Over the last few months, the world has witnessed a dramatic turn of events in Iraq. From the increasing stability in the Al-Anbar province to the continuing prosperity of Iraqi Kurdistan, things have indeed become a lot better than they were a year ago. Violence has dropped some sixty percent across the country, with an even bigger drop in Baghdad.
Yet you wouldn't know it if you turn on the news. The nightly news has remained silent throughout the turn of events, occasionally conceding that things have indeed gotten better. Over the last few days however, the old days of gloom and doom have found their way back onto the television screen. Yesterday, Iraqi police clashed with members of a messianic Shiite cult yesterday in the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyeh. The fighting was widely reported over the news wires, and the news anchors are yet again rambling on about the violence in Iraq they have been so obsessed with over the last few years. While the fighting in southern Iraq has been portrayed as a sign of hopelessness and instability, it should be noted that the vast majority of the seventy people who were killed were cult members. In the end, this could reinforce the notion that the Iraqis can maintain security by themselves.
Even FOX news, a channel many accuse of having a conservative agenda, has developed this deranged obsession over all things negative in Iraq. It's possible that the media just finds it to be more of a ratings boost if they report bad news instead of good news, and that could be why FOX has done such a horrible job with its Iraq coverage in recent days. It is much harder to suggest that with NBC though, an organization that has a tendency to favor stories that reflect badly on the Bush Administration.
Today, while the headlines were all about how "violence marrs Shiite Holiday", there was plenty of other news happening around the world. The chances are, though, that those stories won't be making it onto our television screens tonight. For example, scores of civilians died today when Tutsis rebels under the command of renegade general Laurent Nkunda battled it out with Hutu extremists in Eastern Congo. It could however, be much worse than reported, but no one really knows because that region is nothing more than some dark, forgotten jungle that fails to make it onto the radar of the media or anyone else really. While ripples of the Rwandan genocide continue to reciprocate across Eastern Congo and violence continues in Darfur and Somalia, the headlines seem to focus on the negatives happening in Iraq. Why? Well, the only conclusion I've been able to reach is that its because George Bush can't be blamed for any of those humanitarian tragedies. Donald Rumsfeld isn't planning the UN operations that have failed to help the people of Congo and Sudan, so by sending Richard Engal into North Kivu or Darfur, they would just be taking time away from telling the world about how "Bush lied and people died".
I'm not bringing this up to try and defend the Bush Administration, far from it in fact. George W. Bush hasn't done any more to raise awareness about the horrendous violations of human rights happening the world over than anyone in the media has. He certainly spent a lot more time talking about WMD's and terrorism than he did about the hundreds of thousands of people buried in mass graves when Saddam's regime fell back in 2003.
With that said, the most despicable aspect of this is that we have leaders in congress who are trying to sabotage the efforts to bring stability to Iraq solely for the purpose of undermining Bush. People like Jack Murtha and John Kerry portray our soldiers as nothing more than a bunch of rapists, and Harry Reid declares the war "lost" even while violence was falling at an unprecedented rate. It's hard to dispute that if Bill Clinton had gone to war in Iraq, the democrats would be defending the operation until the very end.
I don't know how to define it. Sad, pathetic, Shameful, and despicable all come to mind. While tyranny, genocide, and terrorism continue to threaten stability around the world, all our leaders can do is argue about getting out of Iraq to create a cute little "sequel" to Darfur or Somalia while the rest of us turn on the news every night to hear about how bad things are in country that has not lost hope like so many Americans have.