Friday, January 11, 2008
Whatever happened to the war?






Tom Foreman
360 Correspondent






Whatever happened to the war? For months, it was all the rage on the campaign trail. The Democratic contenders never missed a chance to pound on the Bush administration, rip the Republicans, and remind voters over and over how badly things were going in Iraq. The Republicans, as often as not, staunchly insisted that distant battles and homeland security went hand in hand.

Now, the war is little more than a distant echo in most of the stump speeches.
Here's a theory: Republicans know that the public hates the war and largely blames the GOP for it; so, aside from John McCain, they don't much want to remind anyone that it is going on.

But the war is going much, much better than it was when this campaign began. Fatalities for troops and civilians are way down. Iraqis are opening their shops, their schools, and their neighborhoods. Warring factions are haltingly, slowly beginning to make deals for peace.

And that's why Democrats, with the exception of John Edwrads, are not talking about it much: they fear that if the public pays attention, voters will notice the war has improved dramatically, and suddenly the Republicans might not look so bad.

Plenty can still go wrong in Iraq. Civil war...a resurgent insurgency...interlopers from Iran, Syria, Al Qaeda. The truth is neither party knows what is going to happen there.

It's easy, however, to see what is happening here. On the whole, both parties are shelving the issue...not talking about it...because it contains too many uncertainties that could upset their plans for political power.


Posted By CNNBLOG: 10:56 AM ET
  12 Comments
Tom,
That's what I'm saying!! What happened with the war!?

My guess is that the Dems don't talk about it because they see that they were wrong! The surge has worked and will continue to. So they bury it to not look bad. While the Reps know that the war is still not popular so they bury it to keep people from blaming them for it happening in the first place.

I see it as a disservice to all that are serving in our forces! This war is still going on and needs to be treated as such. It is swept under the rug WAY too much by the media and everyone else! Just because it isn't talked about doesn't change the fact that it is going on. We need WAY more coverage of it in my opinion!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 11:35 AM ET
On the one hand, I am happy that war is improving. It is good to hear that some semblence of life is emerging from the extreme violence that exists there. I hope, for the troops sake, this continues and they can come home. Politically, this would play well for George Bush. Personally I don't care about that. I really want the troops home.

Uncertainties definately don't win political races. Maybe it is best that the candidates leave the war alone for now; but it is possible that some sort of unrest there may tip the scale for these candidates and force a winner.

There is so much to be seen.

Keep doing your great work.
Posted By Anonymous Sylvie Grace; Atlanta, Georgia : 12:48 PM ET
Obviously it's a very good thing that fewer people are dying in Iraq. But as long as we maintain our enormously expensive presence there, there is less money available to solve our problems at home. It is disheartening to think what improvements we could have made in health care, in education, in our crumbling infrastructure, were it not for Bush's folly.
Posted By Blogger Barbara in Culver City, CA : 2:21 PM ET
It's many in the media who have forgotten about the war. They are the ones who control what questions to ask the presidential candidates. And please don't use the polling as an excuse. Because U.S. military deaths have dropped, many in the media have led the public into believing the surge is working.

McCain repeated those words over and over again in one of the debates, and then stated we might need to remain in Iraq another 100 years.

People can check out voicevets.com to see that until they all come home, our vets want the war in Iraq to remain in the spotlight, both during the debates and on the nightly news.

Since CNN has the resources, is our military still paying the Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar to work with us rather than against us? Since the British have pulled out of Basra, violence has steadily increased, but our military is now calling it an Iraqi problem. How long will we just watch that civil war grow? In response to Kurdish rebel attacks, Turkey has already begun striking bases in Northern Iraq. Have the Kurdish rebels all gone away or given up?

Then there's the Iraqi civilian deaths that get so little attention here. Maybe its because the Army Compensation reports have put the value of an Iraqi civilian's life at only a few thousand of dollars (if that). That's for the loss of a child, parent, or sibling. And for those of you who care, iraqbodycount.org has now documented between 80,419 - 87,834 civilian deaths from violence so far.

