Friday, June 10, 2005

THE WASHINGTON POST article about the rock-bottom chances for rebuilding an independent Iraqi military anytime remotely soon has attracted a lot of attention among bloggers, both on the right and on the left. Conservative bloggers are dishing out the usual tripe: The Washington Post hates our military and would do anything to bash the Pentagon; the media ignores all the "good news coming out of Iraq" and blah blah blah. This last comment comes from Mark R. Levin at The Poor Man, who fails to tell us what that good news is. He links his phrase "all the good news" to the Post article that he is criticizing. Then he claims (falsely) that "not a single U.S. serviceman has been killed in Iraq since May 17." He links this statement to a post at another blog, The Road to Surfdom, which does not have one word about there being no U.S. casualties since May 17, but which does comment critically on the media's failure to report on American deaths in Iraq. In fact, if you look at The Road to Surfdom for 30 seconds, it is obvious that this is a liberal, antiwar blog. Finally, after saying that the failure of the mainstream media to note that no U.S. casualties have occurred in Iraq since May 17 proves that the MSM does not care about Americans dying in Iraq, Levin tells his readers in an Update that one of his readers has informed him that at least 67 U.S. servicemen have been killed in Iraq since May 17. And then he adds, "I believe this only serves to strengthen my original point."

If any readers would like to see this amazing display of ignorance and incompetence for themselves, the permanent Memeorandum link is here.

There are more displays of ignorance at Right Wing News. John Hawkins has a post headlined "Memo To The Pentagon: The Press Isn't Your Friend Or, Alternately, The WAPO's Hit Piece On Iraqi Military Training":

Someone has got to clue the Pentagon in on the fact that the press is not their friend, that the press is going to smear, undercut, and generally put a negative spin on every single thing that they do.

You'd think the Pentagon would understand this, but they keep sending reporters out with the troops and almost nothing good has come of that practice since the actual invasion of Iraq, when the embedded reporters actually gave the troops fair and balanced coverage.

Here is my memo to John Hawkins: The press is not supposed to be the Pentagon's friend. The press is supposed to be society's independent watchdog, bearing witness to what governments and other powerful institutions would rather keep hidden and writing about the things that the public is not supposed to know about. At least, this is the role of the press in a free, democratic society. If Hawkins truly believes that the function of journalism is to write whatever will make the military and the central government look good, he would probably be happier in a society that is farther down the road to totalitarianism than the U.S. is at the present time.

Then there is this perfect illustration of why liberal bloggers define themselves -- in contrast to right-wing bloggers -- as being "reality-based."

Regardless of what the WAPO and the rest of their anti-war, anti-Bush buddies in the MSM have to say, we will train the Iraqis to handle their own security, they will take over, the American casualties will drop tremendously, and large numbers of our troops will come home. All of that will start to occur this year, probably right on schedule, just like the Iraqi elections.

Then, probably by the summer of 2006, if not earlier, most of our troops in Iraq today will have come home, American casualties will slow to a trickle as they have in Afghanistan, the Iraqis will police their own nation, and the soldiers left in the country will spend their time in American military bases to make sure none of Iraq's neighbors get any funny ideas.

This is wishful thinking; and what angers conservative bloggers like Hawkins is that the press does not always pander to their delusions (although more often than Hawkins will admit, they do).

As a proudly liberal blogger, I am part of the reality-based community. So it's not at all difficult for me to understand why the training of Iraqi forces is going so badly.

  • American soldiers despise the Iraqi soldiers, and make no attempt to hide their contempt. The article gives half a dozen examples of this: The Americans consider the Iraqis to be cowards, slackers, and potential traitors. U.S. soldiers call Iraqis "preschoolers with guns." Iraqi soldiers are not given details about anti-insurgent missions for fear the Iraqis will tell the insurgents. Iraqi soldiers are given the worst equipment; the best is saved for Americans. Iraqi soldiers ride in partially open, unarmored Humvees; American soldiers ride in fully enclosed, armored Humvees. American soldiers have air-conditioned quarters to sleep in; Iraqi soldiers sleep in tents or in tin-roofed sheds with no walls, or on cardboard or plywood under tattered blankets. There is no electricity at all, much less air-conditioning. The water they drink is the same water they bathe in.
  • The U.S. forces make very little attempt to understand or consider cultural and religious sensitivities. They bring in Western-style toilets with no thought of how this will be received by people whose country is being occupied by these Westerners. They ask Iraqi forces to raid mosques; to bring guns into their holy places and shoot the worshippers. They scream insults in English at Iraqi soldiers who do not speak English. They treat Iraqis disrespectfully, making them wait several hours to be searched when returning from leave.
  • Most of the Iraqis in the security forces joined up for the money. Often it's the only job available in a country where unemployment is extremely high. They don't know what they're fighting for. They are expected to identify with the U.S. mission, and consider it their mission, too; while simultaneously seeing all around them the devastation their fellow Iraqis have experienced at the hands of those U.S. forces.

Given all this, the insistence on the right that none of these problems actually exist; and if they do, they will be overcome in short order with some positive thinking and blind faith comes across as incredibly naive and even childlike. Which makes one wonder which side is acting more like preschoolers.

No comments: