One precept should guide everything you see, hear and read right now about the war in Iraq: Don’t believe it. Just as the march to Baghdad wasn’t really as easy as a gleeful Charlie Gibson indicated that first day of the war on Good Morning, America, laughing about a strategy called “bypass and haul ass,” nothing else will be, either. Because for every live satellite shot of troops bouncing through the desert, every photo of Iraqis tearing down pictures of Saddam Hussein, every replay of bombs bursting over Baghdad, there are thousands more scenes we won’t see for days or months or years. Or never. Think about all we’ve learned long after past wars ended–about atrocities, gruesome details of battle, and elaborately conceived government campaigns of deception. Some of the lies no doubt aided war efforts. But the point is: This war is no different. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged as much when he warned Pentagon reporters: “What we are seeing is not the war in Iraq.”
We’re in a strange time when it comes to getting the news. There are scores of Internet sites and independent bloggers putting together information from all over (some credible, lots not) that reflect the entire spectrum of philosophies. But we live at a time when most people get their news from a handful of sources, most of them owned by the largest conglomerates in the nation, whose prime motivations are profit, not public service.
The result has been mainstream media that have been loathe to question the Administration’s motives for fear of alienating viewers and readers, and scores of independent sources that have gathered thousands of facts, documents and opinions to fit a multitude of theories.
Perhaps prodded by the bloggers and the left-wing media, some newspapers have started paying attention to the empire-building nature of the right-wing Bush brain trust, and to the fundamental shift that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption (attacking rather than containing) represents. Mostly, it’s showing up in columns on the op-ed pages
We somehow, somewhat by coincidence, managed to address all these issues in this week’s edition. What you won’t see this week are the winners of our poetry contest. Because of the war and other considerations, that issue’s been postponed until April 9. We’ll be ready for some larger truths by then.