Why is no one covering the “why” angle?

iraq womens army 01Here we go again. Read this giant daily news story from the Washington Post and tell me if you learn anything whatsoever about why the Sunni and the Shiites are slaughtering each other.

All together now: Who, what, when, where, why and how.

Can someone out there in the MSM please address the “why” in this equation? Or break off one or two questions and explain them?

Consider this short section of the story, for example:

Practically every Shiite political party in Iraq maintains a force of men with guns — some virtual armies of several thousand or more, others what Peterson described as little more than a “neighborhood watch on steroids.”

Iraq’s other major factions maintain armed forces as well. Insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna are composed predominantly of Sunni Arabs and conduct frequent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and Shiite civilians. The pesh merga, a large militia maintained by ethnic Kurds, is formally under the command of the Iraqi army, operates mainly in the Kurdish north and poses no major security threat, U.S. officials say.

So al-Qaeda of Iraq is primarily Sunni. Why not “totally” Sunni? Why would Shiites join or refuse to join? What is the doctrinal difference between the Sunni Islam of Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Islam of al-Qaeda? How do they both — with deadly results — clash with the doctrines of the Shiites?

I am still looking for a single good MSM story that explains any of this. Please understand that I am not knocking reporter Jonathan Finer. But this is a 1,600-word story, which is a huge chunk of news hole in this day and age.

If the “why” element of a major story cannot be addressed in a story of this length, when and where will it be addressed in mainstream daily news? Come to think of it, has anyone seen a good Sunday newspaper story on the doctrinal content of all of this? A mainstream magazine piece?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://watersbloggedmchsi,com Bob Waters

    Because the Sunnis doing the slaughtering are members of al Quaeda- whose interests are furthered by civil war?

  • Rathje

    Apparently, the MSM believe that it’s explanation enough that these guys are religious.

    And we all know that all religous people are unhinged zealots. They all do things that make no sense.

    Trying to understand the finer distinctions between one breed and another of what are all crazy people is obviously futile right?

    Why can’t they just be like American churchgoers, for whom church is a nice fashion statement, but never something to actually be taken seriously?

  • Ryan

    I think saying Why can’t they (the terrorists)just be like American churchgoers is quite offensive. What about people who go are churchgoers in Britain, Zaire or even the Vatican city itself.
    Are you saying all muslims are evil.

    There are people who think killing others for their religion is good – It’s wrong! It’s not part of the Islamic religion. Nothing is said about illing innocent people for your religion.

    I would advise to get more information about a religion before commenting on it. It’s not very nice.

  • tmatt


    You misunderstood my question.

    I am asking for mainstream journalists to do more to tell us the doctrines and traditions that cause bloody conflicts between Sunni and Shiites. We need this info to try to understand the Arab conflicts.

  • http://mzdu92.skyblog.com salam

    salam yes cha’allah kheir