The Buildings That
AREN'T Burning In Iraq
"They have a saying in the news business," Geraldo Rivera
related this week. "Reporters don't report buildings that
don't burn." And with that introduction, he told a TV
audience about the story that is being systematically
denied to our entire nation: the success story of
Are we losing some soldiers each week?
Is there some frustration in the public
about electricity and water service?
Are some Saddam Hussein loyalists
throughout the land, making trouble?
Has this opened a window for some terrorist mischief?
But that's ALL we hear. No wonder the country is
in a mixed mood about Iraq. If you hear about the
buildings that are not burning, though, it is a
different story indeed.
Rivera is no shield for George W. Bush. But Bush, Condi
Rice and Colin Powell together could not have been as
effective as Geraldo was Thursday night on the Fox
News Channel's Hannity and Colmes program.
"When I got to Baghdad, I barely recognized it,"
he began, comparing his just-completed trip
to two others he made during and just after the
battle to topple Saddam. "You have over 30,000
Iraqi cops and militiamen already on the job.
This is four months after major fighting stopped.
Can you imagine that kind of gearing up in this country?
Law and order is better; archaeological sites are being
preserved; factories, schools are being guarded."
But what about the secondhand griping that the media
have been so efficiently relating about power, water
and other infrastructure?
"To say that Iraq is being rebuilt is not true," answered
Rivera. "Iraq is being built. There was no infrastructure
before; we are doing it. I just think the good news is being
underestimated and under reported." At this juncture, one
must evaluate how to feel about the voices telling us only
about the bad news in Iraq, whether from the mouths of
news anchors or Democratic presidential hopefuls. At
best, they are under informed. At worst, their one-sided
assessments of post-Saddam Iraq are intentional
falsehoods for obvious reasons.
If I hear one more person mock that "Mission Accomplished"
banner beneath which President Bush thanked a shipload
of sailors and Marines a few months back, I'm going to spit.
That was a reference to the ouster of Saddam's regime, and
that mission was indeed accomplished, apparently to the great chagrin of the
American left. No one said what followed would be easy or cheap, and that's
why the dripping-water torture of the cost and casualty stories is so
Remember we pay our soldiers whether they are in Iraq
or in Ft Bragg, North Carolina.
We should all mourn the loss of every fallen soldier.
But context cries out to be heard. Our present news media
is not performing this task. As some dare to wonder if this
might become a Vietnam-like quagmire, I'll remind whoever
needs it that most of our 58,000 Vietnam war toll died between 1966 and 1972,
during which we lost an average of about 8,000 per year. That's about 22 per
day, every day,
for thousands of days on end.
Let us hear NO MORE Vietnam comparisons.
They do not equate.
What I hope to hear is more truth, even if we have to
wrench it from the mouths of the media and political
hacks predisposed to bash the remarkable job we are
doing every day in what was not so long ago a totalitarian
wasteland. Local elections are under way across Iraq,
Rivera reported. "Where Kurds and Arabs have been
battling for decades, things have been settling down.
Administrator Paul Bremer is doing a great job."
So does Geraldo think his media colleagues are intentionally
painting with one side of the brush?
"I'm not into conspiracy theories, . but there's just more
bang for your buck when you report the GI who got killed
rather than the 99 who didn't get killed; who make friends,
who helped schedule elections; who helped shops get open
for business; who helped traffic flow again.
"The vast majority of Iraqis are very happy to have us
there. I would like to see a bit more balance." This
needs to be reported to the American Public who are
presently being duped. I expect the dominant media
culture to nitpick and attack Bush, and Democrats to
blast him with reckless abandon. But when that leads
to the willful exclusion of facts that would shine truthful
light on the great work of the American armed forces,
that level of malice plumbs new depths.
If you have a friend that is looking for the truth, and
another point of view, pass this on.