06 January 2008

A "gigantic perception lag" regarding news from Iraq

It's become common knowledge that things are horrible in Iraq. Car bombings occur multiple times a day, women and children and kidnapped and murdered, and American soldiers are constantly dying from IED's.

Or at least that's the view we're shown.

An independent journalist just returned from a visit to Fallujah, widely known as a major center for violence and mayhem in Iraq for the past four years. What does he report?
There hasn't been a single firefight in this city for months. The Marines at Camp Fallujah haven't been shot at with a rocket or mortar since April. Not one Marine from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment has even been wounded since they rotated into the city two months ago. The only shots the Marines have fired have been practice rounds on the range.
In my opinion, that's great news. But does the pacification of the most infamous city in Iraq make the nightly news? Not that I've seen. Reports of chaos from Iraq draw more ratings. No one is interested in stories like this.
There's a gigantic perception lag in America these days. The Iraq of the popular imagination and the Iraq of the real world are not the same country. It wouldn't be quite right to say Fallujah is safe. You do not want to come here on holiday. But I'm a lot safer here as an American than any terrorist or insurgent would be.
This journalist reports that the Iraqi military and police control the city. There are only 250 Marines in the city of 350,000. As First Lt. Barry Edwards puts it, "[The insurgents] avoid Fallujah now like it's the plague. ... They're afraid of the Iraqis."

I think Iraq is settling down. Just as in Japan and Germany in the aftermath of World War II, there were major problems in Iraq for years. But with some patience, I believe Iraq will stabilize and become a contributing member of the world society, just like Germany and Japan have.

And like it or not, that will be seen as a success for the Bush presidency. Those who so desperately attempt to paint the war as a complete and utter failure will do their best to push Iraq into the shadows.

I don't see the Iraq war as a mistake. Saddam acted for all the world as if he had weapons of mass destruction. Every intelligence organization on earth believed he did, but it was difficult to ascertain the truth as Hussein wouldn't allow weapons inspectors to do their jobs. It's also difficult to say he didn't have any WMD's whatsoever. A lot could have happened in the few weeks the invasion was building up. Weapons could have easily been shipped to neighboring cities or buried in the thousands of square miles of desert within Iraq's borders.

Regardless, Iraq will soon become a more stable nation than it was ten years ago, and the Iraqi people will have better lives. While attainment of this goal is not worthy of invading a county, in my opinion, it's a fine outcome considering what we found in Iraq after the military entered.

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

This is all very true. My cousin is in Baghdad and he's pretty mad about how the news works. He says there really isn't much of anything going on.