Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Iraq War: Forgotten in Plain Sight


By Hugh Gusterson, Truthout | News Analysis, March 19, 2014

A reporter raises his hand to ask a question as US Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Commander of US Forces-Iraq, delivers an operational update on the state of affairs in Iraq during a press briefing at the Pentagon, June 4, 2010. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/35703177@N00/4685688778/in/photolist-894o2y-7doC33-6ojTdL-vdxLx-dn1YTf-dn1TEP-dn1Yye-ctELFC-ctEMhm-TU7dr-cuk6r5-csqRzW-cyrtWf-csqRSQ-csqRT3-csqRBq-csqRRJ-csqRSu-csqRF3-csqRQ1-csqRGj-csqRHQ-csqRTQ-csqRUq-csqRDC-csqRCG-csqRLJ-csqRUW-cyrtRm-ewwdQ-dT9Mj8-dT9Mqi-dTfoSU-dTfoBC-dT9LB6-dTfoGA-dT9zWc-dTfnhL-dn1XE1-31CoFB-31G3dS-31CxYZ-31GC4L-31CsAx-31CiD4-31B7ep-31GtF1-31DRuh-31AYVH-31EWtW-31GnCm "target="_blank"> DOD photo by Cherie Cullen / Flickr</a>)A reporter raises his hand to ask a question as US Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Commander of US Forces-Iraq, delivers an operational update on the state of affairs in Iraq during a press briefing at the Pentagon, June 4, 2010. (Photo: DOD photo by Cherie Cullen / Flickr) On the 11th anniversary of the war in Iraq, the US mainstream media’s decontextualized rendering of violence in Iraq fails to explain political divisions and struggles in Iraq or how this violence is a direct consequence of the US invasion and occupation.

A quick and dirty way to begin conveying what happened to US coverage of Iraq after US forces withdrew is through gross numbers. A Lexis-Nexis search of New York Times coverage in one-year slices (March to March) showed 1,848 articles concerning Iraq in 2006-07 and 1,350 in 2007-08. Once the drawdown of US troops began, New York Times coverage of the conflict plummeted to 359 in 2010-11 and continued to fall thereafter – although the political crisis within the country, and its attendant violence, ground on and on. This suggests that “the story” had always been about the American errand in Iraq, not Iraq itself, and certainly not the swathe of human misery and destruction US intervention left in its wake. When American troops left, they took the media’s story with them in their baggage.

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