Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A soldier's view on Iraq

Major Ben Connable, Washington Post: The truth on the ground

When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw. Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq.

How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work? Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?
It is difficult for most Americans to rationalize this optimism in the face of the horrific images and depressing stories that have come to symbolize the war in Iraq. Most of the violent news is true; the death and destruction are very real. But experienced military officers know that the horror stories, however dramatic, do not represent the broader conditions there or the chances for future success. For every vividly portrayed suicide bombing, there are hundreds of thousands of people living quiet, if often uncertain, lives. For every depressing story of unrest and instability there is an untold story of potential and hope. The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading.

It is this false impression that has led us to a moment of national truth. The proponents of the quagmire vision argue that the very presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the cause of the insurgency and that our withdrawal would give the Iraqis their only true chance for stability. Most military officers and NCOs with ground experience in Iraq know that this vision is patently false.

There should be more accounts like this in the main stream media because, despite this rare example, the usual coverage is a non-relenting chorus of defeatist gloom and doom. No doubt that will continue, even as the Iraqis participate in another free election and their country continues to move toward self-supporting freedom. The Left has too much invested in seeing Iraq fail to change their tune now.

Previous articles on: main stream media
Media fights to make wars unwinnable
The Associated Press: responsible for higher US casualties
The Mediacrats
The double standards of Western media concerning prisoners
The damage to the media of the Plame case
Media coverage of Iraq has been biased to the negative


At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There should be more accounts like this in the main stream media because, despite this rare example, the usual coverage is a non-relenting chorus of defeatist gloom and doom."

Clearly, you have not watched FOX News.

More seriously, though, I think the reason military officers believe what they do is that they've been taught to believe that way. If your superiors are telling you day in and day out that this war can be won and all we have to do is stay in there until "freedom" has been achieved, then you're likely to believe it. That's how the troops get by every day--they trust that their superiors know what they're doing, because, in theory, they should.


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