Moderate liberal pundit Mickey Kaus has a rule of the thumb about news from Iraq.
If only foreign newspapers print it, the news must be good.
The New York Times mentioned in a story June 21 that Mosul, Iraq's third largest
city, was "in the midst of a major security operation." So what happened?
Marie Colvin of the Times of London had an answer Sunday: "American and Iraqi forces
are driving al Qaida in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in
the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror."
Al Qaida was making its "last stand" in Mosul, and now is done, finished, kaput,
said Ms. Colvin, who was embedded with the 2nd Iraqi Division for Operation Lion's
The victory is so complete that Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki said Saturday his
government has defeated the terrorists in Iraq. Defeated. Past tense.
Major General Mark Hertling, who commands U.S. troops in northern Iraq, wouldn't go
that far. But he told Ms. Colvin: "I think we're at the irreversible point."
Not a word about this "spectacular victory" appeared in the Washington Post or the
New York Times Sunday, or on the evening network newscasts. The New York Times did
run a story on the front page Monday about an "epic battle," but it was about a
tennis match at Wimbledon.
Few American newspaper readers learned that on Saturday the last of 550 metric tons
of yellowcake was shipped from Iraq to a firm in Canada. Yellowcake is milled
uranium oxide, the raw material from which nuclear bombs are made. According to
Norman Dombey, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Sussex in
England, the yellowcake shipped from Iraq was enough to make 142 nuclear bombs.
Apparently, Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program was rather more than a figment
of Dick Cheney's fevered imagination.
"This is a big deal," the New York Sun said in an editorial Monday. "Iraq, sitting
on vast oil reserves, has no peaceful need for nuclear power. Saddam Hussein had
already invaded Kuwait, launched missiles into Israeli cities, and harbored a
terrorist group, the PKK, hostile to America's NATO ally, Turkey. To leave this
nuclear material sitting around the Middle East in the hands of Saddam and the same
corrupt United Nations that failed to stop the genocide in Darfur and was guilty of
the oil-for-food scandal would have been too big a risk."
But it wasn't a big enough deal to make it beyond the newsbriefs section of most of
those few newspapers which chose to report it. Evidence Saddam possessed enough
material to build more than a hundred nuclear bombs undermines the media meme that
he had no WMD, so it's not a story many journalists wish to revisit, new evidence or
On the Fourth of July, 1,215 U.S. servicemen and women re-enlisted in the largest
re-enlistment ceremony ever, conducted by Gen. David Petraeus in one of Saddam's
palaces in Baghdad. Only a handful of newspapers here mentioned it.
The Times of London noted Gen. Petraeus, the guy Democrats last year were
insinuating was a liar, "beats mega-star Angelina Jolie as Iraq crowd-puller."
Gen. Petraeus, wrote James Hider, "is in such demand for photographs that his aides
have had to organize special mass photo-ops every six weeks inside the Green Zone
and at the other huge U.S. base at Baghdad airport."
The vast improvement in the military situation is so obvious even Rep. Jack Murtha
(D-Pa), the most comically hysterical of the war critics in Congress, acknowledged
it in an interview with Pittsburgh's KDKA TV June 3. But political progess isn't
being made, he said.
That's not true. When Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, they set 18
"benchmarks" to measure the security, political and economic progress. On July 2,
in response to a request from a Democratic representative from North Carolina, the
U.S. embassy reported the Iraqi government has met all but three.
Progress is even greater than the report indicated, because though the Iraqi
parliament hasn't passed laws to share oil revenues or to disarm militias, the
government is sharing oil revenues, and largely has disarmed the militas.
Stories about this report, you'll not be surprised to learn, were buried in the
inside pages of newspapers which, last September, had splashed on the front page the
more critical initial report.