IRAQ THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES….I didn’t bother posting earlier this week about Ralph Peters’ latest column ? the one in which he spent a few days in Baghdad, personally saw no civil war, and thus pronounced everything peachy ? because, well, why bother? Sometimes things are so plainly idiotic that there’s no point. Peters probably could have written the same story in Richmond in 1863.
Christopher Allbritton, on the other hand, who is actually in Baghdad full time, has reason to be a little more exercised about Peters’ fantasies:
[Peters] says, ?If reporters really care, it?s easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment ? and other great military units ? will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere.? Well, no, they won?t. Some reporters I know are having trouble getting embeds because they?re not the ?right? reporters. They don?t write the ?right? kind of stories ? meaning they don?t follow the military?s playbook.
It?s more than a little churlish to say, ?We?ll take you anywhere, as long as you?re not too liberal/French/whatever? and then turn around and criticize those you refuse to take with you as cowards.
….To be blunt: We are as close to full-scale civil war as we?ve ever been. We are one more bombing, massacre or atrocity from a national bloodletting. But even if that happens, there will be ebbs and flows. Just because people aren?t curled up in the fetal position under their beds all the time doesn?t mean there?s not a war on of some kind.
….Peters? little yarns sure sounds nice, but he sounds either desperately clueless or willfully blind. Officials in the American embassy, at least, are very worried that civil war is upon us, and it?s surely no coincidence that [General George] Casey has a reputation for not wanting to hear bad news. And so Peters continues to think because he rolls around in an armored convoy and no one takes a shot at him, there?s no civil war. As someone I?m sure he admires once said, ?absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.?
Conservatives are fond of claiming that the media exaggerates the problems in Iraq, but as near as I can tell exactly the opposite is true. Every time I’ve come across a candid report from a journalist ? usually after they’ve come home, or perhaps in a private email or a report of an overheard conversation ? they say that things are actually worse than what they officially report. Lots of people with a feel-good agenda go to Iraq for a few days of McNamara-like “fact finding” and then come back with glowing reports, but virtually no one who’s there full time doing comprehensive reporting has anything very optimistic to say.
Of course, being right will gain them nothing. If and when full-scale civil war breaks out, the Ralph Peters of the world are going to do their level best to lay all the blame at their defeatist feet anyway. Who lost Iraq?