The War in Afghanistan and the Media’s Double Standards

360_rules_engagement_0805 Walter Russell Mead is properly scathing when it comes to his discussion of the media’s coverage of the war in Afghanistan. As he reminds us, back in 2008, candidate Obama ran on the position that Afghanistan was “the necessary war,” and that he would do whatever it took to win it. We haven’t won it, we are set to implement a precipitous withdrawal from the country, and because the incumbent president of the United States is not a Republican, the media is giving him no grief whatsoever regarding his administration’s failure in Afghanistan:

Once again, be very glad we don’t have a Republican president right now. If we did, we would be treated to a merciless media pounding, night-and-day, on the series of strategic failures, mistakes and false starts that have characterized America’s war strategy in Afghanistan since 2009. We’d be getting constant reminders of how the President, who repeatedly said that this was a just war that America had to win, and who told us that we should vote for him because he wouldn’t let anything distract him from the vital task of winning said war, hasn’t managed to win it, or even end it, after six long years.

Fortunately for us, there is a Democrat in the White House who, by and large, the press likes and wants to succeed. Thus our newspapers and television screens are blessedly free from invective, derision and snark when it comes to news from Afghanistan. . . .

[. . .]

President Obama has been permitted to fail in Afghanistan quietly and off center stage. We hear nothing anymore about the months of agonized reflection before choosing strategies that didn’t accomplish their goals. We never see mentions of his 2008 campaign rhetoric about Afghanistan—”the necessary war”—against which we might be asked to measure what has actually been achieved.

I might add that in addition to the deafening silence from the media regarding the administration’s failure in Afghanistan, we also have a deafening silence from the media regarding the administration’s failure in Libya. Indeed, in the aftermath of American military involvement in the country, Libya has turned into a disaster area. I am entirely willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that had this disaster been overseen by a Republican president, we would not hear the end of it, and that we would have a veritable plethora of media outlets and pundits telling us that the GOP can never be trusted with national security again.

But in this case? Crickets. This doesn’t constitute mere incompetence on the part of our press corps–though our press corps is certainly incompetent. This constitutes outright dishonesty. To repeatedly fail to tell the American people that our elected leaders have screwed up royally in both Afghanistan and Libya is to lie to them.

These lies may be lies by omission. But they are lies just the same.

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