Sunday, April 29, 2007

Radio Blab

This month, a radio program decided to do it's yearly check-in on Iraq. It airs multiple times a week, this hour long program, but it's not really interested in Iraq.

During the check-in, two guests were provided on this presumably live broadcast. (The fact that a guest was asked to hold on the line and continue talking because they couldn't reach the second guest would indicate the broadcast was, indeed, live.)

So a full hour of Iraq. That must have been something, right?

No, not really.

Guest 1 offered a series of statements that were as far removed from reality as a burn-out can get. Citing a recent poll that demonstrated most Americans have no idea how many Iraqis have died in the illegal war, Guest 1 wanted to play Pin the Blame on the Peace Movement.

See, he explained, the peace movement had failed and this was the perfect example -- in his mind. Weeks prior, Peter Hart (CounterSpin) had addressed the same poll. Now Hart's a media critic and not a mathematician. That might be why Hart could wisely point out what the poll demonstrated: the failure of the media.

From the start, this administration has made sure that deaths weren't noted -- US deaths or Iraqis. They announced they wouldn't keep track of Iraqi deaths. (Of course they did. What has been admitted to is that, since the summer of 2005, they've kept a count. It's a private count. One certain officers will hold before them while speaking to reporters but they won't allow reporters to see it let alone report the numbers.) When The Lancet published the study that found over 655,000 Iraqis had died in the illegal war this was reported as "The Lancet estimates that over 655,000 Iraqis have died; however, some question that number. For a discussion on this we now interview a War Hawk who says the study is wrong, wrong, wrong!"

Of course, Guest Number 1 might want to look to himself because, with a field in math, we do wonder why he chopped off 5,000 estimated deaths by stating the study found that "over 650,00" Iraqis had died?

Guest Number 1 used this as a platform to attack the fact that US citizens knew the number of US deaths 'within ten to twenty'. Interestingly, he didn't. He went with 3280 when the previous day US military fatalities had reached the number of 3301.

Guest Number 1 was a font of something but we wouldn't call it wisdom and seriously object to the notion he advanced that US deaths didn't need to be noted since, 'within ten to twenty,' most Americans could estimate the toll.

Why might Americans have better knowledge of the number of US service members killed? One reason is that the public that looked the other way when it was announced that the US wouldn't keep track of Iraqi deaths wouldn't have stood for a similar announcement about US deaths. That really has nothing to do with the peace movement, despite Guest Number 1's claim.

Guest Number 1 repeated every cringe worthy statement you could imagine -- including apathetic youth (we're quite sure most 'youths' -- unlike the radio program -- discuss Iraq more than once a year) and his insistence that that Nouri al-Maliki was nobody's puppet. Maybe Guest Number 1 should stick to math?

Guest Number 2 finally was reached and we got to bid adieu to our mathematician (thankfully). Was the show going to improve in the remaining time left?

No. And we're still trying to figure out whether that was due to Guest Number 2 or due to the host. Guest Number 2 usually makes observations worth hearing, so maybe it was the fault of the host?

At one point, early on, Guest Number 2 declared that a realistic timetable for withdrawal would be 2 years because it would take that long to do what needed to be done. That figure we question right away but what we question even more is this concept of 'what needed to be done'? A host who wasn't asleep at the wheel might have as well.

Pray tell, what exactly needs to be done?

It's a question that goes unasked. Another is why the illegal war to being with?

Last week, Bill Moyers returned to PBS with a new program. The most laughable response may have been a Party Hack who wanted to decry the state of journalism and offer his own journalistic bonifides. Of course, Party Hack was sending memos to the House advocating the support of the Pelosi measure and then screaming "conspiracy" (and worse) at those who dared to point out that the Pelosi measure was non-binding and toothless. Add in that Party Hack offered as a "realistic" example a campaign where independent and conservative voters were tricked into believing (and presumably voting for) a candidate who wasn't as conservative as he pretended -- left out of the column was the fact that Party Hack helped steer that campaign (with pay). So that was probably the funniest response to Moyers' special.

The saddest? At one point, Moyers notes PNAC. But he never really got into the whys of the illegal war. Now, it can be rightly argued that Moyers was focused on the press and we wouldn't suggest that was naval gazing.

But the why of the war and "What can US forces accomplish?" are questions that go unasked. They get beyond the hows and the talk of strategies and marketing, so the continued silence on that, after all this time, is rather appalling.
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