I may be something of an anomaly, you tell me: I get almost none of my news of the world from the major networks: I virtually never watch ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or MSNBC news.* I do read the Dayton Daily News, AP, Cincinnati and Washington papers online; but for big stories, I tend to do a fair amount of Internet surfing (when I can) for various reports and angles.
So...my perception of the big stories may be rather different from many others. For example: the news I read out of Iraq, after being so bad for so long, seems to be getting better.
I've been reading the dispatches from bloggers who are actually there, the best known, I think, is Michael Yon. Mr. Yon appears to spend all his time there, providing constant, first-hand reports.
Anyway, he seems to have been the first, some time back, to report what is now getting wider coverage: the quieting of the "wild west" Anbar province, as local Sunni tribes have rejected al Qaeda and allied with the U.S.-led coalition. Now he reports something similar happening in Diyala province, which is just outside Baghdad to the northeast. Meanwhile, three provinces (Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah) in northern Iraq are mostly secure, because of the stability of the Kurdish state-within-a-state. Supposedly, four other provinces (Al-Muthanna, Dhi Qar, An-Najaf, and Maysan) are under Iraqi control, not counting the western al Anbar, and Diyala -- so that suggests about half of the provinces are moving in the right direction.
Plus, if you look at a map, you can see how this relates to Baghdad: these areas of control are more or less in a circle around the central region, where the capital -- and where the sectarian frictions -- are located. Also, my guess is that the Kurds could, if asked, provide security in nearby provinces (and maybe they are already), but no doubt that is a very ticklish political issue.
So back to my basic point -- is it possible things really are heading in the right direction?
Some time back I stopped believing the Bush Administration's reports, as I suspect most others have. I was not happy about the President's justification for going to war, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, which under just war theory, he's entitled to (to a point of course). And, once we were in, I believed we must see it through; I still believe that. My view is that we don't withdraw unless the Iraqi government invites us to do so, or until we believe we're not needed, or we conclude our presence can't make things better. The first two surely haven't come about; and personally, I'm not convinced the latter point has arrived, but of course others believe differently.
In any case, there seem to be some good signs. Long way to go.
Does anyone have anything substantive to offer otherwise? Is this news to you?
*Yes, I do watch Fox News, but after all, that is my name; and I wanted it to succeed. But I have to say, Fox News has tended, lately, more and more in two directions I don't like: more and more yelling, and more and more sleaze. Why didn't they just start a round-the-clock Paris Hilton channel? If Bill O'Reilly were any more pompous, I think we'd all get to see him explode right on live TV -- and I admit, that would be compelling television. Sean Hannity, God bless him: he gets ahold of a rhetorical point he thinks is a real zinger, and he'll just keep on it like a dog on a bone. And that is fine, to a point--but some of his attempts to disguise arguments as questions aren't terribly artful, and so you get . . . yelling. Alan Colmes -- who I actually met many years ago, when I worked in D.C. -- comes across as very reasonable: proof, perhaps unintended, that Fox really is "fair and balanced." (And please, let's not get bogged down in that one; does it really matter if Fox is right wing or not? There are LOTS of choices; and if the New York Times and CBS are going to be taken seriously, Fox has nothing to apologize for.)