Monday, November 08, 2004

The front-page story in the Washington Post today about the invasion of Fallujah was such a perfect example of the left-wing liberal bias in the U.S. press. Well, maybe not. Let's take a look. The article describes this event as a "long-anticipated urban offensive." You "anticipate" good things, like going to grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner. You "dread" bad things, like your city being invaded by thousands of Marines. The Post noted that the invasion occurred late this morning, East Coast time, "after Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, announced that he had formally authorized the attack." After being instructed to do so by the Bush administration, which hand-picked the former CIA operative to serve as a temporary Iraqi face on the U.S. occupation until U.S.-guided elections could produce a permanent U.S.-friendly leader. A couple of paragraphs later, Jackie Spinner and Karl Vick, the two journalists who wrote the piece, go on to say that "[s]ince political authority was turned back to the Iraqis in June, the final say on major U.S. military operations has resided with the government of Allawi." And his final say is always what Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice want to hear.

Spinner and Vick note that the airstrikes the U.S. military has been carrying out against Fallujah for the last several weeks "ha[ve] reportedly sent a large proportion of the population fleeing the city in fear." In fear? How about in terror?

In fairness, the article does mention that Sunni Muslims are "feeling left out of a political process orchestrated largely by Washington."

Next, the article goes on to describe the Marines "entering" the main hospital in Fallujah and "taking an inventory of supplies and medical equipment." The Los Angeles Times described the taking of Fallujah Hospital somewhat differently, noting that the "Iraqi forces" (and the Marines, but the article does not specify this), "swept into the facility, blasting open doors and handcuffing patients, who were pulled into the halls in a search for gunmen."

The purpose of taking over Fallujah Hospital, and the purpose of everything that was done inside the hospital, according to John R. Ballard, commander of the Marine 4th Civil Affairs Group, whose explanation is quoted in the Post article, was to "protect it."

"We've surrounded it to protect it," Ballard said. "The key word here is to protect." Kind of like the way "we destroyed the village in order to save it" during the Vietnam War?

"We don't want bad guys using ambulances to attack our troops and innocent civilians," added Ballard, as quoted in the Post.

However, Spinner and Vick also describe the experience of the hospital's general manager, Rafe Hyad. The Marines "locked him in a room after breaking down the doors" and ordered him not to leave the room. Then the Marines searched every room and demanded an accounting for every patient's presence. Hyad said, "We have a lot of pregnant women and premature children in the hospital."

The Los Angeles Times article points to another reason why the U.S. forces took control of Fallujah Hospital: to "control information." When the Marines invaded Fallujah in April, it was the reports of massive civilian casualties that forced the Marines to withdraw from the city, and most of those reports came from Fallujah Hospital. The Bush administration wanted to be sure that there would be no possibility of such reports coming to public light this time.

The official statement on this from the U.S. military claimed that insurgents had "forc[ed] the doctors there to release propaganda and false information." I am quite sure that the U.S. military and the Bush administration will not let that happen again.

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