Iraq Archives

Media Fooled by the Enemy…Again

Warner Hudson at Blogger News Network wonders, “how many times do we have to see the MSM reporting on a “massacre of Iraqi civilians” that turns out to be a false story planted by our enemies before we can definitively say that the MSM is purposefully aiding and abetting the terrorists?” He’s got coverage of yet another massacre that wasn’t.

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Live By the Polls, Die By the Polls

Many on the Left try to disparage any action Bush has taken by citing his poll numbers, especially regarding the war in Iraq. If the public doesn’t like it, it shouldn’t be done, or so goes the argument. Well, as I’ve said here many times before, I hate polls, but if you want to live by them, are you willing to die by them? Whatever you said about Bush when his poll numbers were dropping, is the opposite true now that they’re rising?

We’re seeing some slight hints of positive news for the Bush administration. For one thing, Bush’s job approval rating has stopped its downward trajectory. Bush hit bottom with his administration low point of 29% in early July (based on our USA Today/Gallup poll readings). Now – in the data just about to be released from our weekend poll – Bush’s approval rating has recovered slightly to 34%. That’s not a big jump, but it is the second consecutive poll in which the president’s numbers have been higher rather than lower.

Is the war a better idea now because the “surge” numbers are going up? (Emphasis mine, for a point to be made later.)

Also, we are seeing a slight uptick in the percentage of Americans who say the “surge” in Iraq is working. That may not be a total surprise given the general tone of news out of Iraq recently, including the positive light on the situation put forth by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack in their widely-discussed New York Times op-ed piece “A War We Just Might Win” on July 30. But it represents a change.

Indeed, the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll itself found a slight increase in the percent of Americans saying that the U.S. did the right thing in taking military action in Iraq, and were so uncertain about it that they redid the survey. And found the same results.

While public opinion can be important with regards to a war, the very transient nature of it shows that it’s not a good idea to lean too heavily on it regarding public policy.

The role of the media should not be discounted, either. Most of the media folks are down on the war, and the stories they cover and how they cover them mirrors much of that. And, as emphasized above, those reports and opinion pieces shape the way people think about the war and other topics, so when the media ignore all the good stories coming out of Iraq and then trumpet poll results as bolstering their view, it is very disingenuous. They know full well how their actions game the numbers. A single opinion piece by liberals who finally decided to see for themselves what was going on was a big factor, Gallup says, in bringing the numbers up. This says to me that if the public knew all the good things happening in Iraq — if they got the fair and balanced full story — the poll numbers would be quite different.

I say again, I hate polls. My opinion on whether we should have gone to war in Iraq is not based on the feel-good (or feel-bad) story of the week, or how well the war is going today. But for enough folks, it does matter, and thus polls are the worst kind of “news” story. However, I am more than happy to hold those who do hold polls in high regard to their own standards.

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Shire Network News #98

Shire Network News #98 has been released. The feature interview is the second half of a conversation with Professor Deborah Lipstadt about the resurgence of anti-semitism worldwide, and why it’s not just Jews who should be afraid. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hi, this is Doug Payton with Shire Network News, asking you to “Consider This”.

This week, we take a run through headlines of the recent past, starting with this Associated Press headline, “Shuttle crew practice countdown”.


See, I knew I was astronaut material!

Next up, we have a story from the NY Times, discussing the progress in the war in the area of Ramadi in Anbar Province. You don’t hear much about Anbar these days, probably because it’s going so well there. Here’s a clip from that story.

Now, a pact between local tribal sheiks and American commanders has sent thousands of young Iraqis from Anbar Province into the fight against extremists linked to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The deal has all but ended the fighting in Ramadi and recast the city as a symbol of hope that the tide of the war may yet be reversed to favor the Americans and their Iraqi allies.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Oddly, the story appears to be invisible to the editorial writers who wrote these sentiments on the very same day.

“It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit. . . . Milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. . . . Whatever [President’s Bush’s] cause was, it is lost. . . . Keeping troops in Iraq will only make things worse.”

