As though there wasn’t already enough bad news coming out of Iraq, a study has now stated the death toll of journalists is larger than many had previously realized. It is yet another testament to the brutal and out-of-control situation in Iraq. While U.S. policy seems to consist of repeating the slogan “stay the course,” advisers, generals and other military personnel keep repeating “more troops are needed.”
The study, released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), states that since the war began in March 2003, more journalists have been killed than during the entire Vietnam conflict. This is rather shocking, as the war in Vietnam lasted from 1955 to 1975.
While 63 journalists were killed in Vietnam, the death toll of journalists in Iraq has risen to 66 with no end in sight.
What these numbers show is not only that the “mission accomplished” speech President George W. Bush gave on an aircraft carrier in May 2003 was more than premature, but also that in certain ways, the situation in Iraq is even worse than it was in Vietnam.
Inexplicably, the president’s response remains one of wishful thinking: We have to “stay the course,” he keeps repeating but continues to withhold an explanation of how this is to be achieved.
One example of how bad it has become is the lack of assurance of even the most rudimentary necessities, such as a safe route leading from Baghdad International Airport to downtown Baghdad. This is a far cry from the promises that Americans would be welcomed “with flowers” and that the war would be a “cakewalk,” as Bush administration officials professed before the war officially started.
It may even be that due to Hurricane Katrina the already stretched troop levels cannot be raised even if the president decided to do so.
According to the Pentagon, 7,200 active duty military troops and 10,000 National Guard soldiers are on their way to the disaster area on the Gulf Coast. It goes without saying that the same troops cannot be deployed to two locations at once, even though numerous generals and high-ranking military officials have grudgingly admitted more troops would be needed to bring something resembling stability to Iraq.
Yet something will have to change to make both the troops as well as journalists, not to mention Iraqis, safer. But just how this is to happen, nobody seems to know.