CS Monitor: 'Code Pink Rethinks Its Call for Afghanistan Pullout'

October 8th, 2009 6:27 PM

When a prominent anti-war group changes its position on whether or not American troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan, you would think typically anti-war media outlets would be all over the news.

Apparently not, for a Christian Science Monitor article published Tuesday concerning Code Pink's change of heart on the war in Afghanistan mysteriously generated very little media attention.

Before exploring why that might be, here were the shocking details:

Code Pink, founded in 2002 to oppose the US invasion of Iraq, is one of the more high-profile women's antiwar groups being forced to rethink its position as Afghan women explain theirs: Without international troops, they say, armed groups could return with a vengeance – and that would leave women most vulnerable.

Though Afghans have their grievances against the international troops' presence, chief among them civilian casualties, many fear an abrupt departure would create a dangerous security vacuum to be filled by predatory and rapacious militias. Many women, primary victims of such groups in the past, are adamant that international troops stay until a sufficient number of local forces are trained and the rule of law established. (Read more about Afghan women's concerns here.)

During their weeklong visit here, in which they met with government officials, politicians, ministers, women activists, and civil society groups, the small team of Code Pink members had hoped to gather evidence to bolster their call for US troop withdrawal within two years, and capitalize on growing anxiety back home about the war.

While the group hasn't dropped its call for a pullout, the visit convinced them that setting a deadline isn't in Afghanistan's interests, say Ms. Benjamin and fellow cofounder Jodie Evans.

"We would leave with the same parameters of an exit strategy but we might perhaps be more flexible about a timeline," says Benjamin. "That's where we have opened ourselves, being here, to some other possibilities. We have been feeling a sense of fear of the people of the return of the Taliban. So many people are saying that, 'If the US troops left the country, would collapse. We'd go into civil war.' A palpable sense of fear that is making us start to reconsider that."

Wow. Seems like big news, right?

Not exactly. According to LexisNexis, no other newspaper besides the Monitor published this revelation in print.

As for the Internet, the Los Angeles Times Top of the Ticket blog wrote about it Wednesday.

On television, CNN and Fox News addressed this a number of times Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

And that's it.

Quite a difference from when George W. Bush was President and any time these folks said a word the media would be all over it.

This raises an obvious question: why?

As NewsBusters and the Media Research Center have been writing about for the past few months, anti-war stories have been well under the press's radar since Bush left the White House.

With the new president claiming shortly after his inauguration that Afghanistan is a war of necessity, the Obama-loving media seemed disinterested in giving attention to remaining dissenters.

As such, one would think a prominent anti-war group reversing course and making the case for troops staying would fit the present media template unless the view is that Obama might be reversing course himself.

As a result, Code Pink's change of heart may be bad timing for a president about to change his own.

Whatever the reason, the press's lack of interest on this one is sure to raise some eyebrows.