Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 9, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE VIEW FROM BAGHDAD....The New York Times reports today on an internal staff report about how things are going in Iraq, and I figured I'd flip right to the page about Baghdad Province. The official prognosis is on the right.

So let's see. The local government is increasingly under the control of an Iranian-backed theocratic party with a famously independent and vengeful private militia. Assassinations are frequent and criminal activity is common. Unemployment is high and infrastructure is weak. The overall situation is "serious."

That's the official government view, anyway. But I don't get it. If things are going that well, why does the media continually focus only on the bad news?

Kevin Drum 1:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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I don't get it. If things are going that well, why does the media continually focus only on the bad news?

I think you've made your point (again and again).

And I think Bush's approval ratings also make the same point.

The question is:

Will the moonbats wake to the point?

The answer is:

No. You can't argue with true believers. And that's what you are dealing with here: The 18% of the population that thinks Cheney is a saint. There is really only one way to convince that population segment Iraq is lost: Send them to an Iraq to fight. And since that is not going to happen, they are going to continue to howl at the moon.

Seems to me... this is the exact same thing that happened with Vietnam.

Posted by: koreyel on April 9, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why do the internal staff hate America?

Posted by: Pat on April 9, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

If things are going that well, why does the media continually focus only on the bad news?

Because the liberal media is rooting for failure in Iraq. Moderate Democrat Joe Lieberman who, unlike you, has actually BEEN IN IRAQ reports a different story.

Link

"I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn."

Posted by: Al on April 9, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK.

First, this report is outdated. There have been many positive developments since January.

However, even back then, this report affirms that the overall situation is pretty good. There's four colors that correspond to four states: Stable (Green), Moderate (Yellow), Serious (Orange), Critical (Red).

THere are: Three greens
Eight yellows
Five oranges
One red (On the border of Iran; hardly a surprise).

In other words, over two thirds of the country is either in stable or moderate shape...... and that's without taking into account the past few months of improvement. Hell, it's like getting 3 As, 8 Bs, 5 Cs, and a D in college; it's not dean's list material, but it's not bad either. Compared to the alternative, an overall good picture with a vastly improving future is obviously good.

The report provides more evidence that the decision to invade Iraq was unambigiously the right thing to do, not that we needed it.

Posted by: Al on April 9, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh. 2:03 Al isn't me, even though he raises a good point. I provided objective data, which is much stronger. However, the eyewitness account of a Democrat Senator also proves my point.

Posted by: Al on April 9, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

This article was used by the speaker of the house (Boehner?) this morning on This Week to forward the current right-wing talking point about Iraq: that "much of the country is stable" (10 of 18 provinces) and the media just isn't reporting the good stuff. It may be a truism among liberals, but this argument strikes me as dishonest for a reason that has nothing to do with how the media is reporting on Iraq. I can't quote metrics, but I would guess that in the history of all insurgencies, or even full-scale wars, the violence and instability are focused on key power centers of the country in question, and there have rarely if ever been conflicts where violence and conflict blanketed every square mile of a country or even 50% of it. There's no need to inflict violence where there is no significant political objective to be gained. Just a thought.

Posted by: Paul on April 9, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Joe Lieberman: "Republican talking points! Republican talking points!"

Seriously, his (and Al's) main point seems to be that large areas of the country are not violently explosive right now. I'm sure that Vermont and East Texas were pretty pastoral for the duration of the american civil war too.

Also, I'm pretty sure that "the boy in the bubble" is an excellent description of any major politician that visits Iraq, much less President Bush's favorite democrat.

Posted by: D. Monteith on April 9, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the 10 stable provinces are primarily sand.

Posted by: Tim on April 9, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum >"...why does the media continually focus only on the bad news?"

Depends on what the meaning of "bad" is

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." - Ansel Adams

Posted by: daCascadian on April 9, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK.

Speaking of outdated, folks, Al is linking to the 2005 "I can things are great in Iraq because there are millions of cell phones" editorial by Joementum.

LOL, Al.

Posted by: Nash on April 9, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it's going to have to get to the point where American soldiers are hunkered down in bomb-proof shelters due to the continuous mortar attacks, and the streets literally run with rivers of blood, before the true believers even begin considering thinking about the possibility that Iraq is in bad shape.