Too bad the media had so much "shock and awe" regarding the NH primary results. They could have used some of that time to keep people informed about the situation in Iraq.

Trust us to be smart people. We know people here are loosing their homes, their jobs, and the future looks bleak. But we have to rely on the media and internet sources to get our information regarding the situation in Iraq.
Posted By Blogger Jan from Wood Dale, IL : 3:34 PM ET
Thank you Tom!!
It's horrendous that the war has been pushed from the front pages because the Democrats and Republicans don't want to talk about it. As a Democrat, I'm most furious with my own party's handing of this issue. people are dying every day and it physically hurts to hear the war being tapered onto the end of a speech. I don't want to hear, "we'll end the war!" without a "and this is how..." after it. The media, I think, should be taking this to task. It is criminal to mislead Americans into thinking we had just leave, so problem. And so many of the news media have gone and done fantastic work, but so many Americans allow the war to drift to the backs of their minds.
Last semester I took some classes with some soldiers in transition between home and Iraq or Afghanistan. I don't see them anymore. They could be back there, serving one man's will in an illegal, mismanaged war, instead of back in my philosophy class, borrowing my notes.
I hope that, because you blogged today, we'll get a story about the war tonight on 360.
Posted By Anonymous Lori, Nashville, TN : 3:35 PM ET
Tom/AC360:

The pink elephant in the living room is the Iraq War.

With the expensive war machine benefiting so many rich Americans, the idea of cutting off the economics of the war is frightening. If one thinks unemployment and outsourcing is bad now, wait until the war is over.
Posted By Blogger Sharon from Indy : 4:51 PM ET
I've been asking myself that same question.

As near as I can figure, the early start on this marathon length contest has altered the structure of presidential campaigns. Instead of repeating one complete story of what they would do and be as president over and over for two years, we get serialized chapters now. For a while we got the war. Then we got health care and religion. Now we are in the change chapter.

I'm looking forward to the crazy but lovable scoundrel of a sibling subplot. Who is the new Billy Carter or Roger Clinton, Jr. of 2008?
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, MN : 8:05 PM ET
Even if we win in Iraq tomorrow, we'd still be fending off terrorist attacks throughout the world. I want a candidate for President who isn't oblivious to this threat and who actually has a plan for fighting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in the long term.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 8:17 PM ET
Obviously it makes sense for politicians on both sides of the aisle to avoid talking about the war in Iraq, but what I fail to understand is why the media has all but abandoned coverage. Last year Anderson pledged more coverage of the "forgotten" war in Afghanistan. This year I would challenge 360 to not only remember that there are American lives on the line every day in Afghanistan but also in Iraq, which also seems to have been "forgotten".
Posted By Anonymous Amy, Philadelphia, PA : 10:09 PM ET
I don't think the war has been forgotten. Its just going better so its been put to the back burner. If Iraq gets worse or we send more troops to Afghanistan the war will start to get talked about again. I'd like to hear how each candidate plans on getting our military home and how long they think it would take. I don't think there are any easy answers though or any answers that can be concise enough for a soundbite.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 10:48 PM ET
That's a question the media should to ask itself. You guys control the content of what the people are informed about. What's your take on it?
Posted By Anonymous Taylor Barnstable, Mass. : 10:55 PM ET
Tom:

Thank you for mentioning the Iraqi war. But long ago, the public forgot about another war that is still going on: the Afghan war. Understandably, more media attention has been given to the Iraqi war, but that does not mean that all is well in Afghanistan. The international community also holds a stake in the Afghan war, which was fully authorized by the United Nations Security Council. If the situation in Afghanistan is not given more attention, I fear it would fade from America's memory. That would be a blow to the rest of the world.
Posted By Anonymous Anthea, Beijing, China : 8:25 PM ET
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