The Big Tent contributors are followers of Alfred Thayer Mahan.
While I appreciate Tom's attempt to tell us the other news in Iraq--I take exception to the writer's dig at the mainstream media for not covering "the good news." If the National Review wants to make its niche by telling us what is going right (that is its perogative) but I don't want mainstream news organizations to follow suit. I sure wish the National Review would give the "mainstream media ignores the good news" mantra a break. News organizations don't (and should not) report "good news." By definition, a car not crashing or a bomb not exploding is not news--especially in a war zone. The problems with the war in Iraq and the public's flagging support have nothing to do with ABC, NBC, and CBS. My God, there were two more cameramen killed this weekend and a reporter seriously wounded. These are brave folks doing very dangerous work. They are in a war zone and if they ignore the good things that is b/c they are only doing what journalists are trained to do.
Jeff,I understand your point that good news isn't really news (we could discuss the training of journalists later), but in this case "good news" really is a misnomer. Look at several of the links in the article--they are to accounts of military operations that killed or captured insurgents and captured insurgent supplies. Successful military operations are news, and they are rarely covered in the larger media. Because of my work I run into this all the time. Here is an example from my current project: on March 20, 2005, a group of 40-50 insurgents launched a complex ambush on a coalition convoy near Baghdad. The outnumbered American forces from three different units drove off the atttack, killing 26 insurgents. The only major newspaper to mention the fight was the NYT, and here is what the reporter said: "Details about the Salman Pak ambush were vague, but the audacity of the insurgents, on the second anniversary of the start of the American military campaign that toppled Saddam Hussein, showed that the guerrilla war still burns fiercely here, long after President Bush proclaimed major combat operations over and despite a high turnout among Iraqis in the Jan. 30 elections." That was the extent of the reporting on the insurgent disaster until a couple of months later when the news came out that a female MP was awarded the Silver Star for her actions in the fight.There are literally hundreds of examples just like this one--of successful coalition military operations that went unreported or were twisted from a distance by journalists who do not cover the news.
Tom,You make a good point. Charles Peters--the founder of the Washington Monthly which has been the training ground for a large number of leading journalists believes that most reporters don't report about the military well--b/c they never served and don't know anyone who has---so they don't understand the military. To Peters, this is yet another example for why we should bring back the draft--so more Americans in the ranks of govt, journalism, and academia understand the military from actual experience. Two of my undergraduate mentor/professors actually served in the military--how many of today's undergrads can say that. And you can be sure that this influences how military history and the military in general is discussed in the classroom.What I object to (and I realize you aren't necessarily doing this) is how the NR and others unfairly attack the media for not leaving the green zone and reporting the story. Should there be more coverage of actual fighting rather than roadside bombs and assasination squads--maybe--but to me the big story remains our inability to impose order.
As far as the media goes, I think it is a mistake to try to embed a lot of journalists in the counterinsurgent forces so they can capture live action. I'm more interested in the folks in the Green Zone hearing about large fights or operations, going out to interview the participants, and then giving as accurate as possible a report on the specific fight. I think that would be ideal news coverage of the war.On the war itself, I think we are imposing order. It is a very long process because any idiot with a gun or a bomb can kill a couple of people (and usually take himself with them). Why I think our efforts are taking effect is that the idiots are attacking Americans and even Iraqi security less and less and going after Iraqi civilians more and more. As a result, every day the insurgent activities look more like crime than actual military operations with a tenable strategic objective in mind. My guess is that we've got another year to year and a half where we'll keep training the Iraqis and slowly withdraw. American casulaties will continue to decrease and the insurgents will only be able to attack Iraqi civilians, which will only further hinder their efforts to win over the Iraqi people. Low level insurgent attacks will go on for quite awhile, kind of like the situation in Israel, but they won't be able to win outright. Then our biggest concern with Iraq will be strongman warlord types trying to take over large parts of the country.That's my guess, anyway.
Tom,I really hope you are correct. From my uninformed perspective--the violence and chaos seems like it will never end. Nonetheless, I hope your take is right.
"From my uninformed perspective--the violence and chaos seems like it will never end."Yes, and from my perspective, this is exactly the perspective the "no good news from Iraq" media WANTS YOU TO HAVE......No one and I mean no one is saying things are GREAT in Iraq....But there is an awful lot of good that goes unacknowledged by people who admit they were against the war from the beginning and nothing has changed for them....Not to sound too much like John Kerry, but does this pass the smell test?
Would someone please tell me what the "mainstream media" is? Seriously. It has become the latest talking point used in place of the equally daffy "liberal media" and the left's just-as-dumb equivalent, the "corporate media." These phrases are accusations, not descriptions. dcat
I'll take a shot: AP, Reuters, CBS news, ABC news, NBC news, CNN, the news sections of the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and pretty much every other major newspaper for major American cities. In other words, the overwhelming majority of the traditional news outlets.The Wall Street Journal maybe belongs but it focuses so much on business and economic issues that they often crowd out other news. Fox News deliberately tries to set itself apart from the other sources, so it is its own animal.
"Would someone please tell me what the "mainstream media" is? Seriously. It has become the latest talking point used"DCAT, I find it instructive that the only two people here in the comments that even mentioned the phrase "mainstream media" seem to be coming from the left...
JC -- Did you not bother to read the link, in which the author uses "mainstream media" in the FIRST SENTENCE? You do know how this works, right? The people who comment respond to the posts, and in this case the post essentially IS the link. The link refers to the mainstream media in the first sentence. Ergo, those of us responding who used the term "mainstream media" did so as a direct result of the entire purpose of the discussion. I find it instructive that the only person who seems to miss the way commenting works in blogs seems to come from the right. I find it especially instructive that such ignorance led to a comment that I'm sure seemed to the author to be a sharp little poke at Jeff and me. Nice ellipses . . .As for the news outlets -- what about the Washington Times? What about the New York Post? Do you count those as being part of "every major newspaper for major American cities"? And I am unsure why Fox gets a pass, or how the WSJ is not still a mainstream source of news -- it is the second largest selling paper in the country, for chrissakes. I still think it is a sloppy catchall. I know we need sloppy catchalls sometimes, but not if they are, as I said earlier, phrases used as accusations and not as shorthand descriptions. dcat
Here is the thing about Fox News, the NY Post, and the Washington Times--they are all seen (sometimes unfairly) as opinion outlets, even in their news coverage. The news sections of all the rest that I listed are meant to be neutral, just-the-facts-type sources. Whether or not that is true, that is how they sell themselves--that opinion is limited to the opinion pages and the news is just the news. That is what makes them "mainstream," as it were.The WSJ is also kind of an opinion paper, but more important for this discussion is that the WSJ is dominated by economics and business news, often at the detriment of other topics. It is certainly a (the?) mainstream outlet for economics and business news, but it is a different animal for politics and foreign affairs. that's my impression, anyway.
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