Sometimes I read something and I have to re-read it several times to let it sink in. This is one of those times:
Several Senate Republicans denounced other lawmakers and the news media on Thursday for unfavorable depictions of the Iraq war and the Pentagon urged members of Congress to talk up military service to help ease a recruiting shortfall.
Families are discouraging young men and women from enlisting “because of all the negative media that’s out there,” Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Inhofe also said that other senators’ criticism of the war contributed to the propaganda of U.S. enemies. He did not name the senators.
Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker urged members of Congress to use “your considerable influence to explain to the American people and to those that are influencers out there how important it is for our young people to serve this nation at a time like this.”
The Army on Wednesday said it was 14 percent, or about 7,800 recruits, behind its year-to-date recruitment target even though it exceeded its monthly target in June. With extended deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, recruiting also is down for the National Guard and the Reserves.
“With the deluge of negative news that we get daily, it’s just amazing to me that anybody would want to sign up,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (news, bio, voting record), a Kansas Republican.
The real problem I guess, is that the prospective recruits are hearing this is dangerous work, if you believe Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Roberts. So what should we do? Dress up all our recruiters like large Boy Scouts, and tell kids they are going off for two years of smores, nature hikes, homoerotic male bonding activities, and campfire tales? Oh, and by the by, you might get killed. Here is a signing bonus.
Nice to see it took so long to break out the sharp knives on this story (I guess the ‘we met our diminished recruiting goals’ story didn’t stick. No doubt the fault of the media.). Yes, the media is reporting that people are getting killed in Iraq. That is because it is their job to, well, report that people are being killed in Iraq.
Pretending that this would not be an issue if only the media had covered more school openings or spent more time talking about the free chapstick, toothbrushes, and playing cards our soldiers will get is simply idiotic. Sure, I would like more positive news coverage out of Iraq. I would also like more positive news.
I hate it when the media screws shit up as much as anyone, but blaming the media for low recruiting numbers is asinine. It is the job of this President and this administration to point out that this is a mission that is worth undertaking, and that their sacrifice is not only needed but will lead to something better. The President needs to use his bully pulpit and make a direct appeal for volunteers, and stop with the ‘noble calling’ act. Put it plain- “we need brave men and women, and we need them now.” Roberts and Inhofe need to do the same. But pinning this all on bad war coverage is a non-starter, as the members of the media are just doing their job when they report casualties.
*** Update ***
I don’t agree with Kos that people have to offer up their children (despite the fact that I think Operation Yellow Elephant is funny), because military service is a choice adults should make on their own. I do, however, think this administration needs to come forward and do everything they can to aid enlistment, and Kos and I do agree that blaming the media and/or Democratic lawmakers for recruiting shortfalls is offensive, unproductive, and indefensible.
I agree it’s assinine. There is no possible way bad P.R. from the media could effect recruiting goals.
I’ve always wonder why so much money is wasted on advertising in the traditional media outlets. What a waste.
Your logic is flawless. Keep up the good work!
Well, it’s actually asinine, but in this case assinine is somewhat fitting.
So, if the media didnt report the thousands of deaths and injuries, recruiting wouldn’t be a problem. Similarly, if the media hadn’t covered Enron, all those people would still have their retirement nest eggs.
Good answer, Tommy! Why didn’t we think of this sooner!
The Disenfranchised Voter
The news is for the most part, negative. This is the case for all reporting. To blame the news media for low recruiting because they have been reporting about the danger of Iraq is not only ridiculous, it is pathetic.
You summed it up best with this John:
“Sure, I would like more positive news coverage out of Iraq. I would also like more positive news.”
Well I think the senators have a point whether or not they picked the most felicitous way to express it.
I don’t ask the media to sweep bad news under the rug or pretend things are going better than they are. But I would appreciate some respite from their unrelenting negativity and defeatism. And I’d like to see some glimmer of understanding that a loss in Iraq would be VERY VERY BAD for all Americans, not just Republicans.
Is it really the case after two years of war there haven’t been any heroics by our troops worth publicizing that might encourage the public for the necessary sacrifices? Somehow I can’t believe Audie Murphy was the very last of his kind. Yes, the president can use his bully pulpit, and he often has. But why the hell does George W Bush have to carry that burden of encouragement all by himself?
I’m just tired of the media acting like they don’t have a dog in this fight. None of us have that luxury.
Sure, there have been heroics, and I have linked to the media accounts. However, that does not change the fact that soldiers getting blown up is more newsworthy to most people than someone winning a Silver Star. That doesn;t mean that we don;t know both has happened.
In my local newspaper, it isn’t front page news when the Mayor goes to a ribbon-cutting ceremony, or when the mayor approves the budget, orw hen town council votes on new street signs. It sure as hell is front page news if the mayor gets caught bribing people, or is caught doing something wrong.
Ifyou want good news from Iraq, there are lots of places to go- try the Army Times, try the Defense department’s website. Chock full of good news.
The rest of us, however, like the fact that the media covers it when 16 of our boys and girls are shot down in a helicopter and that is treated more importantly than someone doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Newspapers, by their very nature, report day to day occurences. Like soldiers being killed.
“And I’d like to see some glimmer of understanding that a loss in Iraq would be VERY VERY BAD for all Americans, not just Republicans.”
Let the politicians and the pundits talk about how things are gonna be and how they oughtta be.
Audie Murphy wasn’t a reporter.
Bill Mauldin’s cartoons of WW2 grunts, based on his own experiences in the war, were also criticized as hurting the war effort. And he was just showing soldiers, dirty and soggy and wet, complaining.
