WILL THE MEDIA DEFEAT THE U.S. IN IRAQ?
By Marilyn M. Brannan*
On March 21, 2006, British Prime Minister Tony Blair referred to the continuing violent bloodshed in Iraq and noted, “This is not a clash between civilizations. It is a clash about civilization.”
Blair called for a global interventionist approach to confront terrorism head-on and win the battle of values and ideas. He emphasized that the radical Islamists’ campaign of terror is not a battle against a monolithic “West.” The West, he stated, is as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. It is made up of “those who believe in religious tolerance, open-ness to others, to democracy, liberty and human rights administered by secular courts.”
The antithesis to what Blair was defending, of course, is barbarism: the belief that differences can be settled by unrelenting violence, horrific bloodshed, indiscriminate murder of the innocent, and utter disregard for human rights and liberties.
What Will Be Our Choice?
In this age of advanced technology, we no longer have the luxury of comfortable isolation from those who plan our destruction. All nations must now make a choice between two worldviews. It is a false choice, of course, because a people that is truly free will never choose bondage, which is the unavoidable outcome of barbarism come to power. Unfortunately, however, the relentless spin by leftists and mainstream media in the U.S. implies that we can abandon the fight, retreat into our “civilization,” and allow barbarism to flourish “elsewhere.” The flaw in that reasoning (if we can call it reasoning) is to assume we can do so with impunity.
The sad fact is, media spin?not facts?may ultimately be the deciding factor in what Americans conclude is our best course of action. Such a “victory by media” was the subject of a recent article by Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Opinion Journal (Mar. 24, 2006). He wrote:
“The tendentious editorial decision to paint the high-traffic front pages red with blood and demote the hard slog of political progress in Iraq to the unread inside [of the paper] has an effect. Any normal person would be depressed by constant face-time with stories of barbaric slaughter. If what amounts to a kind of contemporary brainwashing of both the American public and Washington elites causes them to falter and Iraq to ‘fail,’ no future president of either party is again likely to deploy U.S. military resources in any sustained, significant way. You can’t imagine what ‘lose’ will mean then.”
Henninger concedes that the public’s pessimism at this point is understandable. Less defensible, he says, is the mind-numbing barrage of negativism coming from Washington’s exit-seeking elites?the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” crowd.
Frederick W. Kagan, a military specialist with the American Enterprise Institute (and hardly a flack for the White House), takes a realistic view. He states pointedly in “Myths of the Current War” that “It does not matter now why we went into Iraq?only what will happen if we do not succeed there.”
Aid workers who had been in terrorist captivity in Baghdad for four months got a worldwide forum for their organization’s anti-U.S. message after they were freed recently by British and American troops. A press statement from the group, which calls itself the Christian Peacemakers, is a micro-picture that reflects the perception many seem to have regarding U.S. efforts to free the Iraqi people and help them establish a stable form of self-government. The three aid workers virtually “bit the hand” that freed them, laying the blame for their captivity on the multinational forces that have, at great cost, battled to free the Iraqi people. Their statement, which was given worldwide attention, called for the “illegal occupation” to end, utterly ignoring the centuries-old turmoil in that region that has allowed dictators such as Saddam Hussein to gain control and subject his own people to vicious oppression and unspeakable atrocities.
In the lengthy press statement on March 23, 2006, one member of that organization expressed joy that their members had been “safely released.” The fact is, they were not “released,” but freed by American and British troops who stormed a house in western Baghdad to rescue the two Canadians and a Briton.
After protracted expressions of joy and relief, during which the organization failed to express any gratitude whatever to the troops who freed them from captivity, there was the following statement:
“We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end….We pray that Christians throughout the world will…call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq. We renew our commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq… (Excerpts from “Statement By the Loney Family,” Published at Pulse24.com, Toronto, Canada)
Those with a vested interest in seeing that Iraq does not become a strong, self-governing nation are pulling out all the stops to convince Americans that the only solution is for the multinational forces to pull out their troops and let the situation there roil and ferment to whatever conclusion it ultimately takes. They are willfully blind to the ramifications of such a course for the U.S., which for several decades has been squarely in the crosshairs of the terrorists. They conveniently ignore the fact that numerous Islamist terror attacks on the U.S. and our interests occurred well before we undertook to depose Saddam Hussein from his horrific regime of slaughter and violence.
This writer listened recently to an interview on a local radio station with an Iraqi pharmacist, Zidan Rashad, who is visiting the U.S. to ask the American people to pull its troops from Iraq. She also appeared at a local high school, using the image of a child with amputated limbs lying in a hospital bed, followed by images of burning buildings and bleeding U.S. soldiers. Her message? This is what “U.S. occupation” has done to her country. (Presumably, Ms. Rashad has made other appearances and made other appeals in this same vein. Global Exchange, based in San Francisco, coordinated her trip to this country. Local sponsors for her visit included the Peace Coalition and local chapters of Amnesty International.)
