Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Iraq: The Media is Misleading the World

Iraq: The Media is Misleading the World
By Rick Sackett

Many times in the last year my wife and I have sat with friends in Iraq who told us that the hooded terrorists whom CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera were interviewing and passing off to the world as representing the sentiments of the Iraqi people, were not from Iraq at all, but from Yemen, Egypt, Saudi, or somewhere else outside the country, but were definitely not from Iraq. How do they know? The same way we know if someone is from Boston or Texas. Accents. Yet CNN and the BBC make these international terrorists appear to represent the will of the Iraqi people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nevertheless because CNN and Co. have told this lie loud enough and long enough, people around the world now believe them and have a negative view of the Coalition led invasion of Iraq. The media has skillfully misled the world into thinking Iraqis are against America and people the world over have become discouraged and disheartened by believing their lie. Was this a calculated ploy by the media? Why has the media done this? This is a good question because the truth as we know it from having lived in Iraq over the past year is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are very grateful to the United States for liberating them.

Consequently, since arriving back in the United States my wife and I have been standing up in restaurants, cafeterias, and airport waiting rooms to let people know that things in Iraq are not the way they are being portrayed by the international media. And what we are finding is that the American people are eager to know the truth about what has happened in Iraq and sense they are not getting the true story through the media. Invariably as my wife and I stand up to speak in Denny’s, or Applebee’s, or McDonalds, the restaurant grows quiet when they hear we have been working in Iraq. Then a minute later the restaurant breaks into applause as they hear us tell them the truth that the Iraqi people are grateful to the United States for coming and delivering them from Saddam Hussein. We then share how we have worked closely with the U.S. Military in the last year and have watched the U.S. Army conduct themselves in an exemplary fashion, exhibiting patience, kindness and sensitivity to the Iraqi people. The truth is we can all be proud of the U.S. forces. Once again the restaurant breaks into applause.

After living for a year in Iraq, directing a non-government organization rebuilding schools, drilling water wells, providing computers to schools, and writing articles in Iraqi newspapers, it has been a privilege to travel across the U.S. sharing the story that the media does not tell. What story is this? An example would be that we have not found one person here in the U.S. who has heard about the town meetings that have taken place all across Iraq preparing the Iraqi people to take over their own country. These town hall meetings have been carried out by the efforts of the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, under Paul Bremer. I have watched this group of dedicated American civilians work tirelessly teaching the Iraqi’s about democracy, how to select a candidate, what to look for in a candidate, how to have an election, etc. As a result there have now been elections in every major city in Iraq! This did not just happen by itself but from the hard work done by these superb people from the U.S. State Department. WHY HAS AMERICA NOT HEARD ABOUT ALL OF THIS WORK? These town hall meetings are the backbone of a democracy and what the transfer of power over to the Iraqis is all about, and yet the world has heard nothing about them. A tremendous amount of training from these U.S. civilians has taken place with mayors and citizens all over Iraq, and yet as we have traveled around the United States, we have found absolutely no one here in the United States who has heard of these meetings and the preparation that has taken place through them. This non reporting of the many good things that have been happening on a daily basis is a distortion of the real situation in Iraq for which the media is undeniably responsible. There are 25 million people in Iraq and yet the media has continually focused on the 25 thousand who were part of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, or his Fedeyeen, or the ex Bath party members who are obviously against the United States and the success of a new Iraq. Why has the media primarily given these people, many of them terrorists, a platform to address the world as if they represented the Iraqi people? This has been a gross misrepresentation of the truth by the international media.

This war in Iraq might have been over 10 months ago if those trying to bring freedom to Iraq had not had to overcome the efforts of the media as well as the terrorists. As it is, the media has encouraged the insurgents and has undermined the Coalition at every turn. They have done nothing to encourage the Iraqi people to take ownership and responsibility for their country, but have done everything they could to prolong the war. As a result thousands of Iraqi and American troops and civilians have died who did not have to die. Obviously the United States has been doing everything it could to bring the violence in Iraq to an end, but the media has done everything it could to keep it going. Here lies a tragedy the world does not know.

A year ago a British scientist who was at the center of the controversy about Iraq being able to deliver WMD in 45 minutes committed suicide, causing a huge investigation into his death known as the Lord Hutton Inquiry. For the three weeks leading up to the verdict, CNN and the BBC built the story up on air and on their websites that this would be the most difficult week in the life of Tony Blair, indicating they were going to make the follow up reporting to the verdict extremely hard for Mr. Blair to overcome. But when Lord Hutton and his committee gave their report it went just the opposite as to what the media was expecting as Lord Hutton totally exonerated the British government of any wrong doing and found the BBC guilty of having misled the nation. Remarkable, yet as could be expected, instead of follow up reporting, this new development was deemed no longer newsworthy, and just six hours after CNN and the BBC’s having to report the verdict, the story was no longer on their websites. Again the media has used this kind of distorted misrepresentation of events to mislead the world. For three weeks they completely filled Europe, Asia, Africa, and as much of America as they could with the notion that the British government was covering up the truth when it was actually the media themselves who were guilty. But CNN and the BBC are very aware of the psychological damage they were able to impose on the world during this time with the resulting negative attitude towards Tony Blair and George Bush, even though the media themselves were the ones in the wrong.

