March 27, 2003
All Bullshit, All The Time
The Iraqi state television station may have been bombed but Saddam's regime can depend on other press outlets--ABC, CNN, BBC for starters--to regurgitate anti-American cud disguised-as-news. A local radio station presents brief war updates from CNN every hour. With rare exception, each report is couched as bad news for the United States. (As if sand storms only affect American troops adversely.) If you went by these reports alone, you couldn't help but believe that the U.S. is losing badly.
But the U.S. isn't losing--far from it. As the New York Post's Ralph Peters points out:
The war in Iraq yesterday was a story of the dog - or many dogs - that didn't bark. Iraqi forces remained unable to launch significant counterattacks. Irregular forces failed to mount serious threats to our rear area. Regime officals continued to wave their arms and tell us that now we've really made them mad. And allied forces continued to move toward Baghdad.
We lost at least one Apache attack helicopter, probably to an aircraft malfunction. But what no one at home got to see was the destruction our strikes left amidst the Medina Division of the Republican Guards - despite the Iraqis positioning many of their combat vehicles in civilian neighborhoods. The pilots of that downed Apache appear to have been captured. Their welfare is of paramount concern. But, otherwise, yesterday was another 24 hours of progress on every front, of remarkably low friendly casualties, and of the continued degradation of the regime's capabilities to resist.
I'm sure you didn't hear news updates about the downed Apache reported in that context. Peters predicts plenty more of the same kind of off-the-mark reporting and speculation:
You may hear some confused, alarmed reporting. We may even suffer our first armored-vehicle losses of this war. But, when the smoke clears, our troops will be rolling on to Baghdad amid the charred hulks of hundreds of Iraqi vehicles and mile after mile of Iraqi bodies. Despite the steady progress of our troops, we continue to hear dire warnings about an impending bloodbath in Baghdad, once Saddam lures us into the streets of his ultimate fortress, his "Stalingrad" on the Euphrates.
Just a minute there, Herr Professor. Calm down, Dr. Think Tank. I'm just a former career soldier, so I don't understand military operations the way academics and pundits do. Explain something to me, slowly and clearly: Why on earth would Gen. Tommy Franks do exactly what Saddam wants, and send our forces charging into the streets of Baghdad?
We're not stupid - or Russian - for God's sake. We're not going to slug down a couple of bottles of vodka apiece and drive straight into Grozniy while Chechens pick off our tanks and troops at their leisure. We are going to make the rules in Baghdad, not Saddam. I simply cannot understand why anyone outside of Ba'ath Party headquarters imagines we would feel compelled to fight house-to-house in Baghdad, destroying the city, putting civilian lives at risk and throwing away our soldiers.
Peters concludes, "The final destruction of this regime may take more time than impatient souls would like. But it isn't going to end in a bloodbath of our soldiers." Much to the disappointment, I'm sure, of CNN, the BBC, Peter Jennings, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schröder, Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein.
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