Yesterday, when I heard that thousands of Turkish troops may have crossed the border into Iraq, I was extremely concerned. Turkey has been building up its military forces on the Iraqi border for some time. There has been intense debate in Ankara among political and military leaders about whether to attack separatist rebels of the PKK. When I heard of Turkey's latest move, I feared that the Iraq war was quickly spilling into a larger regional conflict, so I turned on CNN for the latest. And here's what I saw:
That's right, CNN's headline: "Teen, Sex, Prison." I guess the producers couldn't find an excuse for "Live XXX Girls."
This story, about a teenager imprisoned for statutory rape, repeated throughout the morning. It wasn't until mid-afternoon that CNN provided any substantive coverage of the situation in northern Iraq. The coverage lasted for maybe five minutes - before CNN returned to footage of...yet another missing teenager.
It was just as bad at CNN.com. There I found a brief story on the incursion between headlines including "Man tries to jump onto popemobile," "Jumbo squid swarming off California coast," and "Jericho' fans assail CBS with 25 tons of peanuts." I really, really wish I were kidding.
Of course, Turkey has sent limited numbers of troops into Kurdistan before, as a part of its anti-terrorist policies. And, since reports are conflicted, it's not clear how many Turkish troops are in Iraq right now. But the possible consequences of foreign forces in Iraq are dire, according to the Iraq Study Group Report:
• "A broader regional war."
• "Humanitarian catastrophe... as more refugees are forced to relocate across the country and the region."
• "Ethnic cleansing"
• "A Pandora's box of problems--including the radicalization of populations, mass movements of populations, and regime changes--that might take decades to play out. If the instability in Iraq spreads to the other Gulf States, a drop in oil production and exports could lead to a sharp increase in the price of oil and thus could harm the global economy."
I can only hope that if these terrible (and increasingly likely) events do occur, CNN will break away from the intense coverage of issues like the judge who fixed divorce cases for cigars, and Paris Hilton's latest shenanigans. And I don't even want to know what will be on Fox.