While this week's document dump from WikiLeaks on the war in Afghanistan may objectively contain no blockbuster, game-changing disclosures in the form of any single document, it still manages to create something extraordinary: an extended period of time in which the media rushed to the cameras to insist that the big story is that there is no big story at all.
Imagine a thousand headlines proclaiming "There Is No News Here!" Now imagine that those headlines pertained to a nine-year long, costly war. And then imagine that the "conventional wisdom" that underpins the collective boredom is the startling news that the war isn't going well, there is no cause for "optimism" and that the media has known about it for a long time!
Among the many nonscoops in the documents, we learn that war is hell, especially for infantry, and that sometimes troops make mistakes; that drone aircraft sometimes crash; that a forward U.S. base near the Pakistan border was ill-positioned to defend against Taliban attacks and had to be abandoned; and that many Afghan officials are corrupt and that Afghan troops flee often under fire. Any newspaper reader knew as much.
Far from being the Pentagon Papers redux, the larger truth is how closely the ground-eye view in these documents reinforces what U.S. officials were long saying: that the war wasn't going well, the Taliban were making gains, and a new and invigorated strategy was needed to combat them. Both the Bush and Obama Administrations made the same diagnosis in recent years, neither one kept it secret, and this year Mr. Obama followed through with an increase in troops levels and a renewed counterinsurgency.
Know why the Bush and Obama administrations don't feel compelled to keep the fact that the war in Afghanistan isn't going well "a secret?" Because they know the media spends long, long periods of time not caring about this life-and-death situation that costs soldiers their lives and American taxpayers untold sums of money! And do you see the Obama administration sweating the fact that the war isn't going well this week? Of course not! Why should they, given the fact that everyone on teevee is saying, "Oh, you mean you didn't know Afghanistan was a total Charlie Foxtrot? Yawn! Sigh! we've known about it for a long time. BORED NOW."
By the way, in about nine months or so, there's going to be a grand debate on the merits of withdrawing from Afghanistan along with the "conditions-based" timeline established at the time of the last "surge" of troops. You watch: the fact that the media has known for a long time that the war isn't going well won't inform their coverage at all! It will be reduced to one side -- the "unserious" side -- of an argument with several interesting points of view.
Surely the alien race that picks over the remains of our civilization will reflect upon this week as a particularly embarrassing time in our lives. For the benefit of all humans currently living on earth, HuffPost's own Ben Craw provides a video, documenting this pathetic week of war coverage.
Video produced by Ben Craw
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more