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Daily Column
US Papers Tue: A Nation Letting the War Pass By
Big cities largely untouched by Iraq conflict; Attack on Baghdad airport kills 5
By CHRIS ALLBRITTON 02/19/2008 01:44 AM ET
Is President's Day a day for war correspondents to take off? I guess it is, because USA Today again dominates the news with a package on the (lack of an) impact the war is having on big cities across America. The New York Times gets a roundup in, while the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal content themselves with op-eds.

Over there
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Mudhafer al-Huseini of the Times report on the rocket attack on the U.S. military base near Baghdad International Airport. Five Iraqis civilians were killed. This was an unusually intense volley, the two reporters write. At least two American soldiers and 14 Iraqi civilians, including six children, were wounded. American and Iraqi security forces arrested six suspects at the launching site, in the Amel section of Baghdad. It's an area thick with Mahdi Army fighters. While Moqtada al-Sadr declared a cease-fire last summer, American officials blame rogue groups within his Mahdi Army -- groups they say are backed by Iran -- for the violence. Also on Monday, three Iraqi civilians were killed and four wounded by an IED in Mosul. Unknown gunmen shot another civilian to death.

Home Front
Rick Hampson and Paul Overberg of USA Today write a story that confirms common sense: With the Iraq war approaching its 5th anniversary and 4,000th American death, larger cities in American have been mostly unscarred by KIAs in Iraq. Why? Because small, rural towns with limited economic and educational opportunities provide more recruits than big cities do, where residents are usually wealthier and more job opportunities. It's not rocket science. Nonetheless, Hampson and Overberg delve deeply into it, noting that Oakland is the biggest city to escape any casualties in the Iraq war. (In the Vietnam War, it lost 99 people.) The cities with the highest losses are New York City (62), Houston (38) and San Antonio (33).

Hampson fleshes out the package with a look at Worcester, Mass., the second-largest city in New England and which hasn't lost anyone in the war. Other conflicts were different: 42 killed in Vietnam, 104 in Korea, more than 700 in World War II. Like most of America, the war is passing Worcester by. "A nation at war? Baloney -- we're an Army at war, a Navy at war," says Leonid Kondratiuk, director of the Massachusetts National Guard Museum here.

IN OTHER COVERAGE

New York Times
Neil Genzlinger reviews "Rules of Engagement," a PBS "Frontline" show on the infamous Haditha incident in 2005.

Wall Street Journal
William McGurn, a News Corp. executive and chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush from January 2005 to February 2008, continues his stock in trade and plumps for the prez by attacking the Washington press corps. In short, the president was right and they're wrong. This piece is full of agitprop and demonizing -- McGurn says those skeptical of the surge aren't the audience for Bush's words and thus can be ignored.

Washington Post
Laura Dempsey, a civil rights lawyer and a political consultant with the Empire Bay Group, writes on the challenges faced by military wives. The military, she writes, isn't really geared toward two-income families; frequent moves lead to multiple tax jurisdictions, for instance, and licensed professionals such as lawyers and teachers must train in each state they're practicing in. The result is that unemployment among military wives is four times higher than the national average. She calls for a few targeted initiatives: regulatory and licensure exemptions, exempting military families from state and local income taxes, improve child-care options, allow family members to pay in-state tuition regardless of the service member's duty station, or simply allowing spouses to claim a permanent state of residence. These all sound like simple and good ideas.

Christian Science Monitor
No Iraq coverage today.

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