On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 last night, Cooper used the handover of power in Iraq to examine the costs and benefits of the war, an exercise he called â€œan exercise in raw politics and, of course, human lives.â€ Cooper introduced Tom Foreman, who presented what seemed, for CNN, a relatively balanced analysis â€“ which caused my senses to tingle like Chris Matthews’ thigh during an Obama stemwinder.
Foreman opened, â€œThe cost of Iraq is easy to see and hard to look at.â€ He noted the number of American and Iraqi civilian deaths, as well as its alleged economic costs. â€œThe Bush administration thought it would be quick and relatively cheap â€“ $60 billion, maybe,â€ but Foreman informed his audience:Â â€œPlenty of analysts think the tab could run to $1 trillion or more.â€ Indeed, one such economist estimates a trillion dollar price tag â€“ by 2015; others inflate the costs by attributing the entire rise in oil prices to the war.Â In April, the Obama Pentagon estimated the cost at $694 billion, or less money in six years than President Obama spent the day he signed a $787 billion stimulus bill that has increased unemployment to 9.4 percent (reportedly 9.6 percent as of tomorrow). But what is money when, as Foreman noted, â€œthe worldâ€™s opinion of the U.S. has plummetedâ€?
CNN’s journalist then moved to the war’s benefits, which â€œare trickier to calculate since polls show most Americans are against it, and they donâ€™t really see any benefits.â€ Thanks for the heads-up. He made the obligatory remark: â€œWe now know Hussein did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction, but we also know he did want them and had worked on getting them.â€ He acknowledged the war helped â€œavert potential, future threatsâ€ from Saddam and his sons, and that democracy had taken root in Iraq.
True, he missed a few other benefits: the bloodthirsty barbariansÂ of Al-Qaeda were driven out of the area that Osama bin Laden called the â€œepicenterâ€ of the War on Terror; Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the bin Laden ally who personally beheaded American businessman Nicholas Berg)Â was killed; the people of Iraq decisively turned against jihad after living under the strictures of Shari’a; Abu Abbas was captured in Baghdad, 17 years after he had masterminded the Achille Lauro hijacking and murdered an elderly, crippled American Jew; Abu Nidal (the Palestinian terrorist leader and Saddam ally)Â died, under whatever circumstances; Saddam’s $25,000 honoraria to suicide bombers’ families came to an end; the Kurds were freed from the threat of genocide to develop a democratic, pro-American Kurdistan; the Iraqi government-sponsored rape rooms were closed; the recreational use of electric drills on children’s craniums was suspended; and the man â€œresponsible for the deaths of more Muslims than any single leader since the Mongol hordes invaded the Middle East in the 13th centuryâ€Â was put to death.
Still, despite being leavened with dismissive comments, it had been a remarkably balanced report for the mainstream media.
Then Foreman got to his final benefit.
Pointing to a large screen featuring a picture of Barack Obama, Tom Foreman intoned dramatically: â€œAndâ€“thereâ€“isâ€“this: not only did the warâ€™s unpopularity lay the groundwork for Barack Obamaâ€™s election, but itâ€™s also been a training ground for American troops learning to fight against insurgencies, lessons that are already proving critical as they shift to the new presidentâ€™s top military concern now: the war in Afghanistan.â€
“[N]ot only did the warâ€™s unpopularity lay the groundwork for Barack Obamaâ€™s election“?
Ah, a benefit from the war at last.
The unbiased professional journalism begins at 26:50.