Thursday, August 25, 2005

Katherine Kersten: The big picture in Iraq tells quite a different story

Bestill my heart, a rational and well reasoned article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Crawford campout a quintessential media event. Its purpose is to gain attention for a small group of people, far out of proportion to their numbers or their knowledge of conditions in Iraq. While protesters win headlines, soldiers with on-the-ground experience have no forum to express their strong support for our cause there.

The major media's love affair with the Crawford protest is no surprise. It's consistent with the focus on body counts and funerals we've come to expect: "Troop Carrier Flips; Four Dead,"Roadside Bomb Kills Two." The media rarely give us the context we need to understand the fighting that produces these casualties -- the purpose and outcome of the missions the lost soldiers were engaged in. When that information is given, it's often buried in articles that focus on death.

Without this big picture, any war would appear a meaningless disaster. What if Americans had seen the casualty lists from Omaha Beach or Okinawa -- hills of sand -- without hearing about the objectives for which those bloody battles were fought? (A truer statement was never made)

To evaluate the war in Iraq, like any war, we need to understand what our troops are attempting and achieving, as well as how many of them are being killed. Take the 14 Marines who died in Haditha in early August in a much-publicized roadside bombing. Army Lt. Colonel Steve Boylan, a military spokesman I contacted in Baghdad, explained that they were laying the groundwork for Operation Quick Strike: a campaign to destroy the insurgency by depriving it of its bases and shutting down its "rat lines" -- infiltration routes running from the Syrian border to the heart of Iraq.

Read the entire article, this gal absolutely nails it.

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