Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Enormous Failure" In Iraq

Listening to BBC today (love that Sirius radio!), I heard a U. of Baghdad prof talking about daily life in Saddam's old playground. Paraphrasing:
When your child leaves to go to school or meet friends, you pray because you don't know if they'll be back. Almost immediately, you hear the bombs going off and you don't know whether they've been killed or not. It is a state of terror, and it is of course because of the American and British occupation.
Of course a day in Baghdad is more stressful than a day where I live, but contrast the professor's comments with these, from Ralph Peters on RCP:

During a recent visit to Baghdad, I saw an enormous failure. On the part of our media. The reality in the streets, day after day, bore little resemblance to the sensational claims of civil war and disaster in the headlines.

No one with first-hand experience of Iraq would claim the country's in rosy condition, but the situation on the ground is considerably more promising than the American public has been led to believe. Lurid exaggerations and instant myths obscure real, if difficult, progress.

I left Baghdad more optimistic than I was before this visit. While cynicism, political bias and the pressure of a 24/7 news cycle accelerate a race to the bottom in reporting, there are good reasons to be soberly hopeful about Iraq's future.

Peters goes on to discount claims of civil war, Iraqi disunity, expanding terrorism, hatred of the US military, the appeal of the religious militias, failed reconstruction, etc. Why the glum reports? Of course because the media doesn't like Bush and his war. But also because our reporters aren't reporting. They're sitting in their safe zones and hiring Iraqi stringers, of whom Peters says:
To enhance their own indispensability, Iraqi stringers exaggerate the danger to Western journalists (which is real enough, but need not paralyze a determined reporter). Dependence on the unverified reports of local hires has become the dirty secret of semi-celebrity journalism in Iraq as Western journalists succumb to a version of Stockholm Syndrome in which they convince themselves that their Iraqi sources and stringers are exceptions to every failing and foible in the Middle East. The mindset resembles the old colonialist conviction that, while other "boys" might lie and steal, our house-boy's a faithful servant.
Where have you gone, Erinie Pyle?

Hat-tip: memorandum; Photo: PowerLine
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