Planted stories and more

On today’s MSNBC web site an update on the story of the Pentagon’s propaganda program quotes Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., as saying that the program, part of an effort to “get the truth out” in Iraq by paying to plant favorable stories with Iraqi journalists and newspapers, is a serious problem.

The timing on the disclosure of this program was ironic in that it came to light just as President Bush released his strategy for victory in Iraq. It includes the need to support a “free, independent and responsible Iraqi media.”

“We are very concerned,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. “We are seeking more information from the Pentagon.”

The original story was run in a variety of publications including, presumably, the New York Times. Though I missed the Times story, one of my favorite readers and an occasional commenter apparently read it, became incensed, and sent the editor a letter in response. He emailed me a copy of the letter which I reprint here:

Dear Sir,

The NY Times is the best paper in this country. However:

As this country’s premier newspaper, why do you find it compulsory to bash our war effort in at least one front page story each day?

If these positive stories about our troops you complain of are true, why should we not pay to place them in the Iraqi papers? Could paid stories in Iraqi papers be more biased than the anti-American coverage appearing in your paper every day? To a stranger, who doesn’t know better, it would appear you are paid to air stories in favor of the enemies of the United States. Of course, we Americans know better. You bash the Administration to enlighten us for which our enemies around the World are grateful. Self flagellation seems to be your imprimatur. The only parallel I can recall is how the Viennese newspapers treated Dolfuss as he was trying to resist the Nazis just before the Anchluss. As a footnote, their editorial staff was sent to the death camps and never heard from again. Ungrateful Nazis. Go figure.

I looked at the headlines run in the NY Times during WWII and could not find similar criticism of our efforts in Europe or the Pacific. I couldn’t find criticism of Jack Kennedy losing his PT boat. I couldn’t find criticism of Gen. Mark Clark after the debacle at Anzio beach. Where were your guys after Kasserine Pass or Monte Cassino? Battle of the Bulge? Debacle after debacle went unreported. Today you act like movie critics when it comes to one of the most unpredictable of all human endevors. War is messy. Freedom is not free. It may take us decades to establish the institutions of democracy in Iraq just as it did in Germany and Japan. I cannot recall criticism in the New York Times of Harry Truman or Gen. Marshall when they proposed the budget busting idea of the “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Europe. Just curious. Are you competing with Al Jereeza for readers?

Best Regards,

Kent S. Woods

My reader’s thoughts on the matter relate directly to the frustration that our field commanders often profess in regard to the coverage of the war by the media. For example, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, laments that, “We want to get the facts out. We want to get the truth out.”

Perhaps one of the problems is that there are a variety of truths in regard to this war and they don’t necessarily agree with one another. The consequent frustration felt by the various proponents of differing views is at least understandable. Whether the fact that this war seems to have the audacity to reach hard into the gut of each of us and incite our respective hot zones is a good thing or bad, I don’t know, but a fair question seems to be: how long can this go on?

It seems evident that we all need to come to agreement in some central, primal way. It would appear that our leaders need to determine what we all really want (not just what they want) and get busy implementing the hell out of it. After all, they work for us.

That strategy might also work particularly well in respect of what the primary parties of Iraq (the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds) might want in their respective heart of hearts, now that the governance of their country has been so thoroughly destructured and opened to creative design.

Perhaps it behooves us to look once again at the way rebuilding has taken place in the Balkans inasmuch as it surely is a model for enlightened nation restructuring. It doesn’t take an overactive imagination to see the similarities between Milosevik’s Yugoslavia and Saddam’s Iraq. Insofar as the intervention itself is concerned, Yugoslavia/Serbia was no threat to the U.S. or NATO members and yet action was taken and justified as being humanitarian. That war was also preemptive. Our motives and methods with respect to Iraq may have been strikingly different but we are there now and our only legitimate mission at this point is to bring structure and peace to the region.

It may take quite a while. More on this later.

In any case, click the headline for the update on the planted stories.

make or read commentsCOMMENTS

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Planted stories and more

  1. wows1 says:

    It is pretty sad the only way to get the truth out in Iraq is to pay reporters. If editors and reporters were doing their job this would not be the case! Another reason the so called “mainstream” press loses readership by the day.

  2. The truth is like a cut diamond. It’s harder than rock and yet has many sides. That presents a problem to any publication. It takes all of us.

  3. Kent says:

    There is no way we can leave Iraq in the hands of terrorists or Islamist extremists in Iran. With the billions of petro dollars they will have and their will to destroy us.

  4. You and I agree completely on the idea that we cannot leave Iraq the way it is, and looks to become. The fact that our invasion there was the stupidist undertaking ever conceived by an American administration is no longer even relevant. We’ve got a very serious problem and we are all gonna have to come together big time to solve it.The key to solving the Iraq problem is going to involve the implementation of a structure which by its existance, by its very nature, instantly isolates the al Qaeda who have found their way into Iraq. That should not be too difficult. The Sunni Baathists, Shiite and Kurds alike have been long term enemies of the al Qaeda and have absolutely nothing to gain long term by associating with them, and they know this. The insurgent Sunni are cooperating with them now because they have the same short term objectives. Their longer term objectives are vastly different and that is understood.The al Qaeda who were not permitted anywhere near Iraq in times past have insinuated themselves into the country like an army of gun toting, rabid thugs. They must be isolated so that they may be expunged by the people themselves. That is the core strategy Washington should focus on. It is the overiding principal on which the restructuring plan must be developed.As an aside, by exporting his demented terror campaign to neighboring countries – Jordan in particular – al Zarkawi is chipping away at his own base. I would have thought he was more intelligent. That was a major mistake and he will pay dearly. He has begun the process of isolating himself for us.

  5. Kent says:

    Great analysis. I think we can win this thing if we keep on point. It will be painful for the families of the boys yet to die. But the price of peace in the world is worth it. I think your nuanced description of the insurgents is on point. However I don’t think the Sunnis have thought this through. If we leave now, they may be wiped out.

  6. Kent, I think there are maybe three or four people in the country who think we should leave now. The rest of us know that’s not possible. But it won’t be long. We’d better hurry the hell up and get some intelligent diplomacy in place. Forgive my cynicism but maybe we should call someone in from the outside to consult.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s