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America's unheralded victory (Iraq)
JPost ^ | 10-5-03 | CAROLINE GLICK

Posted on 10/05/2003 4:53:38 AM PDT by veronica

FORT STEWART, Georgia I arrived at Fort Stewart, the home of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, early this week to meet with the soldiers and officers of the 2-7 Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade, who had recently returned home after completing their deployment in Iraq. It was with these men that I hitched a ride through Iraq as an embedded reporter during the major combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 3rd Infantry was the main combat force in Iraq from the March 19 invasion through the fall of Baghdad on April 9. After the city's fall, the 1st Brigade took control of neighborhoods on the eastern side of the city, where the bulk of the population lives.

"We relieved the 87th Marine Regiment of their sectors east of the Tigris River. When we arrived, we felt like we had entered the Wild West.

Buildings were burning, car-jackings and looting were rampant. We had Iraqi police officers wearing military uniforms armed with AK-47s who we assumed were Iraqi military forces," 1st Brigade Commander Col. William Grimsley explains. "We held the zones until June 5. During those two months we oversaw the transformation of the area from a chaotic environment to an ordered city."

From the soldiers' perspective, the main US failure in Iraq to date has little to do with the situation on the ground. The main failure is the inability to transmit the reality they experienced daily to the American people.

"Our biggest mistake was letting go of the embedded media," says 2-7 executive officer Maj. Kevin Cooney.

"After the embedded reporters left, the reports coming out had no context. The reporters didn't understand the situation. They had no sense of what was actually going on and they didn't seem to care. They acted like ambulance chasers moving from one attack against US soldiers to the next without giving any sense of the work that was being accomplished," says Maj. Rod Coffey.

That work was vast. They opened schools; they paid civil service employees; they purchased school supplies; they hired contractors to fix and build sewage, electrical and water lines; they secured vital installations; and they cultivated ties with Iraqi citizens who were capable of providing services to the citizenry and information and intelligence to the US forces.

Much of this work was conducted in the blazing summer heat when the soldiers themselves were living in substandard conditions with sporadic electricity and water supplies. In the meantime, they conducted surprise sweeps and raids in search of arms, fugitives and terrorists.

How were they able to make the transition from fighters to administrators? According to the men, the main reason was the warm welcome they received from the Iraqi people.

"Everywhere we went we were surrounded by dozens of children smiling and waving at us."

"Old people came out of these hovels they lived in and gave us bread and invited us into their homes. "We knew that they were giving us what they had and we understood how much they appreciated that we had liberated them from Saddam," says Specialist Jennings Roberts.

Grimsley notes ruefully that after the embedded reporters left, the brigade had great difficulty persuading journalists to accompany his men on their missions to report on what they were doing. "They were all living in the Palestine Hotel and did not want to leave," he says of the reporters. "We had to beg them to come out with us. And on a number of occasions when they did come, and we knew that they had written up what they had seen, we found that for whatever reason, their newspapers did not publish their stories."

The sense the men share of being welcome in Iraq by the majority of Iraqis is backed up by recent opinion polling data which show that the majority of Iraqis do not want the US forces to leave.Yet largely because of the slant of the news reports about Iraq, it is hard to grasp just how far the US has come in a country where tens of thousands took to the streets on September 12, 2001 to celebrate the bombings of New York and Washington.

The men are quick to admit that liberating Iraq physically was easier than shepherding its people towards democracy and fair governance.

"The Iraqis who worked under the regime are incapable of exerting authority. They survived under Saddam by carrying out instructions without question and they still refuse to make a decision without receiving permission from us," says Grimsley. "We realized this when they asked us for permission to open schools. We couldn't understand why they needed our permission to do something that seemed obvious to us, but then it sunk in that what we were seeing was the result of the perversion of a society that lived under total repression for more than 30 years."

The mindset will doubtlessly take years to change.

Even the capture or killing of Saddam will only solve part of the problem. The other problem is that the Bush administration is not sending a message of absolute resolve, while those forces who wish the US to fail are. By targeting GIs and supporters of the Iraqi Governing Council, these forces are working to create a perception of mayhem and chaos that flies in the face of the actual progress on the ground.

The Western media isn't helping matters. In underreporting the successes the US has achieved while over-reporting the difficulties, it creates irrational expectations among the American public that Iraq should be completely rehabilitated in a matter of months.

Equally unhelpful are the so-called multilateralists within the international community, who understand that American success in turning Iraq around bodes ill for the United Nations' bid to establish itself as the ultimate arbiter of global affairs.

Then too, the administration perhaps did not fully comprehend the magnitude of the task it was undertaking when the decision was made to go to war. Not only would Iraq have to be de-Baathified in the way Germany was de-Nazified. It would have to do so while some of Iraq's neighboring states remained under the control of totalitarian, American-baiting regimes intent on reversing the results of the war.

