18 July 2006

Winning in Iraq - Why I'm Doing This

(This is part 2 of 5 in the series addressing the misconception that we're losing the war in Iraq.)

Prior to coming to Iraq, I was skeptical about the situation here. I had never been deployed before and I had only been on Active Duty for about a year and a half. All I really knew were the stories that I'd heard from the Soldiers who had already been here and from the news, both of which I took with a grain of salt. I always believed that we were doing a lot more good in Iraq than was being reported, but I had no way to verify that belief.

Upon arriving "in country", I was assigned to the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad, also known as the Green Zone by the media. The IZ is home to the US Embassy and the Headquarters of the Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I). MNF-I is the brain that plans and organizes the war in Iraq. When President Bush says that he's conferring with commanders on the ground, he's talking about general officers in the IZ. Early in my deployment, I had the opportunity to sit in on several strategic briefings. Without going into details, let me say that after watching several of these high level briefings, I was impressed with the level of commitment to doing the good and right thing found at such a high level in the command. The focus that the Command Staff put on quality of life for the average Iraqi, along with the Command's attention to detail concerning the security situation and the progress on transferring total sovereignty back to the Iraqis, was impressive. I was and am shocked that this wasn't being portrayed in the media.

That wasn't enough to motivate me to do something about it, though. The event that finally spurred me into action was an interview on FoxNews in which an "expert" being interviewed said, "We're losing this war." I couldn't believe it. This American had just looked straight into the camera and told millions of other Americans that we in the military weren't doing our jobs. More importantly, he implied that my brothers and sisters in arms were getting shot and blown up for a lost cause.

I was irate. I nearly lost it. I had to restrain myself from putting my fist through the screen. This was my motivation for writing this article. Here was this chump in a suit and tie saying that we in the military weren't doing our job, and disrespecting the sacrifices made by so many.

Allow me to clarify this point. While I'm relatively certain that the intent of the comment was not to discredit the Coalition's efforts in Iraq, that was the effect it had. A person's motivation or intent for making this claim is irrelevant. We in the military have been given a mission and that is to win the war. When we're given a mission, we are expected and we expect to accomplish the mission, regardless of the obstacles in our way. For someone to imply, even indirectly, that we are failing to accomplish our mission, that we're losing the war, is not only offensive, it's wrong.

After calming down, I tried to think of his statement from a logical, factual standpoint. What could possibly make him think that we're losing the war? As I thought more and more about it, I realized that his apparent ignorance wasn't totally his fault. I concluded that he probably had never been to Iraq for any length of time and that he wasn't in contact with anyone who had been either. As a result of this conclusion, I determined that all he knew was what he saw on TV and read in the news, just like most of America and the rest of the world for that matter - just like I used to be.

I initially faulted MNF-I for not sharing their success stories with the media. I figured that, in an effort to maintain operational security (OPSEC) they were just keeping it all quiet. I began to search for as much good news as I could find, so that I could publish it on my blog to help it get better circulation, small as it may be. I didn't have to look far before I realized that MNF-I was, in fact, putting out TONS of information showing the progress that we're making here - pages and pages and pages of quantifiable data and positive news stories showing our progress.

This is when I came to my current conclusion that the blame lay squarely on the media. If one guy in the middle of Baghdad with nothing more than an internet connection and some spare time can find all this material, the 24-hour news channels and networks with all their resources certainly can as well. MNF-I was pushing this mountain of good news into the hands of the media and none of it was making the evening news.

I'm skating on the edge here. My goal is not to flog the mainstream media. My goal is to counter the tidal wave of negative reporting. This is the mission I have assigned to myself.


Anonymous dj elliott said...

You are not the only one to get sick of the press. I tend to call them enemy propaganda mills, when I am being polite.

Anonymous Anna said...

Oh, please Bandit, flog away! We are sick of the media, too! I won't read the papers and the online sources are no better. I do watch Fox News, but even they don't report good news, just the blood.

Keep up the good work, your word is getting out.


Blogger Arcticman Speaks! said...

Thanks Bandit. Keep up the good work. You are the best source for the truth I've found. I wont give the MSM my dime or my time!
P.S. Please tell your brothers and sisters in arms that I pray for your safety and that I thank you all for what you're doing there.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MSM has always been biased and sensationalist. One of the positives from this war has been the development/acceptance of blogs as reliable sources of information to counter the MSM.

Keep up the good work sir.

Blogger Rob said...

Keep em comin.

Blogger andrea/pj's said...

thanks bandit:)
i think u know this already
but in case someone is
lurking from the media,i have
not turned on cnn or cbs
for 2 years now...and others
are gettin on my nerves too.
don't read usa today either..

thanks as always for the update..

Anonymous Monica-Philadelphia said...

However, the MSM deserves a good flogging. I am glad that you are putting this information out - thank you. It's a disgrace that the lefties continue to insist that we're losing in the face of all of the good news coming out of Iraq. They don't care for the truth.

Blogger Cop the Truth said...

I agree with Anna, flog away. If mainstream America believes what the MSM is saying, we're really going to be in troublew in a few years. Everyone needs to know the great job you guys are doing. Cheers!

Blogger Wild Thing said...

You wrote a great post about this and you are so right. Thank you and thank you for all you do.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, wonderful news from Fox tonight. NY Times is cutting the size of their daily newspaper (52" inches wide down to 48 inches wide, AND laying of 25% of employees, in an effort to cut costs. Means revenue is declining. Means circulation is dropping. MSM has yet to figure out that Americans aren't as stupid as they think we are. Thannks for your outstanding blog and the work that you do.

Blogger Lucky said...

Awesome post Bandit....stay safe.

Blogger Mike H. said...

Ben, would that we had had the net and blogs when I was in 'Nam. Tis the same media that tries to lose this war for you in the manner that they did for us. They are only worthy of the average Iraqis sole on their head.

Blogger andrea/pj's said...

i read that today too about
that newspaper...
i laughed my ass off!!!!!

and i still watch your video
from the hit on Zarq.:)

Blogger skipsailing said...

As they say in the Navy, the cat is out of the bag. Someone will get flogged.

I turned off my television about three and half years ago. I get the local paper on sunday and I only listen to radio news when it interupts my talk shows.

Essentially I get my news from the net and no where else. The problem for us right now is that the MSM, which could be a reliable source of facts, has gone into the old porcelain punch bowl swirl.

Because of the emergence of the internet the mavens of the media can continue to dwell in denial about the causes of their slump. they will have a hard time recognizing that the fault lies not with the stars but with themselves. The product they have on offer is unacceptable and people are no longer buying it.

The NYT has announced plans to reduce the size of it's paper and eliminate one printing plant. 5% less news space and 800 printing jobs gone because they would rather engage in treason than give the paying public what we are willing to buy.

The times brain trust will blame the internet and certainly that's one component, but this simply allows them to perpetuate self delusion.

I'd love to hit eric lichtblau or one of the others with a raw egg. I know it's childish, but they seem so arrogant and beyond the reach of us groundlings.

Well perhaps the journalists will wake up one day and realize that they are their own problem. But I doubt it.

Blogger Mike's America said...

It boggles the mind to even attempt to explain how or why coverage in the lamestream media is so terribly biased and slanted against any good news in Iraq.

It must be the Vietnam syndrome, or maybe they just want us to fail.

There are so many heroes, whose heroism goes unreported and unsung.

The only thing I can say to everyone who feels the same is to blog on the subject, but also to write letters to your local papers requesting more balanced coverage.

The local paper may not alter their coverage, but they might print your letter and if you reach just one other person who has not considered the problem of media bias you've done a good thing.


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