Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Reporting For Duty

During the Holidays, I ran across this article in the Opinion Journal from The Wall Street Journal, written by John Guardiano, an Arlington, Va.-based journalist, who served in Iraq in 2003 as a field radio operator with the Marine Corps Reserve's Fourth Civil Affairs Group. It's a must read!

Reporting For Duty: The US Military tells Iraqi's the truth and some call it a "scandal".

The latest Iraq "scandal" the politicians and the media have discovered is the U.S. military's alleged covert purchase of favorable articles in the Iraqi press. This alleged "propaganda campaign . . . violates fundamental principles of Western journalism," reports the New York Times.

After major combat operations had ended in April 2003, it quickly became apparent to us Marines that ours was as much a war of information and ideas as a war of guns and bullets. We had won every military engagement; our difficulties lay with the popular Iraqi perceptions that the ex-Baathists, Saddam loyalists and Sunni overlords were lying low and would soon return to power after we Americans had left--which would happen soon, ordinary Iraqis were told. Moreover, blatant lies were spread about our supposed misdeeds: that Marines became Marines after they had murdered a family member; that we were raping Iraqi women and plundering Iraq's oil riches.

It is obviously more difficult to secure the cooperation of a people to rebuild their country if they are intimidated and misled about what you are doing and why you are doing it. That's why we founded our own Iraqi newspaper--which we clearly labeled as such--and that's why we broadcast radio and television clips.

The U.S. can and will win in Iraq, but only if we win the larger-scale media war. Correcting misperceptions--in Baghdad and Washington, New York and Tikrit--is not somebody else's job; it is the job of the U.S. military. For unless the truth is widely known and shared, no military victory in the 21st century can ever be complete.


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