Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pick the Reality You Wish For

The Guardian, this morning:

Nato pact to send 5,000 troops for Afghan polls The agreement in Strasbourg to beef up security ahead of elections is being hailed as proof of a new era of co-operation between the United States and Europe.
Nato members are to send 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan to boost security ahead of critical elections, as the country's troubled president was yesterday forced into retreat over a controversial law effectively legalising rape within marriage. The outcome of yesterday's critical summit in Strasbourg will be a relief to Barack Obama, allowing the US president to argue that his offer of a new partnership with Europe has reaped tangible results and ensured the burden of fighting the war on terror is more broadly shared. Yesterday he welcomed the deal as a "strong down payment" on securing Afghanistan's future.
Deep down in the 17th paragraph of the article there is a toned-down admission that many of the promised troops will be sent to Afghanistan only for six months, and then even this:
Obama is committing an extra 21,000 troops, and possibly another 10,000 later in the year. He knows that he will come under sharp domestic pressure to revert to hard power if the mix of charm and intellectual persuasion he has displayed does not lead to tangible European response.
But it's a boring, poorly written article, and one can assume most readers won't get that far down. It does mean, however, that the editors know for a fact that their rendering of the event is not, perhaps, the only possible way of seeing it.

Contrast the depiction of the UK's top Lefty newspaper, then, with that of the New York Times, the top American newspaper and rather lefty itself:

STRASBOURG, France — With protesters raging outside, NATO leaders on Saturday gave a tepid troop commitment to President Obama’s escalating campaign in Afghanistan, mostly committing soldiers only to a temporary security duty...

The Afghan war, too, remained a dividing line for alliance leaders. Despite a glowing reception and widespread praise for Mr. Obama’s style and aims, his calls for a more lasting European troop increase for Afghanistan were politely brushed aside, as they had been in negotiations leading up to the meeting.

As expected, European allies agreed to provide up to 5,000 new troops for Afghanistan, the White House said Saturday. But 3,000 of them are to be deployed only temporarily to provide security for the August elections in Afghanistan.

A further 1,400 to 2,000 soldiers will be sent to form embedded training teams for the Afghan Army and the police.

Mr. Obama is raising the number of American troops this year to about 68,000 from the current 38,000, which will significantly Americanize the war. The new strategy, which the Europeans have pressed for, is aimed at creating larger and better-trained Afghan security forces that can defend the country and allow the West to leave.

The two newspapers are reporting on the same event, so far as I can tell: a big meeting in Strasbourg yesterday. True, there were violent demonstrations only at the NYT meeting, and overall satisfaction and resolute determination in the face of enemies only at the Guardian meeting, but I do think it unlikely that there were two separate events. Or am I wrong?

PS. The NYT article is topped by a picture of violent demonstrators, flying various communist flags. Someone really ought to suggest to those folks that they read Juan Cole's blog: today's fashionable Useful Idiots no longer serve the Kremlin nor read Mao's Little Read Book. Today they cover up for different hateful regimes. Really folks! You're way behind the times!

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