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19 May 2007

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David Habakkuk

Are ignorance and complicity sharply separable? There is a kind of willed ignorance, quite common among journalists: a state where one may be aware that what one is being told is dubious, but does not feel inclined to ask awkward questions which might end up with disturbing or inconvenient answers.

jCandlish

I vote complicit.

Why isn't the recent artillery attack big news? Where are those guns?

Helicopter destroyed, nine damaged.

Wayne White

You're absolutely correct, Pat, concerning the proper tactical description of this attack.

In fact, the stepping up of insurgent operations in predominantly Sunni Arab and strongly pro-insurgent areas south of Baghdad, in Diyala Governate immediately to the north, and even as far north as Iraqi Kurdistan is directly related to the ongoing surge. Every time we have attempted to concentrate forces for the stabilization of Baghdad, beginning, I believe, in 2004, insurgents have essentially flanked each effort by diverting resources elsewhere into areas in which defenses are somewhat weaker. Predictably, this then pulls assets away from operations in Baghdad. Already, troops have been detached from this surge to reinforce anti-insurgent efforts in Diyala Governate, and now 4,000 have been drawn south for use in this huge search operation. Seemingly not being able to properly brace ourselves for these utterly predictable insurgent countermoves reflects our chronic, countinuing and country-wide shortage of boots on the ground and, perhaps, a failure to match the rather impressive learning curve demonstrated so often by the insurgents.

Most importantly, as forces are sent north and south of the capital to put out fires, those in Baghdad in the process of selecting, fortifying and manning the relatively isolated Joint Secturity Stations (JSS's), as you have suggested, must pick their locations with the utmost care. JSS personnel also must anticipate and prepare themselves as best they can for far more robust insurgent efforts than witnessed in this isolated attack south of Baghdad aimed at inflicting unusually heavy casualties or even overrunning at least one such JSS, with potentially catastrophic results.

jonst

I vote for complicit. Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is virtually indistinguishable from malice.

Duncan Kinder

The Wall Street Journal's description of the Baqouba attack, which is the most detailed I have been able to locate:


The fighting in Baqouba began about 7 a.m. when insurgents opened fire on a U.S.-Iraqi base in the center of the city. About a half-hour later, U.S. reinforcements arrived, killing at least six insurgents, the Iraqi army officer said.

The fighting ended about noon, but several hours later, suspected insurgents fired a mortar round at a nearby police headquarters. No casualties were reported. The base was set up two months ago in a three-story city office building that was abandoned because of the violence in the area, the Iraqi officer said.

knut royce

Col. Lang,
I second the motion for ignorant. knut

Cloned Poster

I don't know if you get SKY News in USA Pat, but covering Blair's farewell today on his visit to Iraq, my answer to your question is YES YES YES they are complicitly ignorant.

J

Colonel,

my vote is that the media are 'knowingly' complicit.

Cujo359

You can never rule out ignorance, especially in the case of TV journalists. Still, the phrase "You have to be moving to be ambushed" was almost exactly what popped into my head when I read about this thing, and I have no military training. At the very least, you'd think their military correspondents would understand that distinction.

arbogast

It increasingly looks as though the "new" military strategy in Iraq is causing a much higher casualty rate among our troops.

I wonder how long this can go on before the military steps up and says enough is enough.

Colonel Lang is not exactly chopped liver, and I suspect that if he were in charge, this would have ended a long time ago. We are murdering our own people to stroke the ego of a single individual who has no credentials of any sort at all.

Is George Bush's ego really worth all these lives?

Montag

Anytime the media try to report the truth they're excoriated as defeatests, pacificists and bastards--not always in that order. Let's remember that they're dependent upon the military for their safety in Iraq and may not want to be seen as playing politics with a tragedy. It's also possible that they have yet to adopt the healthy skepticism of Vietnam correspondents who labelled the daily military press briefings, "The Five O'Clock Follies."

JfM

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.--Philip K. Dick

MarcLord

Beyond complicit generally, but probably past caring or competence in this case. What does it matter to a reporter if the military wants to keep a few words out of what they file? They can't control it anyway, and it's the military press officers who call these shots.

Reporters want to tell dramatic stories, and they do. It's their management chains which are getting leaned on to hold them back. For the middle managers, the penalty for editing accuracies back into the crapmire of copy they get would be high. High enough to guarantee complicity.

bg

COL Lang, I agree and I disagree. By US Army doctrine, the soldiers were on a combat patrol. I've read several articles looking for a single military statement calling this an "ambush", but I didn't see one. I am sure you will find one, but I have also found several articles that correctly identify this attack as a raid. Most of the inaccurate wording I saw was paraphrasing by the reporter.

Raids do sometimes include "kidnapping", we do it all the time only we call it detain. Detain would not be the appropriate word for abducting US soldiers in this case. Detain implies a release, which unfortunately is probably not going to happen. Kidnapping, which was likely the intent of the attackers, is an appropriate word in this case.

Perhaps the issue is that we not hearing the official statements, we are hearing the news reporters "layman" version of the military statement. An example is the use of the word convoy. The word convoy is not even an approved word in Iraq today, all missions are called combat patrols (not as perception management, but as an attempt to get soldiers in the right mindset during planning and execution). Any Army public affairs officer who says "convoy" will likely be reprimanded. Reporters who use the word are likely just paraphrasing.

