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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Help Wanted: White House seeks high-profile manager of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to coordinate competing agencies and make sure President George W. Bush's unpopular strategy is implemented.Would you take the job? One strike against it - opinion pieces (used against you) will be passed off as hard news. For instance, the first paragraph quoted above.
In a tradition of presidential trouble-shooting, the White House is considering creating a "war czar" post in the National Security Council and has put out feelers to some retired generals to see if they would be interested.
By the way, if you're a retired 4-star and pass on the chance to have your opinion matter, you might not want to follow up by giving your opinion to the press.
Or "Damned if you do, damned if you don't".
The old (from a few weeks ago) conventional wisdom on the surge and Sadr:
The Mahdi Army may choose to wait out the Americans by taking a low profile for the duration of the surge. If so, this will be helpful to US troops, but, of course, it will have done nothing to break the power of the Shiite militias.But in reality we've pressed the battle, including the battle for hearts and minds. (It's a race to the tipping point, I think someone recently said.)
But that forces the enemy to adapt their strategy to to our approach; in this case forcing the media to quickly generate a new "conventional wisdom". Here's the first attempt:
After four years of war, 3,200 American deaths, 23,000 U.S. troops wounded and possibly in excess of 100,000 Iraqis killed, U.S. policymakers are now making what may prove to be their worst mistake yet: They may be on a new collision course with Moqtada al-Sadr.Mark Steyn provided actual wisdom on the media love affair with Sadr a few weeks back:
U.S. forces backed by Iraqi troops were reported Saturday in fierce clashes with Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Army militia in a bid to wrest control from it of the southern Iraqi town of Diwaniyah.
Sadr running around Baghdad: Iraq in bloody sectarian civil war.The same process can be aplied to media coverage of any development in Iraq.
Sadr fled to Tehran: Dangerous power vacuum in Iraq.
Sadr lying in a big hole in the ground underneath US ordnance dropped from a great height: Beloved martyr whose death will be a recruiting tool across the Muslim world.
I think one of the stylebook requirements for anything to achieve "conventional wisdom" status in media today is that it incorporate concepts so blindingly obvious that even the dimmest among us can see it - but with the added twist that the Bush admin/military doesn't. This can be accomplished/supported by twisting words, taking quotes out of context, assigning meaning, or simply fabricating something from thin air. The UPI "analysis" includes this obligatory "Bush is stupid" section:
In addition, the prevailing wisdom in the Bush administration and the U.S. Department of Defense is that Sadr's militia is suppressed, dispirited and splintering with many of its top leaders already fled to Iran to avoid apprehension as part of the bold new U.S. surge strategy.In short, Bush thinks Sadr is defeated. I'd like to see that supported with a quote from the admin or the DoD, but beyond speculation that Sadr might have fled to Iran I don't think said quote is available. (And doesn't the fact we're still fighting sort of imply we know we haven't won?)
New Sadr Conventional Wisdom, in a nutshell: fighting the powerful Sadr is a mistake, but the US is doing it, even though they foolishly believe he's beaten already.
Why? Don your tinfoil hats kids, the UPI "senior analyst" knows all:
With a U.S. air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities widely expected in the region, U.S. forces may want to suppress, cripple or intimidate Sadr's militia -- the most pro-Iranian and anti-American of all the Shiite paramilitary groupings in Iraq -- as a preemptive measure.I would refer to this journalism technique as but one example of "appeal to the Ignoratti".
The Associated Press (AP) works very, very hard to make sure that worldwide (and particularly US) public opinion remains convinced that Iraq is a disaster, a civil war, and an ill-advised foreign occupation.
Sure, you can read between the lines to get the real story, but the writers, freelancers, and editors at AP really don’t want you to do that. That’s why they structure their “reporting” the way they do.
First, consider the headline that AP chooses for their report: “Iran may be helping Iraqis build bombs.” (Note: The headline may change over time, as part of the game as played AP is to first use inflammatory, misleading, or subjective headlines that they later “clean-up.”)
