- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

As someone who lives abroad but follows closely the reality of American football, college and NFL, I have not had the time or inclination to look into Fantasy Football, a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States.

But I certainly have watched enough American news programs abroad to encounter Fantasy Media, to which we owe the fabricated horror stories of Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, I have been daily subjected to what is clearly Fantasy Politics, courtesy of the same channels. I can only assume that the news media or the entertainment industry, which seem to function as one entity these days, have decided that if their readers and listeners will absorb as fantasy the great game of hard-hitting American football, Fantasy Media and Fantasy Politics will be an easy sell as well. How else to explain the media “news” and “analysis” of recent weeks, where it’s hard to tell the difference between “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show” and network news?

First we heard directly from the blatantly incompetent city and state officials in New Orleans and Louisiana, who for years have left their major city and citizens unprotected from Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, the horror stories of rapes, murders, marauding gangs and an estimated 10,000 dead. Some in the media now dare admit such official claims were not only grossly exaggerated but were in fact not even really true to any degree worth mentioning, if they happened at all. In fact, there were almost surely more rapes and murders in New Orleans on a regular good-weather day before Katrina came roaring through the Gulf. But to all the anti-Bushies in the media, it was an irresistible fantasy. The fact that the mayor and governor both froze at the wheel didn’t keep the media from blaming President Bush and the federal government (which had accurately predicted days in advance what was coming and what could be the extent of the damage and flooding). And in lockstep, the socialist-leaning European media, which doesn’t understand our federal system and is only able to believe that centralized national governments can manage local problems, used this natural disaster, too, to blame Mr. Bush for all the non-existent rapes and murders and failures to evacuate. All the while, the New Orleans school buses, unused for evacuations, were left parked by the city government — not by Mr. Bush — only to be swamped by flood waters, and the governor kept the Red Cross, FEMA and U.S. military from entering at the earliest moment. So much for Fantasy Media.

But the worst has been the Fantasy Politics of American media news and analysis on Iraq, where, as is the case in Afghanistan, George W., with the full support of Congress, has replaced the most criminal tyrant and sworn enemy of the U.S. in the Middle East with a democratic government elected by a higher percentage of voters, despite gunfire and death threats, than many countries can claim in peace time, a move that stunned the Middle East.

Still, our Fantasy Media, without any references to statistical comparisons, intimate that a few suicide bombers a day are a threat to our superpower military forces to the extent that the question “Are we losing in Iraq?” is a key subject on Sunday talk shows and on the cover of Newsweek and Time. Of course, no one in the media ever asks if Israel is going to lose against suicide bombers. This question is nothing but Fantasy Politics.

True, we have lost 2,000 American military killed in Iraq in the past two-and-a-half years, averaging 2.3 killed per day. But our media “experts” must be too young to make historic comparisons or remember the many bloody battles of World War II, where we were big winners in the overall war but lost this number or more in a single day (3,383 U.S. dead and missing on D-Day alone), and where we also faced and defeated Japanese suicide Kamikaze attacks. And how many violent American deaths have there been on U.S. soil since April 10, 2003 — over 35 per day — when we seized Baghdad in a lightning strike that left the Arab world dumbfounded? Now the world is dumbfounded, too, as Iraq gives birth to voting and a new constitution, as President Bush pushes democracy throughout the Middle East, deals with the worst natural disaster to hit our nation, and appoints a brilliant, new chief justice to the Supreme Court. Are these the programs of a weak president?

But now the world and the insurgents have the U.S. media’s new Fantasy Politics to tell them that the transformation happening in front of their eyes in Iraq is not to be believed. On the contrary, I opine that only a true superpower with a strong leader could be accomplishing this while indulging democratic debate. This is no fantasy. It is reality. Predictions that the world’s greatest superpower could lose on the battlefield to a few thousand insurgents are pure pot dreams or the wishful thinking of those who can’t swallow President Bush’s election victories and style, and secretly (never to be acknowledged) want to see him defeated at any cost to our nation. So much for Fantasy Politics.

James R. Fees served in the CIA for 25 years at home and abroad, including chief of station in three continents. He received numerous decorations for his service before resigning in 1980 to enter private international business.

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