Yet in spite of the negative publicity, the international hostility, the meddling of neighbors and the work of saboteurs, US forces are quietly succeeding in their task. The men all noted that the day that Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed by US forces, the celebration on the streets of Baghdad put Independence Day fireworks to shame.

"And yet, when the 11PM curfew came around, the carnivals abruptly ended and everyone went home," Grimsley explains. "The Iraqis have a healthy respect for power judiciously applied." In other words, Iraqis both applaud and respect the US for deposing their oppressors.

The soldiers paid no attention to the politics in Washington while they were in Iraq. They try to avoid watching the news now that they are home. But when they do see the reports, they are troubled by the distortion.

"The reporters that came to see us when we returned home ignored the tremendous pride we all feel in what we accomplished while we were over there," says Coffey.

Coffey himself was the subject of an odd front page photograph in the New York Times three weeks ago. The photo-editor lopped off his head to show a picture of his son embracing a headless torso in uniform, weighed down with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Coffey's son was crying. ("Probably because he had just gotten into a fight with his older brother. He wasn't crying over me, I had already been home for a week.") The decorated chest evoked no emotion from a reader.

In a way, this bizarre photograph tells the entire story of the campaign to prevent the US from winning. If the American public is deprived of a view of its heroes, who won a war and are winning the peace, they will, sooner or later, abandon the fight.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: 3rdid; embeddedreport; fortstewart; goodnews; iraq; victory; welcomehome

1 posted on 10/05/2003 4:53:38 AM PDT by veronica
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To: veronica
After the embedded reporters left, the reports coming out had no context. The reporters didn't understand the situation. They had no sense of what was actually going on and they didn't seem to care. - back to 'business as usual' for the media then?
2 posted on 10/05/2003 4:58:00 AM PDT by Free_at_last_-2001 (is clinton in jail yet?)
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3 posted on 10/05/2003 4:58:39 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: veronica
If the American public is deprived of a view of its heroes, who won a war and are winning the peace, they will, sooner or later, abandon the fight. - That's the media's plan!
4 posted on 10/05/2003 5:03:58 AM PDT by Free_at_last_-2001 (is clinton in jail yet?)
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
5 posted on 10/05/2003 6:52:55 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Ping!
6 posted on 10/05/2003 8:05:43 AM PDT by Stultis
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To: veronica
bump
7 posted on 10/05/2003 8:14:36 AM PDT by VOA
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To: Stultis; MJY1288; Calpernia; Grampa Dave; anniegetyourgun; Ernest_at_the_Beach; BOBTHENAILER; ...
Thanks for the ping, Stultis!

From the soldiers' perspective, the main US failure in Iraq to date has little to do with the situation on the ground. The main failure is the inability to transmit the reality they experienced daily to the American people.

"Our biggest mistake was letting go of the embedded media," says 2-7 executive officer Maj. Kevin Cooney.

Actually, the troops call the press "enemy #1." Our military is rather busy these days saving civilization. Informing the world is supposed to be the job of the FREE - thanks to the US military - American press.

Good article. (^;

 Thanks, Tonkin!

If you want on or off my Pro-Coalition ping list, please Freepmail me. Warning: it is a high volume ping list on good days. (Most days are good days).

8 posted on 10/05/2003 8:15:11 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("This isn't a game." <> "This is our lives." ~ Iraqi victim of Saddam to war critics who say "QUIT")
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
We are winning ~ The evidence is there ~ Too bad the pro-Saddam democrats and their lackeys in the media as so brain dead!
9 posted on 10/05/2003 8:19:36 AM PDT by blackie
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Grrrr.I care about what the troops think.The failure is the lazy reporters.They probably do sit in the hotel,interview the protestors of the day and think they are doing their job.If it bleeds it leads.
10 posted on 10/05/2003 8:28:53 AM PDT by MEG33
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To: Thud
fyi
11 posted on 10/05/2003 9:08:46 AM PDT by Dark Wing
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To: veronica
Thanks for posting this great article. It is one of only a handful of accurate articles that I have read since the fighting ended.

"By targeting GIs and supporters of the Iraqi Governing Council, these forces are working to create a perception of mayhem and chaos that flies in the face of the actual progress on the ground." Unfortunately, the media is a willing co-conspirator. "Grimsley notes ruefully that after the embedded reporters left, the brigade had great difficulty persuading journalists to accompany his men on their missions to report on what they were doing. 'They were all living in the Palestine Hotel and did not want to leave,' he says of the reporters. 'We had to beg them to come out with us. And on a number of occasions when they did come, and we knew that they had written up what they had seen, we found that for whatever reason, their newspapers did not publish their stories.'"

