Saturday, February 07, 2004

The Killing Fields

This is quite creepy, really. Hundreds of urban professionals have been assassinated in Iraq in the past year.

The existence of an open civil society requires that the vast majority of people, for the most part, choose to be civil. There are so many scores to be settled, so many competing factions, so many reasons for general popular discontent for the current state of affairs, that I really don't comprehend how we're really going to be capable of doing much of anything to improve things. Maybe - just maybe - there was a narrow window in the immediate aftermath of "major combat operations," when if we'd done things just right, used the existing institutions including the military and much of the Baathist bureaucracy, had an army of engineers in to fix the place up the way all those breathless NPR reports kept promising us, etc... when we could have put things on the right course. But, they just lost the thread pretty quickly.

Our media has been completely complicit in this disaster. From the supposedly (according to Crazy Andy) anti-war New York Times endorsing the war, to Paula Zahn telling Scott Ritter he'd "drunk Saddam's Kool Aid," to Kyra Phillips asking if a boy who had his arms blown off understood what Operation Iraqi Freedom was all about, etc... It's been a disaster, and it will continue to be a disaster. As far as I can tell, even Ahmed Chalabi doesn't like his new toy very much - he doesn't spend much time there.

Things aren't improving much now. When the Bush administration decides that Up is Down, the media dutifully follow. When suddenly it was the CIA, and not the Office of Special Plans and Dr. Strangefeld who were perverting intelligence to push for war, the media compliantly forget everything they'd been saying for a year. Warbloggers who had blamed the CIA for being insufficiently enthusiastic about the Excellent Adventure are now pretending that nasty CIA hoodwinked the administration, while simultaneously saying the war was Still a Good Thing because...? Shit, I don't even know what the reason is this week. The Washington Post lets Jim Hoagland rewrite history by contradicting his own prior columns.

There's a cancer in our press right now, and it's going to continue to grow and grow. Even now anti-war critics, despite being ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, are being marginalized because for some reason in order to criticize the war you have to have been for it to begin with. I have no idea why this makes any sense, but there it is. It's aided and abetted by the "liberal hawks" who for the most part seemed to just want to prove they have bigger testicles than the rest of us. But, why the hell should anyone listen to them? They were wrong, and I don't really care about reading their tortured essays of self-evaluation. The issue isn't simply that they were wrong, but they were wrong in a particular offensive manner. They, too, for the most part encouraged the marginalization of war critics with their smarmy condescending "we know best" tone. You know what, guys, it ISN'T ALL ABOUT YOU. Stop with the narcissistic navel-gazing. The consequence of your crap wasn't a wee bit of embarassment at cocktail parties, it was this.

(via Counterspin)