Since I believe this is the case, I agree, the issue is ignorance on the media's part at worst, dumbing down to layman terms at best.

anna missed

I vote neither complicit or ignorant, but a perpetual state of denial. The level of journalism that never looks outside the box, never at presumptions, never at what happens should a mission "fail". Was there EVER any serious analysis, or the weighing of risks before the invasion, on the consequences of not being able complete the mission? And four years later, there's still no plan b.

Jerry Thompson

Ignorance -- which permeates our civilian leadership as well as the media. Note how all recite the mantra, "The Iraq situation requires a political solution. It cannot be resolved militarily." Then, having recited the mantra we focus all public debate on our military strategy (which are not a strategy but an operational design) and place all responsibility for success on General Petraeus (willing) shoulders and appoint another general (Lute) to be responsible for coordinating interagency policy. Who is the political strategist? What is the political strategy?

shepherd

I vote ignorant, but guilty in the sense that they're not bothering to do their homework. In this context, that's as bad as complicit.

Peter Eggenberger

Since at least WWII (e.g. the coverage of the Kuomintang) journalists have usually "gone along" with respectable conservative opinion. The ones who haven't have been ostracized, until events confirmed that they were right-- which led to their sanctification (e.g. Halberstam). The sanctified are invariably pointed to as role models, while at the same time any journalist who acts like them is ostractized. Plus ca change c'est toujours la meme chose.

ked

c'mon, folks - they are lazy, just intellectually and spiritually lazy. they only get excited over media-insider & industry issues, and those that advance careers. ok, add moral corruption to the list.

Michael Murry

Anyone -- like our Five O'Clock Follies military spokespersons -- who can come up with the jaw-breaking euphemism "Force Oriented Zone Reconnaissance" as Orwellian Newspeak for "patrolling" or, more accurately, "picking a fight" has no claim on ignorance as an excuse for what I prefer to call Manufactured Mendacity and Managed Mystification. I call "bullshit!"

Anyway, while gnashing my few remaining teeth at the criminally negligent exposure of so few of our soldiers on their perilous "outpost patrol" I penned a few more verses, "Custer's Next Stand," and "Mini-Green-Zone Outpost Diaspora," both at http://www.themisfortuneteller.blogspot.com. (The recent farce of a "war czar" scapegoat gambit prompted "Stud Hamster Two Step," at the same site.)

I agree with Colonel Lang and all those others who saw through the AEI "belief tank" fantasy of a so-called "surge" that General Petraeus got a fourth star for agreeing to perpetrate on his own troops, the Iraqi populace, and the royally fleeced taxpaying citizenry of America.

jonst

Here is an interesting link on the old CPA days for anyone interested. I believe it on point to this thread.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/05/18/cpa_documents/print.html

whynot

While there is no conspiracy, I think it's obvious the media is up to their usual standard and reporting what the military says verbatim as if it's gospel. Some may know the truth, but they certainly won't speak up.

Really, if we haven't learned over the past 5 years that journalism in America today is ruled by people dumber than Doug Feith, than what have we learned?

John B

About 6 months ago we had a party at our place. My significant other is Greek so our house was full of Greeks talking about what Huffington was wearing the last time at church.

Anyway, I am introduced to a lady (yes there is a point here) who I am told had been the Editor for the LA Times but has moved on to be at the British Museum. Being my usual uncharming self, I asked her why the news did not report the truth (I was really thinking more about economic data) and she looked at me for a second and she just told me everyone was just hoping to keep their job. Upset the advertising department and you might not have a job. There you have it, the MSM is complicitly involved with distorting the news. Wouldn't want to upset the advertising department would we.

peterp

A "stationary convoy"?

That's almost as good as "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Mr. Orwell would have been so proud.

2/505th PIR

Comparitive Casualties Iraq vs Vietnam link below.

http://cdn-88.liveleak.com/liveleak/10/media10/2007/May/20/LiveLeak-dot-com-53136-iraqVietnamGraph.gif

Your thoughts Colonel?

If the war is reduced to national grieving/hand wringing over a successful enemy raid on an outpost then we have lost all perspective. The next time 3 soldiers go MIA shall we tie up another regiment for a couple weeks looking for them? Perhaps the surge can be muted and deviated by and large with eight or nine successful prisoner snatch type raids by our adversary?

This war has been fought for all the wrong reasons, has been expensive in national treasure and geopolitical leverage for sure. In no way do I seek to belittle our losses. Every death and injury is what it is for the individual soldiers and their families.

Our nation's government however made the choice to go to war. Four years later in a historical sense, the numbers do not compare to our other conflicts. For the greater part of four years we did not get down and dirty with the insurgency. Now we are playing catch-up and they have a four year head start. There are going to be casualties and lots of em.

Do we quit now? Do we leave Iraq to the abyss? Do we attempt to stabilize until we get some version of your Congress of the Middle East?

The war has changed since we began it. The stakes have changed. Leave.....well you know what will happen. Stay like we are now....more of the same. What variable needs to change? Its not socially or politically popular to give that answer.

Some very approximate casualty comparisons"

4 years into the Iraq war and we have just broached day one of D-Day in terms of casualties.

Four years into the Iraq war and we are light years away from the bloodshed of one day at Antietam. Did the army break after that battle?

Four years into the Iraq war and we are tens of thousands below the the death and maiming on our roads incurred from alcohol related car accidents over the same period? Where is the national outrage?

Framed in the bigger picture, how bad is it?

Are we feeling failure because we went to war as a nation without a national mobilization? A war abroad with peace-time mentality and economy at home? What happens when we are fighting an Iran or a North Korea?

Where is the perspective?

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