My Novels

Monday, March 31, 2003

So NBC fired Peter Arnett for his remarks about the American battle plan going awry. He should have known better than to state the facts, cause that'll get you fired if the facts don't jive with your corporate employer. Of course, among seasoned journalist there's an old adage that says: "If you haven't been fired at least once, you aren't doing your job." It's coincidental that I explained this very kind of situation a few entries back, about how if you were a reporter (especially with the major USA TV media) and varied from their viewpoints, you'd be sacked. Check back in my archives if you wish to read that earlier entry.

In my years at newspapers, I've seen several levels of this kind of 'publisher' censored content. In small towns it might just be something as simple as pulling a local news event off the front page to insert the obituary of a friend of the publisher's. In large cities...well, it can run the gamut from the trivial to major, important news the public needs to know. Additionally, editors are hired by publishers; hence, they have editorial control over news content. There is always some censorship in news, regardless of how we Americans would like to believe otherwise.

Alas, I'm sure that Arnett is already fielding offers from other worldwide news agencies, and will be employed again soon. Such experience goes with the journalism territory -- that is, if a reporter wants to fight for getting the facts out, and not tow the status-quo line.

As for how the war is going, I really have to find out that from the foreign press online. I'm thinking of dropping our local TV cable access, and getting a satellite/dish. I would then be able to get better coverage from foreign sources/channels, since now we're basically limited to American media. It's odd...I will watch the national media news here (MSNBC/CNN/FOX), and be convinced everything is hunky-dory with the war; then I look at foreign press online sites, and come away with a much more balanced viewpoint. I do know that the USA journalism organization, "Editor & Publisher" has already had articles about the concern that American media/news credibility will suffer from their coverage of this war. Time will tell, and of course, there are a few, very few critics shown occasionally, but all too often, we just get the pentagon's latest dispatches.

Here's a few articles/excerpts I found interesting:

DOWN AND DIRTY: The War in Iraq Turns Ugly. That's What Wars Do.

This campaign was begun, like so many others throughout history, with lofty exhortations from battlefield commanders to their troops, urging courage, patience, compassion for the Iraqi people and even chivalry. Within a week it had degenerated into an unexpected ugliness in virtually every populated area where American and British forces have come under fire. Those who believed from intelligence reports and Pentagon war planners that the Iraqi people, and particularly those from the Shiite sections of the southeast, would rise up to greet them as liberators were instead faced with persistent resistance.

Visions of cheering throngs welcoming them as liberators have vanished in the wake of a bloody engagement whose full casualties are still unknown. Snippets of news from Nasiriya give us a picture of chaotic guerrilla warfare, replete with hit-and-run ambushes, dead civilians, friendly fire casualties from firefights begun in the dead of night and a puzzling number of marines who are still unaccounted for. And long experience tells us that this sort of combat brings with it a "downstream" payback of animosity and revenge.

Other reports corroborate the direction that the war, as well as its aftermath, promises to take: Iraqi militiamen, in civilian clothes, firing weapons and disappearing inside the anonymity of the local populace. So-called civilians riding in buses to move toward contact. Enemy combatants mixing among women and children. Children firing weapons. Families threatened with death if a soldier does not fight. A wounded American soldier commenting, "If they're dressed as civilians, you don't know who is the enemy anymore."

These actions, while reprehensible, are nothing more than classic guerrilla warfare, no different in fact or in moral degree from what our troops faced in difficult areas of Vietnam. In the Fifth Marine Regiment area of operations outside Da Nang, we routinely faced enemy soldiers dressed in civilian clothes and even as women. Their normal routes of ingress and egress were through villages, and we fought daily in populated areas. On one occasion a smiling, waving girl — no more than 7 years old — lured a squad from my platoon into a vicious North Vietnamese crossfire. And if a Vietcong soldier surrendered, it was essential to remove his family members from their village by nightfall, or they might be killed for the sake of discipline.

The moral and tactical confusion that surrounds this type of warfare is enormous. It is also one reason that the Marine Corps took such heavy casualties in Vietnam, losing five times as many killed as in World War I, three times as many as in Korea and more total casualties than in World War II. Guerrilla resistance has already proved deadly in the Iraq war, and far more effective than the set-piece battles that thus far have taken place closer to Baghdad. A majority of American casualties at this point have been the result of guerrilla actions against Marine and Army forces in and around Nasiriya. As this form of warfare has unfolded, the real surprise is why anyone should have been surprised at all. But people have been, among them many who planned the war, many who are fighting it and a large percentage of the general population.


Excellent commentary from someone who has REAL war/battle experience, James Webb, secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam.


Three British soldiers sent home after protesting at civilian deaths

Three British soldiers in Iraq have been ordered home after objecting to the conduct of the war. It is understood they have been sent home for protesting that the war is killing innocent civilians.

Any refusal of soldiers to obey orders is highly embarrassing to the government, with ministers becoming increasingly worried about the way the war is developing.

It is also causing concern to British military chiefs who are worried about growing evidence of civilians being killed in fighting involving American soldiers around urban areas in southern Iraq.


I also saw a brief snippet on MSNBC this morning in which a British soldier who survived an air assualt by an American pilot/bomber -- one of his comrads killed -- was very upset with the pilot whom he said, "...was acting like a lone cowboy." The British soldier said that the American plane was flying low, and could have clearly seen that these were British soldiers, not the enemy...but fired on them anyway.

I also seen a brief news report that stated the Australian foreign minister has advised that once the "conflict" is over, Australian troops will pull out of Iraq. There's only about 2,000 there now, but I do know that there's been massive demonstrations in Australia wanting those troops brought back home. So we will see if this turns into a prolonged war whether American troops can "go it alone," because, frankly, I think that is what will happen -- no international support eventually.

As for 'weapons of mass destruction'...none have been found to date. And since the U.N. is now demanding their inspectors look at any 'evidence' found, I think the international rumors of "planting WMDs so that the USA can seem justified in attacking Iraq" has reached even them.

Like I've said before, this isn't shaping up to be a pretty picture.

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