Saturday, September 18

Think Again: Meanwhile, in the Real World... - Center for American Progress

by Eric Alterman with Paul McLeary
September 16, 2004

Clio, the muse of history, enjoys mocking both our passions and pretensions. But the amazingly trivial pursuits of our modern-day political media make this practice far easier than it need be. The issue of "character," while hardly irrelevant to political leadership, has managed to crowd out virtually all discussion of issues in the U.S. political system.

The cruel irony of dynamic reveals itself in the fact that while most of the mainstream media cannot manage to distinguish between the kinds of moral choices that would lead one young man to sit out a war he supported thirty years ago while another risked his life to fight it, and then returned home to help save his fellow soldiers languishing in a hellish jungle war that could not be won, 130,000 young Americans are rapidly falling into a similar situation. With an increasingly chaotic, unpopular occupation in Iraq heading toward outright guerrilla warfare, and fewer than six weeks until a presidential election, a quick glance at the headlines would seem to suggest that the media considers '70s-era typewriter fonts, pay stubs and whether or not medals (or ribbons) were tossed over a fence to be the pressing issues of the day. Like a recurring nightmare, American soldiers are once again "dying for a mistake," and they are doing so at a rate that has actually increased since the June 28 handover of power, though one would never guess as much from the relative dearth of press coverage.

Examine last Tuesday's grim milestone. Sept. 7, 2004, saw not only the 1,000th American serviceperson killed in Iraq, but also, according to Thomas F. Schaller, marked "the official inflection date marking an identical period both before Saddam Hussein was captured and after he was captured." Its significance? In the first 269 days from the war's start on March 19, 2003, to Hussein's capture on Dec. 13, 2003, there were 459 American fatalities, which equal a rate of 1.71 a day. In the 269 days since that day, however, 539 Americans died, which averages out to a rate of 2 a day. In another telling statistic, the daily casualty rate for 2004 stands at 18 a day, more than twice what it was in 2003 (when it was 8.4 a day). The Pentagon reports the number of U.S. wounded at approximately 7,000. But during the two months since the handover, these numbers have risen by 1,500. The numbers reflect an explosion in the level of violence in Iraq, with attacks on American troops and their Iraqi allies averaging 87 per day. But if you listen to the conservative spin, major combat operations continue to be over, despite some "miscalculations," and we've turned the corner in Iraq.

As the media effectively ignore these alarming casualty rates, many misconceptions fostered by the war's architects remain uncorrected.

Get the rest here: Think Again: Meanwhile, in the Real World... - Center for American Progress


Post a Comment

<< Home