Friday, May 23, 2008

Packer on Iraq

George Packer, author of Assassin's Gate, has an World Affairs article that is well worth your time. He argues that for those Americans who are not serving or do not have family in Iraq, it is entirely an abstraction and means to attack the other side. The most disturbing element is how people don't seem to want to understand.

The Iraq War had its share of bad or indifferent journalism. But there was a huge distinction between the failure to expose the administration’s falsehoods prior to the war and the effort to report the truth in Iraq once it began. The press redeemed in Baghdad what it had botched in Washington. If the names of the war’s best reporters aren’t widely known today and will never be recalled alongside their legendary predecessors in Vietnam, it’s partly because the public—especially the portion of it that generates and consumes opinion on a regular basis—is less susceptible to the power of complex facts than it was in 1963.

I am as guilty as everyone else on the last point. Too quick to jump to conclusions and unwilling to spend the time to digest all the information. It's unfortunate.


Anonymous said...

Working at the public library has, I'll admit, given me a greater understanding of how unwilling and/or unable people are to connect cause and effect, and deal with basic logical principles. When it comes to overdue fines, I literally have to show people calendars and count the days off with them. (Oh, you have a dollar fine? Then things were late by four days. You don't get it? Okay, let's get the calendar and count the little squares--this is when it was due, this is when it came back, see how there's four little squares in between?)

I'm not kidding. If you told me years ago that's how I'd have to explain fines to ADULTS, I wouldn't have believed you. So complex thoughts about world politics, relations, and war? Good god. There's no calendar to show that on.

Thanks for the link to the article. George Packer's "The Assassins' Gate" is a superlative book, by the way, have you read it?

Tripp said...

You must be extremely patient, or perhaps you have a borrower doll you can beat up in the back rooms.

Yes, I loved Assassin's Gate, it is quite a good book. I hope he follows up with another one, perhaps covering the plight of the Iraqis who have helped the Army, but are now in dire straits, thanks to DC bureaucratic decision making.

Do you read his blog at the New Yorker? It's well worth the time.