United States military is truly one of the marvels of the modern world. With
sophisticated weaponry, exceptional training, and superior leadership, the
men and women of our armed forces represent the absolute best combat force
on the planet. Couple this force with the seasoned military planners and
strategists back in Washington, and America has the team and the plan to
win a decisive victory against Iraq. That is, unless you ask the media. According
to America's media, not only is the war plan ill conceived, but worse yet,
America is losing the war.
A review of the transcripts from recent press briefings at the White House,
Pentagon, and Central Command reveal an array of questions designed not to
solicit information, but rather to solicit a denial. In fact, in many instances,
the government and military briefers are not asked questions in which a simple
statement of the facts will suffice. Time and time again, the briefers are
presented with theoretical situations which they must deny and rebut. In
other words, the media are often not working to report the news. Instead,
they are looking to make news by throwing out a wild statement and seeing
how the briefer responds. This is irresponsible at best, and a disservice
to the American people who want to know what's going on with the war.
Part of the media's angle is to cast doubts on the war plan because, after
a week and a half, the war is not over yet? Are we "bogged down?" Why hasn't
the entire Iraqi military surrendered already? In a recent briefing at the
Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked: "Mr. Secretary, as
you know, there has been some criticism, some by retired senior officers,
some by officers on background in this building, who claim that the war plan
in effect is flawed."
To his credit, Secretary Rumsfeld responded by saying, "Well, we're one week
into this, and it seems to me it's a bit early for history to be written,
one would think."
Leading up to the war, officials in Washington often spoke to the fact that
the Iraqi people are oppressed, tortured, and terrorized by Saddam Hussein's
regime. These officials mentioned that many Iraqis would welcome the presence
of U.S. and coalition forces. After a week and a half, the singing in the
streets is not as deafening as one would hope, but did anyone really think
it would happen so soon? The Iraqi people were encouraged to defy Saddam
Hussein before only to be left hanging in the wind. The fact that they are
cautious and not yet convinced that Saddam Hussein will be removed from power
is understandable, but it has not stopped the media from hammering on this
point. Their implied message is: Why are you here when the Iraqi people don't
even want you?
An example comes from the recent Pentagon briefing. A reporter asked Secretary
Rumsfeld: "Is it possible that you've miscalculated the desire of the Iraqi
people to be liberated by an outside force and that because of their patriotism
or nationalism, that they'll continue to resist the Americans, even after
you prevail militarily?"
Secretary Rumsfeld responded, "Don't you think it's a little premature --
the question? We'll know the answer to that. As portions of the country are
liberated, we'll have people on the ground, embedded with our forces, who
will have a chance to see what happens and see how they feel about it. Why
do we want to guess?"
In addition to portraying the image that the war with Iraq has gone on for
too long, the media are also trying to dig for anything that might convey
a sense of coverup or misdeeds within the military and the administration.
The topper was a question asked to Secretary Rumsfeld about numbers of killed
and wounded soldiers: "The casualty figures currently officially released
by the U.S. military show 28 dead and 40 wounded. Now the proportion of wounded
and dead would be -- would seem to be historically way out of skew, because
the number of wounded is usually far more than the number killed in action.
Is there -- can you explain why that would be, or -- and is there any effort
to either unreport or underreport casualties from the battlefield?"
With that question, even the usually unflappable Don Rumsfeld was left in
a stupor. He responded by saying: "Oh, my goodness! Now, you know that wouldn't
be the case. There's no -- no one in this government, here or on the ground,
is going to underreport what's happening. That's just terrible to think that.
Even to suggest it is outrageous. Most certainly not! The facts are reported."
The bombardment of questions is not limited to the Pentagon. In a briefing
at the White House, Spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether the detailing
of Saddam's atrocities against the Iraqi people was used to "continue to
justify the war to the American people." Fleischer replied by saying, "Well,
no, I think it's part of describing the horrible reality that Saddam Hussein
is putting his people through."
The point is that rather than asking questions that lead to a better understanding
of the war, the media are focusing on questions that are unproductive and
are designed to put the briefers on the defensive. In another example regarding
the expectations of a quick war with Iraq, a reporter asked: "You did very
little to lower expectations in the run up to this. Even if you didn't raise
them yourself, you did nothing to lower what we were hearing from the Pentagon
and from other outside pundits about how well, how quickly this war would
Fleischer responded: "I could not dispute that more strongly, and let me
cite it for you. If you take a look at what the President said on October
7th in Cincinnati in a major speech to the country, the President said, 'Military
conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may
attempt cruel and desperate measures. There is no easy or risk-free course
of action.' That's what the President said some six months ago, five months
In a recent CNN report on civilians killed in a neighborhood blast, the on-air
reporter referred to the U.S. military as "attacking civilian neighborhoods"
in order to destroy military targets. How twisted is that statement? The
military does not "attack" civilian neighborhoods. The military attacks military
targets of the enemy. If those targets are close to civilian areas, then
there is certainly a risk of civilian casualties, but to say that civilian
areas are being "attacked" is patently false.
The examples go on and on, but the point is clear. At a time when the country
needs to come together to support the troops and support the president, the
media are working double time to sow the seeds of doubt in the American public.
As of this writing, the war is one and a half weeks old. Are we winning?
Yes. When will it end? I don't know. What I do know is that in a very short
time, the American military has accomplished unprecedented successes in troop
movement, bomb accuracy, and human intelligence. Saddam Hussein and his sons
could very well have been taken out with the first bomb dropped. We are winning
the war, and we don't need the media to tell us otherwise.
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Bobby Eberle is President and CEO of
GOPUSA (http://www.gopusa.com/), a news, information, and
commentary company based in Houston, TX. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical
engineering from Rice University.