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Back from Baghdad (Part 1 of 2)
The American Legion Magazine | 11/01/2004 | Alan W. Dowd/Karl Zinsmeister

Posted on 10/31/2004 1:56:23 PM PST by writer33

Karl Zinsmeister is more than editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise, a national magazine of politics, business and culture that gets its name from it’s parent think tank, the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute. He is a throw back to the early days of journalism, when news was the focus—rather than the newsman—when reporters worried more about the story than their image, when war correspondents understood that telling the whole story meant reporting good news as well as bad.

The Syracuse, N.Y., native has reported plenty of both in a pair of pivotal books on the Iraq war and postwar Iraq: “Boots on the Ground: and “Dawn over Baghdad.” Together, the books chronicle the rapid overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime and arduous reconstruction effort now under way. They have earned acclaim from such diverse sources as the Military Book Club, The Financial Times and National Review. PBS has invited Zinsmeister to translate the books into a documentary film.

The books serve as something of a bridge between Iraq and the American people—and a stiff dose of fact for Zinsmeister’s cynical Beltway peers. That’s because these initial drafts of history are first hand accounts. As an embedded reporter with the 82nd Airborne in 2003, Zinsmeister lived the lightning invasion that swept aside Saddam’s murder machine in three weeks. He then did what few reporters had the stomach or integrity to do: re-embedded during America’s simultaneous counterinsurgency and nation-building operations in 2004. When The American Legion Magazine interviewed Zinsmeister, he was preparing for yet another tour inside Iraq.

The American Legion Magazine: How has the embedding experiment changed the U.S. military and the press?

Karl Zinsmeister: I really don’t think it changed the military much. The military was already way ahead of the rest of the country in terms of its willingness to let us stare over its collective shoulder. I observe and report on all kinds of people and organizations—cities, government agencies, corporations—and none of the places I’ve studied has been as open as the military. The military has nothing to hide. They are confident about themselves, and it shows. I saw few adjustments made by the military to accommodate this invasion of reporters. They allowed us to see them as they were.

As to the press, I saw a lot of people who wasted their entire embedding experience. I moved from unit to unit and got in with the infantry. I didn’t expect to be babysat; I wasn’t looking for an escort. Others were. Some say the media was hypnotized by the access and led around by the nose. Nonsense. The military didn’t even know where I was and didn’t have any control over what I was seeing or doing—or what I was going to write. And those ground rules applied to every embed.

Q: You write about the hardships caused by the WMD threat. In light of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on shoddy prewar WMD intelligence, what are your thoughts on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs?

A: In my view, it really isn’t that relevant whether or not Saddam had active WMD programs immediately before the invasion took place. We had to assume he had them or could quickly reconstitute them. This is a man who used WMDs on 42 different occasions, and he had the motivation and personality to use them again. As long as he was in power, WMDs could pop up again on very short notice in his inventory or in the hands of someone he might choose to give them to. The scientists were still there, the labs were still there, the knowledge was still there, the factories that made the WMD shells were still there, and the markets were still there. In the post-9/11 environment, it no longer makes sense to risk that. It only makes sense to err on the side of safety. Saddam Hussein was a human WMD, and removing him was the only prudent course of action.

Q: In “Boots on the Ground,” you detail, the connection U.S. Troops make between Sept. 11, Iraq and the wider war on terror. How did Baathist Iraq fit into the web of terror? And why was it important to face this threat?

A: Most of the soldiers I was with would say that the real monster behind 9/11 was actually not Osama bin Laden. The deeper problem, the real root of the problem, is the incredibly incompetent and cruel governments that prevail throughout the Middle East and produce only one thing in bumper-crop quantities: homicidally frustrated young men. There are 22 Arab nations and zero democracies. Iraq will be the first. Until we fix this democracy deficit, we’re not going to be able to win the war on terror. We can’t do it with police on our border or metal detectors at airports. To choke off that supply of angry young men, we have to overturn these dreadful governments in the Middle East.

