Monday, October 24, 2005

# Posted 10:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

VIETNAM ALWAYS GOOD FOR A LAUGH: The lead story in Monday morning's WaPo is entitled Enemy Body Counts Revived. Here are the first two sentences:
Eager to demonstrate success in Iraq, the U.S. military has abandoned its previous refusal to publicize enemy body counts and now cites such numbers periodically to show the impact of some counterinsurgency operations.

The revival of body counts, a practice discredited during the Vietnam War, has apparently come without formal guidance from the Pentagon's leadership.
These opening sentences are rather misleading, since no one in the military, "eager" or not, made a decision to release body counts as part of public relations strategy. Rather, commanders have occasionally decided to release body counts in order to illustrate the size of certain engagements.

How this story made it onto the front page, I have no idea. It provides some information worth knowing, but goes far out of its way to make the Army seem ignorant of its historical experiences. If anything, this should have been an "analysis" column somewhere inside the A section. Or perhaps an op-ed. Or even just a post on some moderately popular blog.

I think the real lesson of this article is that journalists are unable to comprehend Iraq except through the prism of Vietnam.
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