I have to say, though, that I’m surprised Fox news hosts and guests and commentators haven’t been actively telling people to enlist. Have the right-wing talk radio hosts been doing that? Has Bill O’Reilly called on his fans to enlist, the way he promotes his boycotts?
I suspect that if Fox started doing that, the other networks would follow their lead. MSNBC definitely would, lest they be out-wingered.
At the very least, Fox could put something in their crawl, like “Enlist! Fight for your country!”. They title their financial segments “The Price Of Freedom” (which I find abhorrent, because it’s blood, not a drop in the S&P500) so they might as well start talking about the *real* price of freedom-which-isn’t-free.
And the local Clearchannel Country Music station has been playing the national anthem several times a day since 9/11. Maybe they could add in a message asking listeners if they’ve enlisted yet.
“So, if the media didnt report the thousands of deaths and injuries, recruiting wouldn’t be a problem.”
Who said that? I’m sure your right. The negative coverage by the media couldn’t have an impact
No wonder the media doesn’t talk about medal-winning exploits- They spent the better part of 2004 dismissing medal-winning exploits of the past. Who could blame the public for not being real receptive to stories of heroism that won a silver star.
And then there’s the exaggerated or distorted accounts of Tillman’s death and Jessica Lynch’s battle before capture.
What about the negative reaction people in DC, the blogs and media will have when they realize they’ve been spun by the Army regarding its recruiting numbers and in fact the situation doesn’t seem to have improved in June as claimed? Is it easier or harder to be optimistic after that? Easier or harder than it would have been had the numbers been presented more honestly?
eileen from OH
And y’know it might not JUST be the bad news from Iraq. It might, y’know, MAYBE be the fact that there aren’t enough armored vehicles, or if you want decent body armor your parents are asked to buy it. Or the fact that you think you’re enlisting for x years only surprise-surprise we’ve got another tour or two for you! Or that the VA, when planning their budget, kinda forgot to include any wounded coming back from Iraq, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in what kind of medical treatment will be forthcoming.
I suppose that’s the media’s fault, too. But, hey, you go to war with the media you’ve got, not the media you want.
eileen from OH
It isn’t the job of the press to be a cheerleader for, or to lead the opposition to, anything the government does. It’s their job to uncover facts, and report them.
Unfortunately, we don’t really have much “press” in the traditional sense, any more. We have news-o-tainment. Which is fine, its their investment and their business model. Nothing can be done about it. Can you name a single true, all-news program with national distribution? I can’t. No, the 3-minute headline roundups at the half hour don’t count. Those are mostly what we used to call “rip and read” in radio. It’s a cosmetically freshened high-level overview of yesterday’s news, mostly.
Traditional journalism, what there is of it, needs a new home. Television ain’t it, unless somebody figures out a way to make it work as a going concern. I don’t see that in my crystal ball.
I don’t expect MSM outlets to provide real journalism any more. But I am disappointed that real journalists are hiding under rocks, apparently completely cowed by the browbeating and rock-throwing of idealogues, and blunted by the absurd focus on “balance”, which is the equivalent of putting both gasoline and water in your car’s fuel tank, because, you know, that would provide balance. The fact that the car won’t run any more, notwithstanding.
I have a sneaking suspicion they know it’s over.
Anybody remember this?
Sounds like they’ve found some Good Targets again.
It’s truly odd to me that Republican leaders continue to decry a free and critical mass media, the kind that doesn’t exist in places like China. What kind of media would they prefer, I wonder, as an alternative?
You have to ask?
An obedient one.
I wonder if we had similar trouble with recruiting when the press found out how under-armored and under-gunned the Sherman tank was versus German tanks?
The papers never showed a dead US soldier until 1943 for fear of hurting morale…when they did it was to show how serious the war was when they thought the home effort was slacking.
But yeah, I think car bombs and IED’s are going to make any rational person think twice before joining up. Those that do have my utmost respect.
For more on armored humvees, etc.:
Attacking the media has become a cottage industry.
I’m just tired of the media acting like they don’t have a dog in this fight. None of us have that luxury
The media should NOT have a dog in the fight. Its the job of the media to report on the fight. I think it shocking how many people seem to be yearning for a state controled media. Pravda wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.
“And I’d like to see some glimmer of understanding that a loss in Iraq would be VERY VERY BAD for all Americans, not just Republicans.”
Unfortunately a loss in Iraq was tbe most likely outcome from the day we invaded. I’m sure Gen. Shinseki isn’t taking any comfort from the fact that he was right, but he was and Rummy and company were dead wrong.
All this negative press…huh. Last time I checked, the Pentagon wasn’t allowing any images of coffins being unloaded, and has heavily restriceted any images of US casualties. All we’ve been seeing is Michael Jackson and Runaway bride. And shark attacks.
I recently had a family member return from a tour in Iraq, and I don’t want him to go back for another. He’s not the same guy that left, and it may take a while for him to return to “normal”, if ever.
As many others have more tactfully pointed out:
If Senators Inhofe and Roberts think it’s such a great idea to send troops, they should encourage their sons and daughters to sign up. You want some positive press? Pull fucking blue blood Johnny out of prep school and send his ass over to Iraq. Either put up or shut up.
Since there is all of this negative talk about Iraq, I thought I should post the official White House webpage for Iraqi Renewal.
Perhaps this is why we are so short on success. Noone speaks dead languages!
The Disenfranchised Voter
“The papers never showed a dead US soldier until 1943 for fear of hurting morale…when they did it was to show how serious the war was when they thought the home effort was slacking.”
And how many papers do you know of that have showed a dead US soldier in Iraq? The only possibility I can think of is the case in which those soldiers were dragged through the sreet, but even that is questionable.
