Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Bubble Up Today

The media seem beyond - or below - learning when it comes to this war.

First, troop progress was swift and unopposed out of Kuwait and across largely unoccupied sand, and media coverage created an unjustified and premature euphoria.

Then some non-com took a wrong turn, a few Americans were captured and/or killed, the citizens of Basra (who were still subject to Iraqi government attack) did not rise up mindlessly in the face of their own government's guns, and the Republican Guard fought back - so the media proclaimed the whole war had got bogged down and the entire US strategy was either a failure or had to be entirely reconsidered.

Now, one of the wrong-turn group (gee, the media coverage seems to scream, a good looking woman!) has been rescued. And US troops - the same US troops who have been "bogged down" - are now within about 20 miles of Baghdad and have overcome the best Republican Guard divisions. None of this is any more surprising than anything else that has happened. Of course the troops kept advancing. Of course the US beat the Republican Guards. Of course US air attacks have inflicted huge costs and casualties in the Iraq forces with few US costs and casualties. There's little new information here - and the information has never really been bad in the first place.


It turns out that the Iraqi people love us, after all! They were just playing hard-to-get! The port is soon to open! Military damsel rescued! MARKETS ARE LISTENING AND ARE IDIOTICALLY HAPPY!!

Meanwhile, the Pentagon tries futilely to get the media to act and think like adults: "we really believe some of the toughest fighting could lay ahead," and "We are planning for a very difficult fight ahead in Baghdad. We are not expecting to drive into Baghdad suddenly and seize it" and McChrystal and department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told reporters at least six times in a half-hour briefing that the toughest fighting may lie ahead. But the media don't listen carefully - and reports even seem to treat the increased threat from chemical weapons as a detail - apparently because US troops can just put on their "suits."

For next week: The media discover the surprising, totally unexpected development that actually taking Baghdad may take a little while and involve some more real fighting and even some cleverness - and that chemical weapons are really, really bad!! Then it will be time to argue that "unnamed sources" say that the US military was counting too much on Baghdad "falling from within" (whatever that means), that the military brass didn't really fully understand how bad a chemical attack could be (because they had never been through one!), that there aren't enough troops (although there have been few casualties and lots of rapid, decisive progress), and, of course, that the White House is "divided" and ignoring the "old hands" at the Pentagon over the issue de jour (like the White House ignored the "old hands" at the State Department when the French were having their way with the Security Council).

And blah, blah, blah, blah blah...

Technology, embedding, web logs - that all means very little where the media representatives have little judgment or common sense.

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