It is increasingly clear that the command in Baghdad is seeking to manage perception of the Mahmoudiyah attack by describing it as; "a patrol," a "convoy," "A stationary convoy," an "ambush," a "kidnapping," etc.
Any fool can see that this was a well planned complex attack on an outpost. The two vehicles had been in position for five hours, they were to be "relieved" by another "crew" on the outpost in an hour, the enemy attacked at 0400 (the very best hour for such things) from several directions simultaneously, over ran the outpost and withdrew before any help showed up. It could not be more clear that this was an ATTACK not an AMBUSH. You have to be moving to be ambushed.
If you read the news carefully today, you saw, buried away somewhere a minimal mention of an attack by a 50 man force against an American outpost in the middle of Baqouba in Diyala Province. Was this also an "ambush?" This was a significant action because it presages similar action on the main front in Baghdad.
Why is the military command describing things so incorrectly? Clearly, they believe that to say that the enemy is systematically (and with skill) attacking US outposts is to undermine the rational of the Keane/Kagan (oops, the Petraeus) Plan.
The media has been "going along" with this. Are they just ignorant or are they complicit? I vote for ignorant. pl
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.
I vote complicit.
Why isn’t the recent artillery attack big news? Where are those guns?
Helicopter destroyed, nine damaged.
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.
I vote for complicit. Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is virtually indistinguishable from malice.
The Wall Street Journal’s description of the Baqouba attack, which is the most detailed I have been able to locate:
I second the motion for ignorant. knut
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.
my vote is that the media are ‘knowingly’ complicit.
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.
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?
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is an interesting link on the old CPA days for anyone interested. I believe it on point to this thread.
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?
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.
A “stationary convoy”?
That’s almost as good as “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Mr. Orwell would have been so proud.
Comparitive Casualties Iraq vs Vietnam link below.
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?
2/505th PIR We fought real battles man to man against the little bastards. Not just snipers and roadside bomms. There were exceptions like 2nd Fallujah where my first unit 2/2 infantry broke into the town for the marines to go in.
An old friend of mine, Bill Harris, was S-3 of 505th PIR in the big one.
Well, you know as well as I that the casualties as statistics are in no way comparable. Neither are the scale of the combats except for a couple like Fallujah 2. But, as my dear old dad used to say, you are just as dead if you are killed on a patrol as if you had been at Gettysburg.
Its true that people have gotten remarkably soft. all this talk about this “wipe out” of a small outpost being a “kidnapping” is indicative of the zeitgeist.
The truth is that casualty sensitivty on a scale that rivals that of the Israeilis means that if Petraeus can’t make a plausible case in September for having achieved increased security, then it will be “finito la musica” for this one. pl
Im not so sure it is just casualty sensitivity that is the problem. I think it is the obvious corruption involved in the whole process, how its blatantly clear that this was not a “just” war but a war for the benefit of Haliburton, that has undermined this effort.
In response to 2/505th PIR.
You make excellent points, but,
The issue is neither the relative nor absolute loss of life nor treasure that makes this war a lost cause. I understand that there was far more awesome loss of life during our civil war, more than 51,000 men at Gettysburg alone during 3 days of fighting in July of 1863.
Quite simply what turns my stomach against this war are the lies.
Who would have been so bold as to bet that 6 years after 9-11 that the enemy who attacked us, Bin Laden and Al Al qaeda, would remain functional, and at large.
The president said we were going to get Bin Laden and al qaeda. But in fact, forces were diverted from the battlefield in Afghanistan where we had our enemy cornered, and a new war, a war of choice, was begun in Iraq and the truth of this fact is attested by General Franks, who lead our forces to Baghdad, and Senator Bob Graham who was chair of the senate armed services committee.
The President said that they attacked us because we are free. But that was a lie. There are many counties where citizens are free throughout northern Europe, and they were not attacked. We were attacked because we support Israeli supremacy over Palestinians and we station U.S. forces as occupiers in Muslim Holy land of Mecca. Maybe we are right to do so, or maybe we are not. But why lie about it?
President G.W. Bush said we were there to rid Iraq of WMD but that was a lie. UN inspectors including a US Marine, Scott Ritter, and the President of the UN inspectors, Hans Blix told us, up until the day we attacked that there was no evidence of WMD in Iraq
Ahmed Abdel Hadi Chalabi was the liar in Chief that President Bush and the Office of special plans, lead by Douglas Feith, chose to” believe” above significant evidence from DOD and CIA that Saddam had no WMD. Of course Chalabi was a known liar and opportunist and under indictment for bank fraud in Jordan, but no matter.