The papers do not show pictures of the actual dead soldiers when they report about soldiers dying. So I don’t see why you are mentioning WWII reporting.
Your comparisson is clearly a false analogy. That is, unless you are willing to tell me that during WWII the newspapers never reported about soldier deaths until 1943.
The polls say it all: More Americans believe Bush started this war than Hussein. What does that mean? This was a voluntary war. Who wants to die for a voluntary war?
The attack on Pearl Harbor made the news at the time, and the public clearly saw how deadly that was. And all sorts of young folks rushed to enlist.
The problem with low recruitment is not just that people don’t want to risk making the ultimate sacrifice, it’s that they don’t want to waste their lives in a war based on lies, instigated in service to nothing more than George Bush’s megalomaniac vanity.
If this war was truly being fought to serve the worthy cause of defending our nation from a genuine threat, which the Bush administration has only pretended it to be, I dare saw John Cole and Kos would also agree it was worth their personal sacrifice to reenlist.
Liberals and Conservatives alike would rush to join up – as happened in WWII – and they would see each other identically as American patriots first, and leave their differences to be addressed as secondary matters. Underage men would tell recruiters they were older than they really were, and older men would gladly fill the ranks of the National Guard if they were judged unfit for overseas duty.
All that happened when the threat was legit.
It doesn’t happen now, because the reason for the war is pure bullshit, and the public can see it.
ppgaz writes: ” Can you name a single true, all-news program with national distribution? I can’t.”
BBC News. Distribution in the US is spotty, but here in Connecticut I get two PBS stations (CT and MA) which show BBC News broadcasts. One shows a 6pm broadcast, the other station shows it at 11pm or midnight.
And some lucky people with digital cable or satellite might see it.
And BBC World Service is on satellite radio, the web, and shortwave.
Equally to the point, who wants their kid to die for a voluntary war?
And: who wants to fight, be maimed, lose one’s family and one’s job when one is stop-lossed into unending active duty… and then come back to find no veterans’ benefits, closed VA hospitals, and jobs that pay worse than the Army did?
Americans – “regular folk” Americans – are turning against the war because, the higher the casualty count, the more likely it is that those “regular folk” Americans personally know someone who was killed, maimed, or came back with PTSD – or personally knows a member of the affected family. 1700 outright war deaths; as many as 7000 wound-related deaths (that aren’t included in the official body count); an unknown number of suicides; and tens of thousands physically or psychologically maimed. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of ripple effect.
Funny thing about the high-profile chickenhawks of the RW punditariat: not only are they not over there in Iraq, but no one in their immediate family is, either, or in their immediate social circle. They’re very well insulated from seeing, feeling, and thinking about, the real cost of war.
Aaron writes: “I wonder if we had similar trouble with recruiting when the press found out how under-armored and under-gunned the Sherman tank was versus German tanks?”
Probably not, because they saw the whole country mobilized for war.
If, instead, they saw that nobody else was being so much as inconvenienced, they probably would have second thoughts about risking their lives.
I might add that the mainstream news coverage of the invasion of Afghanistan and the initial assault on Iraq was nothing less than ass-kissingly glowing. Perhaps the change in journalistic tone had something to do with pre-war estimates of how long we’d be there (days, weeks, even…six months?!), or maybe they’ve just decided to do their job and, y’know, report stuff.
Boy, that urban legend’s really taken off. I’ve seen nothing credible to support that at all.
The Greaet Republican Blame Game cheat sheet circa 2003-2005:
1. “It’s the Clinton Administration’s fault.”
2. “The Clinton Administration did it or said it too.”
3. “9/11 Changed everything.”
4. “We are at war.”
5. “We are doing this to protect you”
6. “Democrats” or “Liberals”
7. The media for reporting aggravating things called facts.
8. Supposed media bias.
9. “Activists” Judges
10. On a case by case, blame on or more of the following: Immigrants, minorities, the UN, the French, non Judeo-Christian religions, atheists, Hollywood, public schools, the ACLU, MoveOn.Org, Michael Moore. George Soros, Jane Fonda, Barbara Streisand.
Not an urban legend, JJ: statistical analysis. Here’s a link to a site that explains it all (it’s a terrific site in general: they source their figures and explain their methodology):
Global Security: Casualty Count
The issue isn’t the media, but the fact we treat soldiers like shit, we treat their families like shit, they’re losing their homes and jobs if they’re reservists or Guardsmen.
Most people enlist because family members enlist or friends enlist. Not because of recruiters or TV.
Now, you can read story after story of miserable, disgraceful treatment of soldiers by our Army. Soldiers living in cars, having their pay taken, needing phone cards to call home.
THAT matters more than the news.
Right on ! Too many of the people calling for others to sacrifice have yet to demand that of their own family.
Not just Inhofe & Robert’s next of kin, what about Jenna and Barbara Bush ? Why are all of these kids “too precious” to expend on this war but Joe average is expected to pack his son/ daughter off ?? Fvck that noise !
Satan luvvs Repugs
“And I’d like to see some glimmer of understanding that a loss in Iraq would be VERY VERY BAD for all Americans, not just Republicans.”
You tell ’em! Why the consequences of pulling out of Vietnam were just so horribly bad: dominos falling…Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, even Australia now groaning under the communist boot! No, better to ‘stay the course’, no matter how many brave americans soldiers die for…um..what, exactly?
Oh wait, sorry, you were talking about IRAQ. That’s just SO different. Except that it’s the same, for the ‘stay the course’ part, that is.
Too bad about Australia though. All those koalas in their little Mao jackets is just too hard to take.
