Friday, January 05, 2007

Now that it's a possibility again...

Now that Darrell might be headed over to Iraq again, I find myself paying more attention to things 'round the 'net. I know I should be anyway, especially since my best friend's husband is in Baghdad right now, but I've been playing the ostrich with my head in the sand, pretending the issue isn't an issue.

But, it's time to pull my head back out of the sand and deal with reality.

I ran across this weeks ago. Not sure exactly where I did, but that doesn't much matter.

Some selected sections:

Would you trust a Hurricane Katrina report datelined “direct from Detroit”?
Or coverage of the World Trade Center attack from Chicago? Why then should we
believe a Time Magazine investigation of the Haditha killings that was reported
not from Haditha but from Baghdad? Or a Los Angeles Times article on a purported
Fallujah-like attack on Ramadi reported by four journalists in Baghdad and one
in Washington? Yet we do, essentially because we have no choice. A war in a
country the size of California is essentially covered from a single city. Plug
the name of Iraqi cities other than Baghdad into Google News and you’ll find
that time and again the reporters are in Iraq’s capital, nowhere near the scene.
Capt. David Gramling, public affairs officer for the unit I’m currently embedded
with, puts it nicely: “I think it would be pretty hard to report on Baghdad from
out here.” Welcome to the not-so-brave new world of Iraq war

The real IZ represents opulence in the midst of war — with terrific chow, huge post exchanges that stock an amazing array of products, the best medical care in the country, and large, sumptuous swimming pools built for Saddam but now open to anybody who works in the zone. Nor have the grotesque exaggerations of the dangers of the IZ gone unnoticed by soldiers and their loved ones. “Dear Chain-smoking, Unwitting Stooges,” military blogger Jason Van Steenwyk began an open letter to the Baghdad press corps. “So how come we can get mortared several times a week out here and it never makes the news, but the pogues [rear-echelon soldiers] in the Green Zone can catch three measly mortar rounds and I get my dad emailing me asking why the Baghdad press corps is covering it like it’s the second Tet Offensive?”

Ah ha! That's where. I read Jason's blog daily...


The sad truth is that the mainstream media have no interest in covering the
Iraq War for what it is, observes Dollard. He says they are interested in Iraq
only so far as it is useful as a weapon against their self-imagined mortal
political enemy, George W. Bush. The embeds, however, want the real picture —
and we want to tell the truth about it to the world.

And so it goes. I started reading Jason's blog when Darrell was over there the first time (since I'll assume he's headed there again). He was a company commander for a National Guard unit that operated in the same place that Darrell was at the time. While I don't agree with all of his politics, I appreciate his experience and candor.

In any case, I still don't know how I feel about the war. Or when and how we should leave Iraq. My feelings are irrelevant. What matters now is how I support my friend while her husband is there. How I support my husband as he mentally prepares himself to go back. And how I support the rest of the military - both servicemembers and the families they leave at home - when it isn't "our turn."

I do wish the media would do a better job of covering Iraq, not just the war. Darrell has told me many stories about the good things we're doing over there. I've seen bits and tiny pieces of what we've accomplished for the people trying to live normal lives. After my time in Bosnia after that war was over, I am anxious for the Iraqis to get to the point the Bosnians were - hopeful optimism. Children of different religions playing together peacefully again. Adults, while not embracing their neighbors of different faiths as a rule, at least tolerating their differences and realizing that perhaps those differences didn't matter as much as they were led to believe.

But unfortunately we're years from that place in Iraq. And until we pull out our military, many of my friends and loved ones will keep going over there to help get there.

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