Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

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War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Saturday, February 03, 2007  

By Richard Reeves
Feb 2, 6:44

(Blog editor's note: A retelling by a noted political columnist of the hilarious--but true-- adventures of one American journalist and his approach to covering Baghdad, and how he discovered belatedly [and presumbably to his horror] that he'd done just about everything wrong, put himself at great danger, lost a significant amount of money, and had to flee the country. A metaphor, as it were, for the American experience in Iraq?)

LOS ANGELES -- A few years from now, when our occupation of Iraq seems funnier than it does now, a writer will come forward to do the "Catch-22" of the Iraq War. My nominee as the new Joseph Heller is a National Public Radio correspondent named Adam Davidson.

I was walking by a radio last Friday when I heard Davidson being interviewed by Nancy Updike on NPR's "This American World." She had trouble holding back her laughter at times, and so did I as I listened for more than 20 minutes to a segment called "Mr. Adam's Neighborhood."

The story line was pure American: "Innocents Abroad."

Davidson, at that time reporting for Public Radio International and Harper's magazine, had this idea that he might make some extra money (and be safer) by living in a fancy Baghdad neighborhood rather than one of the hotels where foreign correspondents gathered and bedded down. So, not long after the U.S. invasion in 2003, he rented a house with six bedrooms, figuring he could rent some of them out to other correspondents. The price to rent the house was $14,000 every three months. Other reporters and photographers did move in, one BBC guy paying $2,000 a month.

To read the full text, see

3:16 PM

$3T Bush budget to trim domestic programs
Monday plan to kick off major debate with Democratic-controlled Congress

The Associated Press
Feb 2, 2007

WASHINGTON - Keeping troops in Iraq for another year and a half will cost nearly a quarter-trillion dollars - about $800 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. - under the budget President Bush will submit to Congress Monday.

Bush will ask for $100 billion more for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year and seek $145 billion for 2008, a senior Pentagon official said Friday. Those requests come on top of about $344 billion spent for Iraq since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

At the same time, Bush's budget request will propose cost curbs on Medicare providers, a cap on subsidy payments to wealthier farmers and an increase to $4,600 in the maximum Pell Grant for low-income college students.

Bush's proposal, totaling almost $3 trillion for the budget year starting Oct. 1, will kick off a major debate with the new Democratic-controlled Congress. Democrats are sure to press for more money for domestic programs, and they've signaled they won't consider renewing Bush's tax cuts until closer to 2010, when they are to expire.

To read the full text, see

8:38 AM

Report questions Bush's Iraq strategy

By Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy Newspapers
Feb. 02, 2007

Blog editor's note: To access the government's press release/summary about the report, "Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead," go to Office of Director of National Intelligence

WASHINGTON - In the bleakest terms yet, a new U.S. government intelligence assessment warned Friday that Iraq's sectarian violence is now self-sustaining and that the country's forces will be "hard pressed" to assume responsibility for security before mid-2008, despite accelerated U.S. training.

The new National Intelligence Estimate raised serious doubts about President Bush's latest stabilization plan for Iraq, the first goal of which is to "let the Iraqis lead," with the help of U.S. military trainers embedded in the army and police.

But the NIE said that "Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) - particularly the Iraqi police - will be hard pressed in the next 12-18 months to execute significantly increased security responsibilities."

At the same time, the report echoed Bush's warnings that a rapid U.S. troop pullout in the next 18 months could trigger a "significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict," which could produce "massive" civilian casualties and forced population transfers and prompt open intervention by Iraq's neighbors, such as Turkey.

The findings illustrate Bush's dilemma as violence in Iraq escalates and he confronts demands from Democrats, a growing number of Republicans and many Americans to withdraw the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

"This NIE appears to be the latest in a long line of bleak assessments by foreign policy and military experts indicating that the president's new plan is flawed and failing," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

To read the full text, see McClatchy Washington Bureau

7:34 AM

Thursday, February 01, 2007  
THOMAS FRIEDMAN ON IRAN: Not-So-Strange Bedfellow

by Thomas Friedman
New York Times
Jan. 31, 2007

Blog editor's Note: Thomas Friedman, perhaps the best known of the Times' columnists and a staunch supporter of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, has written a column that is 'must' reading for anyone who thinks military strikes against Iran are either necessary or a good idea. To find the column in its entirety, do a Google search with the terms: Not-So-Strange Bedfellow

Here’s a little foreign policy test. I am going to describe two countries — “Country A” and “Country B” — and you tell me which one is America’s ally and which one is not.

