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FOX spins the surge

Reported by Chrish - January 11, 2008 -

Note: guest blogged by Priscilla

George Bush’s "surge" is now celebrating its first anniversary and Fox is celebrating it with verbal sweets and flowers. Last night’s (January 10th) Fox Special Report had two segments which aimed to reinforce a simple message to its viewers that the surge is working.

The report on the "surge" was done by Fox’s Jim Angle who has been known, on occasion, to stump for the Bush admistration. He began by saying that initially the surge didn’t seem to be working, but when Bush brought in the team of Gates and Petraeus things started looking up.

He then switched to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ recent press conference where he recited a litany of all the good things that have happened as a result of the surge. But, Angle noted, “for critics, that isn’t enough”, after which he played clips of Senator Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking about the surge. Senator Clinton was shown at the last Democratic debate in New Hampshire stating “but there has not been a willingness on the part of the Iraqi government to do what the surge was intended to do, to push them to begin to make the tough decisions.” (Comment: what part of that is incorrect?)

Pelosi’s statement about the surge was shown: “One year ago, the President announced his plan to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq. Despite the bravery of our men and women in uniform, the primary purpose of the President’s surge policy has not been achieved: the Iraqi government is nowhere near political reconciliation that would contribute to regional stability.” (Comment: what part of that is incorrect?) .

Angle contrasted these naysayers with Senator John McCain, stating that “the strongest proponent of the surge is John McCain and he is now pointing to the success of the surge as a measure of his judgment” after which he played a clip of McCain touting the surge and his support for it. According to Angle, McCain says “political progress is slow; but is coming if only haltingly.”

(Comment: Fox viewers are left with the impression that everything is coming up roses because John McCain says so. What wasn’t noted is that the “surge, which added some 30,000 troops to the 140,000 deployed to Iraq at the time of Bush's announcement, may actually have enhanced prospects for a bloodier civil war by effectively permitting the warring sides -- now more demographically segregated than ever -- to re-group and re-arm in anticipation of a new round of bloodletting as U.S. troops withdraw…” And the Pentagon’s Mark Kimmitt echoed both Clinton and Pelosi when he said 2008 will be 'far more difficult' than 2007 for the U.S. strategy because 'it depends far more on the Iraqis themselves to show progress on key legislation, on their economy, and reconciliation.' Kimmitt predicted only a mild chance that 'surge' security gains will last.

The “All Star” Panel discussion continued the Happy (Surge) Anniversary theme. The Gates clip was played again. Mort Kondracke said the surge is “accomplishing its military goals and Al Qaeda is being defeated.” He felt that Democratic leaders should say that they were wrong about the surge.

Fred Barnes who, as a reliable mouthpiece for the administration, never fails to disappoint, listed all the successes in Iraq: “sectarian violence has been stopped.” (ignoring the growing tension between the US supporting Sunni “Awakening Councils” and the Shia Iraqi military), “casualties are way down” (ignoring the American death toll for January 2008 which is now at 17 which is not to far from last month’s total of 23), “Baghdad is virtually secured” (ignoring the 40,000 pounds of American bombs dropped, yesterday, on Southern Baghdad), Al Qaeda on the run (ignoring the increase in suicide bombings). And in a classic “don’t worry, be happy” moment, Barnes said that “there has been a lot of reconciliation.” (ignoring that not even a first draft of an oil bill has been sent to the Iraq parliament, De-Bathification is stuck in the Iraq parliament, the constitutional review is a year behind schedule and has been delayed four times, provincial elections stalled, reconstruction efforts are mismanaged, the Iraqi government has shown little support for reconstruction in local Sunni areas, and a recent Pentagon report shows that the security gains have not done anything to improve the capacity of the central government. There is even more bad news from this report.)

Comment: But for Fox the message is simple. The Surge is working. A modern anniversary gift for a first anniversary is a clock. Perhaps a count down clock would be in order for President Bush – 375 days left of a failed Iraq policy.

Note: guest blogged by Priscilla