WHO IS THE BIGGER MURDERER: GEORGE W. BUSH OR OSAMA bin Laden? For the Associated Press, the scales are tipping in favor of our commander-in-chief.
The world’s most widely syndicated news service made the oblique, unflattering comparison yesterday in a story headlined “U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9/11 Count.” The AP reported with bated breath:
The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,974, one more than the number of deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to an Associated Press count on Tuesday. The U.S. military announced the deaths of two soldiers in a bomb explosion southwest of Baghdad on Monday.
The deaths raised the number of troops killed to 2,974 since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks claimed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
Trumpeting American deaths at every opportunity – a staple of enemy psychological warfare – is old hat for the leftist-dominated press. There were similar media orgies for the 2,000th casualty, the 1,000th casualty, even the 721st casualty. The media bemoaned a ban on portraying military caskets – which they quickly broke – and have taken to classifying each month as, e.g., “the fourth deadliest month of fighting.” None of these convinced the American people Operation Enduring Freedom was more harmful than 9/11.
Enter yesterday’s story.
The AP’s choice of comparisons is vitally misleading. The reporter collated servicemen killed in Iraq to civilians murdered on 9/11 – rather than, say, with the number of homicides in a comparable number of American cities (where there are neither Fedayeen nor organized death squads, except those canonized in leftist victimology as “troubled inner city youths”). By its nature, this comparison beckons the reader to embrace the Left’s conclusions. The implication is clear: Operation Enduring Freedom has been worse for America than the 9/11 hijackings.
There are more sinister deductions implicit in this juxtaposition. To wit, al-Qaeda deliberately targeted civilians. Since – as the media never tire of reminding us – Iraq was a “war of choice,” by extension President Bush is worse than Osama bin Laden.
From this, the Left’s talking points begin to flow. The hijackings were bin Laden’s jihad against America’s “little Eichmanns”; Iraq is President Bush’s war against those dusky-skinned disenfranchised who were poor and illiterate enough to get “stuck in Iraq.” Whether by intent or default, this comparison makes him equally guilty of murder as the world’s foremost terrorist.
It seems almost beside the point to note that the comparison is invalid, like concluding pickles cause cancer. It’s dishonest to compare civilian non-combatants killed at their jobsite with U.S. GIs, however tragically slain, who volunteered to be in harm’s way. A less blatant news shaper might have mentioned the time differential, as well. The data merely state that Islamic terrorists managed to kill nearly 3,000 civilians in one day on American soil and have taken four years to kill as many U.S. soldiers patrolling the streets of Iraq – where the jihadists are aided by remnants of the Ba’athist regime, radical Shi’ites, Iran, and other foreign elements.
The AP’s comparison also ignores the casualties inflicted upon the enemy during that time, up significantly from 19 terrorists on 9/11. It overlooks the fact that 2,974 American deaths occurred during a nearly four-year-long conflict in which our soldiers killed or detained thousands of jihadists, disrupted al-Qaeda’s chain of command, ousted a murderous dictator from power, prevented a scion from assuming his throne, and may have prevented a second 9/11 from ever occurring. (And a third. And a fourth….)
This is not incidental, nor is it “news” – that is, the reporting of facts. This is manipulation of the news’s context in an attempt to shape U.S. policy.
And it wasn’t the only example in newspapers yesterday.
Elsewhere, the Times lamented that “Hundreds Disappear Into the Black Hole of the Kurdish Prison System in Iraq.” Later, NYT reporter C.J. Chivers later acknowledged that, sure, “the population includes men who have attended terrorist or guerrilla training in Iraq or Afghanistan.” He added the detainees are evasive liars. In fact, the Times fessed up, such long-term terror detentions “reach back to before the American-led invasion, when northern Iraq was a Kurdish enclave out of Saddam Hussein’s control…[when] the Kurds in northeastern Iraq were fighting Ansar al-Islam.” (Emphasis added.) Ansar al-Islam is the al-Qaeda affiliate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which dubbed its training base “Little Tora Bora” after Osama bin Laden’s mountain fortress. In the Times’ telling, Ansar al-Islam is merely “a small insurgent and terrorist group that seized control of a slice of territory along the Iranian border in 2002.” Naturally, Human Rights Watch has dispatched a researcher to the scene.
The New York Times likewise discussed “Quagmire Fatigue,” citing 30-year-old presidential transcripts to urge the president to negotiate with America’s enemies. The NYT admits the U.S.-Soviet meeting during the Nixon administration did nothing to end the Vietnam Conflict. Instead, its “biggest achievement was a treaty banning an arms race in antiballistic missiles; it remained in force for nearly 30 years, until the United States withdrew from it in December 2001.” A) The ABM treaty hardly prevented an arms race, which the Times anathematized throughout the Reagan years; B) This was a none-too-veiled reference to President Bush’s “unilateralism,” namely his decision to withdraw from a treaty negotiated with a moribund government (“The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”) in order to protect America from nuclear blackmail.
Finally, the Times reported, “British Soldiers Storm Iraqi Jail, Citing Torture.” The Brits, our most reliable partner in the Coalition operating in Iraq, estimated 100 prisoners had been or would be beaten or executed at a Shi’ite-run detention facility (an afternoon’s work for Hussein). The Times recorded that the culprits were affiliated with Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, omitting that this is the group our commanders foolishly allowed to survive when we had it pinned down in Fallujah.
Emphasizing American reversals or the failures of those we have enabled is not reporting if the story takes place without reference to the system we replaced – and the one that would fill its vacuum should we leave precipitously. The prestige media’s massaged reporting amounts to little more than low-level psychological warfare against the president and his policy. Such sabotage underscores our every misstep and hardship. In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, today’s media coverage of our War on Terror “tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”