The boys on the right have to stop every other day and gush about Arthur Chrenkoff. Chrenkoff, you see, tells the good news about Iraq. Moreover, he tells it in the Wall Street Journal, which is part of the “good media” and means that the wingnuts’ heads won’t explode trying to explain a good Iraq story in the “liberal” media. So, what do we find in an actual column by Chrenkoff? Let us see. . .
First, Chrenkoff writes a lot. This must mean that there’s a lot of good news, right? Today’s column runs to 15 printed pages, and purports to cover the last two weeks of Iraqi goodness. Fifteen pages, oh my! What treasures await us!
Chrenkoff spends the first page talking about how the media tell the wrong story about Iraq, thus justifying his own project:
It’s a pity because the story of “Iraq, the phoenix rising from the ashes” is in many ways a lot more interesting, not to say consequential, than the usual steady media diet of “Iraq, the Wild East.”
Ok, fair enough. But we still have fourteen pages left. On page 2, Chrenkoff talks about the the selection of delegates for the Iraqi National Council, which is legitimately good news. Oh, well, I guess half of page 2 is actually about how bad the media is for not reporting the good news; nevertheless, 1/2 of a page of good news, 13 to go!
Hmm. Page 3 is mostly the ruminations of Iraqi blogger named Ali, along with more condemnations of the media, and a few platitudes about how great legislatures are. . . Wait, here’s something about infrastructure being rebuilt, that sounds good. We’ll give him another 1/2 page. That gets us to a page of good news, still 12 left.
Ok, so the first half of page four is another Iraqi blogger saying that blogging isn’t enough to save his country. Does that qualify as good news? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. Can’t really give that to him. Rest of page 4 is Olympics coverage; given that teams from the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union always tended to do quite well at the Olympics, I’m less than convinced that Olympic success is really a guarantee of a healthy body politic. . . okay, page 5 is also the Olympics, along with the first part of page 6. . . we appear to be stuck at 1 page of good news, but we still have eight pages left, not to worry!!!
Ah, here we have a paragraph about an Iraqi theatre group touring Japan, and a story about how Iraqis can now get tatoos without fear of Saddam. It really doesn’t quite come to half a page, but we can say without reservation that we’re now at 1 and 1/4 pages. Rest of page six is about shopping malls replacing traditional markets, which I suppose is good news. Some banking reforms seem on the horizon as well; I’ll give him half a page. We’re up to 1 and 3/4; onward!
Hmm. First paragraph is about an American who thinks Iraq is doing fine; I’m not sure that’s really news in and of itself. Down the page a bit, it looks like an Iranian company is helping to develop the Iraqi transport system. Is that good news? I’m not certain. . . Then we have a history of the Iraqi rail system, maybe half of which talks about recent or planned improvements. . . ok, 1/2 page. That gets us to 2 and 1/4.
Page eight starts off by describing how bad the postal system was under Saddam; three paragraphs of history, followed by “Murphy’s team helped establish postal codes to improve speed and reliability and negotiated with the Universal Postal Union to get Iraq full voting-member status.” That doesn’t really qualify as 1/4 of a page, let’s see if we can do better. . .ah, it looks as if some Iranian Kurds are migrating to Iraqi Kurdistan for economic opportunities, that’s worth half a page, even if it’s not really a consequence of the invasion. . . 2 and 3/4 pages so far, we’re doing okay.
Page nine points out that Iraqi agriculture is poised to take off, and that the Allawi government has taken steps to increase the amount and quality of manure; that seems like good news. And on reconstruction, we have this:
After long delays and broken deadlines, there are signs that the largest reconstruction effort since World War II’s Marshall Plan is poised to explode.
Followed by this:
The World Bank is aiming to embark on its first reconstruction projects in Iraq since the overthrowing of the previous regime, the head of the bank’s Iraq program declared on Monday. Faris Hadad-Zervos said that the projects would improve infrastructure within Iraq, helping to provide water and sanitation and to rehabilitate schools.
I’m not sure that’s really good news; it sort of suggests that something good might happen in the future, which is a kind of good news, I suppose. I’ll give them another half page; that puts us at 3 and 1/4.
Training assistance, a subject near and dear to my heart!!! It looks as if about forty Iraqi health workers and 20-30 diplomats will begin training in Japan in September, which is next month, not really this month. . . more training, though;
Up to 30 civil servants from various Iraqi ministries were recently awarded certificates at a small graduation ceremony, marking the conclusion of a two-week training course on financial management, procurement and project management. Financed by a European Union grant contributed to the World Bank-administered Iraq Trust Fund, this course represents the latest in a series of 20 training activities launched since February with the intention of gearing Iraqi civil servants to manage internationally funded reconstruction projects.
Ok, well, that’s good. A total of 600 have been trained overall, which is progress. Moreover, the Australians have offered to teach 25 “agricultural delgates” over the next five months, which is good. The Russians have offered to train some teachers and oil workers. It looks like Unicef is helping to “rehabilitate” some Iraqi schools, that’s good. Also, someone is installing a new computer system to help Iraqi and Coalition forces chase insurgents. Hell, combined with the remainder from the improved postal service, I’m willing to give a full page of good news, bringing us to 4 and 1/4.
On page 11, got some additional educational opportunities, some help with health care, and, well, some filler. I’ll give 1/2 page, getting us to 4 and 3/4. Page 12 is mostly about increased supplies of electricity; I probably should reserve judgement, since there’s no context provided, and I don’t know if there is more or less electricity than a year ago, but I’m feeling generous, and I’ll give a page, gets us to 5 and 3/4.
Page 13, a U.S. Army captain facilitates the transfer of $3000 to an Iraqi hospital, that’s good. A young boy got help with a heart problem; also good. On page 14, we learn that the U.S. Army is giving it’s all to replace the limbs of the Iraqis who lost them during the war; I guess that’s good news. Really sounds more like anecdotes, though, and I’m not sure that I’m comfortable including anecdotal evidence. We also learn that the Iraqi forces are helping Coalition forces to “crush” the Al-Sadr uprising; since the uprising wasn’t crushed, and since the Iraqi forces often refused to fight, does this count? Better relations with Turkey are worth a genuine 1/4 page, getting us to seven. I’m uncertain that a quote from an EU official who thinks that things are going well is really news. More training info on page 15 is worth 1/2 page, which gets us to 7 and 1/2.
7 and 1/2 pages of good news from Iraq, more if you count anecdotes, filler, and denunciations of the liberal media! Well, that’s not too bad, even if most of the news lacks any context, many of the problems being solved are a direct result of the invasion, and a few of the items seem, well, a trifle minor. You have to see the glass as half-full; even if several Iraqi cities are under the direct control of insurgents, and even if Americans are dying at a rate of two per day, we must remember that manure is being produced and spread at a faster rate than ever before.
I’ll let you decide whether that’s happening in Iraq, Washington D.C., or the offices of the Wall Street Journal.