Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Value of Embeds

A few days ago, Chester hinted at the value of the embeds:

Iraqi (and American) journalists are being embedded with US forces. Remember how well embedding worked for us during the invasion? No reason it won't work again in swaying Iraqi public opinion.

The caliber of reporting has already gone through the roof since this operation began. Even the New York Times is putting out stuff that's worth reading. I know- I couldn't believe it either, but Dexter Filkin (with the 8th Marines) is calling it like he sees it:

After nearly 16 hours of fighting, the United States marines thought they had finally won their battle for the green-domed mosque, which insurgents had been using as a command center.

Then a car drove up behind a group of the marines on Al Thurthar Street. Seven men bristling with Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and black ammunition belts spilled onto the street, ready to fight at point-blank range. The marines turned and fired, and killed four of them immediately, blowing one man's head entirely away before he fell on his back onto the pavement, his arms spread wide.

Three more fled. Cpl. Jason Huyghe cornered two of them in a courtyard. One of them, he suddenly realized, was wearing a belt packed with explosives.

"I saw the guy roll over and pull something on his jacket," Corporal Huyghe said, "and he exploded."

The seventh man limped into the dark streets of the city and escaped.

That sounds exactly like a typical insurgent vs. Marine showdown. You can't help but wonder how those 7 morons were able to fool themselves into thinking that the outcome would have been any different. And then there's the eyewitness account of the insurgents using a Mosque as a battlestation:

Insurgents were firing from an entire row of buildings, including the mosque. Tens of thousands of rounds cracked through the air in all directions.

The marines opened the doors of the mosque for Iraqi security forces to clear out the interior; it was thought better to let the Iraqis go into the holy place, even though it had been transformed into a kind of barracks.

Al-Jazeera would have reported things very differently (U.S./Iraqi Forces Desecrate Mosque- Local Sunni Clerics Outraged), but it's hard to argue with a reporter who's right there watching it. It's really so much more effective than the nonsensical reporting methods I wrote about last week. And how about those Iraqi warriors?

The Iraqis entered, their uniforms crisp and spotless because they had done none of the fighting until then, and fought with the insurgents and won.

I would have preferred a few more details, but okay- the Iraqis fought the insurgents and won. Excellent job, new Iraqi Sooper Troopers! This kind of stuff is being covered by local Iraqi journalists, so it should help to weaken the enemy's resolve, drown out the Al-Jazeera propaganda machine, and most importantly- help foster the belief among the Iraqi people, and indeed the Iraqi soldiers themselves, that they are more than capable of handling the daunting task ahead of them. The sooner that happens, the sooner we get to come home.

Important Point from General Metz

Don't be fooled into thinking that the success of this operation hinges on the capture or destruction of Zarqawi. That's not what this is about. I'd explain it in my own terms, but General Metz and a "senior military official" are more smarter than I:

American military officials said that they anticipated a surge in violence timed to the Falluja invasion and Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting that is supposedly auspicious for martyrdom. They say they are not under the illusion that an attack on Fallujah will break the back of the insurgency, or that the capture of Mr. Zarqawi is a realistic goal. The objectives of the offensive are to deny a safe haven to the insurgents, install the presence of the Iraqi government in the city and ensure the area is secure enough so residents can vote freely in the coming elections, General Metz said.

"The important idea to consider is that this is not an operation against Zarqawi or his network," said a senior military official in Washington who has been monitoring the battle. "It is just one of many steps that need to be taken in order to defeat a complex and diverse insurgency in which the Zarqawi network is but one element.''

They're right, but I can already feel the media spin machine coming on full force if we don't get at least some of the top bad guys.

Thanks for all the great emails! This is a team effort and your support means a lot to all of us.

More tomorrow...

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