Jewish World Review March 28, 2003 / 24 Adar II, 5763
Newsweeklies try to keep up with TV war coverage
So far, the only practical way to keep up with war news is to stay glued to Fox's "Operation Iraqi Freedom" or CBS' star-spangled, musically introduced "America at War."
When it comes to covering Gulf War II, newsmagazines can't help but be as stale as last week's TV Guide. For all they know, Baghdad could have an NFL franchise by now.
Still, the newsmagazines - especially Newsweek - have much to offer this week in the way of background, perspective and war photos. Time's 10 double-page photos are best, offering powerful, intimate views of war's wounded, captured and liberated.
U.S. News, as usual, has trouble keeping up with Time and Newsweek.
Despite having 24 journalists in place when the war started, Time's coverage seems thin. Maybe it was too busy wasting space celebrating its own 80th birthday with "80 Days That Changed the World" (think brief reports on D-Day; Nov. 22, 1963; and 9/11).
Newsweek, devoting its entire 66-page issue to the war, offers by far the broadest and deepest coverage, thanks in large part to its scoop of the workings of the surprise bombing attack on Saddam's palace March 19.
Along with newsmagazine basics - illustrations of weapons, battle maps, action photos, commentary and an exclusive interview with the original President Bush - Newsweek also tries to explain how and when America started down the road to war with Iraq.
Evan Thomas' "The 12-Year Itch" introduces us to the hawkish men (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.) and ideas which, combined with 9-11, turned a natural noninterventionist such as George W. Bush into GloboCop.
It's good, interesting stuff. But Thomas makes it sound like the main reason President Bush and his more intellectual pals took us to war was because they live by a code so many ordinary Americans always have lived by.
See, our leaders just finally got tired of being pushed around and threatened by a thug named Saddam. So they did what John Wayne or any other honorable American would do - got mad and sent 200,000 troops to kick Saddam's butt.
Unfortunately, as "The 30-year Itch" in the March/April issue of Mother Jones argues, the real reasons we are in Iraq are more complicated, less honorable and go further back in geopolitical time.
According to Robert Dreyfuss, occupying Iraq and thereby assuring the West's control of the oceans of oil in its basement is the final piece of a 30-year strategy by a group of influential foreign-policy strategists who have been in and out of power in Washington for 30 years.
We - i.e., the Henry Kissingers of America - want Iraq's oil because for the next few decades it will bring us powerful leverage in our dealings with Europe, China, the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Even Mother Jones, who hates corporations and oil companies nearly as much as it hates Saddam, says Exxon-Mobil and its oily sisters aren't behind this "conspiracy." Oil execs are worried that, in the long run, America's adventures in the Middle East will bring chaos and trouble to the complex, amazingly efficient industry that truly makes the world go round.
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald