Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How to win the war in Iraq Bush-style

President Bush is miffed at the American media. And rightly so too. The evil conglomerate of American newspapers, television networks and online news outlets is turning out to be the shadowy figure behind the scenes responsible for the rapid descent of Iraq into a civil war. The reasoning behind this is so flawless, only someone who is not the president of the US or one of his conservative minions could fail to grasp the beauty of its logic. The president's treatise is that the war in Iraq has already been won by coalition troops. Iraq is blossoming into a prosperous and healthy democracy. However, it is the American media who is guilty of an irresponsible and abject failure in heralding this great American victory and communicating it to an anxious citizenry back home.

The president spent all of last week vociferously elaborating this point through news conferences and press releases. Ironic, considering that he was relaying his message about the untrustworthiness and incompetence of the media, through the media. But his point was that the real reason behind the American public's disenchantment with the Iraq war has less to do with America's performance in that war and more to do with the public's perception of that performance. Now, many people have been placing the blame for the Iraqi debacle squarely on insufficient troop numbers on the ground in Iraq. And since military recruitment numbers have been going down, the only way this problem could have been solved was by reinstating the mandatory military draft. You know, that hallowed American practice of the 60's where they used to grab babies from their cribs and place them in foxholes. But now we know it's not really the troop level we need to be worried about. It's the reporter level in Iraq that is the problem. Insufficient journalists on the ground to cover all the good news that is not making it's way across the Atlantic, is what's behind the cherrypicked bad press coverage of the recent spurt of violence in Iraq. Due to a lack of manpower, reporters will only publish the interesting stories. Stories of violence and gore. Not stories of humanity and kindness and progress. At least, that's the treatise.

As the president informed us, the US is lacking journalists who will venture into terrorist infested neighbourhoods outside the Baghdad green zone in order to relay back all the cute happy cuddly news that cannot, in the words of conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, be effectively ascertained merely by standing on a hotel balcony and peering through binoculars. Far too much good news that is trying to make its way through the swirling smoke hovering above Iraqi streets after an IED explosion, has been lost due to uncooperative and cowardly reporters who will merely give it a passing glance as they hungrily snap pictures of smoldering cars and charred bodies. In fact, it is only a select few of that profession who will bother to look past all the charnel-house scenes prevalent in big cities such as Baghdad, Fallujah and Najaf and engage in some good old-fashioned field-journalism in the smaller villages and towns where Iraqis in possession of their heads still outnumber those who don't.

So this is my recommendation to President Bush. Forget about increasing troop levels. Hell, send all the troops back home. 'Cause they've already accomplished what they set out to do. Saddam Hussain is gone and Iraq has been handed over to the bloodthirsty religious militia. Which was the plan in the first place. Now it's time to put the press to work and institute a mandatory draft for journalists. It is time for the media to step in and finish off the mission by feeding the American people lies and half-truths, by painting a picture of Iraqi Valhalla where smiling Sunni insurgents lay down their weapons and lovingly place flowers in the hair of their Shia brethren as they sit together on a grassy meadow with a picnic basket, holding hands and watching the sun set in the west. We need more reporters in Iraq who will selectively sift through all the useless chaff of explosions, beheadings and lootings in order to find the hard-to-obtain grains of happiness. We need someone who, when faced with an image of bodies rotting in a gutter, will actually look past all that grimness and pessimism and capture the innocent delight of little children as they play with those corpses, exuding a joy that can only be attributed to living in a Saddam-free Iraq.

And having a mandatory journalist draft would also allow those conservative columnists who, uptil now, had been shackled in their whoring for the White House by concerns for their own life. Concerns that disallowed them from being any more proactive than watching CNN and screaming at the lack of good news on it. These people would now be able to take matters into their own hands and be footsoldiers in the war against bad truthful press by marching to the battlefront and engaging in some patriotic misreporting. And that's what America needs right now, not more soldiers in Iraq who would actually keep the peace, but more American media outlets that would broadcast an illusion of peace.

No comments: