Fighting the Iraqi Civil War
(or so say Matt, Meredith, and NBC News)
By Mark Kilmer Posted in Foreign Affairs — Comments (45) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Friends, Iraq is now in a state of Civil War. It's official.
On Sunday, CBS News's flighty Lara Logan told Centcom chief General John Abizaid on their 60 Minutes infotainment program that he should be "talking about how to manage defeat in Iraq." (HT, Michael Rule at NewsBusters.org.) That's the buzz, and what we have evidently lost is, by journalistic decree, a CIVIL WAR.
Proof that Iraq is now a civil war comes from no less as source than the NBC morning entertainment program Today Show, the Matt 'n Meredith vehicle. Again, NewsBusters has the transcript.
Matt Lauer, who many would sooner see interviewing the dancers from Little Shop of Horrors, has spoken:
"As you know for months now the White House has rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war and for the most part news organizations like NBC have hesitated to characterize it as such but after careful consideration NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted. That the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas can now be characterized as civil war. We're gonna have more on the situation on the ground in Iraq and on our decision coming up."
Wow! A bunch of giggling journalists have put on their serious caps and decided: "I'm serious, yes, and I think that this is a civil war. I'm profound. Okay, hands up, who wants to be the North? I'm not going to be the South! No fair! You got to be the North last time! I never get to win this civil war game!"
Geoffrey Dickens at NewsBusters quotes NBC newsreader Ann Curry.
They will discuss what NBC News has decided to now call a civil war in Iraq.
On Wednesday he goes to Jordan to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to talk about what NBC News is now calling a civil war in Iraq."
As the transcript shows, Matt talked to retired General Barry McCaffrey, and they both agreed that Iraq was now a civil war. Oddly enough, they agreed with the White House that the problem was limited mainly to Baghdad, but McCaffrey pointed out that the capital contained a quarter of the population.
So by McCaffrey's admission, this is a national civil war in Iraq involving up to 25-percent of the population residing in one city. I guess the NBC kids can term this an "Unconventional Civil War," as I'd never before heard of such a thing. A small fraction of the population in a single city are killing each other and we have a Civil War? That does not do it for me. Sorry.
The New York Times runs a piece declaring that "scholars" think it is a civil war.
The common scholarly definition has two main criteria. The first says that the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy. The second says that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side.
American professors who specialize in the study of civil wars say that most of their number are in agreement that Iraq’s conflict is a civil war.
The writer later adds that a civil war must include a sovereign government. He does not mention that involves only a fragment of the population mostly in a single city, or that the editors of the Times have not yet put on their serious journalism caps and decided that they were profound and that this is a civil war.
Maybe it is not official until the Old Gray Lady says it is. And does anyone know what that MSNBC sportscaster is spouting on this matter?
Without assigning motives, being the first major news organization to decide that they, by golly, want to start calling it a civil war has to help ratings and personal feelings of journalistic importance. Wind sweeps through their collective hair as they declare WHAT WE ARE NOW CALLING A CIVIL WAR! News makes news.
As the Times admits in the analysis piece above, calling the war in Iraq a Civil War is bound to reduce support for the mission amongst the American public.
"Our troops are involved in a Civil War!" the dirtbag protestor will spit, with one of his fellows adding helpfully: "For oil!" The public will demand that we get out of Iraq, the hope is, and the journalists will be Bob Woodward all over again, "truth to power." Up go the ratings.
I wish these small-minded people would realize that our soldiers are not fighting in a word game, sacrificing for a group of nouns. This war is about big ideas and we cannot let it be trivialized by little people.
They are not fighting the TV news ratings war, either, or for a slap on the back from an old journalism professor.