive about the future course of their country. So let’s see, on the one hand we have Robert Worth's interviews with some "average citizens" and on the other hand we have a scientific poll that comes to the opposite conclusion. And they wonder why we question if they really are on our side. This statement just simply doesn't square with the facts.

Speaking of not squaring with the facts, is the Times later reference to the shooting of the Italian agent who helped free celebrated communist writer Giuliana Sgrena. According to the Times:

"...the Italian journalist and her protectors whose car was riddled with bullets....."

Riddled with bullets? Here is a picture of her car. While it may fit the Times agenda to accuse our troops of shooting so indiscriminately that the car is "riddled with bullets", the picture of the auto tells a different story. So, again we have the Times accepting the version of the incident put out by a communist, in the face of visual evidence that tells an entirely different story. This is why we question their patriotism.

Finally, the Times gives credit for the new Palestinian cooperation, and the uprising in Lebanon to two people who died. According to the Times,

"The peace initiatives in Israel were made possible when Yasir Arafat died and was replaced by a braver, more flexible leader. The new determination of the Lebanese people to throw out their Syrian oppressors was sparked by the assassination of the Lebanese nationalist, Rafik Hariri, not the downfall of Saddam Hussein."

While it is no doubt true that these events were catalysts for change, it is folly in the extreme to assume that either of these changes (or the new commitment to contested elections by Mubarak in Egypt, or Assad's plea not to be viewed as another “Hussein”) would have happened without the American pressure for reform that came from the Iraq invasion and the continued presence of our fighting force in the region. Indeed, it is our commitment to change, backed by force and President Bush's statement that we will stand with those who rise up, that has emboldened a people previously to frightened to challenge the status quo.

The Times gets none of this though. Too wedded to their poorly considered opposition to the Iraq war, they still pine for the days when we worked as one with the "International Community". Never mind that it is this same international community that turned the oil for food program into history's largest fraud, and forget that it is this same community that saw cushy deals with Iraq and other dictators as a means to wealth for a select few. It is also this same International Community that now wants to sell arms to China, which may one day be used to kill Americans. I suppose the Times will support that too. Then, as now, they'll wonder why we question their patriotism.

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