Monday, June 16, 2008

The problem with editors

I just read a pretty good article on the overlooking of the concerns of the Iraqi people by American leaders over at Reason magazine. The article's overall thesis was thus:

In his own defense, Obama might remind us that he's accountable only to his countrymen, not to the Iraqis; that the "good government" he has talked about in his campaign applies to embittered Americans, not to Iraqis embittered by the prospect of a precipitous U.S. departure. He might even be elected on that basis. But this would show that Obama, who has sold himself as a man of vision at home, is selfishly unimaginative abroad. Worse, because it is unlikely he will be able to much alter U.S. policy in Iraq, since Iran will not cede much more to the next administration than it did to this one, Obama's promises are potentially deceitful.

For as long as American leaders don't treat Iraqis as important in their own right, the Iraqis will have no incentive to tie their long-term interests to America's wagon. Should that matter? Both realists and idealists would probably answer in the affirmative. But where does Barack Obama stand? It's hard to imagine that Iraqis see in him change they can believe in.


Somehow, however, the byline for the article became this:

America shouldn't give a damn about the Iraqis


Uh, what? I really don't think that was the argument that the writer was trying to make. How does arguing that "for as long as American leaders don't treat Iraqis as important in their own right, the Iraqis will have no incentive to tie their long-term interests to America's wagon" turn into "America shouldn't give a damn about the Iraqis?" Writers rarely get to choose their own headlines or bylines, but in this case it was a little too obvious.

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