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bitmasher's picture
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New Iraq Plan

Well Bush has barely announced his plan and ranking members of the new congress are already throwing objectionable sound bites at the media. I encourage the informed reader to view the following WSJ position piece. A position piece is powerful in that it carries the weight of the paper. In this case WSJ is essentially backing the new Iraq plan for clear reasons spelled out in the Op Ed piece.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009496

expatriate's picture
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New Iraq Plan

The problem we have is that too many people are fixated with victory in military terms. Americans need to realize that war has changed.

You hear a lot about "hearts and minds", but the point people forget is that the bad guys are targeting the same thing. They know they can't take on our military directly. But they've studied history and have seen what happened in Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia. Break American will, and you win. Americans lose by not winning, and the enemy wins by not losing.

The bad guys understand this, but unfortunately most people here don't. In this war, the media and politicians are all combatants engaged with the enemy, and the goal is to win the population instead of territory. However, these combatants are putting their own interests ahead of national objectives, and are trying to win the population in ways that serves the enemy's purpose. The media knows that tragedy and failure sell papers and ad space. Also, for several years, we've had a major political party shut out of power that was willing to say anything to get it back without accountability. In this environment, the bad guys don't even have to carry the ball into the endzone -- they just have to toss it into the air and someone in this country will carry it in for them. The sad thing is that most of them don't realize they're carrying the ball into the enemy's endzone. They like to hide behind traditional notions of warfare to try to innoculate themselves from accountability.

This is a war of willpower and nerve. Lose that, and we lose the war. No amount of military bravery will overcome lack of willpower and focus at home.

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New Iraq Plan

The major lacking determinant here is "American will".. AS a nation, I do not think we actually have the will/guts/fortitude to do what is needed to"win". Compare the show "band of Brothers" to what you see on "Shootout" when Iraq comes up. In wwII, if some one shot from a house, a full scale assault meant grenades thru the door followed by massive firepower. No one cared who else might be in the house. On shootout, there is an assault on the house, but very few grenades are used, lest we hurt some innocent civilians who are used as voluntary/involuntary shields by the other side. More of our guys get hurt as a result. In my opinion, if victory is truly a goal, then maximum effectiveness with minimum casualties on our side is the only way to go. It is truly doubtful that we can ever win the hearts and minds of Iraqis. So, we either raze the place or leave it to stew in its own juices.

CVC
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New Iraq Plan

I didn't hear anyone complaining when we bombed the crap out of Iraq in the first gulf war. I didn't hear anyone complaining when we bombed the crap out of Afghanastan.

What I do hear is complaining about putting our troops in harms way with no real objective and not letting them fight. I also hear complaining about fighting the Iraqi people's battle when they won't fight for themselves and will utlimately kill one another once we leave.

I think the American people have the will to fight a war when the military is allowed to fight it. They don't have the will to continue to put troops in harms way when the politicians tie the military hands and do not let them fight a war the way it should be fought.

expatriate's picture
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New Iraq Plan

The problem is that the hands get tied because of constraints imposed to keep bad news off of CNN. All of those restricitve ROEs were put there because of people freaking out whenever a noncombatant got hurt.

Plain and simple, the problem is that the military has to operate in an environment where it has to be absolutely perfect and not make any mistakes. Things sure have changed from firebombing Dresden and Tokyo. Nobody expected dumb bombs to be perfect, and all smart bombs have done is raise expectations and set the bar higher in terms of collateral damage.

There's also a thread of ethnocentricity running through things. The bad guys are almost expected to commit atrocities because they're a more barbarous people fighting for their survival. but yet we're supposed to be high and mighty, and fight from a higher plane because of our civilization and advanced weaponry. So enemy actions don't get much coverage or may even get sympathy, while our own military gets hammered at every turn. Would you have ever thought Saddam would get such a sympathetic response to his hanging? Meanwhile, he same media that seems to have endless patience for enemy misconduct is ruthless in its pursuit of our own military.

CVC
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New Iraq Plan

Expatriate, you are correct about the media. It really saddens me to see soliders defending themselves for actions committed in the heat of battle because some news person reported it.

The expectations for soliders is unrealistic.

Maybe you can shed some light on this - why did the US military start allowing embedded reporters? They second guess the split second decisions that soliders have to make.

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New Iraq Plan

CVC............very good question. The worst thing that was ever done was bringing war right into the livingroom. Instant on the scene media coverage has been the one most significant factor in changing the face of war.

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New Iraq Plan

We've had "embedded reporters" since the Revolutionary War. We just didn't call them that back then, and they didn't carry TV cameras.

Would it be better if the American public couldn't see and understand what's really going on over there? I don't know. Maybe it would be. I tend to think that an informed public is better than an ignorant one, though.

expatriate's picture
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New Iraq Plan

DenverDon's right. Embeds are nothing new. The military has traditionally relied on them to try to get their story out. In a way, it's along the lines of keeping your friends close, but keeping your enemies closer. Ernie Pyle was perhaps the most famous embed, although he wasn't called that..

I recently read that major media sources have increasingly been refusing to allow their reporters to be embedded, because they think the reporters start relating to the military and becoming sympathetic to them, "skewing" their reporting. Oh, good heavens -- can't have that!

For the most part, the media seems to think that everything the miitary says is a lie, and everything the bad guys say is true. This is grounded in an innate distrust in the government, preconceived trust in what the bad guys have to say, and an egotistical belief that any source they can dig out of a trash can has to be better than an open source available to anyone.

A lot of this comes from the competitive nature of the business. If you use the same sources as everyone else and rely on official outlets, then as a reporter you blend in with all the other herd animals and don't get anywhere. Reporters are a lot like actors -- a dime a dozen with few shining stars. Pulitzer prizes go to those who come up with something no one else has. In the extreme, this leads to things like photoshopping photos to sell to Reuters. So who wants to rely on info handed out at press conferences? Anyone can get that -- but who can quote an actual terrorist?

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War?

Noone......ever won a war by being POLITICALLY CORRECT!! Brick Wall,) Brick Wall,)

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