I can't wait to see what happens when we forcibly remove al-Jafari from office.

Posted by: Derelict on April 9, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

What has happened since January. Hmmmm.

The bombing of the Sammarra Shrine, for one, and we know how well that went over, and how well the longer term response to the bombing has gone.

Oh, and let's not forget the recent bomb in Baghdad. Something like, what, 85 people dead? We have a beautiful and moving memorial here in OKC for not too many more than that number.

OKC was a national tragedy, but in Iraq, hey, it's no big deal.

At least if you're pro-war.

Jake

Posted by: Jake - but not the one on April 9, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ooooooh - stoplight metaphors.

The consultants are in control. I can relax.

Posted by: pebird on April 9, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

During the key parts of the French and Russian revolutions, action took place almost wholly in Paris and Petrograd, respectively.

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris on April 9, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

If Clinton hadn't gotten a blowjob, these Iraqis wouldn't hate us so much, and wouldn't be blowing things up.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 9, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the 10 stable provinces are primarily sand.

Stop making sense.

Posted by: gq on April 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

osama_been_forgotten >"If Clinton hadn't gotten a blowjob..."

Quick, more blow jobs for Iraq !

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends." - Gandalf the Grey

Posted by: daCascadian on April 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

If Violence in Baghdad isn't important because vast areas of empty desert of Western Iraq are peaceful - then why is it that our invasion focused primarily on taking Baghdad?

Either controlling Baghdad is important, or it isn't.

By the way, did we ever depose the guy who gunned his way into the mayor's office and declared himself mayor?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 9, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin,

Prove to me that Iraq is a hopeless civil war. Just prove it. Show me where the bombing of ft sumter equivalent was.

Until you can do that, suck it!

Posted by: egbert on April 9, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, over two thirds of the country is either in stable or moderate shape

Yes, and those two thirds are relatively unpopulated.

Man, at least during Viet Nam, we controlled Saigon for much of the war. We *still* don't control Baghdad, 3 years after!

Can't even open the fucking airport!

EVERY official visit has to be shrouded in secrecy.

Reporters who earlier would go anywhere they pleased in Iraq are cautioned not to leave the confines of the Green Zone.

But everything over there is hunky-dory, you know. At least in the unpopulated desert regions. In the urban areas, not so much.

Posted by: a fundie's fundamentalist on April 9, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK


On a positive note, things look pretty stable in the Kurdish region. Oh, wait, they were even more stable before we invaded. Of course, that's something that can be said for the entire country. Had a larger population back then too.

Oh, and, Egbert? It's not Kevin's job to prove anything to you. You want proof? Why don't you take the wife and kids on a little vacation there this summer. Rent a car, shop around town and see the sights. Take lots of pictures; I'm sure Kevin will be happy to post them. But no fair stopping off in Turkey on your way back, okay? Have fun!


Posted by: jayarbee on April 9, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Prove to me that Iraq is a hopeless civil war. Just prove it. Show me where the bombing of ft sumter equivalent was."

Silliest post of this thread.

Posted by: Joel on April 9, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

egbert has hit the parody stage. Everyone, let's give him a rousing round of applause!

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on April 9, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Joementum, now there is a informed source. I bet he did not get to the Green Zone by road, did not leave the Green Zone in a taxi for a tour of downtown Baghdad or even did a low pass in a helo.
In 1967 I walked around downtown Siagon, even after midnight unmolested. Were things going our way? Were things in Viet Nam just peachy keen? Just because a bullshitting politician gets a tour in Iraq, with minders, does not mean things are just peachy keen.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on April 9, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

First off, Fake Al, Al Anbar borders Jordan, not Iran. 2nd, a visual glance at the data shows half the population living in areas that have serious to critical (one) security problems. The provinces that don't have have serious security problems are predominantly Kurdish or Shiite. So, the areas with serious security problems are the areas with sectarian differences. This was also true in the former Yugoslavia (ethnic differences) and Vietnam (political differenes). As Jeffrey Harris pointed out with another example, there were areas in South Vietnam that didn't have serious "security problems," because it was under the control of the South Vietnamese and US forces. Knowing all this, we need to recognize that this could potentially spiral into something really bad. Just like how the administration went into Iraq with the rosiest of scenarios, and were caught flat-footed when things turned for the worse, we need to be utterly prepared for the case if all-out civil war breaks out in Iraq. There's a difference in being pessimistic versus being realistic. We buy car and life insurance because we're realistic. Of course, at least that's how a responsible administration should act.