On June 28th, 2005 at Fort Bragg the President said, “As the Iraqis stand up we will stand down” so that “Iraq that can defend itself, defeat its enemies and secure its freedom.” But that was a lie. Iraq wasn’t fighting an enemy. Iraq was fighting a civil war. The vast majorioty of the violence in Iraq was not due to Al Qaeda or it’s “subcontractors”…who were not there before we invaded. According to the national defense intelligence estimate most of the violence in Iraq was between Sunni and Shia.
President G.W. Bush didn’t want to take the side of the Shia because he feared that would strengthen Iran. The President didn’t want to take the side of the Sunnis because Al Qaeda is a Sunni organization, and the elites of the Baath party were Sunni.
It is a mess. There is nothing to win, there is no one to defeat. There is no victory to be had. It is an illusion. There are no good solutions to this problem only bad solutions and worse solutions. The more we destabilize the region the more likely that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will be drawn into a war with factions within Iraq.
We are risking the destabilization of Pakistan and President Mushariff, a friend in a Muslim country that possesses nuclear weapons. We risk inflaming the state of Indonesia, an ally, and the most populous Muslim nation in the world, and a republic at that.
It is time to get out. We are doing nothing but harm. I believe it is true that when we leave there will be a blood bath. When ever we leave, now or 5 years from now. EXCEPT, if we are willing to admit our mistakes and work to forge a deal where the neighboring counties to enter and take control…Jordan Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, with help from China and Russia, then maybe we can avoid the conflagration.
But for that to happen the “decider” “commander guy” would have to admit error and you know that ain’t gonna happen.
The issue isn’t whether the war is worth one life or one thousand lives…100 billion a year or more. The issue is that this was an illegal war of choice that accomplishes nothing in the way of national defense nor defense of the Iraqi people who by reasonable counts have lost more than half a million lives…even thought Bush said 30 thousand…another lie!!!
Comparative analyses of casualty rates is a fools game. First, this war lacks legitimacy. There is no reason for soldiers’ lives to be wasted over there. Thus, every death is illegitimate. Second, modern medicine has reduced the morality rates considerably. Thank God. Third, there is a learning curve for the public. We’ve seen this act before. We know how it ends. We don’t need another sad monument to the senselessly wasted lives lost half way across the world. The people don’t lack the moral fiber to fight a just war; our leadership lacks a just war to test our moral fiber. Big difference.
I can understand how a serving officer would feel frustration at the public’s disillusionment with the mission, belief in the mission is an essential part of obedience to the chain of command. The only fit reply is that the voters are the boss of the officer’s boss.
The people have seen a long and large civil war in Iraq, not a small unpopular insurgency. They have seen censorship and propaganda in Iraq instead of freedom of speeech. They have seen allowed dissent to the Green Zone government confined to street demonstrations, while media outlets and political offices are closed, by force.
They have seen their taxes go to slipshod building projects and outright fraud. They have seen Iraqi elections dominated by the well funded agents of Iran and America.
They have seen politics in this country manipulated by
fear hype of WMD and the
big mouth with a little stick, al Qaeda.
For an update on how the Iraq War has revived the latter see Greg Owens’ article in today’s (May 20) Los Angeles Times.
I think we would rise to the occasion if another WWII came along. Even back then with a mobilized country the government was still running all sorts of campaigns to get folks signing up and sacrificing at home for the cause. This time we were told to continue shopping and slap a yellow ribbon on whatever hunk of metal is sitting in the driveway.
We may be a bit softer today in some ways. But more importantly I don’t think the majority of Americans see a cause in Iraq to sacrifice for, especially since the sillyvillian leadership hasn’t asked for any and all their most pressing reasons of self-defense have proved false.
If my memory serves me right, even Korea didn’t really get a lot of public support. And that was only five years after WWII ended when we supposedly weren’t so “soft.”
Why should we expect any different results than the French achieved in Indo-China 1951 to 1953 when we’re using the same tactics? All Petraeus’s tactics are intended to do is continiue the $150 billion per year gravy train for a select group of contractors and their cronies inside government. May they all remember what happened to Anastasio Somoza after he fled Nicaragua.
I just came across this report from the usually very reliable Patrick Cockburn that during peace negotiations, the US military tried to kill or kidnap Muqtada al-Sadr. If true, and the attempt had been successful, I suspect that the consequences would have been disasterous for Iraq and fairly lethal for the US Army. Finally, I can’t imagine who’s hand was behind this.
