Press Ignores Jack Murtha’s Ignorance

Today on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Democratic Representative Jack Murtha stated his view that Americans should leave Iraq immediately at the three-year mark. He said,

“We have to say to the Iraqis, ‘This is your war. This is no longer our war. You’ve got an elected government. This is up to you now to settle this thing,’ ”
Nowhere does the article mention the time line of the two most successful American efforts to build a new nation on different principles, on the wreckage of a former government. Those two nations were Germany and Japan.

In Germany, the reconstruction began with a few elected (non-Nazi) governments in cities. Konrad Adenauer, later to become the first leader of post-war Germany, was one of those mayors. It was not until five years after the surrender in May, 1945, that Germany had its first post-war national election. And it was after that, that the security of the reconstructed nation was turned over entirely to German police forces.

In Japan, the history was similar. Again, local officials were elected first. It was four years after Japan’s surrender in August, 1945, that it had its first national election. And it was after that, that security of the reconstructed nation was turned over to Japanese police.

What are the difference between Japan and Germany then, and Iraq today? Both enemies of the US in WW II had prior experience with a developed economy, and a unified nation under a functional government. Iraq has neither of those experiences to fall back on.

On the other hand, Iraq has two nations on its borders, Syria to the west and Iran to the east, which are hostile powers, and are sending men and materials into Iraq to foment fighting against the American forces. There was no resistence in Japan. The wise decision to leave the Emperor in place as a symbol, and the Emperor’s instruction to the people to cooperate with the temporary government under General Douglas MacArthur, assured that.

There was a moderate resistence in Germany. Before their fall, the Nazis had created the werewolves, who engaged in sabotage and assassinations for two years after the surrender of the German military. But the effect of the werewolves was minor, compared to the terrorists in Iraq with their outside support.

The bottom line is this: Had MSNBC, or any other media covering Rep. Murtha’s comments bothered to put the history of post-war Germany and Japan side by side with his comments, no editorial conclusions would have been necessary. The idea that Iraq, with its greater liabilities, should be able to take over its own defense years before that point occurred in those other nations, would have been absurd on its face.

The factual comparison alone would have demonstrated to any clear reader/viewer that Rep. Murtha is a geopolitical moron.

But that comparison was never made, either because reporters and their editors were too dumb to seek out the obvious juxtaposition, or because they didn’t want to make the comparison to avoid undercutting their preferred spokesman, Jack Murtha.

And given the pathetic state of American education, only a handful of readers would have come up with the comparison on their own. This is especially wrong given that the relevant facts are available to anyone with a computer and the skill to push a few buttons (including the reporters who are failing to report the whole story).

John_Armor@aya.yale.edu