I’ve been collecting New York Times news sections since Tuesday, March 23, 2004, and thought it would be interesting to see what was going on in the papers a year ago today.
Even in the heat of the battle for the White House — Vice President Cheney and John Edwards had just held their fiery debate at Case Western University — the overriding topic was the war and the wisdom of our strategy there.
Cheney said our actions in Iraq were “exactly the right thing to do” in part because of the country’s “established relationship with Al Qaeda.” He also said the Bush administration had “never let up on Osama bin Laden from Day One. We’ll continue to aggressively pursue him and I’m confident we’ll get him.”
In Iraq, prime minister Ayad Allawi had just given his first speech to the National Assembly, saying the insurgency was a “source of worry for many people” and “a challenge to our will.”
Most striking, though, were the four subsequent paragraphs from Iraq, all about the U.S. military’s “second major offensive of the last week,” which “followed a much larger and deadlier weekend offensive in the insurgent-controlled city of Samarra ... American and Iraqi officials have been saying they intend to take back rebel territory this fall to lay the groundwork for general elections scheduled for January.”
And so they did.
Now fast forward a year and consider something from Monday’s paper about current military efforts in Iraq: “American military commanders see this effort as a crucial step in their strategy of cutting off the supply of foreign fighters that has fed the insurgency,” the Times says, “and threatens to tip the country into civil war.”