Withdrawal: A Wartime Media Taboo

January 28th, 2005 - by admin

Norman Solomon / SF Bay Guardian – 2005-01-28 09:18:04


(January 26 – February 1, 2005) — The latest polls show that most Americans are critical of the war in Iraq. But the option of swiftly withdrawing all US troops from that country gets little media attention.

So far this year many news outlets have lapsed into conjecture on what George W. Bush has in mind for the Iraq War. At the end of a recent lengthy editorial, the New York Times noted that “there’s speculation about whether President Bush intends to use the arrival of a new elected government [in Baghdad] as an occasion to declare victory and begin pulling out American troops.”

Right now, that kind of speculation amounts to a smoke screen for a war-crazed administration. Its evident intention is for large numbers of U.S. troops to stay in Iraq for a long time.

Predictably, as Seymour Hersh reports in the Jan. 24 edition of the New Yorker, “Bush’s re-election is regarded within the administration as evidence of America’s support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership who advocated the invasion.” According to one of Hersh’s sources, Donald Rumsfeld told the Joint Chiefs of Staff after the Nov. 2 election that “America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing.”

Recent opinion polls show that most of the U.S. public have a negative view of the war – but Americans seem to be all over the map about what to do now.

“Support for the war in Iraq has continued to erode, but most Americans still are inclined to give the Bush administration some time to try to stabilize the country before it withdraws U.S. troops,” the Los Angeles Times reported the day before Bush’s reinauguration. The paper’s new national poll “found that the percentage of Americans who believed the situation in Iraq was ‘worth going to war over’ had sunk to a new low of 39 percent.” In the poll, 47 percent of Americans “said they would like to see most of the troops out within a year,” while 49 percent “say they could support a longer deployment.”

Politically, as a practical matter, Bush can maintain plenty of leverage to keep escalating the war in Iraq. We should remember that the Vietnam War went on for years longer while public-opinion data showed that most Americans thought it was wrong.

The Debate over WithdrawalNorman Solomon’s next book, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, will be published in early summer by Wiley.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Norman Solomon is coauthor, with foreign correspondent Reese Erlich, of Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You.