Sunday, June 12, 2005

# Posted 11:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BRITISH MEMO FROM '02 PREDICTED MASS ENTHUSIASM FOR DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ: Yes, I completely made that up. What the WaPo actually reported on Sunday's front page was that
Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.
As Kevin Drum points out, this isn't exactly a revelation (even if Juan Cole calls it a "bombshell"). No one needed secret intelligence, even in 2002, to discover that the Bush administration hadn't done enough to prepare for the occupation of Iraq. Even so, slightly more evidence in favor of this obvious point still gets front page coverage in the Post.

(NB: The full text of the new British memo is here. Link via Jeralyn Merritt.)

But what about the other side of the story? What about the fact that no one other than Bush seemed to believe that the people of Iraq would display tremendous enthusiasm for democracy once liberated from Saddam Hussein? If a British memo from 2002 had predicted what would happen in the elections of January 2005, that would really be news.

Now, I recognize that journalists must serve as watchdogs, always ready to expose the failures of our government. Thus, the Bush administration deserves to be hammered for its pre-war planning.

But if journalists want to educate the (reading) public, perhaps they should explore why all of the experts failed to anticipate the Iraqi people's enthusiasm for democracy. By the same token, they should explore why the Shi'ites have been so amazingly tolerant of Sunni terrorism.

The reason to provide additional coverage of these subjects isn't that the Bush administration deserves better press. It is that the media is supposed to do more than present worst-case scenarios. In the long-run, looking at both sides of the equation will benefit the media, as well, by restoring the credibility it has squandered so magnificently of late.
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