Saturday, February 08, 2003

What Then?

Jeanne d'Arc discusses the appearance of Thomas Friedman on the Oprah Winfrey show.

The whole Iraq situation has been yet another demonstration of the overall incompetence of the news media. There is one simple question which no one ever bothers to ask - or at least, one which no one ever bothers try and get a serious answer to - what happens after we win the war?

Friedman is clearly inhabiting a delusional world of his own creation in which he believes, absent any evidence - and in fact, in complete opposition to a mountain of contrary evidence - that the invasion of Iraq will be be followed up with a commitment to the democratization of the Arab world. Our dealings with Turkey regarding the Kurds and the hopeless muddle that is Afghanistan should themselves be evidence enough that this administration's intentions to implement Friedman's desires are not there. But, more to the point - Friedman's desires for invading Iraq are simply not the administration's, and this fact alone precludes his desired outcome from becoming reality absent some serious regime change here at home.

More generally, with all of the ink spilt on Iraq, all of the hours devoted to it on television, complete with catchy graphics, ominous music, and yapping pundits, the simple question of what happens after "regime change" has not been explored. The coverage of the war has almost entirely been political coverage - that is, it is seen as a horserace. Will Bush "win" the UN election? If he loses the election, will he assume power anyway? Did his latest speech improve his standing in the polls? The media have not demanded any answers from the administration regarding their plans for a post-war Iraq. Little attention was paid to this detail when we attacked Afghanistan, either, though then the media's willingness to accept the "trust us" answer was more understandable if no less disturbing.

Bloggers and pundits alike can spin their desires or predictions for the post-war Iraq, but shouldn't the media start demanding some answers?