It’s like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is writing. If these folks do indeed read their own newspaper, what does it say about the quality of reporting if even their own editorial writers don’t believe it?

Also from the terrorism front comes this headline atop an article from ABC New’s Investigative Team; “Exclusive: Terror Commander: New Attack Will Dwarf Failed Bomb Plot”. OK, maybe something big is indeed coming, but how big does it have to be to dwarf a “failed bomb plot”? Sounds like the Taliban are setting the bar rather low for the future.

CNN is reporting that the United States wants ex-Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega, extradited to France. This sounds like some sort of prisoner rendition. Isn’t there a law against torture?

And finally we have an assurance from Senator John Kerry that our knowledge of history, of 165,000 dead in Vietnam and 2 million in Cambodia, was not as bad as we thought it was. (Click here for the video.) He responds to a caller to CSPAN who wants us to leave Iraq but is concerned that the aftermath in Iraq might mirror Vietnam.

Let me just say to the first part of your question with respect to boat people and killing, everybody predicted a massive bloodbath in Vietnam. There was not a massive bloodbath in Vietnam. There were reeducation camps, and they weren’t pretty and, you know, nobody, you know, likes that kind of outcome. But on the other hand, I’ve met lot of people today who were in those education camps, who are thriving in the Vietnam of today.

So there you have it. While reeducation camps aren’t pretty and generally distasteful, the fact that some survived it means that they couldn’t have been all that bad. One wonders if they were pretty, if a little more attention had been paid to the decor, they might have been just marvelous. Next week on CSPAN, Senator Kerry brings an Auschwitz survivor in to show how they’re thriving.

And those are the headlines from “Consider This”. Back to you, Brian.

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About Face!

James Taranto’s analysis and humor on events of the day is not to be missed. On a daily basis, he writes Best of the Web Today for Wall St. Journal’s Opinion Journal. Today is definitely no exception, and the rest of this blog post will be his analysis of a NY Times op-ed piece from today. It’s something that needs to be said, and said loudly and often. When, instead of reading what the liberal media writes about the war, journalists actually go to Iraq and see what’s happening, the results are amazing. And now, James Taranto.

On Second Thought, Don’t Surrender
In an important and surprising New York Times op-ed piece, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, both from the liberal Brookings Institution, describe a visit to Iraq, where they find that things are not as bad as–well, as New York Times readers have been led to believe. The piece is titled “A War We Just Might Win”:

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated–many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

O’Hanlon and Pollack report that Sunni sheikhs in Anbar province “are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies,” that “the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate” in the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul, and that “the American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners.”

They say the situation “remains grave,” especially on the “political front,” but they counsel against a quick retreat, as many Democrats on Capitol Hill have been advocating:

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

In a way, though, what is most telling about this piece is the introduction:

Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

For the sake of argument, let us suppose that the authors are right when they claim the Bush administration has “lost essentially all credibility.” Does this excuse the administration’s critics for being “unaware of the significant changes taking place”–especially when some of those critics have, for reasons of partisanship, ideology or just plain animus, actively campaigned to destroy the administration’s credibility?

In the critics’ defense, one may say that they have not, by and large, been in positions of responsibility; that if things have gone wrong in Iraq, the administration deserves the lion’s share of the blame.

On the other hand, those critics now include the leaders of both houses of Congress, as well as several politicians who would like to become president. For them, at least, it is a serious failure of leadership if they base their views on Iraq on their own disdain for President Bush, or the hope of exploiting voters’ disdain for him, rather than on reality.

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Sunni and Shia Brought Together By…

…the US military.

TAJI, Iraq — U.S. forces have brokered an agreement between Sunni and Shi’ite tribal leaders to join forces against al Qaeda and other extremists, extending a policy that has transformed the security situation in western Anbar province to this area north of the capital.

The extremists struck back yesterday with a suicide car bomb aimed at one of the Sunni tribes involved in the deal, killing three militiamen and wounding 14.