Iraq was the right place to start because A. There was no tyrant crueler in that region than Saddam Hussein. B. Iraq had a greater ability to hurt its neighbors and American than others in the region. C. It had a history of attacking its neighbors and U.S. interests. And, D. Iraq has a better upside.

Iraq is not like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. Those places are medieval, pre-modern cultures. Iraq has a history, pre-Saddam, of learning and an openness to modernity. I have met Iraqi engineers and physicians and literature to professors who are anxious to grab the reigns of a different society and make it a pioneering country for the region.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: iraq; personalaccount; zinsmeister
If there are any errors, it is my fault in the typos, because even I, no matter how I strive for perfection, will make mistakes. :)

I will post part 2 later this evening.

1 posted on 10/31/2004 1:56:23 PM PST by writer33
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To: JesseJane

*


2 posted on 10/31/2004 2:05:20 PM PST by JesseJane
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To: blackbart.223; HitmanNY; bitt; Stellar Dendrite; Glenn; Lokibob; kellynla; jobim; ...

Sorry for the ping, but this is a good read. Something that needs to be read before Election Day.


3 posted on 10/31/2004 2:13:33 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: blackbart.223; HitmanNY; bitt; Stellar Dendrite; Glenn; Lokibob; kellynla; jobim; ...

Sorry for the ping, but this is a good read. Something that needs to be read before Election Day.


4 posted on 10/31/2004 2:14:16 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

But what if I already voted?


5 posted on 10/31/2004 2:16:31 PM PST by perfect stranger (The Hummer is a regular Pat Buchanan on wheels." PJ O'Rourke from C&D magazine)
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To: perfect stranger

That's good. Then pass it on to some spineless undecided.


6 posted on 10/31/2004 2:17:14 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

That I will.


7 posted on 10/31/2004 2:18:39 PM PST by perfect stranger (The Hummer is a regular Pat Buchanan on wheels." PJ O'Rourke from C&D magazine)
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To: perfect stranger

I'll ping you with Part 2 later.


8 posted on 10/31/2004 2:19:43 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33; Chieftain; Ragtime Cowgirl; gatorbait; GreyFriar; americanmother; The Mayor; ...

bump


9 posted on 10/31/2004 2:20:42 PM PST by Former Military Chick (-"There's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.")
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To: writer33

It really is an excellent read, look forward to part 2.


10 posted on 10/31/2004 2:21:34 PM PST by Former Military Chick (-"There's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.")
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To: writer33

Great post. Absolutely on the money. The real enemy is the govts who suppress their own people and produce bumper crops of homicidal young men...then blame poverty, disease and ignorance on the US.


11 posted on 10/31/2004 2:22:32 PM PST by hershey
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To: Former Military Chick; hershey

Thank you both. I'll be pinging you later for the rest.


12 posted on 10/31/2004 2:23:56 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

send me more.


13 posted on 10/31/2004 2:24:31 PM PST by bitt (F'n, Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?)
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To: bitt

You bet. You'll get it later this evening.


14 posted on 10/31/2004 2:30:19 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33
Basic facts 101. Great work by Reporter! A genuine member of that historic ad grand profession (despite that it is nowdays overrun by the ersatz-azoids). May he see a long lifetime of fine paydays!

Thanks to you writer33!

15 posted on 10/31/2004 2:35:08 PM PST by bvw
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To: bvw

You're welcome, bvw.


16 posted on 10/31/2004 2:37:48 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

Roger that ~ Bump!


17 posted on 10/31/2004 2:43:33 PM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: writer33
Thanks!

To ALL Freepers and Lurker voters:

GO to the polls and vote for Bush. Take your friends with you to do the same. If you know any Zell Miller type Democrats that support Bush and they are voting for him, take them as well.

