The Deseret News gets Iraq wrong

Every morning of my life, I read The Deseret News on-line.  I’m not sure why I do this. It’s a comically bad newspaper.  Habit, I suppose.  I’ve read a daily newspaper since I was 7.  The DN covers Utah County pretty well, where I live, plus it’s a great window into mainstream Utah Mormon culture, a culture I live amidst and which I do not understand at all.

But it’s a terrible paper, and the editorial page is especially risible.  For awhile the DN was on a roll in which it published a daily op-ed piece opposing gay marriage.  Every single day, for months. You’d think they’d run out of things to say, but no, their inventiveness had no limits.  They’re down to 3, 4 times a week now on that.  And what’s great is that the arguments they present against SSM almost always turn out, the closer you look at them, to be great arguments for it.

Anyway, today the editorial board decided to weigh in on Iraq.  Here’s the link.  What makes this hilarious, though, is not the editorial itself, but the comments section in the on-line version.

You can follow the link, but I thought I’d provide some highlights too, for those of you who don’t want to bother.  The op-ed piece is your basic common-or-garden neo-conservative line.  Invading Iraq was awesome, because we were planting seeds of democracy in the Middle East.

The invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein may well have been finished at that point, but the mission of establishing a free, peaceful and self-sustaining government there was far from over.

That still is the case today, which makes President Barack Obama’s declaration in 2011 that, on the occasion of the U.S. withdrawal, “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,” just as infamous and embarrassing. The United States withdrew too early, reacting more to political pressures at home than to the long-term dangers of an Iraq too unstable to protect itself.

Americans now face the real danger of Iraq becoming a radical Islamic state. ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, now controls much of Iraq and is threatening to topple Baghdad.

ISIS likely wouldn’t have been able to gain such a foothold if U.S. forces remained in Iraq in sufficient strength to help the government establish itself.

Late last week, Obama seemed reluctant to provide much aid to the Iraqi government, announcing that no ground troops would re-enter the country. Obama said Iraq has political problems, noting that the U.S. has made huge sacrifices (about 5,000 casualties, for starters) in an effort to give Iraq a representative democracy, but that the leaders of that country have been unable to overcome sectarian differences. Until that is corrected, he said, the U.S. won’t be able to fix things with “short-term military action.”

But a dysfunctional representative government is far better than what ISIS has to offer, and the president’s approach to the situation seems inadequate given the threats to the United States.

The editorial then went on, kind of subtly, to suggest that we need troops back in Iraq, and that it was the sad duty of the President to explain to everyone why we needed to go back. Yay!  More American soldiers fighting (and dying) in Iraq!  How very jolly.

And then the comments section took over:

If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his 900,000-man army, and Shia militia cannot defend Baghdad from a few thousand Islamist warriors, America is under no obligation to do it for them. Also, remember please that we left because Maliki told us to get out. (Marxist)

Followed by this, from a guy calling himself Bob.

Why was it our place to not only go into another country and force out the leader that held it together (bad guy or not), then assume we should choose their government for them?
What about the fact that we destroyed the infrastructure of the country and killed a couple hundred thousand of its citizens? Do people with no electricity or water and a dead son start loving the USA and wanting to be like us?
What about the arrogance of thinking we are so great that groups who have been adversaries for hundreds of years will drop that and follow us?
And what about the trillions of dollars drained from our country? Our dead boys?
Obama was trying to make the best of a bad situation and get the heck out of a place we can’t fix.

From a guy calling himself FatherofFour, with military experience in Iraq.

We withdrew along the timetable set by the SOFA agreement between the Iraqi government and the Bush administration in 2008. Obama did not set our withdrawal timeline, that was done before he even became president. I served in Baghdad from 2003-2004 and the mission was extremely unclear. Now, according to this editorial, you want us all to go back and stay for an undefined amount of time. Which side do you want us to support? The Shia’s who are aligned with Iran, make up the majority of the Iraqi population, and want to impose an Islamic theocracy similar to Iran? The Iraqi constitution already states that Iraq is governed by Islamic law. Or do you want to support the Sunnis who are aligned with ISIS and Al-Qaeda? Those are the only two choices. Or do you just want to do the opposite of whatever President Obama suggests? That is likely the reality here.

Another Iraq war veteran weighed in.  This was the comment that got to me; the passion, outrage, anger and pain expressed should command our fullest attention and respect:

 

I was in Iraq in 2004-2005 as an old gristled Sergeant, then I retired after I returned home. Too many good men and women were killed and permanently maimed while serving in Iraq. The Iraqis hated us and threw rocks at us as we drove through the country. They set IEDs alongside the roads. It was a horrible place to serve, and when we left a year later, nothing had changed. There were far too few of us to maintain order. It seemed like the military was half-committed to winning and didn’t expect that some Pepsi cans on the side of the road would cause abject fear in otherwise tough men.

I saw comrades from my own platoon blown to bits before my very eyes by an IED. It is something I will never forget no matter how hard I try. Their lives were NOT worth it. This editorial trivializes the lives of the men and women and their families who were forever changed by this misguided war. Let them work it out. There is nothing we can do to permanently keep order there. Read their history and you’ll understand.

What a remarkable perspective.  I like this one, too, from ‘Esquire’, from Springville:

And so you are saying to send in troops. Your approach didn’t work in 2003. It made things much, much worse. Who is writing your editorials? Dick Cheney? This newspaper editorial board baffles me. Talk about naive, irresponsible and ignorant of history. Didn’t you also advocate arming the Syrian rebels, the same folks leading the charge into Iraq? Your judgment, and that of McCain, Chaffetz, and the entire Bush neo-con team, is utterly a waste of time and devoid of good sense. We tried your way, and all it did was destabilize the Middle East, feed the snake of terrorism and burdened the West for decades to come. Our national interests are exactly not what you are promoting.

“Naive, irresponsible and ignorant of history.”  The same guy, Esquire, later commented on the same thread:

Reading the comments, it seems to me that the editorial board would do well to listen to its readers. They are providing a lot more insight and common sense than this editorial.

As I post this today, there are 32 comments in the on-line version of this editorial.  All 32 oppose it.  All of them ferociously, angrily, furiously rejecting the Deseret News‘ position.  And all of them, without exception, are better informed, more knowledgeable, and more historically grounded than the DN editorial board.

I’ve never been prouder to be a Utahn.

 

One thought on “The Deseret News gets Iraq wrong

  1. juliathepoet

    Glad to hear that the readers have more sense than the editorial board.
    Maybe this should become a regular feature for the blog. For your non-Utah readers it would be a welcome perspective.

    Reply

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