“Shall we continue this war?” she asked. “And for what? For the benefit of who?” Iraqis are no longer under Saddam Hussein’s control, Ms. Rashad conceded, but she emphasized that Iraqi citizens are without clean water, electricity, and health care. If this is democracy, the Iraqis do not want it, she said.
It was clear from Ms. Rashad’s words that, although “most” Iraqis are glad Saddam is no longer in control, she believes conditions in Iraq were better before the multinational forces took him out. She repeatedly emphasized the bloodshed, the ruined cities, and the disruption to Iraqi citizens’ lives.
The radio interview was not open to questions from listeners. Had it been, I would have had a few questions for her: “Who is responsible for the ruined cities? For the bleeding American soldiers, for the maimed children? Is it “U.S. occupiers” who blow up Iraqi police with their IEDs? Are the suicide bombers who kill and maim innocent Iraqis wearing the uniform of the U.S. military? Who is it that has deliberately damaged infrastructure and sabotaged the oil industry and the electricity generating plants?
I would also have asked, “Who is it that is helping rebuild hospitals and schools? Who is training your police and security forces so that Iraq can at last become a self-governing nation?
And last?but not least?I would have asked Ms. Rashad about her political affiliation in Iraq. Was her family well connected and able to live comfortably under Saddam?while millions of her countrymen suffered and hundreds of thousands of them died at his vicious whim? Is this why she is more concerned with convenience and “stability” than with defeating the terrorists who are determined to push Iraq back into the Dark Ages?
Ms. Rashad’s parting gambit was to enjoin the high school students to “build the right bridge between you and me, between America and Iraq. It’s important for you to try again to correct this picture (writer’s emphasis). Don’t be afraid of the Iraqi people. Just leave them alone and pull out your troops, and everything will be OK.”
The recently translated tapes of Saddam Hussein and the content of Islamic sermons throughout the Middle East make clear that the terrorists intend to take their war into Britain and the United States, as they did on 9/11 and again in the train bombings in London and Madrid. “Conscientious objecting” and “peace marches” with regard to this war are foolhardy if we want to remain free. Our enemies believe we lack the stomach for this fight, and those approaches simply feed that belief and embolden them to continue their bloody battle for control.
Tony Blair made clear that pandering to terrorists will not convert them; it will only feed the growth of terrorism. Tony Blair “gets it.” So does President Bush. If Americans in sufficient numbers buy the mainstream media propaganda that continually undermines the President and the efforts of our military in Iraq, we will find, to our everlasting regret, that “leaving them alone” and pulling out our troops was a tragic mistake. President Bush, in a recent White House news conference, said, “The terrorists haven’t given up. They’re tough-minded. They like to kill.”
Would You Choose the Boot?
Michael Kelly, an extraordinarily talented American journalist, reflected on this matter in one of his last columns, filed from Kuwait City just a short time before he was killed in Iraq in April 2003. The following is an excerpt from that piece.
“Tyranny truly is a horror: an immense, endlessly bloody, endlessly painful, endlessly varied, endless crime against not humanity in the abstract but a lot of humans in the flesh. It is, as Orwell wrote, a jackboot forever stomping on a human face. I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications, of America as a liberator. But I do not understand why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuwaiti, or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?”
What will it be? Civilization?or barbarism? We Americans had better “get it,” and develop the tough-minded attitude it will take to win in this protracted battle. We really have no other choice.
*Brannan is Associate Editor for the Information Radio Network News. Permission to publish granted by Monetary & Economic Review, published at 375 E. Horsetooth Road, Ft. Collins, CO 80525. Phone 1-800-336-7000.
SULZBERGER MIMICS MICHAEL MOORE
In a bizarre college commencement speech on May 21, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. quoted Winston Churchill as saying, “never give in,” but urged the U.S. to raise the white flag in Iraq and suggested that George Bush be kicked out of office in the same way Richard Nixon was forced to resign. Sulzberger, who also serves as chairman of the Times company, defended the paper’s disclosure of national security information that makes it easier for the terrorists to target and kill Americans. And this from a publisher based in New York City, site of Ground Zero on 9/11.
While Sulzberger had no words of praise for the U.S. Armed Forces, he did express concern about losing “our reporters and photographers in war-torn areas such as Iraq?” He called Iraq “a misbegotten war in a foreign land.” So, apparently, he wants his personnel protected just so they can help undermine the war effort and force an American withdrawal.
The address, which sounded like something out of the mouth of left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, comes at a time when major investors are questioning Sulzberger’s ability to lead the company into the new media age. Those investors made headlines when they withheld their votes for a slate of Sulzberger-approved directors at the April 18 annual meeting.