Vote EARLY to avoid the rush, and remember:

IGNORE ANYTHING IN THE MEDIA YOU HEAR (i.e., making a fast, early call in Florida for Kerry, etc.). WE CAN AVOID A REPEAT OF THE FLORIDA ELECTION DEBACLE OF 2000 THIS YEAR IF GOP TURNOUT IS STRONG, imho.


[Expletive deleted] !!!


18 posted on 10/31/2004 2:44:02 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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To: writer33

BTTT!!!!!!!!


19 posted on 10/31/2004 2:44:58 PM PST by E.G.C.
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To: writer33

BTTT!!!!!!


20 posted on 10/31/2004 2:45:12 PM PST by E.G.C.
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To: MeekOneGOP

It is an opinon that I share and I believe will happen as a turning point in history. I believe this year the partisan polls will prove to be wrong in regards to a close election. And it will shape America the better for it.

Thanks for the great graphics.


21 posted on 10/31/2004 2:49:06 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

Aw shucks, enough of us have been around to not worry about minor typos. The message is too important. Thanks for the ping on this. I look forward to reading part two.


22 posted on 10/31/2004 3:09:07 PM PST by Enterprise (The left hates the Constitution. Islamic Fascism hates America. Natural allies.)
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To: Enterprise

It should be up in a couple of hours.


23 posted on 10/31/2004 3:14:02 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33
Thank you.

I think that it not going to be close, also. I have been saying that for a while as well.

My prediction is:

Turnout has been BIG here in Texas. A record early voting turnout with almost 30% of registered voters having already gone to the polls. I think that has been the story nationwide where early voting is allowed.

I already voted:

Early voting begins in Texas today 10-18-2004
BUSY polling place this morning!

Here is an interesting site that tracks Early Voting in Texas.

Go, Dubya, go !!


24 posted on 10/31/2004 3:16:49 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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To: writer33

Karl Zinsmeister is outstanding! Thanks for the post.


25 posted on 10/31/2004 3:34:05 PM PST by PGalt
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To: writer33; Former Military Chick; Cannoneer No. 4; TEXOKIE; xzins; Alamo-Girl; blackie; SandRat; ...
Most of the soldiers I was with would say that the real monster behind 9/11 was actually not Osama bin Laden. The deeper problem, the real root of the problem, is the incredibly incompetent and cruel governments that prevail throughout the Middle East and produce only one thing in bumper-crop quantities: homicidally frustrated young men. There are 22 Arab nations and zero democracies. Iraq will be the first.

~*~

Good post. Thanks, writer33.

Many who are there will tell the story and keep the history, and we will pass it on.

It is a new media day in post-911 America.

26 posted on 10/31/2004 3:41:08 PM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

Bump!


27 posted on 10/31/2004 3:47:13 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: writer33

Thanks writer33. Good read. Awaiting part 2.


28 posted on 10/31/2004 3:49:16 PM PST by TexKat (Just because you did not see it or read it, that does not mean it did or did not happen.)
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To: MeekOneGOP

Great news!


29 posted on 10/31/2004 3:49:23 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: PGalt

It's a great interview. I completely agree. You're welcome.


30 posted on 10/31/2004 3:50:04 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

Thank you, Ragtime Cowgirl. Keep up your great posts.


31 posted on 10/31/2004 3:50:35 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

That will be down right groovy, thank you kind sir.


32 posted on 10/31/2004 3:50:44 PM PST by Former Military Chick (-"There's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.")
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To: TexKat

You're welcome. I should have the next part up within the hour.


33 posted on 10/31/2004 3:51:25 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: Former Military Chick

You're welcome, ma'am.


34 posted on 10/31/2004 3:52:09 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

PBS has invited Zinsmeister to translate the books into a documentary film.


ALL RIGHT!!!

Please flag me of Ragtime Cowgirl when you post the 2nd part. Thanks


Give yourself an attaboy
ATTABOY!


