Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Martha Raddatz Has a Something to Share

Martha Raddatz, currently on tour hawking her book, The Long Road Home, made an appearance Monday on the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC. Early in the in the segment, Raddatz, an ABC News correspondent with a dozen trips to Iraq under her belt, talks of a conversation she had with General John Abizaid (then head of the US Central Command) during her first flight into Baghdad in the fall of 2003. Said Abizaid to Raddatz:

There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq.

Remember, this is 2003. A scant half-year (or one Friedman Unit, as it is now known) after the US invasion. A time when General Abizaid estimated the “insurgency” at about “5,000 opposition fighters.” A time before 90% of the now nearly 3,200 US war dead had been killed.

There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq.

Those are General John Abizaid’s words. Not Martha Raddatz’s. Not mine. So, of course, it begs the question: Three-and-a-half years later, why are we still trying to impose a military solution to the problems in Iraq?

Yes, that’s a question that has boggled many a mind and provided endless inspiration for posts on this and many other blogs—so let me ask a different question: Why was this not news?

Sure, now, we find many generals, elected officials, and even establishment reporters echoing Abizaid’s 2003 revelation, but back then, not so much. And not so much for most of the next three years, either. So, why was this not news in late 2003? Or throughout the 2004 election cycle? Or every instance since when President Bush, or Vice President Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld, or who ever was in charge of the war at any given moment smiled for the cameras and trumpeted the latest and greatest military initiative?

Why was this not front and center for Raddatz (who I actually think is one of the better US television journalists covering the White House and their war) every time she had a chance to question a general, a presidential press secretary, or a war supporter in Congress? Why did she not seize on her scoop, and hammer it home every chance she got?

Sure, General Abizaid could have been making one of his more generic statements about the need for Iraqis to participate in their own security (I find a couple such statements in an April 2004 briefing by Abizaid that was attended by Raddatz), but that is not what Raddatz now reports Abizaid said in 2003.

There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq.

Raddatz directly compares Abizaid’s fall 2003 comments with what so many more are saying now. The implication is clear—what John Abizaid meant in the early days of the war is what so many more now understand:

There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq.

And that’s what drives me so batty about the establishment media. I expect the guys in the White House, and their hand-picked generals and apologists, to spin and obfuscate, but I then expect the journalists to poke and prod and challenge and cajole and root out the truth behind the spin. And when a member of the media like Raddatz uncovers—or is just given—such a clear and unequivocal assessment of the situation at hand, then I expect her to share it with the rest of us. And when the president or other administration official directly contradicts the assessment of the top military guy in the field, then I expect Raddatz to say, But sir, General John Abizaid said,

There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq.


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