Posted by: Andy on April 9, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I find fascinating the kinds of cognitive reasoning errors that conservatives make:

Liberals say Iraq is a Civil War.
The US Civil War was a Civil war.
Iraq is not like the US Civil War.
Therefore, Iraq is not a civil war.

And, of course, it follows--as surely as night follows the day--that since Iraq is NOT a civil war and Evil Saddam is no longer in power, then everything must be improving there.

But the media report that things are not improving there. Then something must be wrong with the media since Iraq is not a civil war and evil Saddam is no longer in power.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 9, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

As an exercise in trivia... on a 4-point scale, 1=red...4=green:

  • The population-weighted score is 2.49
  • The area-weighted score is 2.19
By score:
  1. 4.9% population; 31.9% area
  2. 52.8% population; 25.6% area
  3. 30.1% population; 33.7% area
  4. 12.1% population; 8.8% area
(Population and area data from here).

Posted by: has407 on April 9, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to mention that Congressman Howard Kaloogian has also visited Baghdad recently, with photos to provide that it's 'calm' and 'stable' there. Western democracy has taken such hold that women can now walk the streets uncovered and in Western clothing, hands in hand with members of the opposite sex, and they've now replaced Arabic lettering with Roman script, and it all looks very much like a peaceful subarb of Istanbul.

Posted by: Al on April 9, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

has407 >"As an exercise in trivia..."

Well, it IS Trivia 37 Weekend - "World`s largest trivia contest"

(in Stevens Point Wisconsin - nope, I`m not there but I do listen to the stream...)

"In the future, we will all drive standing up. In the future, love will be taught on television and by listening to pop songs." - Talking Heads

Posted by: daCascadian on April 9, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

During the key parts of the French and Russian revolutions, action took place almost wholly in Paris and Petrograd, respectively.

Right on. Last week, Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra was forced to resign. He had just won an election by an overwhelming margin, but Bangkok was against him. (So was the Muslim South, but that played a more complex role in his downfall.) Anyway, a little stoplight scale like this would have shown about 95% of the country being quiet, with a little orange/red area around Bangkok.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't that 4th trip by Lieberman be the same one in which the reporters with whom he had lunch wondered what country he thought he was in because it sure wasn't the one they were in?

Posted by: Brian Boru on April 10, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

I noticed when Saddam was in power the media just concentrated on the bad things going on in Iraq, and nothing about the good.

Posted by: Myron on April 10, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is a rorschact test type document. You can see good and bad, and your bias takes over in terms of an overall assessment.

Kevin's smart aleck comment about the media is silly. The media focuses on bad news, partially because that is what the media does and partially because of an anti-Bush bias. This study actually confirms there is plenty of good news to report, as well as plenty of bad news. The media obviously focuses on the bad news and should provide more of the good news.

Posted by: brian on April 10, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

brian -- Well, if you look at the numbers, you'll see that, using a GPA metaphor, we have a student who's not doing well.

So you suggest that maybe we should focus on the fact that this student "has a good heart and "has a lot of potential" instead of the fact that "this student lacks discipline, has a lot of latent aggression, and picks fights at every oppportunity"?

Careful, or you'll start sounding like one of those touchy-feely liberals.

Posted by: has407 on April 10, 2006 at 3:33 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.2007pokerfinals.com/Online-poker.html

Posted by: yhy on April 10, 2006 at 6:35 AM | PERMALINK

If the media is focussed on bad news, they're not doing very well http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2006/4/9/85222/23557

Posted by: opit on April 10, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Even if you read the details of the all-yellow provinces, they don't sound great at all.

Posted by: Red on April 10, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

here
here
here
here
here
here
here
here
here
here

Posted by: dfsfdsf on April 11, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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