FOX News Channel's 'Happy War Talk' Leads Its Viewers to Believe Things Are Going Well in Iraq
Reported by Marie Therese - October 21, 2007
GUEST BLOGGED BY BILL CORCORAN
FOX News likes to boast about how they bring to their viewers stories from Iraq that are not the usual "if it bleeds it leads" reports that the rest of the mainstream media covers. In the spirit of being "fair and balanced," (where have I heard that expression before?). I've decided to bring News Hounds readers the flip side of the coin - stories from the Iraq war zone that tug at your heartstrings and make you wonder even more what is really going on in Iraq. They also raise questions about why the United States military is caught in the middle of an all out civil war.
War, any war, is not pretty. The Iraq War is not a John Wayne movie, even though FOX News wants to paint it as some kind of glamorous adventure that will introduce democracy to a nation that for over 1300 years has been locked in tribal warfare.
If you have the stomach to watch Fox News, you get the idea that everything in Iraq is going "swimmingly" as Ann Coulter is prone to say. However, a new report indicates reconstruction and political progress is failing all across the country and not just in Baghdad.
New Report Shows Little Reconstruction and Political Progress in Iraq
The New York Times
Baghdad - Attempts by American-led reconstruction teams to forge political reconciliation, foster economic growth and build an effective police force and court system in Iraq have failed to show significant progress in nearly every one of the nation's provincial regions and in the capital, a federal oversight agency reported on Thursday.
The report, by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, comes as the United States tries to take advantage of a drop in overall violence to create a functioning government here.
The release of the report was linked to testimony on Thursday by the special inspector general, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
Few, if any, Americans know that over 1.2 Million Iraqi citizens have been killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.
The estimate that over a million Iraqis have died received independent confirmation from a prestigious British polling agency in September 2007. Opinion Research Business estimated that 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed violently since the US invasion.
The Pentagon has dragged its feet in providing up-armored Humvees for combat duty in Iraq, but how many Fox News viewers know that one GI's mom is sending him "silly string" to be used to detect trip wires on bombs?
Silly String Sent to Soldier in Iraq
DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. - After months of frustration, a mother of a soldier in Iraq has found someone to ship about 80,000 cans of Silly String to the troops, who use the foamy substance to detect trip wires on bombs. “I am so happy right now, I am shaking. I just think it’s awesome that it’s finally going,” said the woman, Marcelle Shriver, as boxes were loaded into a truck Monday afternoon. Soldiers can shoot the substance, which travels about 10 feet, across a room before entering. If it hangs in the air, that indicates a possible trip wire.
While Fox News continues to search for "Happy Iraq" news, the effects on the Iraqi children are under-reported. For example, here is a story about a simple playground becoming a killing field in the middle of an Iraqi war zone.
No Peace - Not Even on a Playground in Iraq
Once I asked a little girl what the Eid al-Fitr feast at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan meant to her. Her answer was: a new beautiful dress, new shoes, a nice gift, candies, balloons and some pocket money to buy extra sweets and enjoy the day at a playground. It was pretty pure and simple – a child’s dream of how to enjoy a day.
Many families mark the end of the month of fasting by bringing their children to simple playgrounds with local made swings, slides, seesaws, and sometimes manual ferris wheels. On Friday, in the northern city of Tuz Khormato where kids must have been laughing while innocent smiles spread across their faces as they swung and slid down slides – a vendor approached selling homemade sweets.
But the vendor was not the ordinary one, he was a suicide bomber hiding an improvised explosive device (IED) inside his cart full of sweets. The attack killed a boy and his father, and wounded another 20 children.
The smiles turned to tears, wounds and sorrow. What was the message that the terrorists wanted to send beyond killing and injuring children? The only plausible answer was don't ever cheer up.
Who gets to stay stateside and who goes to the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters of war is not the kind of story you will find much on Fox News. However, the reality of war is something that has to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis by military families. The decision about what military units will ship out and who gets to stay in the United States requires massive planning.
Deciding Who Goes Where and When to Iraq
The Army Times
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on and the demand for troops grows by the day, the plans division, led by Col. Edge Gibbons, is focused on how to meet global requirements while increasing dwell time for troops and decreasing the length of deployments. “There are competing demands for Army resources. You have to be a very agile Army,” Gibbons said. “Every combatant commander has his priorities. Whose priorities come first? We have a supply-demand disconnect. That’s why we’re at 15 months [boots on the ground].”
Twenty Army brigade combat teams are overseas in war zones — 18 in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. That doesn’t include troops who don’t belong to a BCT. They make up about 37 percent of the soldiers in those two countries. On average, Forces Command receives a new request for forces every two and a half days. Active Army soldiers now serve 15-month deployments and 12 months at home.
In their rush to present "Happy War Talk," Fox News often overlooks the toll the war has taken on the families of soldiers and Marines KIA (Killed in Action) or severely wounded. However, FOX News Channel ignores stories about families who are dealing with the "hidden injury" - post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - which is taking a tremendous toll on service personnel, leaving them needing ongoing treatment in under-funded veterans hospitals.
Report: PTSD treatments need more research
WASHINGTON — There isn’t enough evidence to tell whether most treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder work, according a scientific review that highlights the urgency of finding answers as thousands of suffering veterans return from Iraq. The one proven treatment: “exposure therapies,” where PTSD patients are gradually exposed to sights and sounds that essentially simulate their trauma to help them learn to cope, advisers to the government reported Thursday.
Fox News seldom mentions the troop shortages in Iraq and Afghanistan. but the United States Marines are a stand-up organization, unafraid to tell it like it is.
Generals endorse plan to end grunt shortage
The Corps can’t put infantry sergeants in every squad leader position designed for them because too many are assigned outside of the operating forces.
That’s why the Marine Requirements Oversight Council approved recommendations recently to enlist infantry Marines on six-year contracts, meritoriously promote around 200 infantry corporals each year, offer a little something extra in squad leaders’ monthly paychecks and increase cash bonuses for those who agree to stay in a grunt unit upon re-enlistment, said a Marine Corps headquarters official familiar with the plan.
You don't hear the folks at FNC talking much about how the United States Marines are stretched to the breaking point as they engage in the Iraq war, but now the Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway has said the Marines have become a "second land army" tasked with the job of securing Iraq and lacking the equipment to do the job.
Conway: Corps is becoming another Army
Marine Corps Times
WASHINGTON — Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway said earlier this week he is concerned about the Marines Corps’ ability to respond to security flare-ups around the world on short notice because of the demands put on it by the Iraq war.
In recent years, the Marine Corps has emerged as a “second land Army” tasked with securing Iraq and must buy heavy equipment, including a fleet of 3,700 mine-resistant vehicles, to protect its personnel from roadside bombs, Conway said.
The above are just a sample of the many stories coming out of Iraq which do not fit neatly into the Fox News "Happy War Talk" talking points. The stark reality is that many problems persist in Iraq which can't be swept under the rug in a rush to bring Fox News viewers only good news.
For a comprehensive look at what is taking place in Iraq, the informed reader might consider reading a web site, Iraq Today, which does not present a sanitized rehash of Bush White House press releases, but instead takes an informed look at Iraq through the eyes of correspondents who actually live there.