Please encourage this chickenhawk to stand up for his country. There are few things more cowardly than saying that Iraq is necessary to fight…well, uh…unless I have to fight it.
It’s not about “offering up” children, John.
It’s about hypocrisy. One gets called on hypocrisy when one struts and postures and lives on rhetoric that is completely dishonest and insincere.
The point that Marcos is making is that these people talk big, but they don’t act big. They act small.
That’s the point.
It’s useful once in a while to just appreciate the theater involved in making points. It’s all theater. When the world seems to operate via manipulation of emotions, then it seems fair to respond in kind, and manipulate back.
It’s really annoying when the manipulators complain about manipulation.
It was good of you to speak out in defense of the media on this. I mean that with all sincereness.It makes me feel good to know that there really are people on the “right” side of the aisle that aren’t fixated or locked in to party dogma either. I Do have to agree with Kos though on the enlistment thing. If they want our kids to become cannon fodder they should be willing to see their kids do the same thing.
For Robert…beautiful analogy. How true it is that both sides will blame others for the screw-ups they know they did but don’t want to be held responsible for.
For “thehim”…it would be nice to see that chickenhawk “put his money where his mouth is” so to speak, but I don’t think that will ever happen. He’s one of those who thinks he is doing his patriotic duty by shaming others to enlist. As much as I hate the idea of the draft being resurrected, I wouldn’t mind seeing him and his fellow chickenhawk keyboardests get the taste of military induction.
From a fellow citizen and patriot.
Of course the real reason why the liberal media doesn’t report good news is here
I agree that one is not required to volunteer their children for military service in order to support the war, but when so many politicians supporting the war either dodged combat duty or military service altogether, when so few have children serving in the military, when they are the ones who are responsible for inadequate armor, reduced benefits, extended tours of duty, failure to build a legitimate coalition, and poor planning and strategy all of which has increased the casualties, there comes a point where they forfeit their right to say anything other than, “I am very sorry for getting this country into an unnecessary war, for mishandling the war once we were in it, for misrepresenting the war while we are in it, and I would really appreciate it if you would help anyway you can to expedite conditions that will permit the return of our soldiers. To the families of the soldiers, I apologize.”
Gilliard pretty much nails it here.
It’s not so much about recruitment incentives or shorter service..it’s about going to Iraq and having appendages blown off…or worse..dying.
I disagree with Cole here that we shouldn’t be asking those who support the war to send their kids. It seems to me that after all the bullshit we know about the lead up to this invasion and the way the GOP have politicized it..it’s their baby. They wanted this fight. They can send their kids to do it.
I never wanted it. I warned against it before we did it. I’d have sent my son proudly into Afghanistan…because it was the right thing to do. But they can go to hell if they come to take him for Iraq.
This is in regard the blurb above, concerning photos of the dead, and 1943.
I grew up a houseful of people who lived in Honolulu in 1941, and saw Pearl Harbor. Every December, I heard the tale of Pearl Harbor, Sunday, December 7 …. etc
These people were WWII fanatics. In the closet was a complete collection of Life magazines from 1942 through 1945.
So I spent my childhoold poring over these magazines. I spent a lot of time looking at photos of dead soldiers. Thing is, they were mostly dead Japanese and German soldiers. I got the impression that a good spread of mangled Japs and Jerrys was good propaganda. Plenty of “Buy Bonds” ads throughout, too.
I don’t remember shots of mangled American soldiers, although there were plenty of them to photograph.
Strangely, in this new Good War, I don’t see footage of mangled Iraqis or insurgents. Apparently the media producers and the gummint folks don’t think that plenty o’carnage is a good way to sell war nowadays. Kids might be watching, or something. People might be having their dinners.
No particular point here, just information. Use and abuse as you see fit.
Indefensible? Not completely.
I would never suggest that blame for recruiting shortfalls falls solely on the media and the Democrat lawmakers. But I will and do suggest that the constant drumbeat of negativity from them is a major contributing factor.
The perpetual bad-news-only coverage from Iraq leaves the impression that things are worse than they are. The bad-behavior-only coverage of a few troops unjustly paints a gloss of dishonor on the entire force. The blathering cries of “quagmire” from the likes of Senator Kennedy are rebroadcast again and again.
You think that wouldn’t have an effect on recruiting?
Let’s take it back a generation. How many kids my age (early-mid 40s) grew up thinking that Vietnam vets were babykillers, because that’s the only kind of thing they ever heard? I used to know quite a few who thought that way (and more than a few of my friends were surprised that a beach kid like me would choose to pursue a military career.)
The “soldiers are babykillers” meme was a lie of exaggeration. But a lie (even a lie of omission) told often enough will have an effect, and I think there’s more than a little justification to the notion that some blame should indeed fall on the media and the Democrat politicians — many of whom are stuck in a knee-jerk Vietnam-era anti-military frame of mind.
The other side of the story, the good news, should be told and retold. The blame for it not being told often enough can and should be distributed to all sides.
And someone need to tell Teddy Kennedy to go screw himself.
Yes, criticizing the King is “negativity.”
Declaring war on half of your own country is “patriotic.”
It’s really refreshing to see the assholes on the right reduce discourse to “you are a bunch of faggots and sissies” and then tell people who fight back to “go screw” themselves.
We are all now living in the boy’s restroom at the local high school. The uniters-not-dividers are in charge.