So what is the truth? Am I telling you the truth when I say the vast majority of Iraqi people are thankful to the United States? Recently I met with a reporter at Applebee’s restaurant. As we started the interview I decided rather than tell her what I was doing, that I would just show her, and so I stood up as I had done many other times in the last month and asked for the diner’s attention. When the people heard that I had been in Iraq the restaurant grew quiet, but forty-five seconds later broke into applause at the brief message I had brought them. As you can imagine the ensuing interview was quite animated and for the next hour diners dropped by with words of appreciation for what I had said. In the course of our conversation something happened that should give us all hope and a little more insight into what is the truth about the situation in Iraq. I told the reporter, “The most interesting thing that I have found is that everywhere I go and speak, people come up and tell me that their cousin in Iraq (or whoever they might know in Iraq) is telling them the very same thing that I am saying.” Two minutes later a woman came over to our table and said, “You know my cousin in Iraq…” The interview appeared on the front page of the paper the next day. Take heart America. The truth will set you free.



Comments:
Rick, if you know any others with similar background to yours who would be willing to do the same, please contact and inspire them. It sounds to me, BTW, as though the relatives of serving members are all direct victims of this info-abuse, and the rest of us are indirect victims.
 
you should read Robert Kaplan's article at policyreview.org . My take on it is that the media just likes to tear down the American leadership, like what they did with Bill Clinton - somehow they feel like if they report good news people will think of them as just tools of the administration so they publish anything and everything negative. It doesn't really matter anyway, because George Bush is in power and he's not gonna change anything. Its too bad that Americans don't get the truth, but in the long run it won't matter.
 
Rick, please don't take this site down. I frequently use it as a link to bring up short some idiot who can't quite believe the hallowed MSM is actually not truth-telling.

And any update on how your campaign has gone in the last half year+ would be welcome; I'm sure I could direct the attention of some hi-volume Iraqi/political bloggers to it. I hope you haven't become jaded or discouraged!
 
What a crock! Dude, did you and your wife go to Mosul? Did you talk to the people of Mosul who are now crying out that there has never been so much despair?

You say: I am the director of an international non-government organization which has rebuilt schools and drilled water wells in both Kurdish and Arab villages in northern Iraq.


Yeah, typical. Kurdish villages. That's where all the flowers were thrown.

Spare me.

If anything, the media is ignoring Iraq because it has become a headache for the Bush admin and the American people who voted Alfred E. Neuman into office.

Have you visited Sadr City? Or maybe you did charity work in Fallujah? Did you go to Basra? How about Nassiriyah? Or Anah? Ramadi?

Don't talk like you have been to Iraq. You went were you were directed to go.

Iraqis are leaving Iraq en masse. Not because the media has distorted the truth, and not because of so many American civilians doing the right thing, but because you stepped in the wrong quagmire.

Reap what you sow.

That's in them thar Bible, ya see.
 
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please ignore numskulls like the libral fool who wrote the previous reply. I have many dear friends in Iraq and Iraqi refugees from Saddam's rule and they are all grateful for the US being there. How soon some forget the fear that Saddam's rath caused them . The death, the torture, the horrible conditions. Of course Saddam's Bath party had it great - they had money and jobs and no fear from the corrupt government (they were part of it). We Americans have NO IDEA and no reason to talk unless there is first hand knowledge. Sounds like you have been there and seen for yourself. I have seen video brought back from visits to Iraq and all are saying "thank you Mr. Bush", "thank you America". That does not sound like people who hate Americans. These are cities in the south and even in Baghdad. Times are rough now because of all the insurgents but now most of them are not even from Iraq.
Keep up the good work spreading the news. I'm going to "little Iraq" in Detroit in the fall and i'll tell everyone there are people in the US who have been there and know and are telling people around the US.
 
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A Reply to 'Metal Or Die':

The author of this blog credentialized himself by doing a lot of work in Kurdish Iraq. In your post, you did not credentialize yourself. What makes your opinion, then, important enough to balance against his? His is unique and experiential. Yours is just the typical political blather we can get from millions of interested folk on either side.

You attempted to discredit him because he had worked solely in Kurdish territories. You did not stop at merely claiming he was falsely representing the situation across all of Iraq. You smeared him and dismissed his experience as irrelevant. You called his thoughts "a crock", and you ordered him, "Don't talk like you have been to Iraq." Which is funny: he was there.