Let’s start: Country A actively helped the U.S. defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and replace it with a pro-U.S. elected alliance of moderate Muslims. Country A regularly holds sort-of-free elections. Country A’s women vote, hold office, are the majority of its university students and are fully integrated into the work force.

On 9/11, residents of Country A were among the very few in the Muslim world to hold spontaneous pro-U.S. demonstrations. Country A’s radical president recently held a conference about why the Holocaust never happened — to try to gain popularity. A month later, Country A held nationwide elections for local councils, and that same president saw his candidates get wiped out by voters who preferred more moderate conservatives. Country A has a strategic interest in the success of the pro-U.S., Shiite-led, elected Iraqi government. Although it’s a Muslim country right next to Iraq, Country A has never sent any suicide bombers to Iraq, and has long protected its Christians and Jews. Country A has more bloggers per capita than any country in the Muslim Middle East.

To find the entire text, do a Google Search with the terms Not-So-Strange Bedfellow.

6:00 PM

Britain plays down claims of Tehran role

Tom Baldwin in Washington
The Times (UK)
February 01, 2007

Senior British officials, citing mistakes over Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, are voicing scepticism about US efforts to build an intelligence-based case against Iran.
Sources in London and Washington suggest that the British Government has been “badly scarred” by its Iraq intelligence dossiers. Amid signs of a concerted American operation to prove that Iran is threatening US troops in the region, British officials say that they are “not aware of a smoking gun” that would justify taking military action against Tehran.

The Pentagon disclosed yesterday that it was investigating whether Iran was behind a January 20 attack on a military compound in Karbala in which five US soldiers were abducted and killed. “This was beyond what we have seen militias or foreign fighters do,” a US defence official said.

To read the full text, see

8:42 AM

Remembering Molly Ivins

John Nichols
Washington Correspondent, The Nation
January 31, 2007]

Molly Ivins always said she wanted to write a book about the lonely experience of East Texas civil rights campaigners to be titled No One Famous Ever Came. While the television screens and newspapers told the stories of the marches, the legal battles and the victories of campaigns against segregation in Alabama and Mississippi, Ivins recalled, the foes of Jim Crow laws in the region where she came of age in the 1950s and '60s often labored in obscurity without any hope that they would be joined on the picket lines by Nobel Peace Prize winners, folk singers, Hollywood stars or senators.

And Ivins loved those righteous strugglers all the more for their willingness to carry on.

The warmest-hearted populist ever to pick up a pen with the purpose of calling the rabble to the battlements, Ivins understood that change came only when some citizen in some off-the-map town passed a petition, called a Congressman or cast an angry vote to throw the bums out. The nation's mostly widely syndicated progressive columnist, who died January 31 at age 62 after a long battle with what she referred to as a "scorching case of cancer," adored the activists she celebrated from the time in the late 1960s when she created her own "Movements for Social Change" beat at the old Minneapolis Tribune and started making heroes of "militant blacks, angry Indians, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers."

To read the full text, see The NATION

8:27 AM

Wednesday, January 31, 2007  
Molly Ivins, Populist Texas Columnist, Dies at 62

The New York Times
January 31, 2007


Blog editor's note: Molly Ivins was one of my personal heroes. She combined the wit of Will Rogers with the analytical skills of I.F. Stone. In sum, she was simply brilliant.

Molly Ivins, the liberal newspaper columnist who delighted in skewering politicians and interpreting, and mocking, her Texas culture, died today at her home in Austin. She was 62.

Her death, after a long fight with breast cancer, was confirmed by her personal assistant, Betsy Moon.

In her syndicated column, which appeared in about 350 newspapers, Ms. Ivins cultivated the voice of a folksy populist who derided those who acted too big for their britches. She was rowdy and profane, but she could filet her ideological opponents with droll precision.

To read the full text, see The New York Times

5:41 PM

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