“Hang on in there, buddies”

The excellent Melanie Phillips bolsters our morale in the wake of the deadly shooting down of one of our helicopters:

To repeat — this is a war that’s still being fought. The Americans’ mistake was to assume they had won it and to turn their attention to creating the civilian administration. They have to put themselves firmly back onto a war footing. They have to find Saddam. And they have to stop being strung along by Iran and start getting heavy with them and the rest of the axis of terror.

I think she’s right.

BTW, was anyone else besides me offended by the extreme (even for Reuters) anti-American bias of this article about the incident, that Drudge linked?

Witnesses said American soldiers had fired on a crowd after a hand grenade was thrown at them. U.S. helicopters circled as armored personnel carriers blocked roads.

One man said he had pulled his five-year-old daughter out of a car just before an American tank crushed it. “She just made it. Why are the Americans doing this?” asked Ali Saleh.

Iraq’s six neighbors plus Egypt held security talks in Damascus, mindful of U.S. assertions that Syria and Iran were not doing enough to prevent militants crossing into Iraq.

In a statement, they condemned “terrorist” attacks on “civilians, humanitarian and religious institutions, embassies and international organizations” and vowed to cooperate with Iraqi authorities to “prevent any violation of borders.”

Yeah, that’s it — American soldiers fired on a crowd, just like that. We know it happened, because the anti-American witnesses said it did. No need to ask the Army. And of course there are the famous Reuters quotation marks around the word “terrorist.” How dare we call them that. It’s merely those poor, misunderstood militants who are attacking civilians. I’m glad someone cleared that up.


10 thoughts on ““Hang on in there, buddies””

  1. Yeah, the American way has always been to kill the children first. That’s why the toy-delivery hoax worked as well as it did! It’s a good thing those Reuters reporters aren’t so easily fooled.

  2. I wonder whether the neighbors’ condemnation put quotes around “terrorist”, or if that’s just Reuters usual. I’d also like to see a translation of the statement, or an English or French version.

    In any event, they made it clear they don’t support the ‘occupation’. Note that there would seem to be no problem with attacks on coalition troops.

    “In a statement, they condemned “terrorist” attacks on “civilians, humanitarian and religious institutions, embassies and international organizations”….

  3. I heard a good opinion on the radio today that the US were too quick to declare victory thus putting our soldiers on a restricted rules of engagement equivalent to the local sheriff – ie passive. They seem to forget that 300-500k Iraqi regulars/rep guards just melded away into the population. They didn’t die, and they aren’t likely to settle down to a peaceful life of farming or oil patch work. We have to clear out these thugs.

  4. Alene,

    I don’t know the answer. My guess is that Reuters is quoting literally. If not, they are obviously biased. But even if they are quoting literally, why quote the word “terrorist” separately from the rest of the statement? Maybe it’s an idiosyncrasy of editing, but it gives the strong impression that Reuters confuses assertions of moral equivalence with lack of bias.

  5. I’ll agree it does seem strange to separate the word terrorist from the word attacks, especially when the attacks are on civilians and aid organisations. And note that the statement using the word “terrorist” came from Iraq’s six arab neighbours and Egypt.

    However, your attack on anti-american witnesses sounds hysterical. How else are Reuters supposed to report the views of the people they spoke to?

    “Unreliable, lying, witnesses said American soldiers had fired on a crowd after a hand grenade was thrown at them.”? Any intelligent reader will appreciate that these people “said” something, and that what they said isn’t necessarily true.

    Qui cherche, trouve. French for ‘if you’re looking for anti-americanism, you’ll find it if you try hard enough”.

  6. I don’t object to quoting these witnesses. I object to quoting only these witnesses (or more precisely: one of these witnesses). There are at least two sides to this incident, and the reporter doesn’t quote the American side at all. Why not? He should at least have solicited comments from the appropriate public-affairs officer, just as a police-beat reporter should solicit comments from the police spokesman and not just from the family of the person who was arrested. I assume that journalists are at least as aware of these points as I am, and that this kind of ommission thus probably reflects bias in reporting or editing.

  7. Without commenting directly to the issue of the post, I do note that in this instance and in a post previous to this, though the issue might cry for bold language, you are constantly using language that my mom would wash my mouth out for using. And, alas, such outbursts do not subsitute of reasonded discourse, as you seem to want in the Virginia Postrel comments that follow this post.

  8. freddie,

    I think that I got my points across, unlike the letter writer quoted by Postrel. Perhaps I should be more temperate in language, however. Thanks for the feedback.

  9. I agree. It seems it was assumed the war would be tougher, and the post-war easier. Big fight, followed by peace-keeping. Unfortunately most of the fighting has been avoided and is now being drawn out.

    Which, to the intellectual credit of those involved, is the smart thing to do. Facing down the US Army in a conventional war would be stupid and suicidal enough. In the case of Iraq, it would be absurd, since they tried it once and got themselves slaughtered by the thousands before they could even figure out which road was the way back home.

    Lex recently sent a link to an excellent paper : http://www-cgsc.army.mil/milrev/english/SepOct02/cassidy.asp.

    This describes the fundamental military challenge we are dealing with very well. Not only is this kind of conflict the only kind the enemy can fight, but it is also the best for them, and the worst for us.

    It quotes one of Kissingers famous sayings :
    “The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.”

    Exactly right. These guys only need to keep it going. Play it long term. Keep some pressure. Draw it out. And as long as they do so, we are perceived as losers.

    Losers until proven winners, if you will.

    I must admit this paper got me worried. I am convinced it can be done. American special forces, maybe with discrete Israeli advice and intelligence, are up to the job.

    But with 150,000 men and women, we also have this massive elephant in the china shop. The perfect target.

    In a way, I am grateful I don’t have to call the shots on this one. And even more grateful there are people who are willing, and hopefully able to call them.

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