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Cal Thomas: Ignoring progress in Iraq

By Cal Thomas
There is a reason progress in Iraq is not receiving more attention. It isn’t that Americans are “bored” or “tired” or have “moved on” or “don’t care” or “have already made up their minds that the war was a colossal mistake.” All of these are variations on themes articulated by certain liberals, Bush-haters, Barack Obama supporters (but I repeat myself) inside and outside the big media.
The main reason progress in Iraq is not receiving more attention is that the progress is considerable and the big media are not paying attention because they don’t like the new storyline. They prefer “America defeated,” not “America victorious” because defeat increases the likelihood of a Democratic electoral blowout in the fall.
A headline in last Saturday’s New York Times tells you all you need to know about the reluctance of the mainstream media to report on progress in Iraq. With what sounds like information produced only after an editor was water-boarded, it reads, “Big Gains for Iraq Security, but Questions Linger.”
If this headline writer were reporting victory in World War II, it might have read, “America wins; German and Japanese Psyche Seriously Affected.” The 1969 moon landing might have read: “Man Lands on Moon; Will It Hurt the Lunar Environment?” Or, “Adam and Eve Marry; Gays Demand Similar Rights.”
The subhead on the Times story is “More Iraqi Troops ó New Sway for Maliki.”
Only falling gasoline prices might make the Times feel worse, or perhaps John McCain discovering the Fountain of Youth. “What’s going right?” begins the lead sentence, which quickly adds “And can it last?” This is typical Times nay-saying, which undercuts anything that might reflect positively on the Bush administration or McCain’s election prospects.
The story continues with these reluctantly offered positive gems: “Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities, Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. The third largest, Mosul, is in the midst of a major security operation. On Thursday, Iraqi forces swept unopposed through the southern city of Amara, which has been controlled by Shiite militias.” And then in a rebuke to all of those Democrats on Capitol Hill who have been saying, well, yes, the military has done a great job and violence is down, but there is no political settlement and so the Bush administration has failed, the story says, “There is a sense that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government has more political traction than any of its predecessors.”
That sounds to me like an important signpost on the road to ó dare anyone say it ó victory. Perhaps after the “Mission Accomplished” PR blunder and previous upsurges in violence, the Bush administration and McCain are hesitant to call attention to such progress. If they don’t make noise, how will the public, which has a short attention span and doesn’t like protracted conflict, know about it?
Another sign of progress was the announcement that the Iraqi government will award contracts to 41 foreign oil firms in an effort to increase production. It’s the first time foreign energy companies have been allowed in Iraq since Saddam Hussein expelled them 36 years ago.
Only those invested in defeat will deny these significant and meaningful indicators of progress.
Because there will be no documents of surrender in the Iraq war or in the greater war on terrorism, it will be difficult to declare it over and freedom the winner. But as The New York Times story and the oil deal demonstrate, considerable progress is being made and the naysayers are being proved wrong.
Who is going to tell that story if most of the big media won’t? Since journalists never acknowledge errors of judgment or wrong predictions and are never held accountable when they err, that job must fall to John McCain.
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Contact Cal Thomas in care of: Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Send e-mail to tmseditors@tribune.com.

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