The Gay-Rights Cause
In the speech, delivered to the State University of New York at New Palz, where he was honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters, Sulzberger argued that students should do the right thing when it comes to “small decisions,” such as picking up an overturned trash can or helping a stranded motorist.
But he said, in effect, that on big matters such as peace, freedom and security for our nation, the U.S. should throw in the towel. He suggested abandoning the war on terrorism and concentrating on more important things like adopting special rights for homosexuals and illegal aliens.
Tooting his own horn, Sulzberger also declared that “?it’s important that those of us at The New York Times have the courage of our own convictions and defend the rights of our journalists to protect their sources or, after much debate and discussion, publish the news that our government is bypassing its own legal systems to tap into phone calls made to and from the United States.”
He was referring to the Judith Miller case, in which a Times reporter served 85 days in jail rather than testify before a grand jury about a possible crime, and the Times story about a classified NSA program to monitor al-Qaeda communications here and abroad. Miller, however, became a pariah at the paper for using Bush officials as sources, and she was forced to resign in a deal that left her with a financial severance package that Sulzberger still won’t explain in any detail.
Sulzberger quoted Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, as if he were a credible source, and went on to declare his belief in the “butterfly effect,” which “holds that the smallest of actions?say, the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in the mountains of Bolivia?can lead over time to enormous consequences?say, a hurricane in Africa.”
But doesn’t that apply to the Times? His head in the clouds, he doesn’t seem to realize that the immediate consequence of the Times disclosing classified information is that the terrorists have a much easier time of plotting to kill us. But Sulzberger, at least in his speech, exhibited no concern at all about what the terrorists might do.
The speech was much worse than the initial reports indicated. When AIM editor Cliff Kincaid read on the blogs that Sulzberger had delivered a left-wing rant as a college commencement speech, he was skeptical. As someone who has had many exchanges with Sulzberger at Times annual meetings, where he tries to come across as reasonable and measured, Kincaid didn’t think he would have gone out on a limb like that. After Kincaid called the communications office of the Times company for comment on what the blogs were saying about Sulzberger, he didn’t get his call returned. We had no film of the speech or the transcript, only a local paper’s account of what he reportedly said.
Then, on May 27, C-SPAN came to the rescue with the actual film of Sulzberger’s speech. Sulzberger came across as a left-wing true believer who thinks the Times is on a mission to transform the domestic and foreign policies of the U.S. The paper’s immediate objective, he made clear, is to destroy the Bush Administration and force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq for failing to hew to the Times editorial line.
Leaving aside his typical banter about the cost of a college education and the challenges faced by parents, Sulzberger talked about the time when he graduated from college and compared it to today’s political atmosphere. He said:
“When I graduated from college in 1974, my fellow students and I had just ended the war in Vietnam and ousted President Nixon. Okay, that’s not quite true. Yes, the war did end and yes, Nixon did resign in disgrace?but maybe there were larger forces at play.
“Either way, we entered the real world committed to making it a better, safer, cleaner, more equal place. We were determined not to repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. We had seen the horrors and futility of war and smelled the stench of corruption in government.
“Our children, we vowed, would never know that.
“So, well, sorry. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
“You weren’t supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land.
“You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, be it the rights of immigrants to start a new life; the rights of gays to marry; or the rights of women to choose.
“You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where oil still drives policy and environmentalists have to relentlessly fight for every gain.
“You weren’t. But you are. And for that I’m sorry.”
This arrogant display demonstrated Sulzberger’s belief that he and his paper have somehow failed to prevent a Nixon-like disaster from currently occupying the oval office. Sulzberger simply ignored the heroism and sacrifice of U.S. military personnel trying to bring freedom and democracy and fundamental human rights to Iraq. His remarks sounded like something scribbled from the pen of William Blum, the left-wing writer favorably cited by Osama bin Laden in one of his tapes.
Sulzberger’s speech, of course, is consistent with the paper’s liberal editorial policy on issues like homosexuals, rights for illegal aliens, abortion, environmentalism, and the war. But it was something else for Sulzberger, the chairman and publisher of the paper, to say these things publicly and put them on the record.
If we are to believe Sulzberger, we will all be better off if the U.S. (1) withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan and leaves bin Laden alone; (2) legalizes homosexual marriages; (3) gives rights to illegal aliens; (4) keeps abortion legal under all circumstances; and (5) gives the environmentalists some more legislative victories, so that we are further restricted from exploiting our own sources of energy.
What You Can Do
Send the enclosed cards or cards and letters of your own choosing to Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation and Rep. Jane Harman of the House Intelligence Committee. Also, if you have not ordered our DVD on Al-Jazeera International, please do so.