Sir, have you been to Iraq? If you haven't, then clearly yours is the crock due to its overreaction. You exclaim "Spare me." I will now proclaim: "Sir: Spare us."

I'm not saying you can't discuss your views. I do; we all do. But you lack credibility.

Thanks for clarifying who deserves to be listened to.
 
A Reply to 'Metal Or Die':

The author of this blog credentialized himself by doing a lot of work in Kurdish Iraq. In your post, you did not credentialize yourself. What makes your opinion, then, important enough to balance against his? His is unique and experiential. Yours is just the typical political blather we can get from millions of interested folk on either side.

You attempted to discredit him because he had worked solely in Kurdish territories. You did not stop at merely claiming he was falsely representing the situation across all of Iraq. You smeared him and dismissed his experience is irrelevant. You called his thoughts "a crock", and you ordered him, "Don't talk like you have been to Iraq." Which is clearly hilarious, because he HAS been to Iraq. You obviously haven't, or you would have told us about it.

You will now claim that I am telling you to shut up, that I would violate your freedom of speech. Far from it. I'm merely saying he has far more credibility than you.

Thanks for clarifying, by your example, who deserves to be listened to.
 
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I see you haven't written since 2004. Have things changed from the bright outlook you had then or are you no longer in Iraq?
It is now July 2006. What is going on there now and where are you working in Iraq?
 
P.S. You do realize that the media you speak of is majority Republican owned and controlled , much like our Congress which has done such an impressive job for Americans, LOL.
 
Rick - keep up the good work, I'll check back often. Also, you appear to be getting comment spam (the ads that are appearing in your comment section), I just wanted to tell you that blogger allows you to turn on "word verification" to help eliminiate this from your blog. If you want to enable this, just log on to your blogger account and the option to turn on word verification should be on your home page.

Metal or Die - Your post is a perfect example of what Rick is writing about. What do you know of that list of city names except what you have heard on the Daily Show? Did you know that Fallujah has been pacified? Check out The Wikipedia article on Fallujah (you have go down to the last paragraph to discover this, of course). I google (news)d "Fallujah" and wasn't able to find a single article about this fact. Everything was rehashing events that occurred two years ago. The only reason that I knew about the peace of Fallujah was that I happened to hear a U.S. Soldier mention it while being interviewed on T.V.
 
It seems that the author had carried out a large and wide survey through the whole Iraq nation before leaving Iraq. Hmmm, a brilliant truth holder.
 
soufiene,

His point, written 4 years ago, is lost on you.

Btw, how is Iraq doing currently?

It's a process, yet everyone wants immediate gratification and expects 30 years of brutal rule to be fixed overnight.

It takes...what? 2-4 years to train Iraqi officers? And it's only been 5 years, and in the face of insurgents and saboteurs?

For every IVAW, you'll find a score of soldiers who have said the media isn't reporting the positive news accurately, nor reporting the positive work enough. This leaves us with a distorted picture and lopsided impression.

care4all,

You do realize that the majority of journalists working in the mainstream media, lean left, right? And the current Democratically controlled Congress, since you posted your comment, has the lowest approval rating in the history of our nation. Congratulations.
 
@The WordSmith from Nantucket

It is not easy to know what happens exactly in Iraq. There is pro-war media also. For you, it is just a matter of 2-5 years, and then everthing is OK.

But you think, that by invading a country, supporting a fraction against an other, killing, destroying, torturing, humiliating and raping, will have a positive impact on the Iraq feelings, social choesion and relations. We have seen the civil war that took place after the military invasion. They forgot the Coalition forces, and they started killing each other.

You think that a goverment dropped by foreigners will enjoy the population friendship. Iraqis now hate each other more than before. The social division, and internal conflicts, will not help this country to progress. I can't believe in a such democracy. I

Even the USA had known internal conflicts before becoming safe and democratic. But there were not foreign army who intervened, supported one fraction against an other, and controlled the political process. That happened between Americans, which is not the case for Iraqis.

Yes, I prefer the 30 years process.
 
It is not easy to know what happens exactly in Iraq.

I agree. It's a big country, and reports vary from region to region. The media gave the impression that the insurgency was widespread, rather than concentrated in 3-4 of the 18 provinces.

There is pro-war media also.

In what sense? The majority of soldiers that I've heard from have echoed Rick's perspective that the media, in part due to "if it bleeds it leads" journalism, anti-war sentiments from liberal-leaning journalists, and anti-Bush partisan hatred. As a whole, the American media has been generally negative on the war, placing emphasis with every IED, with every homicide bombing.


For you, it is just a matter of 2-5 years, and then everthing is OK.

Where did I say things will be ok in 2-5 years? The point I made is just the opposite. That democratization, especially in the presence of an insurgency, isn't going to happen overnight. It's going to be generational.



