Patterico's Pontifications


The New York Times Exhales

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 4:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ

The New York Times editors have been holding their collective breath for years as they predicted the worst for Iraq and its citizens. Iraqis have seen the worst of war but now even the New York Times admits this may be the beginning of the end:

“Five months ago, Suhaila al-Aasan lived in an oxygen tank factory with her husband and two sons, convinced that they would never go back to their apartment in Dora, a middle-class neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

Today she is home again, cooking by a sunlit window, sleeping beneath her favorite wedding picture. And yet, she and her family are remarkably alone. The half-dozen other apartments in her building echo with emptiness and, on most days, Iraqi soldiers are the only neighbors she sees. “I feel happy,” she said, standing in her bedroom, between a flowered bedspread and a bullet hole in the wall. “But my happiness is not complete. We need more people to come back. We need more people to feel safe.”

Mrs. Aasan, 45, a Shiite librarian with an easy laugh, is living at the far end of Baghdad’s tentative recovery. She is one of many Iraqis who in recent weeks have begun to test where they can go and what they can do when fear no longer controls their every move.

The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.”

The authors describe Iraqis as “uncertain about the future but defiantly optimistic.” For their sake, I hope this attitude takes hold and lasts within all Iraqis.

For America’s sake, I hope the New York Times’ change in attitude lasts, too.

Update: The Weekly Standard notices the far-left’s response to this article.


15 Responses to “The New York Times Exhales”

  1. Hope springs eternal.

    But is optimism about the long-term prospects of a stable Iraq have a solid foundation?

    The oriental mind has been unfathomable to the West for a hundred generations.

    T.E. Lawrence was optimistic about Arab Governance, but his dream of unifying Arab interests into a Coalition of Tribal Chiefs was a reach for the mindset of the Bedouin.

    Little has changed since 1917.

    Semanticleo (edcd09)

  2. And there is another example right there.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. For America’s sake, I hope the New York Times’ change in attitude lasts, too.

    For “America’s sake?” How melodramatic.

    CNN’s Michael Ware offers approximately the same assessment, and he was on the Right’s chopping block for weeks.

    Blogs insinuate entirely too much malice, deceit and circumvention in MSM Iraq coverage. Errors in judgment and fact haven’t occurred. Yet, most days, I’ll continue to take John Burns’ assessments over Michele Malkin’s.

    steve (fbf00d)

  4. I can be a lot more melodramatic than that, Steve. I could have said: “For the sake of democracy,” “For the sake of our children and grandchildren,” or even “For the sake of the world as we know it” but I didn’t. Instead, I said “For America’s sake” because having a free and responsible press is very important to the future of America. Don’t you agree?

    DRJ (973069)

  5. Oh, I so agree.

    And how about the points that followed?

    steve (fbf00d)

  6. I meant to say “errors in fact and judgment HAVE occurred.

    Too often.

    steve (fbf00d)

  7. Steve,

    My answer may please and displease you. I’m not a regular Malkin reader because it’s (as you say) too melodramatic. As for the MSM, I don’t know. I could accept if the reports were skewed one way or the other but virtually every major paper and TV organization skews toward the liberal position or against conservatives. Statistically, that’s not due to chance.

    DRJ (973069)

  8. John Kerry’s newspaper endorsement lead was 45-30, so I’m not sure how “virtually every major paper” skews toward the liberal position. In 2000, papers that endorsed Bush had a total circulation of 3,074,399. Gore-endorsing papers had a total circulation of 4,061,497.

    This war’s coverage is not a derivative of those die-hard, media-bias preoccupations. Iraq was destined to be controversial by virtue of the run-up’s hysteria on banned weapons, mobile labs and mushroom clouds. Ahmed Chalabi was dubbed the “George Washington of Iraq” by American neoconservatives. Newspapers backing the war initially had to reconsider their positions to keep relevant.

    There have been notable excesses and somewhat belated coverage of reconstruction progress. But in the fullness of time, media malice will not be the Iraq valedictory.

    steve (a37dc2)

  9. Steve,

    Journalists overwhelmingly vote for liberals and some even admit the media slants news to the left. Studies document media bias.

    DRJ (973069)

  10. I wonder how many people, if told in ’03 that the war would cost 500 billion dollars and 4,000 american lives, would support invasion?

    I’d guess around 10% tops.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  11. Everything is not devisable in left-right, us-them terms – handy though they are.

    The media turns on a dime. Both New York tabloid papers ran the headline “Top Gun” alongside the carrier deck picture of Bush as he declared, “One thing is certain: terrorists will no longer have a source of weapons of mass destruction in the regime that used to be in Iraq.” The storyline went immediately south and the media herd with it. Nothing about who 175 deployed reporters voted for in 2000 would have re-ordered Iraq war coverage. It was a complete shithole for 2 years, and it’s better now.

    Bill Kristol, Sean Hannity, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd embroider for a living.

    steve (fbf00d)

  12. I believe that the NYT, and by extension the MSM, would rather eat pig excrement than crow!

    The Times might have printed a partially up-beat article, but they will never admit they were wrong.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  13. Much of the problem begins with colonial administration and the lack of it; starting
    in 1917. In Iraq, Gertrude Bell and Percy
    Cox despised the Shia clans like the Sadrs
    and the Al Hakims. They preferred the Al Ghailanis
    (the Sunni head of the religious guild or naquib
    and the Pachachis) Ironically, Rashid Ghailani, the first prime minister’s son, showed his gratitude by inviting Nazis and their Muslim collaborators like Arafat’s uncle Haj Amin Husseini and the father of the operational head of Black September to stage a coup in 1941. The Pachachis were a less toxic bunch. One only had
    Iraq stumble into the 1st Arab Israeli war; the other, lobbied for UN resolution 242 to salvage the defeat of the ’67 war. Three guesses who was the State Department’s preferred choice in 2003.
    Despite a GeorgeTown education and having lived in the UAE for nearly as long as Chalabi has been in exile. This provoked the predominantly Shia “thawra” or revolt of 1920. As a result they imported the moderate but ultimately rootless Hashemites; the former Guardians of the Shrines of Mecca and Medina that had lost the post war contests with the Saud clan and his Ilkwan helpers; backed by St. John Philby despite the fact that they did nothing to help the Brits against the Turks and the Germans. The Shia and to a lesser extent the Kurds were shut out of power; losing out on control of the oil concession in Kirkuk in 1927; the schools, the military, the civil service, et al. The Kurds adopted a left orientation; the Shia were the backbone of the Iraqi Communist Party and later Mohammed Sadr’s (the son of one of the few Shia prime ministers)Daawa movement. Baathism, an intellectual fusion of the worst of communism and fascism brought by europhile exiles Aflaq; simply took the Ghailani fascism to the next level, After
    Nuri Al Said; one of Lawrence’s former wingmen was
    murdered in ’58; it gradually became the leading
    political force with all the drawbacks that entails. This was not a coincidence; Khairallah Tufah, Saddam’s uncle and author of Jews, Flies and Kurds” was a militiaman in the Ghailani’s militia

    narciso (d671ab)

  14. The latest conventional wisdom on Iraq from the defeatists is that the Iraqis are just waiting for us to draw down to resume their civil war. So, of course… we should completely leave.

    This, of course, is completely different from what they said for the previous three and a half years, when they said we should leave because it would allegedly end the violence.

    It doesn’t matter what does or doesn’t happen in Iraq, there’s always a way for the defeatist to still claim defeat. It’s his job.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  15. I have this fantasy of OBL sitting in a cave somewhere saying, “if I’ve lost the New York Times, I really have lost the war.”

    Mark_0454 (748816)

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