Selective Praise, Selective Outrage

The front page of today’s New York Times carries a photograph of an American soldier smoking a cigarette. A caption beneath the photo reads, “A Pause Before Beating Back the Taliban” and the caption goes on to explain that U.S. troops recently pushed the Taliban out of a town in the south, “bolstering the optimism of residents.”

This tribute to the success of our troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and providing badly needed security to Afghan civilians stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of the Times’s coverage of the war in Iraq. Also in today’s Times, for example, is an article headlined, “2 American Soldiers are Killed in Insurgent Attacks in Iraq.”

The article goes on to mention that insurgent attacks in Iraq are at their lowest point since late March 2004 and to link this decline at least in part to American and Iraqi military operations that seized territory from militias in Basra. But where in the article is credit to our troops for “beating back” the terrorists in Iraq? Nowhere.

Two very similar stories, in that both discuss military victories in tough battles against extremist enemies, and both include information about mistakes the U.S. military has made, including causing unintended civilian deaths. But consider the difference in emphasis. In the story about Iraq, the deaths of U.S. service members are the headline and lede, whereas in the story about Afghanistan, the Times lede and headline emphasize victory.

This inconsistency is especially noteworthy when one examines the content of both stories in detail, for it is the story on Afghanistan that contains details about the unintended deaths of 19 Afghan civilians a year ago by U.S. forces following a suicide bombing.

Innocent civilians have died, and continue to die, in Afghanistan, and so do our troops. But because that battle has, on the whole, gone more smoothly than Iraq and early on was sanctioned by the politically correct Left, loss of innocent life in the conflict there does not raise eyebrows, and most Americans  fully accept our troops need to remain there for some time to insure the security of civilians.

But you are not likely to see a piece in The New York Times lauding our troops’ efforts to provide equally needed security to civilians in Iraq.

This entry was written by and posted on May 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm and filed under Blog.