Wednesday, April 05, 2006


In a very important piece, Wretchard carefully analyzes the current political situation in Iraq, and concludes that it is all about the oil (but not in the way the left suggests):

So why not split directly into three independent countries? Why bother with forming a Unity Government and later a Federal government? The real force driving the formation of a Unity Government is not some desire to satisfy an American obsession with spreading democracy so much as the need to come to agreements over oil and security. All the ethnic groups in Iraq want to share in the oil revenues. The Sunni need a share in oil revenues of which they have none themselves; while the Kurds and Shi'a need to agree how to tranship and manage the oil resources in their areas. (The Council on Foreign Relations and the DLC describe the basic areas of dispute over how the oil resource will be managed and shared.) Without a negotiated settlement under a Unity Government, the Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds would have to fight for territory and oil resources. It is better to conclude a series of agreements to be administered by a Unity Government than escort every barrel of oil by force of arms to the market.

The Iraqis actually formulated a constitution in order to take this very fact into account; and that constitution basically limits the powers of a federal government, with considerable checks and balances-- precisely because of the lack of trust that each of the factions has for the other. The U.S. role in all this is to make the checks and balances stick amidst the distrust, while democratic institutions are slowly built for the country as a whole.

Wretchard also comments about the recent disillusion in some conservative circles about this entire process (notably Fukayama, Will, and Buckley) and he quotes extensively from an op-ed piece by David Ignatius, which argues that we should let the Iraqis bargain and not give up on the political process. In fact, while the violence we hear so much about every day is quite tragic, it is not the most important story out there -- except, of course, for the terrorists who would be overjoyed if it was the only story.

What is fascinating is that the Ignatius piece contains details about the political process--which arguably is the most important story in Iraq right now-- that we Americans do not see anywhere else in our media.

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post!

Think about that.

Instead of our news media and its professional "journalists" giving us detailed news stories about the players in all this; about the political in-fighting and the issues that are taking so much time to resolve; we, the American public, have to read opinion pieces and analyses like Wretchard's to understand what is really going on in Iraq.

I am not the only one to notice this rather interesting fact.

For me this is yet another way that the MSM have let us down. Their excuse for their news-gathering limitation is that Iraq is "too dangerous" and that reporters are not able to get out and see for themselves what is going on.

Clearly, this is just a rationalization for their pathetic coverage of news from Iraq. Let's just ignore for a moment the fact that the negative stories grossly outnumber any positive stories and that we hear nothing about the courageous actions of our troops in this war. Let us just ignore the fact that "if it bleeds it ledes" and that we are certain to get the daily details about every death and explosion and kidnapping. Let us ignore all that, and you still have to wonder why the most important information and NEWS is not getting out of Iraq and into the newspapers, news shows and other MSM outlets.

What prevents all those intrepid journalists from obtaining information about and discussing the details of the political situation and what is going on in the negotiations--particularly in a way that frames the issues, conflicts, and challenges for America? How many of the Iraqis involved in the political process are you able to name off the top of your head? One? (maybe two, if you count Sadr). How many stories have you read about anything except the violence?

You see, the MSM is still trying to lose the military war for us. They haven't even basically picked up on the fact that the political war has been engaged and it is in those political chambers of the elected Iraqi government that the efforts to bring Democracy to Iraq will be determined.

The military battle is already won. Whether America and the Iraqis are successful in the political battle is yet to be determined. Wretchard concludes his analysis thusly:

In the end, George Will, Bill Buckley and Francis Fukuyama may well be right in saying that the peoples of Iraq have no desire to agree to anything but to hate one another. But they are not necessarily right. There is nothing in the situation that forbids the achievement of the vision described in the Iraqi constitution. There is nothing that guarantees it either. Success will depend, in my opinion at least, not upon grand political principles, but on the skill of the Americans and Iraqis who are striving for a political solution. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it impossible? No.

Difficult, but not impossible.

Meanwhile, it is clear that MSM journalists are unlikely to adopt this position as long as they are focused on the daily death toll and are intent in convincing the American public that we are in the middle of a military quagmire; and that our military is losing in Iraq.

Their committment to this Vietnam-era template keeps them--and most of the American public-- ignorant of the real story.

UPDATE: Michael Barone has further thoughts:
Surveys galore have shown that somewhere around 90 percent of the writers, editors and other personnel in the news media are Democrats and only about 10 percent are Republicans. We depend on the news media for information about government and politics, foreign affairs and war, public policy and demographic trends -- for a picture of the world around us. But the news comes from people 90 percent of whom are on one side of the political divide. Doesn't sound like an ideal situation.
Of course, a lot of people in the news business say it doesn't make any difference. I remember a conversation I had with a broadcast news executive many years ago.
"Doesn't the fact that 90 percent of your people are Democrats affect your work product?" I asked.
"Oh, no, no," he said. "Our people are professional. They have standards of objectivity and professionalism, so that their own views don't affect the news."
"So what you're saying," I said, "is that your work product would be identical if 90 percent of your people were Republicans."
He quickly replied, "No, then it would be biased."
I have been closely acquainted with newsroom cultures for more than 30 years, and I recognize the attitude. Only liberals can see the world clearly. Conservatives are prevented by their warped and ungenerous views from recognizing the world as it is.
The New York Times and The Washington Post have often hired as reporters writers who have worked on liberal publications like The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and The American Prospect -- and many of those writers have produced fine work. But they have never hired as reporters writers who have worked on conservative publications like National Review, The Weekly Standard and The American Spectator. News media executives like to brag about the diversity of their staffs, but there is precious little political diversity in most newsrooms.

Read it all.

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