Reporting for Duty: The U.S. military tells Iraqis the truth, and some call it a “scandal.”

Wall Street Opinion Journal JOHN R. GUARDIANO Monday, December 19, 2005

The latest Iraq “scandal” the politicians and the media have discovered is the U.S. military’s alleged covert purchase of favorable articles in the Iraqi press. This alleged “propaganda campaign . . . violates fundamental principles of Western journalism,” reports the New York Times.

This is not surprising, insofar as Iraq does not yet enjoy “Western journalism.” Journalists there are murdered, blackmailed and bribed. They and their families are routinely threatened and coerced by terrorist/insurgents. Newspapers often serve as propaganda arms of various political and religious factions. The widely viewed Arab network Al-Jazeera works diligently to promote terrorism and undermine Iraq by disseminating lies, distortions and misinformation.

In light of this reality, the U.S. military has a choice: It can accept this deleterious state of affairs, play by Marquess of Queensberry rules, and wait decades for the emergence of “Western journalism.” The result would be a heady propaganda win for the terrorist/insurgents, a prolonged conflict, and more unnecessary violence and death. Or the U.S. military can work within Iraq’s present-day constraints to try to ensure that Iraqis hear the truth about what is happening in their country.

…more

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3 thoughts on “Reporting for Duty: The U.S. military tells Iraqis the truth, and some call it a “scandal.””

  1. Yes, isolated positive events have occurred in Iraq – no one disputes that. The US Armed Forces contain so many decent, kind and idealistic personnel, and there are thousands of Iraqis craving a return to peace and normalcy eager to work with them, that some progress is inevitable

    The question is whether or not the hopeful events the US military has helped report are representative of the situation in Iraq general and indicate a positive trend towards improvement of the situation, or whether they are anamolous and temporary and entirely the result of the US military presence. As one steps away from the picture and the eye focuses, not just on the one positive item of news, but on the wider, larger aggregation of many items of news does the picture remain as hopeful or the same?

    The fact that Iraqi journalists are paid handsomely for “good” news and not paid at all for bad news introduces a huge bias into the news collection and reporting process. A “Potemkin” reporting process that so strenuously exerts itself to broadcast any and all positive develpments, while downplaying or otherwise censoring negative news can hardly be relied upon to provide an accurate and trustworthy overall portrait.

    Understanding the meaning of events requires both breadth and depth of coverage. When we add those to our analysis of events in Iraq a more sobering and worrisome portait emerges.

  2. Bush recently stated that we would not leave until “success was achieved”. The problem seems to be that no one has defined what “success” means in tangible terms. Does it mean we’ll leave when the Iraqi army can defend itself (however that’s defined) or when there are no more cars bombs going off? Does it mean when the insurgency no longer exists or when their numbers are simply “lower”?

    Maybe it means when all Iraqis come to desire democracy as understood in American terms (meaning Islam is not the state-sanctioned religion). Good luck with that.

    We must come to terms with the fact that there may always be a resistant rebellion there. If the Iraqis are unwilling to quash this rebellion themselves, then I see no reason why we must do it with the blood of our own servicemen. Though we have somewhat of a moral obligation to assist them (we did invade their country for WMDs that … oops!… weren’t there after all!), I don’t see that this obligation extends into eternity.

  3. It is indicative of the shallowness of our national understanding of Iraq that most Americans still don’t grasp that President Bush’s definition of “victory” means victory by Iran’s theocratic Shiite surrogates. President Bush continues to incorrectly portray the struggle as one of an insurgency against a legitimate government, rather than the more accurate picture of distinct religious and ethnic sects vying for power.

    The result’s of last week’s election are coming in and it looks like the Shiite religious parties will win over 50% of the vote. There were widespread reports of election fraud by Shiites and Kurds. The Sunnis will never accept domination of their country by Iran, especially after such a flawed election process. Nor will Iraq’s neighbors, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia be comfortable with an outcome that gives Iran undue influence over affairs in Iraq. The possibility of a nuclear, militant, theocratic Iran with control over a large swath of the Persian Gulf will seriously destabilize the region and threaten world peace. We may one day realize that the Sunni minority we have worked soo hard to crush provided the best hope for the secular, western oriented Iraq that we had sought.

    The exclusion of the Sunnis means the violence will continue. Unless we truly accept the sectarian nature of the struggle and use our remaining influence to push for a more secular government that gives the Sunni minority more involvement and a sense of control over their own destiny, civil war is inevitable and President Bush’s “victory” will remain a delusional fantasy.

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