Here’s another reason why the press coverage of the war switched so suddenly the Sunday before last. As I’m so fond of noting, Edumund Burke once said that example is the school of mankind and they will learn at no other. The press has only a few examples of wars in its memory banks. There’s World War Two, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and the airwar in the former Yugoslavia. Alas, the Korean War really is the forgotten war. And, when you boil it down, the press really thinks only Vietnam and the Gulf War are pertinent. These two examples are prisms through which they judge this war. So once we reached what they perceived to be a tipping point in this war, when it seemed to them to be less like a Gulf War II and more like a Vietnam II they simply appropriated the relevant language.
Of course, this war still bears a closer resemblance to the first Gulf War than it does to Vietnam. But that doesn’t matter much to the press. Once this war stopped meeting their expectations, they simply switched vocabularies. Now, the press is going through the difficult process of discovering this is a new kind of war.