As far as press “complicity” goes, it may also be that the reporters admire the soldiers and Marines they are covering and thus,at some inexplicit level,want to be supportive.
i think casualty sensitivity will take hold
over the next few months, the media will be unable to ignore this story much longer and once they focus on it, casualties will become a compleeing part of the iraq narrative
npr lead with a story this morning about the a “lilly pad” base strategy for the middle east with 30,000 us troops in an enclave in iraw training iraqi forces for next decade
If we had never fought in Korea I can not imagine things would be much worse than they are now and probably better (both in the US and Korea).
If we had never fought in Vietnam I can not imagine things would be much worse than they are now and probably better (both in the US and Vietnam).
No wonder I think if we pull out of Iraq things will not get much worse and could improve. Unfortunately, there is going to be a lot of killing because we have created hell on earth. I agree with the above we should attempt to get some other countries in to fill the void but the idiot prince is incapable of such thinking.
…..An Iraqi civilian who works at the base said he saw about 16 damaged helicopters, some of them set on fire by the attack. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Willful ignorance is complicity. How much effort does it take to pick up the phone and ask? PL isn’t the only export on this subject: there are 10 of thousands of men and women across the globe who are experts on military matters who are not currently working for the US military. How hard is it to find them? How many of them have blogs, names, and are in the white pages? How many of them are university faculty?
Chomsky may be on the opposite end of the political spectrum from our host here – but it would be foolish to simply ignore his analysis of media behavior, particularly after the last ten years, as much as Chomsky would be mistaken to ignore experts on military matters from different political viewpoints.
>Finally, I can’t imagine who’s hand was behind this.
Dick Cheney? Shurely not. Dead-eyed Dick always gets his man.
“journalists” are predisposed by management policy to call upon contracted experts. how does bathwater mix w/ koolaid?
Take heart, fellow Crimestoppers. As George Orwell said in two of his famous examples of fantastic mixed metaphors: “The fascist octopus has sung it swan song,” and “The jackboot has been flung into the melting pot.” Well, not quite yet, perhaps, but real soon now (in only a couple of more “critical next six month” Friedman Units) the tipping point will surely turn the corner and begin connecting the dots on the ink-stained flypaper dominoes in the tunnel at the end of the light.
No one can talk as irrelevantly and stupidly as our government and military do — with the generous and complicit assistance of concentrated corporate media — by mistake or accident. That kind of sustained subversion of language as a critical thinking tool can only happen on purpose. I prefer to call our contemporary Orwellian Newspeak “Manufactured Mendacity” and “Managed Mystification,” since these terms seem to me more accurately reflective of the general propaganda issues involved. (See the excellent PBS Frontline program “The Persuaders” for explanation of how all the “lizard language” works — by the awful, focus-grouped word-magicians themselves.)
As Alfred Korzybki said long before Phillip K. Dick paraphrased his essential insight: “We are a symbol using class of life, and those who rule the symbols rule us.” Or, as my brother the high school English and history teacher tells his students: “You can either actively interpret linguistic symbols or passively submit to their subliminal stimulation.” Or, as I learned to say during six years of penurious indentured servitude in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club (i.e, the U.S. Navy): “We will either learn for our own purposes or other people will train us for theirs.”
I never succeeded in training the Vietnamese to fight and die for the obscure (even to me) purposes of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger; and I do not believe that other American servicemen today will prove any more successful in training the Iraqis and Afghans to fight and die for the even more opaque — if not desperately incoherent — purposes of Sheriff Dick Cheney and Deputy Dubya Bush. When the purposes of trainer and trainee do not converge, nothing but sullen, coerced indoctination — at best — can occur. Until America withdraws its military forces (overt and “clansdestine”) from the territories and airspaces of Iraq and Afghanistan, no American will ever walk the streets of those countries alone and unmenaced by the ungrateful recipients of our unsolicited “training.”
I vote for complicit.
After years of the same crap media coverage, ignorance is off the table.
murdoch must go to Nuremburg with the rest of bushco.
Hersh interviewed on CNN about Fatah al-Islam:
I believe that the reporters are a bit of both. Call it “cognizant ignorance”… Can’t bite the hand that feeds them all of these junk stories in a bush world.
Operation Mockingbird was a CIA program that involved at least 479 journalists in what was basically a psy-ops program.
Jack Welch is said to have wondered what was the use in owning GE subsidiary NBC if you couldn’t use it to advance the interests of its corporate family members?