Note that the source for their story, the US Military, did not apply any qualifiers to their statements of fact:
BAGHDAD - Iran has been training Iraqi fighters in the assembly of deadly roadside bombs known as EFPs, the U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.But for the AP, that means that Iran may be helping Iraqis build bombs to kill US and coalition soldiers. Because for the AP, the propaganda of terrorists, state sponsors of terror, other enemies of the US, and “neutral” foreign observers can be taken at face value and reported as such. Information relayed by the US Military, in contrast, must be treated as propaganda, or even outright falsehood.
EFPs, or explosively formed penetrators, hurl a molten, fist-sized lump of molten copper capable of piercing armored vehicles.
"We know that they are being in fact manufactured and smuggled into this country, and we know that training does go on in Iran for people to learn how to assemble them and how to employ them," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said at a weekly briefing. "We know that training has gone on as recently as this past month from detainees' debriefs." In January, U.S. officials said at least 170 U.S. soldiers had been killed by EFPs.
Of course, the AP chose to dilute the full magnitude of what MGEN Caldwell conveyed, by burying some additional details far lower in the story:
Caldwell added that fighters also were trained in how to carry out complex attacks that used explosives followed by assaults with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.But that’s just post-history journalistic practice for the AP, and only part of the way they distort the “news” they choose to “report.” And boy, do they have allies in that effort.
"There has been training on specialized weapons that are used here in Iraq. And then we do know they receive also training on general tactics in terms of how to take and employ and work what we call a more complex kind of attack where we see multiple types of engagements being used from an explosion to small arms fire to being done in multiple places," Caldwell said.
The general would not say specifically which arm of the Iranian government was doing the training but called the trainers "surrogates" of Iran's intelligence agency.
Caldwell opened the briefing by showing photographs of what he said were Iranian-made mortar rounds, RPG rounds and rockets that were found in Iraq.
That’s quite a bit more of the picture, helpfully deferred by the AP, and placed below an extended discussion on Iraqi domestic politics. (This makes these details more likely to be cut out of abbreviated versions of the story when reprinted by smaller media outlets.)
(For more fisking of today's AP propaganda, find more at Dadmanly. I'm just getting warmed up.)All done!
Medical crews airlifted 850 wounded in March
The headline implies something that isn't....
As of March 24th,2007 there have been a total of 682 WIA in OEF medivacs and 7267 OIF WIA medivacs.
Back to the propaganda mouth piece
Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Air Force has flown 40,902 patients from combat zones.
The propagandists left out from that 40,000 total any mention that there have been 3,800 medical evacuations from OEF that were due to disease and another 19,197 medivacs from OIF that were due to disease as well as 1,393 Non-Hostile injuries medivacs from OEF and another 6,991 Non-hostile injuries medivacs from OIF.
Roughly 80% of all medevacs are Non-hostile injuries and disease.
For a comparison llets take a look at the medical needs at Fort Hood Medical Center(pdf)
There are nearly 155,000 eligible beneficiaries in the communities surrounding Fort Hood. On an average day, CRDAMC staff members fill 5,000 prescriptions, conduct 3,867 outpatient visits, perform 26 surgeries, deliver seven newborns, treat 170 patients in the emergency room, and admit 31 new patients to the facility.All done!
Two Marines in their dress uniforms - the ones with white hats, khaki shirts and blue trousers with red stripe - say they were accused of recruiting at a Target department store here and told to leave.The store manager (who wasn't there at the time) denied that the Marines were ordered out, but acknowledged that Target has a strict no-solicitation policy.
“We weren’t recruiting,” according to Cpl. Carlos Rodriguez, 22, who said he returned in October from his second combat tour in Iraq. “I just popped in to say hi to a guy I went to high school with. He works there.”
But an assistant manager who saw Rodriguez and the other Marine apparently thought otherwise and showed them the door, according to both servicemen.
