Don’t Mention It

We didn’t start this war,” the top editorial in today’s Springfield Republican says about the Afghanistan war. (Emphasis on the first-person plural pronoun added.)

If “we” didn’t, who did?

Why, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Of course Afghanistan did. Specifically, the Taliban did, by hiding Osama bin Laden and his gang.

It says right here: “The al-Qaeda hijackers, under the direction of Osama bin Laden, had trained in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Thus, our response, which began on Oct. 7, 2001.” (Emphasis added.)

“On Sept. 10, 2001, there were few in our nation that gave Afghanistan much thought,” the editorial writer recalls. “A good many, perhaps, couldn’t even have pointed it out on an unlabeled map.” (Emphasis added.)

The editorial doesn’t mention that the Afghanistan war was the first in a string, “but leaving it unfinished, with the nightmare sure to follow, is not a viable option.”

The editorial doesn’t mention that members of al-Qaeda were actually Saudis rather than Afghanis.

The editorial doesn’t mention that Pakistanis could have been useful in finding the al-Qaeda suspects — if indeed “we” wanted to find them.

The editorial doesn’t mention any counter-narrative reporting on the capture and killing in 2011 of someone captured in Pakistan in a Navy Seals operation reputed to have been Osama bin Laden, who reportedly had been living there for years. (Well, Seymour Hersh didn’t win any prizes for the 10,000-word report headlined “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” in a May 2015 issue of the London Review of Books. It’s well worth looking up, though.)

The editorial doesn’t mention that the alleged box-cutter-wielding al-Qaeda operatives who — barely able to fly any airplane — allegedly managed on Sept. 11, 2001, to take over four airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, and, outcrafting civil and military professionals, fly them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and a side of the Pentagon, killing thousands and causing the Towers and a third WTC skyscraper, Building 7) to neatly collapse into their own three footprints.

The editorial doesn’t mention that the Taliban were formed and trained and equipped in the 1980s in a joint U.S.-Pakistani-Saudi effort to get Soviet forces out of Afghanistan, end Soviet influence there, and help end the Soviet Union itself.

The editorial doesn’t mention any number of inconvenient facts that would conflict with the Executive Branch / mainstream media narrative.

It does start with a paragraph design to enlist readers’ allegiance: “WITHOUT A DEADLINE,” it begins, “A NATION THAT gets itself involved in a military conflict, especially one that’s being waged in some far-flung land, can end up finding itself fighting endless wars. And nobody wants that, right?”

No matter that “deadline” is primarily a newspaper word, and that governments don’t announce deadlines when entering wars. So the very first sentence is a distraction.

Nevertheless, the editorial continues, “that’s the thinking of many people, left and right, who would like to see the U.S. military less involved in overseas battles. And, although the argument would seem to hold water, at least in theory, in many cases it tends to fall to pieces upon consideration of the specifics.”

The editorial feigns understanding of the ignorance and therefore lack of understanding by “many people” who are inconsiderate of specifics.

It then launches patiently into an explanation of why, in the words of its headline (in the Republican’s print edition), “Finishing job isn’t fighting endless war.” The editorial does so with the help of the first-person plural (“we,” “our” or “us”) 17 times, at least once in each remaining paragraph.

We’re all in this together — you, me, people who read Us, people who read People, people who watch “Oprah,” Oprah herself, people who read Foreign Affairs, the editorial writer himself or herself. We’re interested in certain specifics, but not others.

— Mark Channing Miller

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *