Monday, July 30, 2007

Prepping the Domestic Battlespace For September

Today brings a couple of examples of the ramped-up pro-Iraq war Perception Management campaign going into the critical September Petraeus report time frame.

First the inspiring story of a wounded soldier's re-enlistment:

Marine Cpl. Gareth Hawkins extended his enlistment to go on a third deployment to Iraq so his battalion would not be left in the hands of rookies.

Twenty days after he arrived in Iraq for the third time, a roadside bomb exploded beneath his 7-ton truck, leaving Hawkins dazed and his heel shattered.

Minutes later, his pain held at bay by morphine, the 23-year-old asked to complete one piece of unfinished business before being rushed via ambulance to undergo surgery at the hospital at the Marine air base in Taqaddum.

He wanted to reenlist for another four-year hitch.

A photographer was nearby and took a picture of the ad hoc ceremony: Hawkins on a stretcher with his right hand in the air as officers administered the reenlistment oath.

The photograph has made the rounds of military and political opinion websites and publications, including the conservative National Review.

With both the Army and Marine Corps laboring to persuade combat veterans to stay in the service, the picture may be assuming iconic status.

The photograph is in the office of Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, the Marine Corps' top enlisted leader, who may use it as he tries to persuade other young Marines to stay on.

Today's other -- and more prominent -- Domestic Influence offering is an op-ed in the New York Times attesting to the remarkable eleventh hour military turnaround of U.S. fortunes in Iraq:

Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done. ...

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq). ...

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow the conventional wisdom of: When you find yourself in a hole the first thing you should do is stop digging... seems to be lost on that soldier and, worse, on many Americans... That NYT article was listed as "most popular" and "most blogged"

- not that I did more than just skim it, but I'm sure so many die-hard "war fans" anxious for some "good news" e-mailed it to thier more skeptical friends as proof that things are improving...

Like I said, first stop digging the hole... but before you do that you have to recognize you're actually in one.

7/30/2007 9:33 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Quite right.

And the really insidious thing is the orchestrated propaganda effort to convince the American people that things are now going much better.

It is to increase the public pressure on the politicians who are increasingly raising various troop withdrawal ideas.

The theme for the perception management program is that the anti-war politicians are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and that they must be opposed when debate on the war resumes in September.

7/31/2007 6:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, eff... when will the scales fall from their eyes... I'm not holding my breath...

The war resumes in September? Kind of like beginning of term I guess..


7/31/2007 7:16 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


The debate on the war resumes in September.

September brings the much anticipated "Petraeus Report" from the U.S. commanding general in Iraq.

He will -- no doubt -- be gilding the lily. And with specious claims that we are now winning, there will be considerable pressure for Congress to re-authorize the funding for the war for another year.

7/31/2007 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you again, eff... I was wondering about that... if they could stop the war for a summer recess -- why couldn't they just stop it forever? But now I understand...

That's so funny that they are waiting for the Petraeus Report...

Waiting for the Pentagon to say the war should be stopped is like waiting for Dracula to say he doesn't need any more blood.


7/31/2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Christmas Truce type occurrences are unlikely in this war.

That would be much too hopeful.

And the vampires in Washington are even worse than Dracula. They will swear to your face that they don't want any more blood, while making arrangements to bite a new generation of necks.

7/31/2007 9:01 AM  

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