Members of the First Calvary Division based at nearby Camp Taji helped broker the deal on Saturday with the tribal leaders, who agreed to use members of more than 25 local tribes to protect the area around Taji from both Sunni and Shi’ite extremists.

Our fighting men and women in Iraq are not some dumb, poor folks who got “stuck in Iraq” (thank you John Kerry), and they’re not just fighting men and women, either. They’re bringing peace (real peace, not the Saddam Hussein kind) to Iraq, one province at a time. It’s slow going, no question about that, but I do hope the American people will let the military have the time to do the job right, because it is getting done.

Similar agreements in Anbar province have been credited with putting al Qaeda and its foreign extremists on the defensive while bringing relative peace to some of Iraq’s most violent areas.

The Taji agreement, however, is the first involving both Sunni and Shi’ite sheiks, and the U.S. military hopes it will help temper the increasing influence of the Mahdi Army in and around Baghdad.

“A month ago, every single one of these people was shooting at us,” said Sgt. Richard Fisk as he walked through Falahat pointing out places where his troops had been hit by roadside bombs.

Capt. [Martin] Wohlgemuth said the tribal leaders approached the United States for support after a number of raids and detentions, coupled with increasingly brutal treatment of the local population by the group calling itself al Qaeda in Iraq.

The captain said that in some cases he has helped members of the new militia to get relatives released from U.S. and Iraqi custody, provided they were not linked to al Qaeda.

Things are getting better. But will Democrats notice come September?

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Good News from Iraq, But Will Anyone Listen

General Pace sees a lot of good news coming out of Iraq — a “sea change” in the security situation, according to TIME — but when his report comes in September will the Democrats really listen? When Harry Reid declared the surge “a failure” before all the troops had even arrived and put into action, it tipped his hand as to how he’d vote 3 months later, regardless of outcome. He and his caucus have made up their minds. Don’t confuse them with the facts, now or in the future.

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When Does a Massacre Matter?

Confederate Yankee has some serious questions for the AP.

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Tony Blair on Who the Real Enemy Is

Preach it, Tony.

“It is so comforting to people to say there was an error made in the planning. Someone didn’t spot what was going to go on,” he told the House of Commons liaison committee, made up of all the chiefs the lower chamber’s scrutiny bodies.

“That is not what has created the problem. What has created the problem is that the people we are fighting have decided to give us a problem.

“What they have decided is that if they can hang on long enough in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, then we will lose the will.”

He said that Islamist militants purporting that Muslims were being oppressed by the West had a “difficult argument to make” if Muslims were being given a free vote for the first time.

“If we end up saying that because these people are committing these acts of terrorism in Iraq or Afghanistan, that we shouldn’t have done the removal of Saddam or the removal of the Taliban, then we are making a fundamental mistake about our own future, about security, about the values we should be defending in the world.”

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The troops for the surge have all finally arrived.

The full contingent of new U.S. forces being sent to Iraq — what military leaders call a “surge” of troops to improve security and stability in the capital — was completed by Friday, with 28,500 additional troops now posted in the country, a U.S. military spokesman said.

“The strategic movement of forces into the theater is complete, and the surge is just starting,” said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. “Now that the force is here, we’ll see the counterinsurgency start in full swing, and we’ll be able to execute the strategy as it was designed.”

Someone really needs to inform Reid and Pelosi that something can’t fail before it’s even really got going.

Unless you’re politicizing the war, that is.

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The Real Human Shields

Before we went into Iraq, there were folks who volunteered to be human shields to protect the country. But instead of being placed near schools and hospitals, these folks were shocked to find out that they were being located, by Saddam, near army bases. Having been whacked by reality, they bailed out.

But today’s human shields have a lot more honor and courage. And they know who the real enemy is. This picture highlighted by Gateway Pundit, and appropriately tagged with a Psalm by Military Motivator, is what a real, honorable, human shield looks like. A soldier mom commenting at Gateway Pundit describes it best.

The boy doesn’t know why or care why that soldier is in Iraq: he simply has learned that the American soldier is the Good Guy and that the Soldier would give his own life to protect the child.

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