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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hidden in Plane Sight: U.S. Media Dodging Air War in Iraq

by Norman Solomon

The U.S. government is waging an air war in Iraq. "In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased," Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker. "Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border."

Hersh added: "As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war."

Here's a big reason why: Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon's bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war.

So, according to the LexisNexis media database, how often has the phrase "air war" appeared in The New York Times this year with reference to the current U.S. military effort in Iraq?

As of early December, the answer is: Zero.

And how often has the phrase "air war" appeared in The Washington Post in 2005?

The answer: Zero.

And how often has "air war" been printed in Time, the nation's largest-circulation news magazine, this year?

Zero.

This extreme media avoidance needs to change. Now. Especially because all the recent talk in Washington about withdrawing some U.S. troops from Iraq is setting the stage for the American military to do more of its killing in that country from the air.

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