Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wall Street Journal Slam of N.Y. Times Over Semantics Rings Hollow

Even if Iraq is No Longer In a Civil War, So What?

William McGurn writes as if he's mighty pleased with himself in his "Main Street" column in today's Wall Street Journal.
McGurn senses a gotcha moment because The New York Times, or at least its editorialists, have stopped using "civil war," a term it began using in 2006,to describe the current mess in Iraq.
"As someone who was in Mr. Bush's speechwriting shop at the time, I remember the horrible stories coming out of Iraq ... The violence was real, it reflected religious divisions, and on the face of it, civil war was a reasonable description."
But, and you knew there would be a but:
"So why did the president resist the characterization? The answer is that he resisted using "civil war" for the same reason the Times likely embraced it: It was a loaded term.
If the conflict in Iraq was really a civil war, the implication was, first, that the United States had no place being there; second, that it was hopeless. "

At least give points to McGurn for being honest about why the term was anathema in the White House, and for confirming the state of denial where Dubya and his acolytes were in residence. Without saying so, McGurn appears to be all chipper about The Surge being a scourge on sectarian violence.
"The fact is, though some of its columnists call Iraq a civil war, the Times hasn't run an editorial saying so since last November. Could that editorial silence be the Gray Lady's way of admitting a mistake? If I were the president, I think I'd take that as a 'yes'."
Well, of course you would, because that would be the easy way out. And even if the Shiite-Shia smackdown isn't in full bore, Baghdad is hardly on its way to becoming the Eden of the Middle East.
If McGurn simply turns to page A20 of today's Journal, he'll see that at least 35 people were killed in a new wave of bombings in Baghdad. If it's not a civil war, then the insurgents didn't get the memo.

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