You lying cocksuckers. Recruiting shortfalls are not due to criticism of a corrupt government. They are due to people making rational choices based on their assessments of their interests. That’s what self-governed people do. That’s what they are supposed to do.
so confusing, russ:
“quagmire” means “a situation that is difficult to get out of”
surely Iraq, for better or worse, whatever your beliefs, qualifies. it’s not a particularly contentious point–is it?
now, you may bring vietnam-era connotations to the term “quagmire” and perhaps you would argue that Kennedy brings those same feelings when he uses that specific word. but that doesn’t change the fact that the word in its denotation is simply accurate. we are stuck in iraq, according to our sec of defense, for up to 12 years. both he and our generals report that we will be there through a long and difficult period. that’s a “quagmire”. oddly, russ, you don’t seem angry at them for saying so, only at kennedy. that makes me think that you are a bad-faith partisan hack. that’s sad. it makes me think, further, that you, like so many of your brethren on the right wing blogs, hate democracy and hate america, and would rather score cheap and sophomoric points (ted kennedy sux!!! yeah, dude, i totally typed that!!!!) than think deeply about the reality of the world around you.
given the extremely high quality of the commentors on John’s blog, it is doubly disappointing. i think free republic might be missing an idiot, so maybe over there?
“The other side of the story, the good news, should be told and retold. The blame for it not being told often enough can and should be distributed to all sides.”
What’s the good news that’s being omitted? I think the last major piece of good news from Iraq (the elections and the relatively high turnout) was pretty extensively covered. To say nothing of the glowing-to-craven tone of the coverage given the initial invasion and cakewalk into Baghdad. Are you talking about NBC not covering, say, soldiers setting up nominal electricity in a quadrant of Mosul? Because if so, I’d advise you to check and see how much coverage of the “Con-Ed did their job today” variety occurs stateside. Or are there two different standards in play here? The salient counter-example is that we’re not getting detailed reports about which infantryman got his hand blown off today, just the ones about fatalities (and even then, only the big ones get much column space).
robert, I could suggest you go back to your hole over in the fever swamps of DU, but I won’t. I could suggest you’re a left-wing partisan hack, but I won’t. I could suggest that you hate America, but I won’t. I could suggest you’re an idiot, but I won’t.
I will suggest, however, that arguing ad hominem is not effective, and you ought to try a different tack next time.
“Quagmire” implies no readily discernable way out; Kennedy’s use also implies that we’re in it for no good reason. That may describe a lot of things, but Iraq isn’t one of them.
“Duration” doesn’t equal “complexity,” and realistically, while it may take quite a while to do it, there is a clear plan for finishing the job there, summed up by the phrase “as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” And the Iraqis are surely beginning to stand up for themselves. The way out in fact looks pretty clear, even if it won’t happen quickly, on your preferred timetable, or even on mine.
So, yes, I am unhappy with Kennedy; this is just the most recent reason. His attempt to equate Iraq with Vietnam is another in a long line of examples of his despicableness.
The media are in a ridiculous spot. Almost nobody ventures out of Baghdad, and all they do all day is get releases and quotes, and news from the bellman. Even if they were allowed to leave the city, how many are brave and foolish enough to do so? I say this to point out that comparing the media coverage of the war to “what’s really going on” is to beg the question of what really IS going on. What is going on in Basra, Najaf, and points southward, heavily Shia? What’s their electricity like? What will happen if the Brits pull out troops like they want to in order to fight in Afghanistan?
As for the quoted Congressional hacks: some disassembly required, as George might say.
People are not goddam stupid. You can tell when a war is going well or not. Grenada went well. This is not going well, and no amount of school paintings and yard cleanups is going to alter that picture. It suggests that potential recruits are thinking, “Sure, it could kill me–but I’ll get to paint schools and clear munitions from a sandy lot of rock and glass the kids call a playground!”
Was it Cole (the other one) who said Germany was pacified by 1 allied soldier for every 7 citizens, and Iraq is currently unpacified by 1 allied soldier for every 170 citizens? Proud, certainly. But definitely the few.
Mr. Cole (this one): I’ve been reading you more lately. You are IMO the leading right-side blogger offering a realistic, “traditional conservative” viewpoint right now. I’m more embarassed by the leftist flame quotient in the comments, really. Good show.
It is a sad truth that “good news is no news.” Or more to the point, good news is not deemed newsworthy – especially by those in the media who are not necessarily fans of the current administration.
But that doesn’t mean the news has to be all bad.
By way of example, it wasn’t until comparatively recently that enemy casualties were reported in the news. (The fighting in Fallujah pretty much broke that dam, though that’s just my observation; I obviously cannot and do not see everything.) I very specifically kept my eyes open for it, but I did not often see reports that gave that important detail.
News reports of US casualties are indeed important; I’m a veteran, and I want to know what’s happening. I know people over there. My old brigade is there right now.
But presenting reports of “seven GIs killed during the assault on Fallujah” here and “five troops killed during skirmishes on the border” there without mentioning the fact that the enemy routinely suffers 5, 10, or 20 times the casualties our forces suffer puts a very definite slant on it.
Now, enemy casualties are not exactly good news — except in the “that’s x fewer we’ll have to deal with in the future” sense — but it balances the bad news of American and allied casualties.
So let’s turn to the actual good news. No, we don’t cover the “Con-Ed did their job today” stories stateside. But if there was no power (or water, or phones) to begin with, or there were people blowing up power stations, or killing linemen, it might be reasonable to think that extending the power grid might get a bit of coverage. It’s a huge task, building a nation-wide infrastructure, yet we rarely hear any of that.
We are hearing more about the successes of new Iraqi army, but that’s a pretty recent phenomenon, too.
We hear very little about the vast amount of construction work that goes on every day. (As a woodworker, I see the effect of supply and demand – plywood prices have increased stateside since the rebuiling in Iraq began. Coincidence? I think not.)
