Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Headlines tell the illusion. 

The headlines in the New York Times yesterday tell the story of the media's complicit support of this war, and its support of the offensive against Falluja, specifically. Some of yesterday's headlines read like a diary of anything but reality: The headline "Raids in the Mosul Region Undermine Value of Victories" positively scream Orwellian doublthink.

First of all it assumes there was "value" in the "victory" in Falluja, and, it assumes there was a "victory" in Fallulja. Rational heads, even within the story, realize the "insurgents" moved on to different territories, and the only thing "won" was a largely empty, destroyed city. The headline begs this question: how can the value of a victory be undermined if it was never a victory to begin with? I suppose it all rests with how you define "victory". Contrary to Pentagon thinking heads, a victory does not mean a show of force. Drop all the bombs you want on Falluja, the insugency continues.

There is this quote from the story, from an Iraqi man in Mosul:

A professor who was visiting from the United Arab Emirates, Momen Khalaf Othman, said his brother-in-law had been killed in a clash at the start of the uprising, and his family saw gunmen wandering the cemetery as they buried the body.
"What you hear isn't at all like what you see with your own eyes," he said. "I saw three bodies on the ground that no one had buried, and I noticed that one of those bodies had been half-eaten by dogs."

Let me repeat his words: "What you hear isn't at all like what you see with your own eyes". He is reciting a universal truth, and an aside that serves as a condemnation of the media blackout of this war. What you hear from the American press isn't at all like what you would see if you were in Iraq.

Then there is this headline: A Goal is Met; What's Next? . Apparently, it was the goal to route the insurgents from Falluja, only, they've gone elsewhere, and within hours, launched massive counterattacks in Mosul. The article claims upwards of 1600 insurgents were killed in the Falluja offensive. Was that the goal? Kill as many as possible and hope for the best? There is this paragraph from the article, and I note there is not a hint of droll irony:

The offensive also shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Falluja General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties.
But American and Iraqi officials still face daunting tasks in the aftermath of retaking the city.
"Falluja clearly will require a lot of effort even after the final pocket of insurgents is eliminated in the city," one senior American general in Iraq said in an e-mail message on Sunday. "Lots of challenges - infrastructure, basic needs for returnees, security forces, and governance, not to mention elections. Assume the insurgents will continue to try to make life tough there as well."

Apparently, civilian casualty reports are propaganda weapons, and destroying a hospital, is akin to destroying a "propaganda weapon". Did the thought cross the mind of that reporter, Eric Schmitt, that it is within the definition of ethical journalist, to request, indeed, to demand a casualty report in Falluja as the right of Americans to know the full truth?