MARCH 19TH: Newspapers Look At Fifth Year Iraq War Anniversary Coverage

By: Emily Vaughan

This week we will be reviewing coverage in major newspapers related to the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.

The New York Times put together a big package on for the anniversary, including a slideshow of photos from the first weeks of the war, reflections on the war from correspondents on the Baghdad Bureau blog, and an interactive timeline of the major events of the war beginning with Bush?s 2002 State of the Union address where he labeled Iraq as a member of the “Axis of Evil.” The moving slideshow is only fifteen photos long, but it shows a breadth of shots from a group of Iraqis walking past a rocket to smaller moments like one of an Iraqi offering an American soldier a cigarette as the giant statue of Saddam Hussein is prepared to be torn down. David M. Herszenhorn also penned a piece about the Bush administrations miscalculation of costs of the war. They predicted $50 to $60 billion. Five years later the United States has spent around $600 billion.

The Washington Post also has a large package. They have special feature with profiles of 13 different people coming from different sides and aspects of the war, including policymakers, protestors, soldiers, Iraqi politicians, and family members of the deceased. Karen DeYoung wrote a feature voicing opinions and reflections on the last five years and how the military strategy has changed. She expresses the frustrations of military leaders now at having to answer for old strategies they were not involved in, and their struggle to keep the public and the government engaged in the conflict now that issues like the economy have superceded Iraq.

The Chicago Tribune discusses the odd coupling of progress and stagnation in a country where the violence has decreased, but the prospects for complete restoration of peace are grim. Liz Sly addresses the practical challenges still left, like providing basic services like electricity to Iraqis, but acknowledges that the biggest challenge will be repairing the social structure damaged by the sectarian fighting.

The L.A. Times notes that Iraqis are both more and less free. While they are globally connected with cell phones and satellite TVs, the violence still limits their freedoms ? of speech, of movement, and from fear. Tina Susman reports on the technology boom in the country, especially with stores on Sinaa Street. But their sales and success are still limited by the violence that force stores to close and owners to stay home for fear of bombings and kidnappings.

McClatchy?s Washington Bureau has audio recordings of their Iraqi staff talking about their memories of, experience in, and opinions about the war. In their feature of the day, Leila Fadel notes that there have been successes since the surge in clamping down on the violence, but it?s only one aspect of what needs to be done, and the political and living conditions haven?t changed in a sustainable way. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq told McClatchy that the progress ?clears away some of the smoke and dust that maybe has obscured challenges down the road? but that ?it is going to be a long, long process of building and developing a stable and safe society.?

The Boston Globe put together a package with photo slideshows and a graph charting the levels of violence over the five years and where major events happened in relation to it, as well as an interactive feature showing where the most violence has occurred in the country. A photo gallery shows pictures from throughout the war, and a video by Charles Sennott shows images of the war, and discusses future prospects for keeping the violence under control.

USA Today created an interactive feature about the fatal American casualties during the last five years. A graphic shows the number statistically and visually shows what close to 4,000 deaths look like. But it also gets personal. Each mark shows the name and some personal information about the individual soldier including their position in the military and how they died. A search function allows users to look for specific victims of war.

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