One specific thing I’d really like to see in the major national media, by way of something positive, is a periodic roundup of medals awarded to our troops for valor, complete with citations. Public recognition would be a huge boost for the troops and their families… so I’m reasonably confident in predicting that it’ll never happen.
In shortTo sum up, there is a lot of positive work happening over there. But there’s another newsroom-type cliche: “if it bleeds, it leads.” So what we get on the news is little but death and destruction.
My congratulations and continuing admiration, first, for an honest right-of-center, if cocked toward the libertarian, blog.
My take on this “sacrificing their children” thing is a little different.
Iraq is such a mess, and recruiting is such a mess, and consequences for abandoning Iraq such a potential mess, that I can easily see a future where, in a decade, I’ll be forced to sacrifice my sons for this horrible nightmare.
My nine-year-old can see it, too. I don’t know what to tell him.
But I do tell him that Republicans don’t see fit to ask their own children if they’ll go. Even though they may someday be telling me that my children have to.
Why haven’t political ‘leaders’ at least encouraged their own political supporters to serve? Unlike their kids, political supporters are already making a choice.
And stop treating Our Military as a separate and distinct Other. Nor is Our Military mere hired help that exists solely to receive Chapstick and other charity. [Scroll down to June 30, “The moistened lips of victory”]
The problem? Our ‘Leaders’ Won’t Lead!
>But presenting reports of “seven GIs killed during the assault on Fallujah” here and “five troops killed during skirmishes on the border” there without mentioning the fact that the enemy routinely suffers 5, 10, or 20 times the casualties our forces suffer puts a very definite slant on it.
I don’t know about you, but something makes me skeptical about the way enemy casualties are being reported in the US media. US casualties are always very clear, precise numbers – two killed one injured, seven killed in Mosul, etc. Enemy casualties tend to be these big, vague numbers – one hundred and fifty over the last two days, eighty in operations in western Iraq.
Obviously it’s harder to count their dead than ours, especially with the Muslim bury-them-immediately law. But still, a bit more transparency in how those enemy kills are counted would be welcome. There’s been way too much bad and fuzzy intel in this war already.
(plug…The General has kindly credited me with making a contribution to Operation Yellow Elephant )
People can blame the media and the Democrats for the recruitment shortage all they want, but that doesn’t explain why those that disregard the “liberal media” and follow the opinion-leaders of the GOP aren’t enlisting either.
When the people who believe in the mission and the competence, honesty, and integrity of the civilian leadership won’t sign up for this war, there is little chance that those who don’t see our presence in Iraq as advisable and know how craven Bush, Rummy, Rice, Cheney et al are will be lining up to sign on the dotted line.
Its one thing to talk about how important it is that we stay in Iraq — but you also need to convince people that by going to Iraq, they are making a positive contribution. Unfortunately, the way this war is being run, there are too many good reasons to believe that the way we are going about this occupation is counter-productive to the long-term security interests of the USA — and that by joining up at this point, you will be doing more harm than good.
I have just lost my son’s girlfriend here in the states from a tragic auto accident. The extreme grief I am experiencing can not possibly compare with the the fammiles who have lost loved ones in this (at this time)unneccessarily to war. However, the pain is so great that I literally crumble at times. How our political “leaders” can consciously consider sending more troops, or not calling it quits is beyond human comprehension. However, this political era will go down in history as the most remarkable and rehensible group of politicians know in history. AND, the sorry and part about it is “they” REALLY” don’t give a —-. Yes, after viewing the dtrs of the Pres, I would greatly wish to see them serve their country via combate boots and guns on the front line. Will this ever happen??
My son was OEDERED to enlisst this year – and if that doesn’t scare a parent who believes we are out there for no other reason but to make a few richer. I will NOT loose my son to a “fake” war that at this time and has nothing to do with freedom any longer, for anyone.
Respectfully Submitted, A loving mother!
“Yes, the president can use his bully pulpit, and he often has.”
Bullshit. There have been no calls to our young people to join up until the speech Tuesday night. Even then, he mentioned a “career” in the military. We don’t need people looking for a career. We need people willing to go to Iraq for a few years and fight. Why doesn’t W call on those patriotic College Republicans to join and form up the College Republicans Brigade?
“I wonder if we had similar trouble with recruiting when the press found out how under-armored and under-gunned the Sherman tank was versus German tanks?”
Uh.. Aaron, there was a draft during WWII. They didn’t have to recruit. Also, during WWII many celebrities enlisted, including Jimmy Stewart and Ted Williams and rich people too, like George H.W. Bush. I can’t think of a single member of the extended Bush family who is now serving in the military. Where are you George P.?
SINCE BUSHS SPEECH CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHY THEY CANT SEE THROUGH HIS LIES ABOUT WHY WE ARE IN IRAQ ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS READ HIS DOZEN DIFFERENT LIES HE WENT TO IRAQ TO AVENGE HIS FATHER AND FOR THE OIL. DOES ANYONE WITH A BRAIN BELEIVE WE WOULD HAVE ALL THESE TERROIST IN IRAQ IF WE HAD NOT INVADED THEM. IABSOULTY CANNOT UNDER STAND WHY PEOPLE CANNOT SEE THAT IAM 79 YRS. OLD BEEN IN ONE WAR SAWTWO MORE THIS IS NO WAR THIS IS APOWER PLAY TO TAKE OVER ANOTHER COUNTRYS OIL ALL YOU YOUNG PEOPLE REMBER ITS ABOUT POWER AND OIL
Suzanne in Florida
What is ASSinine is having this discussion at all….the fact is that this is an illegal war and Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld should be tried as WAR CRIMINALS. NO one should be enlisting in the military at this time to serve in an illegal act of military aggression against a sovereign country that neither attacked us or threatened to attack us. Yellow Elephant is great, but let’s be clear: If you enlist in the military at this time, you are a damned fool.
