BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi military officials said violence in Iraq has decreased significantly in recent weeks to levels not seen in four years.
That offers some hope to officials that Iraqi security services may be making gains, following recent Iraqi-led military campaigns in Basra in the south, Baghdad’s Sadr City, and Mosul in the north.
Law prof Glenn Reynolds points out again that much of the recent news doesn’t fit the dominant media narrative that the war is a lost cause, a quagmire that will never see any semblance of victory.
On the same day this latest good news emerged, the American Journalism Review published an article entitled “Whatever happened to Iraq?” In the lengthy piece, journalists are interviewed about why there’s been such a precipitous drop in news coverage of the war.
Paraphrased by the AJR author, the Los Angeles Times’ foreign editor Marjorie Miller cites three factors. Miller points to the ongoing interest in the Obama/Clinton race and the fantastic cost of supporting a bureau in Baghdad. But the third factor proves most revealing:
• With no solutions in sight, with no light at the end of the tunnel, war fatigue has become a factor. Over the years, a bleak sameness has settled into accounts of suicide bombings and brutal sectarian violence. Insurgents fighting counterinsurgents are hard to translate to an American audience.
Talk about a media narrative.
We’ve been seeing light at the end of the tunnel for more than half a year. Pretty much everyone — even the sharpest critics of the war — have admitted that the situation in Iraq has improved dramatically since the troop surge early last year. To refer to the present situation as “bleak sameness” is simply not an accurate assessment of the recent progress. Miller and the AJR appear to have missed the fourth — and most probable — factor contributing to the downturn in news stories on Iraq:
• With the situation in Iraq improving dramatically, there’s nothing considered newsworthy to trumpet on the front page.