The NY Times and the concept of progress

The New York Times continues to demonstrate its willingness to be the Bush administration's propaganda cheerleader. Two days after Bush, speaking in London, reiterated that the US is making "good progress" in fighting Al Qaeda, the Times published an article purportedly demonstrating that the US is making "progress" against the group, despite an increasing number of deadly attacks.
The recent surge in terrorist strikes on "soft targets" like consulates, banks and synagogues in places like Turkey and Saudi Arabia is worrying, but paradoxically reflects progress by the United States and Europe in disrupting Al Qaeda, especially its leadership structure, American and European intelligence officials said Friday.
According to the NYT, we should see "progress" in the fact that there is an increasing number of attacks. It doesn't make sense; more people dying = progress? Would it mean that less people dying equals lack of progress? Or is there "progress" being made no matter what happens?

In fact, the second paragraph severely undermines the thesis of the article's lead:
"We continue to disrupt Al Qaeda's activities and capture more of their leaders, but the attacks are escalating," a senior counterterrorism official in Europe said. "This is a very bad sign. There are fewer leaders but more followers."
"Escalating attacks"... "very bad sign"... more "followers" than ever - this paragraph could only support the lead if we decided to define "progress" as "failure".

The entire article is more of the same: quotations and reporting that do not show "progress" but rather an increasing failure:
The shift to softer targets does not make Al Qaeda and its followers any less dangerous, the officials cautioned. They said there is deep concern here and in Europe that the United States and its allies are facing more - not fewer - terrorist foes than before. The killing and capturing of Al Qaeda leaders is failing, they said, to keep pace with the number of angry young Muslim men and women willing to participate in suicide attacks.

The State Department issued a new global terror warning Friday, saying that it saw "increasing indications" that Al Qaeda is planning to strike American interests abroad. It also said that it could not rule out another Qaeda attack within the United States, one "more devastating" than the Sept. 11 attacks.

Despite that cause for optimism, the intelligence officials said they are troubled by evidence suggesting that more young militant men are becoming terrorists than ever before.
We are left wondering: what is the point of this article? Al Qaeda is "weaker" but at the same time it is not "any less dangerous"; the group is "less capable" of striking at important American interests - so incapable, in fact, that the State Department recently warned of that very danger; it is "brain dead" even though every new militant group that comes along copies its modus operandi and claims affiliation. There are so many logical contradictions that one has the suspicion that Thomas Friedman had a hand in editing this turd.

But it would be too easy on the Times to conclude that we simply have yet another example of the steep decline in the quality of journalism, logic and editorial skill at America's "newspaper of record". No, what we are dealing with here is toadyism. POTUS says there is "progress" in the "war on terror"; and, surprise, the NY Times finds it - even if it means that the Times has to imply that more people dying is a good thing. And this, of course, completely leaves aside the issue of whether the US can "win" the "war on terror" by killing or capturing all of the leadership of the pre-9/11 Al Qaeda: are we supposed to believe that Al Qaeda is the only fanatical and militant group out there?

I can only conclude that the NY Times was offering yet another journalistic fig-leaf to the Bush administration counterproductive policies. If the paper had been interested in doing real journalism, the article would have had a thesis along the lines of "militant ranks surge despite attacks on Al Qaeda" and it would have analyzed why this is the case. But instead, the Times chose to assure Citizen Sucker that everything is all about good "progress", even while the Bush administration continues to make his/her world more dangerous.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?