But you think, that by invading a country, supporting a fraction against an other, killing, destroying, torturing, humiliating and raping, will have a positive impact on the Iraq feelings, social choesion and relations.

You see, this is the sort of lopsided perspective I am talking about. If that's all that happened, if the glass was ever only half empty and never half full, then I'd agree with you. But you're only highlighting the worst of the worst. Please provide evidence of "torture and rape" at the hands of American soldiers. And then show me how it compares historically to the amount of atrocities that have occurred in previous wars and by other armies. The soldiers I mostly know are of the caliber that Michael Yon describes.

Who has been working hard for the last 5 years to rebuild schools, hospitals, infrastructures at expense of blood and treasure on behalf of the Iraqi people (admittedly and ultimately, for America's security)? The U.S. and coalition forces. Who has purposely targeted Iraqi innocents with car bombs, suicide bombings, and attempted to foment sectarian violence by blowing up the Golden Mosque of Samarra?


We have seen the civil war that took place after the military invasion.

The civil war that never was a civil war?


You think that a goverment dropped by foreigners will enjoy the population friendship.


Maliki's no puppet of the Bush Administration, that's for sure.

Iraqis now hate each other more than before.
The social division, and internal conflicts, will not help this country to progress. I can't believe in a such democracy.


How do you know this?


In the end, whether removing Saddam was right or wrong the way the U.S. did chose to do it, we would all like to see Iraq stabilize and its people live in peace and prosperity.
 
You're talking about consequences, and confusing them with the causes.

Rebuilt the schools, hospitals, ...

And why the schools and hospitals were destroyed? And of course, Iraq petrol will pay and it is paying that.

About torture and rape, many Iraq's who were jailed, and for spite, reported the sadistic abuse against men, women and children.

I thought that this war was for Iraq not against Iraq. So why are you comparing to previous wars and conflicts?

Al Malki, lived in the USA before, and he entered Iraq on an American Tank, and he is not a US puppet?

This intervention, even without the atrocities that you deny, is foolish, why invading a sovreign country to make it worst than before. Did the millions of Iraq refugees who left their houses to live in ghettos and enduring poverty and misery went home?
 
You're talking about consequences, and confusing them with the causes.

No; talking about the consequences was my intent.

So tell me more about the causes.



And why the schools and hospitals were destroyed?


homicide bombers?

No other military operation in history has been more precision-guided as our forces were during OEF. Were buildings destroyed? Sure. But if you compare it to previous wars, and the technology at our disposal today, our military was as surgical as possible in its targeting, and as humane as possible in its conduct, as far as it is possible to be humane in warfare.

About torture and rape, many Iraq's who were jailed, and for spite, reported the sadistic abuse against men, women and children.

Credible reports, please. I'm sure there have been cases of abuse (and soldiers have been prosecuted for it); but "many"? Proof, please.

I thought that this war was for Iraq not against Iraq. So why are you comparing to previous wars and conflicts?

For the sake of perspective. Critics want to hold a magnifying glass to this conflict, because they disagree with its prosecution. We also live in a day and age of vast information dissemination. If we had today's media during WWII, we would never have gotten through the Normandy Invasion or Iwo Jima without NYT leaks, 60 Minutes tallying up body counts to will us into waving the white flag of surrender after the first 24 hours of fighting.

Al Malki, lived in the USA before, and he entered Iraq on an American Tank, and he is not a US puppet?

Maliki's done and said a number of things in defiance of the will of Washington. Of course we have influence, since we are working hard to insure the survival of a stable Iraqi government, at cost to American blood and treasure. But Maliki has been playing politics, negotiating with Iran, negotiating with Bush on timeline withdrawal dates rather than do what the Administration wishes for him to do. So what makes him a puppet?

This intervention, even without the atrocities that you deny,

Will you re-read my earlier post? I was rather balanced; you're partisanly over the cliff. I don't deny that atrocities have occurred, as they occur in any war. But American soldiers have been held to an extremely high standard, under intense media scrutiny and pressure, and overall, have been honorable in their conduct. If you want to hear about atrocities, read about al Qaeda operatives cutting off heads, baking children, torturing captives with drills, etc.

Who targets the civilian population? Who protects them?

Where is the anger against the insurgents and jihadis who wish to foment chaos and violence?

is foolish, why invading a sovreign country to make it worst than before.

Not our intent.

Ask the insurgents why they have made their country "worse than before". Why attack Iraqis rather than focus solely on "the invaders"?

Did the millions of Iraq refugees who left their houses to live in ghettos and enduring poverty and misery went home?

Things are currently better, with Iraqis returning back.

But what is it that you want? A magic wand? A fairy tale ending?

The problem I see with your perspective is you only want to acknowledge the misery and highlight everything that goes wrong, without crediting anything positive. I bet you either didn't click onto my links, or simply ignored anything contrary to your lopsided opinion.
 
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