Images you won’t see in the evening news

Sometimes in our everyday lives
we tend to forget what’s going on
elsewhere in the world and that the brave
men and women of the service are
just like you and I. They have family
and friends back home who love them
very much and are praying
for their safe return.

Many thanks to Robert F. for sending us these pictures.

[This article reprinted from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Media’s dark cloud a danger

Falsely bleak reports reduce our chances of success in Iraq
By JIM MARSHALL
On Sept. 14, I flew from Baghdad to Kuwait with Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg from Dearborn, Mich. He was in a body bag. He’d been ambushed and killed that afternoon. Sitting in the cargo bay of a C 130E, I found myself wondering whether the news media were somehow complicit in his death.

News media reports about our progress in Iraq have been bleak since shortly after the president’s premature declaration of victory. These reports contrast sharply with reports of hope and progress presented to Congress by Department of Defense representatives — a real disconnect, Vietnam déja vu. So I went to Iraq with six other members of Congress to see for myself.

The Iraq war has predictably evolved into a guerrilla conflict similar to Vietnam. Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: “Sir, this is worth doing.” No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I’m afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with “the rest of the story,” the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

During the conventional part of this conflict, embedded journalists reported the good, the bad and the ugly. Where are the embeds now that we are in the difficult part of the war, now that fair and balanced reporting is critically important to our chances of success? At the height of the conventional conflict, Fox News alone had 27 journalists embedded with U.S. troops (out of a total of 774 from all Western media). Today there are only 27 embedded journalists from all media combined.

Throughout Iraq, American soldiers with their typical “can do” attitude and ingenuity are engaging in thousands upon thousands of small reconstruction projects, working with Iraqi contractors and citizens. Through decentralized decision-making by unit commanders, the 101st Airborne Division alone has spent nearly $23 million in just the past few months. This sum goes a very long way in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds of schools are being renovated, repainted, replumbed and reroofed. Imagine the effect that has on children and their parents.

Zogby International recently released the results of an August poll showing hope and progress. My own unscientific surveys told me the same thing. With virtually no exceptions, hundreds of Iraqis enthusiastically waved back at me as I sat in the open door of a helicopter traveling between Babylon and Baghdad. And I received a similar reception as I worked my way alone, shaking hands through a large crowd of refinery workers just to see their reaction.

We may need a few credible Baghdad Bobs to undo the harm done by our media. I’m afraid it is killing our troops.

-- U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) of Macon, a Vietnam combat veteran, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

THE PUBLIC VIEW

A history of hypocrisy over Iraq

The U.S. Congress has a history of tough talk on Iraq but…

In 1991, the United States Senate voted (53-47) to allow the president to use military force to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Upon completion of that goal, the United Nations voted (UN Resolution 687) that as a condition of cessation of hostilities, Iraq must unconditionally:

  • declare fully its weapons of mass destruction programs.
  • accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless “under international supervision” of all “chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents”.
  • agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material” or any research, development or manufacturing facilities.
  • accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless “under international supervision” of all “ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 KM and related major parts and repair and production facilities.”
  • agree to not “use, develop, construct or acquire” any weapons of mass destruction.
  • not commit or support terrorism, or allow terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq.

The history of Iraqi cooperation has been frustrating to the United Nations ever since. After Iraq ejected the UN inspectors, claiming they were spying, the Untied States Congress became concerned and passed two important pieces of legislation. The first, Public Law 105-238, (Finding the Government of Iraq in unacceptable and material breach of its international obligations) was passed and then signed by President Clinton on August 14, 1998. It declares:

that the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations. Urges the President to take appropriate action under U.S. law to bring Iraq into compliance with such obligations.

Further, seeing Saddam Hussein as an ongoing threat, the Senate passed the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998,” encouraging President Clinton to adopt a policy of “regime change” in Iraq.

Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 – Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.

After the attacks of Sept 11, Congress went further. Just one week after the event, Congress authorized President Bush to use, “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001“. This became public law 107-40.

One year later, President Bush, sensing the possibility of the need for use of force, asked Congress to use the US military if needed. As a result Congress passed and the President signed public law 107-243. This became law on October 16, 2002 and says in part:

Authorizes the President to use the U.S. armed forces to: (1) defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

And finally, The United Nations Security Council followed suit soon thereafter by unanimously approving “UN Resolution 1441”, by a vote of 15-0. Although resolution 1441 did not specifically sanction the use of military force, it did find that Iraq was and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991).

Today, the tone has changed dramatically. Despite previous legislation, Congressional Democrats, as well as some Republicans, have voiced concern over military action against Iraq. Last September, three Democrats traveled to Iraq to help prevent war between the United States and Iraq. Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., David Bonior, D-Mich., and James McDermott, D-Wash., described their mission as mainly humanitarian. In a letter to Bush Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Sen. Richard G. Lugar ( R-Ind.) wrote: “There is not consensus on many critical questions” about the use of force in Iraq.

Here are some more quotes about the evils of pursuing military action:

 

  • Al Gore“After Sept. 11, we had enormous sympathy, good will and support around the world,” Gore said in San Francisco. “We’ve squandered that, and in one year we’ve replaced that with fear, anxiety and uncertainty, not at what the terrorists are going to do but at what we are going to do.”
  • Ted Kennedy“I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted.” “I continue to be convinced that this is the wrong war at the wrong time. The threat from Iraq is not imminent, and it will distract America from the two more immediate threats to our security; the clear and present danger of terrorism and the crisis with North Korea.”
  • John KerryRegrettably the current Administration failed to take the opportunity to bring this issue to the United Nations two years ago or immediately after September 11th, when we had such unity of spirit with our allies. Indeed, for a time, the Administration’s unilateralism, in effect, elevated Saddam in the eyes of his neighbors to a level he never would have achieved on his own, undermining America’s standing with most of the coalition partners which had joined us in repelling the invasion of Kuwait a decade ago.
  • Nancy Pelosi“I know of no information that the threat is so imminent from Iraq that Congress cannot wait until January to vote on a resolution. “I did not hear anything today that was different about [Hussein’s] capabilities, save a few ’embellishments’.”

Before 2000, we had a Congress that voted like hawks but a president who acted like a dove. After 2000, we have a Congress that debates like a flock of doves while the president acts like the hawk. What changed? The make-up of the Congress hasn’t changed dramatically. It is the Presidency that has changed hands. And with it, Congress’ will has completely reversed. It is almost as if Congress knew President Clinton wouldn’t use the military and therefore were free to be as bellicose as wanted. What a difference a presidential election can make!

THE PUBLIC VIEW

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