On this day in 2003, the United States launched its air invasion of Iraq, with the ground component beginning one day later. It was the first stage of a war that would ultimately drag on for over eight years, killing thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians as the U.S. and its allies sought to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government.
Nineteen years on, Americans watch as a conflict embroils Eastern Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine beginning last month has brought frequent reports of deaths of innocents and strikes on civilian spaces.
Horrific scenes from the conflict in Ukraine have fetched headlines much like those published during the Iraq War. But there is a difference between journalistic reporting on a conflict and coverage that trends more toward activism. Reporters operating under the guise of objectivity repeatedly trended toward the latter approach during the Iraq War. Now, as establishment journalists not-so-subtly agitate for a more interventionist U.S. policy in Ukraine, it’s worth keeping an eye on these tried-and-trued hawkish tendencies.
In a press conference on March 15, reporters pelted White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki with questions regarding the Biden administration’s opposition to certain military support for Ukraine. There were over one dozen questions mentioning military assistance—including five distinct mentions of a no-fly zone—and only one question about the potential American role in facilitating negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
Neither were the numerous questions about military assistance purely fact-based. “Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have made so clear that what they believe they need the most is more warplanes and fighter jets. So why is the U.S. assessing something different?” asked a reporter. “Why does the U.S. believe they know better what Ukraine needs than what Ukrainian officials are saying they need the most?”