Recently, U.S. Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid fired off some personal shots at Generals David Petraeus and
Peter Pace. Reid's comments came during briefings with reporters and bloggers
who are generally against American policy in Iraq. His shot at Petraeus is
particularly noteworthy, since Reid was among those who voted to confirm
Petraeus as the commander of Multi-National Force Iraq. Again, it seems that
support for the troops takes a strange turn. This time, it seems to include
insulting those who are supposed to lead them.
These comments come as the surge has been going on.
Even without all the forces, there have been effects. In several parts of Iraq,
Sunni tribes have turned on al Qaeda. The efforts in Baghdad have also met with
some success as well. There have been higher casualties, but much of this is
due to the efforts to engage and clear out insurgents. Among the successes on
the part of the coalition is a sharp decline in the number of helicopters shot
down. Another is the fact that a number of the major leaders of al Qaeda have
been taken out. The mainstream media has not covered many of these successes.
Part of that is a due to a change of tactics on the
part of the terrorists. The anti-government forces have now attacked a number
of bridges - looking to cause damage to the infrastructure of Iraq. They also
paid another visit to the Samarra mosque - in an attempt to re-ignite sectarian
strife. In essence, their targets are not so much Coalition troops, but Western
newsrooms and politicians. Why?
The reason is simple: They cannot win on the
battlefield - and they have turned most of Iraq's population against them with
their indiscriminate attacks and thousands of dead women and children. Their
only hope is to get the American Congress to pull the funds - and that requires
convincing the media in the United States that the war is not winnable.
Spectacular attacks tend to draw headlines. After all, if it bleeds, it leads.
The editors, who tend to be sympathetic towards the anti-war movement, then
proceed to accentuate American casualties.
Al Qaeda has taken note of this - and has sought to
exploit that vulnerability. They are also aided by the fact that the American
news media tends to take great pride in its independence. In essence, the media
has been more than willing to treat the military with skepticism - and also has
been willing to repeat the charges of abuse at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. To
some extent, al Qaeda has succeeded - the negative media coverage of Iraq was a
factor in the Democrats taking control of Congress.
Terrorist groups have also been able to plant phony
claims of massacres. In 2002, the phony claims surrounded the aftermath of the
battle of Jenin, where it turned out that most of the dead were terrorists. The
current controversy over Haditha also seems to have been generated by a media
outlet's repetition of claims from a human rights group. Not only do these
claims generate more support for the anti-war movement, but they also aid
Senator Reid's comments about Generals Pace and
Petraeus reflect the two-faced nature of many anti-war politicians. When they
are talking to the general public, they support the troops. Then they proceed
to undercut those who lead the troops - and they also will declare the troops'
efforts to be a failure, even when they have hardly started. This is support
that the troops can do without. - Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)