Big Media Push Escalation in Afghanistan and at Home

Noting how “the president has set a limit on the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. For now,” FAIR associate Norman Solomon is letting Huffington Post readers know (7/9/09) “that’s how escalation works. Ceilings become floors. Gradually”:

A few times since last fall, the Obama team has floated rising numbers for how many additional U.S. soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan. Now, deployment of 21,000 more is a done deal, with a new total cap of 68,000 U.S. troops in that country.

Solomon warns that “‘escalation’ isn’t mere jargon. And it doesn’t just refer to what’s happening outside the United States”:

“Escalation” is a word for a methodical process of acclimating people at home to the idea of more military intervention abroad–nothing too sudden, just a step-by-step process of turning even more war into media wallpaper–nothing too abrupt or jarring….

As war policies unfold, the news accounts and dominant media discourse rarely disrupt the trajectory of events. From high places, the authorized extent of candor is a matter of timing.

Lots of recent spin from Washington has promoted the assumption that President Obama wants to stick with the current limit on deployments to Afghanistan. Soon after pushing supplemental war funds through Congress, he’s hardly eager to proclaim that 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan may not be enough after all.

While “Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that no limit has been set” and “sounded an open-ended note: ‘There is not a ceiling on troop levels in Afghanistan,'” Solomon writes that the announcement “was scarcely reported in U.S. media outlets. It has become old news without ever being news in the first place.”

Solomon foresees that “war planners in Washington are bound to proceed carefully on the home front. News of further escalation will come ‘piecemeal’–‘with no more high-level emphasis than necessary.'” For a look “beyond how many more troops and when to send them”–the only major questions about Afghanistan regularly given venue in corporate media–listen to the FAIR radio program CounterSpin: “Ann Jones on Afghanistan” (1/23/09).