The Corner

Re What Went Wrong?

I stayed up late last night reading Rich’s extraordinarily clear and insightful history on the liberation of Iraq and its aftermath in the current NR.

Once upon a time, this kind of diligent reporting and thoughtful analysis would have appeared in the MSM. No more.

Evidently, the MSM is too busy with the election campaign–waging it, not reporting on it–to bother. So it’s left to an opinion journal to piece the puzzle together.

Also, let me recommend to you the film Voices of Iraq–a remarkable national self-portrait. Producers Eric Manes, Martin Kunert and Archie Drury distributed 150 digital video cameras to ordinary Iraqis and told them to tape anything they wanted and to interview anyone they wanted.

They received back 450 hours of footage which they edited into a revealing and moving portrait of the struggles and hopes of real Iraqis.

NROniks also may be interested in my most recent Scripps Howard column, “The Fog of War” which asks who is winning the military campaign on the ground in Iraq and how we might know.

This email in response to that column is worth sharing:

When I was a young Marine officer in Vietnam I had to write after action reports. They were usually based on casualties sustained and bodies found. The actual action took place while most of us had our heads down catching only occasional glmpses of what was going on beyond our fighting hole. Each Marine was given a field of fire to concentrate on so when he was firing his focus was pretty narrow. The fog of war was just a natural result of trying to figure out what was going on when every instinct told you to keep your head in your hole.

But it is relatively easy to tell who is winning most wars. Who is able to engage the enemy forces and destroy them. In Iraq, the US troops are the only force that can do that. Winning is not determined by who can prevent random bombings. That would be a very poor test of military strength. For example, can the insurgents in Falluja prevent, US bombs from dropping on their “safe houses”? In war you win by controlling real estate that you think has some value to you. The amount of real estate controlled by the insurgents is small and shrinking. In every engagement witht he enemy, the inurgents lose. When the US finally decides to take Falluja, the insurgents will be destroyed or flee, but Fallujah will be taken.

The reporter you describe [the Wall Street Journal’s Farnaz Fassihi] appears to be much like someone in combat trying to keep their head down while figuring out what is going on. She needs to look at who can destroy the military of the other. If she focuses on that point she will recognize that the insurgents are losing badly.

Clifford D. May — Clifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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