5 Years Ago: Press Saw Hints of Iraq Slog to Come

By Mitchell, Greg | Editor & Publisher, March 31, 2008 | Go to article overview

5 Years Ago: Press Saw Hints of Iraq Slog to Come


Mitchell, Greg, Editor & Publisher


Coming when it did, the photograph seemed like a cruel joke, or a Photoshop prank, just as nearly everyone in America (except perhaps a few Fox News commentators) was awakening to the bone-chilling reality of a quick war that was threatening to turn into a longer slog. And there, splashed across a spread in The New York Times, five years ago this week, during the second week of the invasion of Iraq, was a picture of a smiling Donald Rumsfeld bending over to shake the hand of an equally buoyant Robert S. McNamara.

Unfortunately, it did not look like McNamara was whispering, "What part of the word Vietnam don't you understand?"

It was a Pentagon luncheon for former defense secretaries hosted by Rumsfeld to discuss the war in Iraq, which seemed to be undergoing more "Vietnamization" by the hour. We had seen it all before: the apparently false claims that we had won the "hearts and minds" of the people; the charges that the enemy was not fighting fair; and a rising toll of dead, wounded, or missing military personnel--and journalists. And that was even before a postwar occupation.

I wrote much of the above, and what follows below, here at E&P at the end of March 2003. A month later, after Saddam fell but as the insurgency began in Iraq -- and it started to look like we might, indeed, be there for awhile -- I may have been the first writer to predict that this would turn into a "quagmire." I was roundly ridiculed for that. Flash forward to earlier this month. In an article marking the fifth anniversary of the war, famed correspondent John F. Burns in The New York Times dryly referred to the "Iraq quagmire" -- as a fact, not an assertion.

Here is the remainder of my March 31, 2003, piece. It also appears in my new book, "So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq."*

Of course, it is absurd to compare a war of less than two weeks with one that lasted decades. But still, many hear echoes, faint or strong, of Vietnam. Only a few days have passed since CNN's Walter Rodgers, in Iraq in the early moments of the war, told anchor Aaron Brown, "It's great fun," but that seems like a year ago now.

With the conflict under way--and getting nastier--we thought we'd check back with some well-known reporters we had visited during the long run-up to war.

As with Vietnam, too many in the press follow the Pentagon line, says Joseph L. Galloway, the Bronze Star winner and author who is now military-affairs correspondent for Knight Ridder. "One thing not lacking," he adds, dryly, "is optimism for the game plan, but if it hasn't been cleared with the enemy, it tends not to work." He called the press briefings "bullshit."

Tom Wicker, columnist for The New York Times from 1966 to 1991, tells us that he wonders why more didn't question earlier Rumsfeld's plan for a lighter and quicker force in Iraq when many generals were predicting the war would have to be won with more boots on the ground. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

5 Years Ago: Press Saw Hints of Iraq Slog to Come
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.