Friedman's perennial optimism spiced with flashes of contempt for blunders in the war's execution (and at his 'lessers' in Washington who do not always follow his lead) has been joined by others. The ever -contrarian Christopher Hitchens argues, "In Afghanistan and Iraq, agonizingly difficult efforts are in train to build roads, repair hospitals, hand out ballot papers, frame constitutions, encourage newspapers and satellite dishes, and generally evolve some healthy water in which civil-society fish may swim."
Are we swimming or sinking?
The war on terror -- of which Iraq is said to be part -- has gone on longer than the U.S. war on Hitler and Hirohito combined. A forthcoming book, Fog Facts, by the author of
Wag the Dog, notes that those wars lasted three years and seven months. This one has lasted for four years, with no real end in sight.
The adoption of a hideously deformed "constitution" masquerading as a victory for federalism, if not democracy, is about to be used as the ultimate justification for the war.
BRACE FOR THE 'FINAL OFFENSIVE'
There will be a "final offensive" against those faceless insurgents, with more blood-letting as a luxury hotel goes up in the Green Zone. There will not be an inquiry into how billions of dollars were siphoned off or stolen, or whether British or U.S. troops are inflaming tensions. The incident of British troops caught red-handed in Basra will be forgotten in the fog of war.
Some American troops will soon start coming home, while the rest will be moved into the permanent bases built to house them. As a civil war erupts, we will officially step to the side, behind the stance that what matters is not who is right, just who is left. It's their country -- pundits like Friedman tell us repeatedly -- but only when we agree with what do.
Those who produced this war have started signaling that the final act is coming and the curtain is going down.
The American people are being kept in the dark about what is really happening, as less and less reporting is allowed to trickle out. We will continue to hear from hotel-based journalists offering stand-ups from the rooftops about the daily incidents and suicide bombs. But analyses of what those actions really mean -- or who is behind them -- are shifted to the back of the newspaper and lower down in the newscast.
In other words, getting the news out does not guarantee how it will be placed or treated.
JOURNALISTS AT THREAT
Some media organizations, such as Reuters, are speaking out, even as most of the big media outlets do not join them. Instead, news programs that do real reporting -- like Nightline -- are canceled.