REFLECTIONS UPON PAST WARS
leads me to wonder how distorting 24 hour a day news coverage is on both the reality of the war in Iraq and the decision making process of CENTCOM and the administration. Rumsfeld
today was jousting with Stephanopolous this morning and trying, with obvious frustration, to communicate how truly bizarre media commentary on a 9 day old war was in a historical sense and how enormously impressive military gains by the Coalition have been virtually dismissed.
By any military standard the campaign in Iraq so far has been a success though it is plagued by the same logistical errors and unanticipated problems that are inherent in any war. A standard of no allied casualties and complete mass surrender of the enemy and no civilian deaths is a yardstick no military operation, no matter how well-planned or high-tech, can possibly match. How would MSNBC, CNN and the networks have cast Operation Torch in WWII or the string of defeats suffered by the Union Army in the first few years of the Civil War ? Or Wellington's Penninsular campaign ? Or any battle short of miraculously one-sided victory ?
The danger here, and Rumsfeld has apparently taken it upon himself to try and neutralize it in high-profile appearances - is this that a political pressure will build to make military decisions designed to satisfy the surreal expectations of 24 hour news coverage rather than win the war. This may already have happened in terms of " Shock and Awe " being transformed into " Probe and Assess " at the last minute in an effort to further minimize civilian casualties or simply to ease the concerns of Arab governments and anti-war critics. This may not be the case, there might have been overriding military considerations including psychological warfare that were built into the pre-war noise about " Shock and Awe " but the Coalition has been fighting a very surgical campaign without much of the anticipated drama designed to intimidate Iraqi untits into surrendering.
Historians will be sorting through this for years.