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News from Iraq

Mike Sullivan has sent me several stories about the success of the US operation in Iraq. Here is an excerpt from one in the Wall Street Journal (7/23/03) titled "Quagmire?" by F.J. Bing West: "In the doldrums of summer, a gun battle that erased the sons of Saddam has perked up the news. Uday and Qusay were the pillars of Saddam's brutal regime, and perhaps the most feared of all its members. This intelligence and military success will surely infuse some balance into the saturnine reporting from Baghdad. The raid that led to their richly merited deaths demonstrated the unremitting pressure that is squeezing the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime. So will the naysayers at last concede that we are doing something-anything-right?

The news brought celebrations in the streets of Baghdad, previously peopled, we've been told, only by surly Iraqis who hate our presence there. The market immediately reacted by dropping the price of oil. Yet it is hard for a reader to determine the trends in Iraq when most headlines focus solely on American casualties. Because shipwrecks make news, headlines about sinking ships are not a reliable measure of maritime safety. Late last March, the press rushed so quickly from one side of its own Good Ship Integrity to the other that it almost capsized".

Mr. West, a former assistant secretary of defense, is the co-author of The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division," due out from Bantam Books in September.

RH: No news is good news. Therefore news is bad news. It is not really the reporters who are to blame. It is the public, which has a biological need for bad news, since it warns him of danger. Be that as it may, reporting from Iraq has been excessively negative. John Leo has an article on the subject in U.S. News & World Report (7/28/03-8/4/03) titled "A case of stacking the deck". It asks: "Are things in Iraq as baad as the media say,or are reporters pushing their own agenda?" Note: When you forward an article, please if possible give the url. People do not read more thn a screen or two unless they have a special interest in the subject, so we give the url for those who want the complete text.

Ronald Hilton - 8/2/03