A Vietnam Vet
Would all you effin idiots that keep saying medals are ‘won’ either get it right or shut the eff up – medals are ‘awarded’ for degrees of over and above the usual taking care of business. For each one really earned there are several given to REMFs. SEALs don’t chase um (we didn’t 40 years ago) but don’t refuse um. The best you can hope for is that the press gets it right some of the time and don’t get in the way.
I agree but a third number would be needed to provide a complete picture: The number of people who sign up to become new terrorists. It cannot be assumed that the enemy consists of a fixed quantity of people. Each death does not necessarily mean one less person to worry about. The reality is that Iraq has become a beacon for would-be terrorists. If each death produces even just two new recruits, there’s no way this war can be won.
I think this is the best line on this subject I’ve seen so far. Thanks to DailyKos:
“Bullshit. There have been no calls to our young people to join up until the speech Tuesday night. Even then, he mentioned a “career” in the military. We don’t need people looking for a career. We need people willing to go to Iraq for a few years and fight. Why doesn’t W call on those patriotic College Republicans to join and form up the College Republicans Brigade?”
I wonder how many of the Left will sign up if we decide to go into Darfur and fight? I’m sure there will be just droves of idealistic young College Democrats that will be clamoring to run over to Africa to set things right. Uh huh….
“Uh.. Aaron, there was a draft during WWII. They didn’t have to recruit. Also, during WWII many celebrities enlisted, including Jimmy Stewart and Ted Williams and rich people too, like George H.W. Bush. I can’t think of a single member of the extended Bush family who is now serving in the military. Where are you George P.?”
Same sentiment as above. I wonder how many celebrities will be running to Darfur? I suppose the same number that ran to Afghanistan, which I would HOPE at least the left agrees was worth going into (though some did not). By the way, I can’t recall too many Roosevelts serving during WWII (except for Teddy’s son of course), or Kennedys or Johnsons serving in Vietnam. Were there any Carters that were part of the fiasco to rescue the Hostages? Was a Truman part of the Enola Gay crew?
Truman? I think Margaret would have been on the Enola Gay crew, but they couldn’t fit her piano into the airplane.
Bess was willing to fly, but the Army was afraid that she’d drop the bomb on Washington, DC.
“Truman? I think Margaret would have been on the Enola Gay crew, but they couldn’t fit her piano into the airplane.
Bess was willing to fly, but the Army was afraid that she’d drop the bomb on Washington, DC.”
Good points. I stand corrected on the Trumans. ;)
(and actually Harry would have probably gone up if the Secret Service would have let him).
We lost 2000 soldiers a year under Clinton. We lose far fewer, less than half, under Bush While At War than we did under Clinton.
Clinton did not have a hostile media constantly portraying the efforts as ‘losing’ or ‘quagmire’ in spite of Mogadishu and Kosovo, or the 1998 Bombing campaign of Bagdhad.
Why does Bush have such a hostile media? Because leftists hate the U S. and hate Bush. It is not what Bush does that they hate; they merely hate losing the presidency. They do not care who they lost to. They would hate anyone in the chair who is a Republican.
Now which is the party of tolerance again?
It doesn’t speak very highly of our country that there are droves of people who actually subscribe to this mode of thinking.
I just don’t get people’s obsession with the liberal media. It’s not like there is a lack of information sources in the 21st century. Last time I checked one has the freedom to select whatever sources you want.
Why do people not enlist? The cost and risk is just not worth it to them. Maybe they don’t want to die, maybe they don’t believe in the war, maybe they prefer to stay at home and sleep in their own bed at night.
Why do people enlist? The reward high enough. Maybe they feel it’s their duty to defend the country, maybe they believe in the cause or maybe they just have no other viable options.
Everything you do is at least 51% in your own interest.
Treason is “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”. There is nothing in the consitituion’s definition of treason about “truth”. If telling the truth gives aid and comfort to our enemy, then telling the truth is treason.
Or, at least, that seems to be the attitude of a lot of people nowadays.
You believe those “insurgent” casualty numbers rounded off to the nearest ten?
If so, I’ve got you a quagmire in Iraq I’d be glad to sell you.
For those who don’t remember, the Vietnam war was characterized by exactly this kind of bodycount nonsense, which made no difference in the end.
Millions of people say they support the president and his policy in Iraq. If these people tell the truth, there should be no lack of recruiting.
If there is a lack of recruiting, what indeed does that say?
It doesn’t speak very highly of our country that there are droves of people who actually subscribe to this mode of thinking.
even worse, that there are people who actually believe there is factual basis for this…
I mean, where do these people come from, and where do they get their numbers?
Michael Yon has a good column about how news is produced on the cheap in Iraq. If you don’t want to leave the Green Zone, no story is easier to put out than the American body count because the Army will do all the legwork for you. It’s so much easier, especially if you a reporter with no military background or understanding (like most) to put out a bodycount story than to try and understand what is happening on any tactical or strategic level.
So news is framed: American screwups, great news, dead Americans, news, dead Iraqis, minor news, anything else, not news. With this framework, the only way you can tell that any situation has improved in any location is that the news media go silent on it. Like they did in Afghanistan until the recent skirmish and the downed helicopter.
That hardly amounts to an informative picture of the overall situation. Imagine if all the papers in America confined themselves to the police blotter.
“Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker urged members of Congress to use ‘your considerable influence to explain to the American people and to those that are influencers out there how important it is for our young people to serve this nation at a time like this.'”
