Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Not quite anarchy, not quite a Vietnam

I want to make two points about the events in Iraq over the last two weeks or so. The first has to do with the elite media coverage of the events. I have turned a corner on my view of the media. I have thought for decades that they are biased; knowing this is not rocket science. But I have discovered--especially watching television duirng the Easter weekend--that they are actually stupid, ignorant, and likely malicious. "This is the time that the unjust man doth thrive," as the Poet said. Vietnam, quagmire, and defeat were not only everywhere in the air, but these possibilities were revelled in by the talking heads of the establishment media. If all you knew or understood was what you heard from them, you would have gotten the impression that Iraq was dissolving into anarchy. This was not true, and even I knew it at the time. You didn’t have to know much to figure it all out. But the mnedia missed it all, in their rush to assert that the whole war was wrong, and ill conceived. This leads to my second point.

The military-political developments in Iraq over the Easter were dangerous. This al Sadr character, the radical Shiite, attempted a coup, at best, at worst he merely wanted to cause as much mischief as he could. He hooked up with verious Saddam left-overs and some foreign terrorists (financed by some Iranians) and made his move. He had no choice. It was now or never. He already knew that he had been de-authorized even by Shiites, and would have no role in the new government; as he shouldn’t, he’s a killer. He knew we would arrest or kill him. What was worth watching in all this is not only our military’s actions in Fallujah, which, by the way, as far as I can tell, was brilliantly handled. One of the great unreported stories out of Iraq is the extraordinary competence--indeed, the heretofore unexampled competence--of our military. These guys are smart, they are well trained, they are brave, they shoot straight, they are great diplomats, and they are utterly American (decent) in even the way they conduct war. They are the greatest soldiers of the world. May the god of battles continue to steel our soldiers’ hearts. I love these guys! The other thing to keep on eye on is the way the moderate Shiites were handling the al Sadr instigated violence: They opposed it. The way CNN was reporting things I was worried that the pilgrims (over a million) coming into the Southern holy cities would riot and even take up arms. Nothing happened. (And then, of course, CNN didn’t talk about why nothing happened. As far as I’m concerned this was a moral crime by the media. Their obligation is to report, and they didn’t.) That nothing happened was due, in large measure, to the Grand Ayatollah Sistani. He was not going to repeat the Shiite mistakes of 1920 when they revolted agains the Brits, lost, and the country became Sunni property. Sistani wants Shiites to participate in a moderate and democratic Iraqi government, anbd they are the majority. Yes, this was a clarifying moment, but, in the end a positive development. This is not to say that there will be no more killing, no more rocket attacks, no more American lives lost. Yet, it does mean that political process is going in the right direction and President Bush is right is saying so. There will be a turnover of the government to Iraqi hands, it will be on time, and it will be successful. Will this mean that Iraq will turn into another fully democratic constitutional order overnight? Of course not. But it will mean that it will become moderate, something along the lines of Jordan. Not bad. And this will have massive consequences for the region and for our well-being. And future historians will heap praise upon this administration for its noble effort, even though CNN and the others can’t find anything good to say. But, then, as far as I’m concerned the elite media is history. Do continue to payt attention to the reports of our man Robert Alt, who has been in Iraq for over a month now, and whose insights I much value.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Short of a revolution in the goals and personnel of the major media, nothing will change in their performance. They report what their half-baked political judgment leads them to see and hear, as they are not neutral observers and never can be. They are political animals, but unfortunately without the judgment that the study of political philosophy and statesmanship, not to mention the practice of the political arts themselves, make possible, they can do practically nothing but mislead. We who are schooled and (as time goes by) practiced in these things must become the journalists, as well as the teachers of the next generation of journalists. To borrow a line from Walter Lippmann, "Change will come only by the drastic competition of those who interests [for us, principles] are not represented in the existing news organization." To this end, I humbly offer my work, Taking Journalism Seriously: "Objectivity" as a Partisan Cause, as one useful place to start.

whose(not who) interests--augh!

Well stated Mr. Schramm. Since Mr. Alt began reporting from Iraq, he has, for the most part, become my sole source of information on the Iraqi situation. Three cheers for the both of you!

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