Interesting piece in the CS Monitor on how the troops view the war. Hint- it ain’t the same way many in the media do:
Like many soldiers and marines returning from Iraq, Mayer looks at the bleak portrayal of the war at home with perplexity – if not annoyance. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture, not through the soda straw of troops’ individual experiences.
Yet as perceptions about Iraq have neared a tipping point in Congress, some soldiers and marines worry that their own stories are being lost in the cacophony of terror and fear. They acknowledge that their experience is just that – one person’s experience in one corner of a war-torn country. Yet amid the terrible scenes of reckless hate and lives lost, many members of one of the hardest-hit units insist that they saw at least the spark of progress.
“We know we made a positive difference,” says Cpl. Jeff Schuller of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, who spent all but one week of his eight-month tour with Mayer. “I can’t say at what level, but I know that where we were, we made it better than it was when we got there.”
Read the whole thing. The question I have is whether we can attribute this to something other than media bias (which I hate doing)? is it possible that the reporters get only a small glimpse, or go for short stays, and therefore do not witness the slow progress that a unit sees over the course of the year. Is it that the media’s acces is restricted? is it that many of these soldiers have been deployed to Iraq 2-3 times, and are seeing vast differences from when they first were depoyed?
I don’t know.
*** Update ***
From the comments:
I’m an Iraq veteran…….I think you’d get a thousand different perspectives from our troops, but here’s my two cents.
1) The media is driven by a profit motive that is best fed by reporting bad news. From murders to child abductions to war deaths, bad news sells. Nothing partisan or betraying a notion of “liberal bias”. It’s just that – unfortunately – what gets ratings is what will be broadcast. Broadcast media especially has lost all semblance of having any responsibility to educate or journalize; we have degenerated into infotainment.
2) Before and after I was in Iraq, I did my best to educate myself on “the big picture”. But while you’re in country and doing your job, you don’t have the time or inclination to engage in broad policy analysis. I think it’s natural for individual soldiers to speak favorably about how they think “things are going”, but the soldier-level view is not the proper lens for strategic decisions.
3) On a related note, this notion that we’re “making a difference” is not a valid justification of our overall policy. Of course I believe that my unit and my fellow servicemembers “made a difference” to Iraqis and to each other. We could plop down American troops in most any country and “make a difference”. But that doesn’t answer important questions such as: What vital national security interest are we accomplishing by our presence? Is nation-building in Iraq really an effective strategy in the War on Terror?
It’s a complex situation there, and while I would like to see more in-depth discussion and analysis from “the media”, I don’t expect to see it anytime soon.
He has a point about the perspective of the individual soldier. Even from a unit level, when we would do company level AAR’s it was amazing how disjointed just the different perspectives from the four platoons in my unit would be. let alone a soldier trying to take his perspective and analyze those experiences in regard to the overall war effort.