I've never had any problem wandering through my local Target (or any other store) in uniform - but in my neighborhood about a quarter of the folks spending money in any local establishment are dressed just like me.
John Byrnes, author of the New York Post piece quoted below, has been blogging about the case here.
Spc. Mario Lozano of Manhattan remembers the moment in Baghdad that changed his life forever - when, with eyes "the size of apples," he saw a vehicle barreling directly toward him and he opened fire.
"You have a warning line, you have a danger line, and you have a kill line," said Lozano, speaking out for the first time about the March 4, 2005, "friendly fire" incident in which he shot from a Humvee machine-gun turret at the vehicle, hitting an Italian war correspondent and killing an Italian intelligence officer.
The nightmare resumes for Lozano, of New York's Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, next week - when he'll be tried in absentia by Italian officials on charges of murder.
"Anyone inside 100 meters is already in the danger zone . . . and you gotta take them out," Lozano told The Post from his brother's Chelsea apartment.
"If you hesitate, you come home in a box - and I didn't want to come home in a box. I did what any soldier would do in my position."
The resulting machine-gun burst hit Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been released by kidnappers, in the shoulder and killed Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, who had negotiated her release. The vehicle was racing to catch a plane home to Italy at Baghdad Airport, Lozano said.
Lozano said he had no choice: Like all grunts, he knew all too well what a car bomb could do. Two days before, "two good soldiers died on the road in the same way," he said.
Lozano and his dad, Mario Sr., blame Sgrena, a correspondent for the Communist paper Il Manifesto, for their nightmare. They criticize her for not making sure that her vehicle's whereabouts were known to the Army and then making a buck off the situation.
Sgrena, 57, was recently in New York promoting her book, "Friendly Fire: The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued by an Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot at by U.S. Forces."
"I'm sure her life isn't like mine," said a bitter Lozano, who works for his dad's construction business when he's not pulling National Guard duty.
"She's making money. She's famous. Meanwhile, I gotta live with the fact that a guy got killed because he didn't comply with orders and I was that guy who pulled the trigger."
"So when the Italian journalist said there was no light flashed, that's not true?" Logan asked.More:
"It's not true," Lozano said.
"When she says there's no warning shots, is that true?" Logan asked.
"There was warning shots," Lozano said. "It's not true."
"When she says the vehicle was fired upon 3 to 400 times, is that true?" Logan asked.
"No, that's a lie," Lozano said. "Because in order for that to happen, I would have had to reload."
There are serious problems with the account of the incident that Sgrena gives in speeches and in her book "Friendly Fire." The most absurd is her repeated suggestion that she may have been targeted for assassination. Ha! Lozano and his squad could have finished her off at the scene, had they intended.All done!
Instead, two soldiers worked feverishly to try and save Calipari. Other soldiers carried the wounded Sgrena to their Humvee and raced her to the hospital.
After two years of bashing Lozano in the media, Sgrena says that a trial will determine the facts. Was she ever really interested in the facts?
Mario Lozano will not appear in Italian court for this show trial. But he may answer the charges; prestigious civilian attorneys are offering their expertise in demolishing Sgrena's fictions.
Meanwhile the soldiers and the friends of New York's 69th Infantry are standing by him. Those of us who've been there know what he lives with.
It's scary, but it's not a guilty conscience.
What was once seen as a Victory for AlQueda
BAGHDAD, Sept. 5(Ed 2005) -- Fighters loyal to militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi asserted control over the key Iraqi border town of Qaim on Monday, killing U.S. collaborators and enforcing strict Islamic law, according to tribal members, officials, residents and others in the town and nearby villages.
could end up being a critical turning point
Had al-Qaida in Iraq, the organization presumed to be behind most of the terrorist activity in the town, not overplayed its hand, al-Qaim might still be the same killing ground for U.S. forces it was between 2003 and 2006.
I'll place the lag between cause and effect closer to the 18 month mark.