35 posted on 10/31/2004 3:56:43 PM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

I disagree.
The real monster behind 9/11 is hatred.
Hatred of Jews, hatred of Americans, hatred of anyone who is not Muslim and even hatred of some Muslims who are different than the terrorists. If people don't like their "incompetent and cruel governments" they can what Americans did and what every country in history has done sooner or later. Rebel and revolt!

Semper Fi,
Kelly




36 posted on 10/31/2004 3:57:39 PM PST by kellynla (U.S.M.C. 1/5 1st Mar Div. Nam 69&70 Semper Fi http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnkerry.com)
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To: writer33

"The deeper problem, the real root of the problem, is the incredibly incompetent and cruel governments that prevail throughout the Middle East and produce only one thing in bumper-crop quantities: homicidally frustrated young men. There are 22 Arab nations and zero democracies. Iraq will be the first."

I have been telling my friends in Asia, that we must take Iran and Syria, and then hope for a domino like topple of the rest .


37 posted on 10/31/2004 3:58:24 PM PST by international american (Support our troops!! Send Kerry( back to Bedlam,Massachusetts,and close the U.N.)
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To: Tolik

Moral Clarity alert

Q: In “Boots on the Ground,” you detail, the connection U.S. Troops make between Sept. 11, Iraq and the wider war on terror. How did Baathist Iraq fit into the web of terror? And why was it important to face this threat?

A: Most of the soldiers I was with would say that the real monster behind 9/11 was actually not Osama bin Laden. The deeper problem, the real root of the problem, is the incredibly incompetent and cruel governments that prevail throughout the Middle East and produce only one thing in bumper-crop quantities: homicidally frustrated young men. There are 22 Arab nations and zero democracies. Iraq will be the first. Until we fix this democracy deficit, we’re not going to be able to win the war on terror. We can’t do it with police on our border or metal detectors at airports. To choke off that supply of angry young men, we have to overturn these dreadful governments in the Middle East.


38 posted on 10/31/2004 4:01:05 PM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: international american

I believe that's what we're trying to do here in Iraq.


39 posted on 10/31/2004 4:03:13 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: international american

I have been telling my friends in Asia, that we must take Iran and Syria, and then hope for a domino like topple of the rest .


If the Iraqis are even remotely successful in establishing a free democratic Iraq we won't have to invade. Iran is on the brink of collapsing now.


40 posted on 10/31/2004 4:07:15 PM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: writer33

Correcto!


41 posted on 10/31/2004 4:20:10 PM PST by international american (Support our troops!! Send Kerry( back to Bedlam,Massachusetts,and close the U.N.)
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To: kellynla
Bad leaders in the service of the enemy behind the enemy - keeping the people in bondage through fear, hatred, jealousy, bitterness - old story - but it is the leadership that has weakened the resistance of the people, and that done intentionally.

Chuck Swindoll tells a story about Stalin that should sicken every person with any freedom. As an example of breaking the will of the people, so they no longer would fight, Stalin picked up a live chicken, and plucked it's feathers, slowly and painfully, one by one. When he later held out a handful of seed to the shaking bird, the chicken, without a leash or cage, walked up to his hand, and ate, broken.

42 posted on 10/31/2004 4:40:58 PM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: international american

"Correcto"

You see. I'm not as dumb as I like. :)


43 posted on 10/31/2004 5:00:27 PM PST by writer33 (Try this link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/books/electivedecisions.shtml)
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To: writer33

Is there a link to the original article?


44 posted on 10/31/2004 5:19:34 PM PST by lancer (If you are not with us, you are against us!)
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To: writer33

I believe this year the partisan polls will prove to be wrong in regards to a close election.

Conservative turnout is the best way to avoid tieing this election up in court ala election 2000. It is also the best form of protection against Democratic vote fraud which is predictably going to be widespread this year.


45 posted on 11/01/2004 6:15:58 AM PST by Reaganghost (Reagan could see the Renaissance coming, but it will be up to you to make it happen.)
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