12 posted on 10/05/2003 9:18:05 AM PDT by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
Click on my Freepname. Many of us have been finding and sharing the truth from Iraq for weeks. We welcome all help!
13 posted on 10/05/2003 11:18:59 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("This isn't a game." <> "This is our lives." ~ Iraqi victim of Saddam to war critics who say "QUIT")
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; veronica
The soldiers paid no attention to the politics in Washington while they were in Iraq. They try to avoid watching the news now that they are home. But when they do see the reports, they are troubled by the distortion.

"The reporters that came to see us when we returned home ignored the tremendous pride we all feel in what we accomplished while we were over there," says Coffey.

Coffey himself was the subject of an odd front page photograph in the New York Times three weeks ago. The photo-editor lopped off his head to show a picture of his son embracing a headless torso in uniform, weighed down with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Coffey's son was crying. ("Probably because he had just gotten into a fight with his older brother. He wasn't crying over me, I had already been home for a week.") The decorated chest evoked no emotion from a reader.

(*NOTE FROM Vets_Husband_and_Wife what a pathetic commentary!!) of course I think everything I just quoted is.. but especially to distort the real reason a child is crying..and to not take notice of a hero!!) Read on...

In a way, this bizarre photograph tells the entire story of the campaign to prevent the US from winning. If the American public is deprived of a view of its heroes, who won a war and are winning the peace, they will, sooner or later, abandon the fight.

Enough said.. signing off WITH EVEN MORE DISGUST FOR THE MEDIA (surprized it is even possible, but it is).. and even MORE PRIDE for our troops (never surprized at that!!).

May God Bless them, and their families!! They are NEVER forgotten and ALWAYS appreciated in this house! We Pray for the troops daily, fly the flag daily too. Yellow Ribbons remain on our tree's until the guys and gals come home!!

We honestly believe the MEDIA is doing HORRENDOUS damage to our troops and the families of our troops morale.

SHAME ON THEM!!!!

14 posted on 10/05/2003 11:32:45 AM PDT by Vets_Husband_and_Wife (CNN: Where " WE report what WE decide!!")
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Bump!
15 posted on 10/05/2003 12:49:35 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: veronica
The AMAZING feat accomplished by our military in defeating IRAQ and the equally AMAZING job of policing and REBUILDING from scratch a country the size of California is one for the HISTORY books. If only NON LIBERAL PROFESSORS write those books that is.
16 posted on 10/05/2003 12:54:30 PM PDT by PISANO
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To: Vets_Husband_and_Wife
You know the left-press pulled the same stunt during Vietnam. Uncle Walter has competition today from Americans who care about the truth and have access to the primary news sources - the troops, DoD and the Iraqi people through the internet.

The anti-Americans can't muzzle every American with a computer and a friend in Iraq, or 23 million Iraqis with NEW free (thanks mostly to the US military) speech.

Hang in there! Keep spreading the word.

Arnold's approval ratings went up after the recent press attacks.

The American people aren't stupid. We don't like it when anyone endangers our troops by spreading lies, undermining morale and turning the world against America with the daily misreporting. We don't like it that the press is making a heroic and difficult job even more difficult for our heroes.

Many of us were awake on 9-11.

17 posted on 10/05/2003 1:33:57 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("This isn't a game." <> "This is our lives." ~ Iraqi victim of Saddam to war critics who say "QUIT")
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
I just got into another email 'argument' with a 'friend' about how t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e things are going in Iraq. I just cut and pasted this article in response. No muss, no fuss, no angry rant-writing. Thanks, Ragtime!
18 posted on 10/05/2003 2:34:55 PM PDT by Jerez2
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To: Jerez2
Thanks! I think you'll like this one for sharing, J2:

8 Beyond the nightly news ~ WORLDmag.com | 10/11/03 issue | Mindy Belz

Good facts, including data on civilian casualties, looting, UN Oil for Food program...

Doubting WORLDmag.com is almost as bad as doubting Billy Graham. *g*

19 posted on 10/05/2003 4:14:13 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("This isn't a game." <> "This is our lives." ~ Iraqi victim of Saddam to war critics who say "QUIT")
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To: veronica
bump
20 posted on 10/05/2003 6:53:39 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: veronica
"Our biggest mistake was letting go of the embedded media," says 2-7 executive officer Maj. Kevin Cooney.

Good article, and an interesting point. It's true that once the folks on the ground left and we went back to pressies sitting in a hotel in Baghdad trying to churn out what their (anti-American) editors want them to say, things went downhill fast.

21 posted on 10/05/2003 7:01:44 PM PDT by livius
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Bump!
22 posted on 10/06/2003 11:13:41 AM PDT by windchime
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