Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Victories You're Learning Nothing About

The US Military is destroying Al Qaida in Iraq. Too bad it's not being reported.

The “surge” is on. You wouldn’t know it by reading this or just about any other newspaper, but the troop surge that was announced months ago to suppress the Iraq insurgency kicked it into full gear recently. And, it’s yielding some significant successes.
Arrowhead Ripper is the name given to the current offensive. It’s the biggest military operation since the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003. But the news has been all but ignored by the mainstream media.
There are probably two reasons for the paucity of information on Arrowhead Ripper. First of all, the surge has already been declared a failure by the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership and the sympathetic news media are reluctant to contradict those with whom they are ideological soul mates. The second reason is that the media have almost no one there to report on the war. Only the New York Times’ Michael Gordon and freelance journalist Michael Yon are anywhere near the action.
Surprisingly, Michael Gordon’s (examples here and here, registration required)reporting on the surge has been almost entirely free of ideological tampering by his editors in New York, except in regards to placement. Thursday, for example, far greater prominence was given to a story tallying US troop losses than Michael Gordon’s riveting account of the previous day’s fighting. Michael Gordon’s reporting has detailed the successes and, very importantly, assistance, that locals are lending the US, as Al Qaida fighters, their hideouts, their arms caches and even the roadside bombs they have placed are pointed out.
Michael Yon’s reporting is even better, if only because his writing does not suffer from the clipped quality of Gordon’s, as Michael Yon has no stateside editors who trim his stories so that they fit into the allocated column inches (examples here, and here).
Yon’s pieces provide much greater detail of the tactics being employed to rout Al Qaida from its redoubts. From Michael Yon’s stories, one can clearly understand why operations like Arrowhead Ripper were not possible before the surge. And after reading his stories, one can understand why Americans and Iraqis alike should have far more optimism regarding the surge’s prospects than Harry Reid.
In Michael Yon’s reporting, one also learns just how open the military is with information regarding this offensive: “The Army is giving full access to the battlefield, and while on base full access to the TOC (HQ) which means I see the raw truth on the ground, and as it feeds through the TOC. They are hiding nothing. Or if they are, it’s in plain view. (Special operations notwithstanding.) A reporter can see as much as he or she can stand.”
Unfortunately, the major news networks, CNN, Fox, the Associated Press, and other mainstream news media are not there. And so a battle that could very well turn out to be the hinge upon which the future of the War on Terror pivots is going largely unreported. Paris Hilton’s bathroom habits and the latest missing girl miniseries gain greater attention.
But things could be worse. Although the US news media give encouragement and moral support to our enemies, while doing all they can to demoralize the home front, at least they are not supplying the enemy with tangible assistance, as the British Broadcasting Corporation attempted Wednesday.
Earlier this week on its website, the BBC was actively soliciting reports of allied troop movements in Iraq , presumably so that it could post them on its website for the enemy to read. All that Al Qaida would have had to do to gain the benefit of this information was point their web browsers to the BBC and there they could have tracked allied operations and either set up ambushes, or simply escape before the trap ensnared them. The information request was up for two hours before outraged reaction forced the BBC to take the page down. The BBC insisted that it had no intention of posting the information it was trying to gather, but why would they solicit the information in the first place?
If the BBC sincerely wanted news regarding the progress of the fighting in Iraq, I’m sure that Michael Gordon and Michael Yon would not begrudge them the company. CNN would be welcome too.
Michael Yon’s reporting can be found at: http://www.michaelyon-online.com
His reporting is scrupulously non-partisan, and you Bush haters will find plenty of criticism of the administration’s handling of the war.

Note: since this column was completed, Michael Yon reports that the Los Angeles Times and CNN have joined the fight. The Associated Press and Time Magazine have also made brief visits to the front.

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