The prevalent mode of mainstream US media commentary on the war in Iraq is griping, niggling and determinedly glass-half-empty. I picked this story pretty much at random, but it contains all the elements that characterise the US medias war.
'WHEN IS a surge not a surge? The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, issued a report yesterday calling for a "sustained surge of US troops to secure and protect critical areas of Baghdad."'
'Unfortunately, the proposal only provides a temporary bump in troops while jeopardizing the readiness of an American Army that is already stretched too thin.'
What is the concern of the author? That the surge in troops is only temporary, or that a real surge in troop numbers in Iraq will stretch the capacity of the US in other theatres? Does he really care either way? My guess is no. There is really just the desire to sound off in negative fashion about the Bush administration and the execution of the war in Iraq.
What concerns me is that very few of the articles I ever read on the mainstream News websites in the US try to understand the nature of what the US trying to achieve in Iraq, and any leeway for making mistakes in the execution thereof which are inevitable with such a massive undertaking. As numerous commentators have said before me, if the US military had been held to the ludicrous benchmarks that modern critics hold them to during WWII, Hitler would be Emperor of Europe right now. We all WANT a perfect war, conducted with no civilian casualties, and finished in two weeks by the application of precise force, but no reasonable individual expects that to happen. The best that can be hoped for is that given the practical problems of extracting peace and a workable political dispensation in Iraq, only a few thousand more Iraqis and Americans have to die, and that nobody pushes the situation into full-scale intra-community annihilation mode.
My guess is, a concerted effort against the Shia militias is about to happen. They are the main tool of Iran, and no possible political settlement can succeed before they are destroyed root and branch. I believe it is possible a surgical strike may be attempted to take out Ahmadinejad and his cronies also, perhaps combined with a strike on the most accessible parts of the Iranian nuclear program. Thats why 30,000 more US troops are necessary. Iran may respond by trying a conventional incursion into Iraq, and the ground troops would ensure that would fail.
I believe, as I'm sure many in the west do, that Iraq is still in a state of war because Saudi Arabia are sponsoring the Sunni militias and Iran is sponsoring the Shia ones. That situation must be negated if the heat is to be removed from Iraqs nasty little war. How President Bush chooses to change that formulation is a very interesting question for the next few months.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media in the US will continue to entertain itself with whingeing and sniping, oblivious to any larger purpose or duty. Thanks for not caring, guys.