The US media never exacts a price for starting a war or even committing war crimes. But they will exact a price for ending a war, as Pres. Biden has learned.
Anyone who’s read my past writings on President Biden will know I’m not his biggest fan. I questioned his fitness for office before he became the nominee. Since he became president, I’ve covered numerous actions he’s taken that I think deserved criticism, and some I think deserved credit. I may not like a lot of his politics, but when he’s right, he’s right. And pulling out of Afghanistan NOW -not a few months from now, or a few years or decades from now- is right. A majority of Americans (63%!) also believe it is right.
So the first thing I wanna do here is to congratulate President Biden for doubling and tripling down on his decision to end this nightmare once and for all. He stood firm on this, even though he stood alone, abandoned by the media and even his own party. That takes courage, and conviction, and for that he deserves massive credit.
And that is not a sentiment you’ll have seen expressed anywhere in television news in recent weeks.
From any major media outlet you can name, be it Fox, CNN, MSNBC, NPR or the Big Three, the message is clear. The US media establishment is out in force to punish Biden for ending a war we should never have been in.
That’s because the mainstream mass media has become nothing but the propaganda arm of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about way back in 1961.
Price to pay
Let’s step back in time just for a moment to the early days of Trump’s presidency. Do you remember the first time he got a pat on the back from the “left-wing” press? That would be the night he bombed Syria. On April 7, 2018, Fareed Zakaria of CNN said with a straight face, “Donald Trump became President of the United States tonight”.
That was also the night Donald Trump learned that, as far as the media is concerned, there’s never a price to pay for starting a war, perpetuating a war, or even committing war crimes. But there is a price to pay for ending a war, as President Biden is learning now.
By Monday morning after the fall of Kabul, the media were full of comparisons to the fall of Saigon. As if the lesson of Saigon and Kabul was not “we should have never been there”, but rather “we should have stayed longer”.
As we wrapped up our mission in Afghanistan, our airwaves were full of ex-Bush officials, ex-generals, and ex-Defense Department ghouls telling us what a terrible thing Biden was doing. With no shame, “serious journalists” brought on the very people who got us into this mess in the first place. Not to hold them to account, but to give them a platform to wag their fingers at the only person with the balls to pull us out of it!
This finger-wagging is especially galling, given the media’s apathy to the many outrages that took place in Afghanistan when the war was still in full swing.
Remember when Afghanistan was “The Forgotten War”?
The recent scenes in Kabul have been described as “gut-wrenching”, “heartbreaking”, and “devastating”. And yes, they are all of those things. They have also been ubiquitous on our screens to a degree absolutely unprecedented in the television media coverage throughout this war. In the 20 years we were in Afghanistan, not one of the atrocities that occurred there has garnered this degree of indignant, wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage for days on end.
Fun Fact: between 2015 and 2020, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) devoted a combined total of only 362 minutes to covering Afghanistan. That’s an average of only 24 minutes per network per year. In 2020, the combined Afghanistan coverage for the three networks amounted to a grand total of 5 minutes.
Just to name a few things that happened during that time:
US forces and NATO allies bombed Afghan schools, hospitals and wedding parties (all war crimes, by the way).
Not one, not a single one, of these inarguably newsworthy events received the coverage and condemnation from the mainstream media that they deserved. Most received no, or nearly no, coverage at all. If they did, the universal reaction from pundits, talking heads, retired-generals-turned-defense-lobbyists was a collective shrug and a sigh of “Well, what are you gonna do? War is messy sometimes”.
Because of these failures by the media, Afghanistan became known as the “Forgotten War”. But once Biden decided to pull the plug on this horror show, suddenly the media remembered.
And they were mad as hell.
But not because we were there so long, spent so much, harmed so many and accomplished so little. No, they were mad that it was over!
The more honest conservative hawks came right out and said, “we should never have left”. King Hawk Lindsey Graham wants to impeach Biden- for ENDING the war. Even Biden’s fellow Democrats want an investigation! And the ever-obliging media is happy to parrot these talking points.
Did anyone ever discuss impeaching any of the three previous presidents for their decisions in this war? Nope. Not for all the war crimes; the endless waste and graft; constantly moving the goalposts; or deceiving the American people into believing this war was “winnable”.
Some pundits staked out a more “reasonable” position that “we should have stayed there just a little longer”. So, maybe if we’d just stayed a little longer, trained 300,000 MORE Afghan troops, spent just a few more $trillions propping up our jaw-droppingly corrupt puppet government there, MAYBE the Taliban wouldn’t have swept the country in a matter of weeks after we left? BULLSHIT!
Now, were mistakes made? Yes. The biggest is that we should have gotten our Afghan allies out ages ago. Is that all on Biden? No. But he’s president now and, as he says himself, the buck stops with him.
But, in what scenario would there not have been a mad dash to the airport by Afghans terrified of the Taliban? In what scenario would the chaotic scenes plastered all over our screens not have played out?
Were we holding out for some scenario where we created a stable democracy in a made-up country? Were we expecting to leave behind a country full of grateful, smiling Afghans bidding tearful goodbyes to the American saviors who’d made the bad old Taliban a thing of the past?
Get real; this isn’t an Audie Murphy movie.
So what’s behind this cheerleading for endless war?
Have you ever seen one of those minute-long commercials for Raytheon or Boeing on the cable news networks? Were you in the market for a new fighter jet or some stinger missiles at the time? No? Then you must have wondered what in the hell they were selling and to whom.
That’s because YOU are not part of the intended audience for those commercials. Those commercials are reminders to the news networks’ producers and anchors of who pays their salaries and keeps the lights on in their fancy studios.
Those reminders ensure an endless stream of retired generals (who now work as lobbyists for Raytheon, etc.) on our screens to tell us that we have to have “endless war for endless peace” to paraphrase Orwell.
Obviously, it’s not only the media. Plenty of serving politicians (Democrats and Republicans) are in the pay of the defense contractors. And they always get a warm welcome on the mainstream news.
And boy have Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics gotten a return on those investments! Just those five companies raked in $2 trillion from the US government between 2001 and August 2021. Is it any wonder they don’t want us to leave Afghanistan?
Kicking and screaming
In the final days of the drawdown, after we’d evacuated over 100,000 people, 13 of our troops and probably close to 200 Afghan civilians perished in an attack by a new terrorist organization, ISIS-K. In retaliation, we launched a drone strike, supposedly targeting members of ISIS-K. The result? Dead civilians, including young children.
And even until the last minute, the maniacs in the press, Capitol Hill and the defense lobbies tried to use these hideous events as a reason for us to stay! Maybe we should have kept just a few troops there. Or maybe we should have stayed just long enough to evacuate some more people.
These arguments are perverse. Why do you think these attacks happened as we were leaving? Simple – ISIS didn’t want us to go. They would have loved nothing more than if we had recommitted, put more of our troops in their crosshairs, and killed more Afghan children! We are their best recruiting tool!
If anything, these events confirm that Biden’s instinct is correct- get out, get all the way out, and get out now! No extensions; no excuses. Our continued presence in Afghanistan would have made NO ONE safer. Not our troops, nor Americans at home, nor the Afghans themselves.
And you can extend that argument to Iraq, Syria or any of our other endless, aimless wars. But whenever the military-industrial complex sees another dollar to be made, we can count on the mass media to continue beating the war drum. Just as long as their checks clear.
— Liz ShiverdeckerAfghanistan, defense contractors, ISIS, mass media, military-industrial complex, Northeast Mississippi news, President Joe Biden, Taliban, War, war lobby