June 21, 2006

Military Tragedy Vs. Bush Bounce




Let’s me state, without qualification, that the grisly murder near Yusifiyah of the two American soldiers,  Kristian Menchaca (above right) and Thomas Tucker, was a heinous and despicable act.  Deep condolence is due their families and friends for the grief they are only beginning to endure.

Unfortunately, as much as this is a personal tragedy, it is also a strategic political event.

Last week, we witnessed a major offensive on the part of the Bush administration in presuming a turnaround in the Iraq war.  A large part of that effort involved the reinforcement of Al Qaeda in Iraq as the primary player in the insurgency.  With the killing of al-Zarqawi, we saw the military visually crown Zarqawi’s supposed successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri (even though Bush’s national security advisor admitted not being sure who this man was, let alone what his role is).

Although The BAG will probably be castigated for “politicizing” a “human tragedy,” I recommend serious  circumspection in the face of the media tornado building around these killings.  Specifically, notice how a large cross section of the MSM swallowed last week’s administration propaganda and is now using it as “lining paper” to neatly package the story of these murders.


In a representative example, the headline in Tuesday’s San Jose Mercury News reads: “New al-Qaida leader killed two U.S. soldiers, according to claim.”  The article not only suggests that the soldiers were killed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, but intimates that the (allegedly) new al-Qaida leader, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer (above right, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri) killed the two U.S. soldiers personally.  (This story line, by the way — which is currently ricocheting through the echo chamber — stands in marked contrast to the latest WAPO article, which emphasizes that no specific person or group can yet be connected to the killings.)

Certainly, these murders are a tragedy.  As much or more so, however, is the fact the media has already (and, in terms of public opinion, irreversibly) linked the deaths of Mr. Menchaca and Mr. Tucker to Mr. al-Muhajer and al-Qaeda.  (And then, that’s not even raising the issue — also largely ignored by the press — of the significant difference between “al Qaeda in Iraq” and the “al Qaeda” responsible for 9/11.)

With last week’s administration spin deflating so quickly, its no surprise these murders would so gamely be politicized.

(images:  European Pressphoto Agency.  June 20, 2006.  nyt.com.  image 2: U.S. Military/A.P.  June 15, 2006.  Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
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