That raises the question of why President Bush has not explained to his daughters how important it is that they serve this nation at a time like this. As long as President Bush is not willing to send his daughters to fight in Iraq, why should other parents send their children?
“That raises the question of why President Bush has not explained to his daughters how important it is that they serve this nation at a time like this. As long as President Bush is not willing to send his daughters to fight in Iraq, why should other parents send their children?”
What about all the Democrats that wanted to depose Saddam under Clinton?:
From this article:
“Matters looked different in 1998, when Democrats were working with a president of their own party. Daschle not only supported military action against Iraq, he campaigned vigorously for a congressional resolution to formalize his support. Other current critics of President Bush–including Kerry, Graham, Patrick Leahy, Christopher Dodd, and Republican Chuck Hagel–co-sponsored the broad 1998 resolution: Congress “urges the president to take all necessary and appropriate actions to respond to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
Daschle said the 1998 resolution would “send as clear a message as possible that we are going to force, one way or another, diplomatically or militarily, Iraq to comply with international law.” And he vigorously defended President Clinton’s inclination to use military force in Iraq.”
Should John Kerry have his daughters serve?
What about the others?
If we go to war in Darfur, will you be signing up?
This is just getting sillier by the moment.
John Van Laer
As an exercise in self-flagellation, I have just waded through this thread from top to bottom. I was struck–like lightning, in the funnybone–by someone who remarked on the high quality of the commentors on this blog.
It was all worth it, though, when I read a posting by Jon H. I’ve come across him here and there, and wondered who he is. Now I know. He;s a guy who actually believes he gets the straight dope on the war from the BBC, Poor sap.
I hope everyone read that, because if you are going to insult someone, or, in this case, everyone, that is how you go about it.
Russ says. ” It’s a huge task, building a nation-wide infrastructure, yet we rarely hear any of that.”
Can Russ explain what he means by building a nationwide infrastructure? Are we bringing light to a beknighted people heretofore living in darkness?
I don’t get BBC, and from what JVL says, I am not missing much. Perhaps he would be kind enough to recommend a reliable source for news, –good or bad.
Mike said: I can’t recall too many Roosevelts serving during WWII (except for Teddy’s son of course)
For the sake of historical accuracy, TR lost a son in WWI and several other sons served in that war. FDR had a son in the Marine Raiders. As an aside, TR’s son was the most highly decorated soldier in WWII, Audie Murphy was the most decorated enlisted man.
Both Kennedy and Johnson served in WWII as did George HW Bush (he was the youngest pilot in the Navy when he crashed) and a host of celebrities (but not John Wayne) who, like Pat Tillman, volunteered to fight.
The main reason people don’t sign up is that they don’t have to. There is no mandate to fight this war except from the standpoint of politics and no office holder is committed enough to their politics to actually defend the country in person. The number of veterans holding elected offices is slim (for a number of reasons) which means that they have no clue what it is to be in the service.
I attended a farewell ceremony for a local company of the National Guard the other day and was appalled by the slick campaign style rhetoric that passed as sincere goodbyes. Only two veterans spoke and when they did you could see the soldiers listen (many of the soldiers had combat patches) and watch them zone out when the others had their say.
Back when WWI was being debated in Congress 55 Senators and Congressmen (including one woman) voted against going into the war. With one exception (she was a pacifist and also voted against going into WWII) they were what we would consider conservative or progressive in politics. What united them was the war experience, in this case the Civil War. They knew the sacrifices and the costs of war and were willing to say that Sherman was right and we had better have a damn good reason to invoke military action.
Of course being a veteran doesn’t mean you won’t make a mistake or that the experience will alter your ambitions, but it does add perspective.
Seems like a good place for Congress and the government to start talking up enlistment would be with their own kids. Just think how effective this ad campaign would be.
Hi. We’re the Bush twins. We felt so strongly that our daddy was correct in starting this war on terrorism that we’ve enlisted. We’re on the fast track and will be on the front lines of Iraq by labor day. We’ve even got a few of our outspokenly jingoistic celebrity friends to join. Bruce Willis, Paris Hilton, Tom Brady, Curt Shilling, and Bono. They be signing autographs at basic training at Fort Jackson. Come join us.
Thanks Daddy. We love you.
It would appear that the common folk have decided that it is ‘a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight’, to use an old expression. As the rulers of the Soviet Union discovered, frenzied propaganda no longer works once people finally get to the bottom of things. In the old Soviet Union, millions of people were in the habit of saying and listening to things that neither the speaker nor the listener believed to be true. Once this spell was broken, the collapse of the Soviet government was only a matter of time. For the United States, the spell seems to be finally breaking.
It would appear that the common folk have decided that it is ‘a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight’, to use an old expression. As the rulers of the Soviet Union discovered, frenzied propaganda no longer works once people finally get to the bottom of things. In the old Soviet Union, millions of people were in the habit of saying and listening to things that both the speaker and the listener knew were false. Once this spell was broken, the collapse of the Soviet government was only a matter of time. For the United States, the spell seems to be finally breaking.
“I think it shocking how many people seem to be yearning for a state controled media. Pravda wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.”
Not Pravda. I’d like the attitude of the American media during WWII, though. Those are 2 different things, even if one is closer to the other than we now stand.
My mother recently attended the funeral of a former student who was a casuality of the Iraq War. There were signs in memory of the young man posted on businesses, churches and lawns throughout his small hometown.
Stop blaming the media, the democrats, the republicans, whoever, for low recruitment numbers.
In hundreds of towns and cities across the country, people don’t need the media to tell them the cost of war. They’re the ones paying the price. And maybe some have decided the price is too high.