Start with lack of information: The average news consumer probably has no clue that Gen. David Petreaus’ new strategy has crippled al Qaeda in Iraq, that Americans and Iraqis are now fighting side-by-side against both Sunni and Shia extremists, and that the elimination of terrorist safe havens and weapons caches has improved security for average Iraqis in parts of the country that a few months ago were snake pits.
As for misinformation, how many people still believe that guards in Guantanamo flushed Korans down the toilet, that U.S. Marines committed a massacre at Haditha, and that American soldiers ridicule women disfigured by bombs, run over puppies for sport and desecrate graves for a laugh? All of this was reported in such mainstream publications as Newsweek and The New Republic. None of it is true.
Meanwhile, the barbarous violence committed by al Qaeda and the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq is scarcely noted.
Where can one go to learn what is really happening in Iraq? Michael Yon is a former Green Beret. He has been reporting from Iraq’s battlefields, mostly for his own blog (www.michaelyon-online.com). No journalist has revealed more about al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), including its “reputation for hiding bombs intended to kill parents in the corpses of dead children they'd gutted.”
He has photographed Iraqi and American soldiers as they “disinterred the remains of adults and children” from killing fields. “In one grave,” he noted, “soldiers recovered the heads of decapitated children, some with still partially recognizable remnants of flesh and hair.”
Why have the elite media not covered such atrocities — while spilling barrels of ink over the abuses at Abu Ghraib? In part, perhaps, because the conventional storyline is that Iraq is Vietnam redux: Americans are the “occupiers” and anyone who fights them must be “the Resistance.” Reporters who dispute that narrative are apt to dine alone.
As to why lower military casualty rates and fewer insurgent attacks are not seen as newsworthy, CNN’s Barbara Starr told media critic Howard Kurtz that it was not yet clear that such developments represent “a trend.” But the lines on the graph have been heading south since at least June. Is there any doubt that if U.S. forces had been losing ground for five months it would be a huge story?
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