"Yesterday's fighting at Waterloo was extraordinary, highlighting the daunting challenge faced by the coalition of British and Prussian forces in fighting Napoleon."
That's how the Boston Globe might have spun the Battle of Waterloo, judging by the negative gloss the New York Times' Beantown subsidiary managed to put in on the major success of Iraqi-US coalition forces at Najaf yesterday. Coalition forces killed an estimated 250 insurgents who were planning to attack Shias, possibly including their supreme religious leader, the Ayatollah Sistani, who had gathered in the city south of Baghdad for a major religious holiday.
What made the success that much more encouraging was that while US forces provided support, it was the Iraqi military that took the lead. This is the best, latest evidence that the Iraqis are indeed standing up. It augurs well for the 'surge' operation in Baghdad, which also will rely on major Iraqi army involvement.
In its article in today's edition, rather than calling the enemy forces "insurgents" or "terrorists," the Globe variously referred to them as "fighters." "Sunni Arab nationalists", Saddam "loyalists," or "followers" of a Shia cult.
And yes, along the lines of that imaginary Waterloo dispatch, the Globe managed to spin the coalition victory into evidence of problems facing the Iraqi-US forces:
"Yesterday's fighting in Najaf and elsewhere was extraordinary, even by Iraq's bloody standards, highlighting the daunting challenge faced by US and Iraqi forces."
"Extraordinary"? Yes, in that coalition forces killed so many of the enemy in one engagement. "Bloody"? Yes, mainly for the insurgents and terrorists. But in the intransigent eyes of the Boston Globe, all that just goes to prove the problems we face.
Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org