Jill Carroll not the important story in Iraq

Last week, Iraqi insurgents released Jill Carroll, a freelance writer for the Christian Science Monitor, after almost three months of captivity. This is definitely newsworthy, but we shouldn’t neglect the more important story – the Iraqi insurgency.

National networks have been following Carroll’s every step from the minute she was kidnapped to the moment she stepped foot in the United States. In the next few weeks or so, she’ll probably be on “Larry King Live” blabbing about it.

But as compelling as her story might be, there’s really no educational value of hearing it unless it’s put into a greater context. Who are the insurgents? What are they fighting for? Why are they fighting? Most of the mainstream media has failed to answer these questions.

Luckily, the PBS show “Frontline” recently aired a documentary called “The Insurgency” that brilliantly answered these questions. This documentary is available online on the PBS Web site, and we recommend it to anyone interested.

In it, Michael Ware, Time magazine’s Baghdad Bureau chief, spent time imbedded with actual Iraqi insurgents. Most U.S. media outlets are only showing the Iraq War from a U.S. troop perspective. Ware is one of the only people out there who isn’t. He reported critical news about the insurgency that probably no other publication or network has done before.

The most important thing the documentary highlighted is the chaotic segmentation of the insurgency. Contrary to popular belief, the insurgency is anything but unified. It consists of dozens of groups with different agendas, enemies and ideologies. Many are Saddam Hussein loyalists with expert military training and are fighting U.S. troops. Others are convicted criminals with little or no organization and are just kidnapping people for money.

More importantly, many of them have little or no religious affiliation whatsoever.

Iraq is teetering on the brink of civil war. Many insurgent groups are purposely creating chaos by exploiting differences between Iraq’s ethnic groups.

Whether or not one supports the Iraq War, understanding the insurgency shines light on why U.S. troops are having trouble winning. Insurgents are at a tremendous advantage because they have better knowledge of Iraq’s territory than U.S. troops. They are exploiting our ignorance by blending in with common Iraqi citizens. As a result, U.S. troops and coalition forces have difficulty figuring out who is and isn’t an insurgent.

These two paragraphs are only a CliffsNotes summary of the insurgency. Foreign policy analysts have written entire volumes on this subject. But the press routinely brushes over this integral part to understanding the Iraq War, and the Jill Carroll kidnapping incident is just another example.

Thanks to the advent of 24-hour news networks, this Iraq war has probably received the most quantitative news coverage than any other war in history. But ironically enough, this Iraq war has probably received the least qualitative news coverage than any other war in history.

A significant reason why many Americans supported the war in the first place was because the press failed to throw hardball questions at the White House. Now, our presence there lingers on along with our ignorance of the entire situation.

Without the proper context, the Jill Carroll story is just another piece of “info-tainment.”

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.