The North County Times recently got an exclusive interview with Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of Camp Pendleton’s I Marine Expeditionary Force and commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command. Its really an eye opening interview and worth your time to go read the whole thing.
A couple items I found particularly interesting, were regarding the success the US has been having in Iraq, (which you never hear about in the MSM, or really anywhere), and Gen Mattis’ opinion of whether or not accurate news is coming to us from Iraq.
Regarding our successes, Gen. Mattis says:
But unlike the sectarian violence elsewhere, it is al-Qaida in Iraq that the Marines fight. That said, after the second election, where for the first time Sunnis voted in very large numbers, al-Qaida moved in the area and basically declared war on the nationalist groups there. And the tribes realized they bought in with the wrong people.
What we are seeing now is a significant shift in the tribes. They are coming over. How does this manifest itself? How is it more than just my words? The Sunni sheiks are having their young guys join the Iraqi police. The reason is they will go to their local areas after they go to training academies in various countries outside of Iraq and they return, when they come back, they go back to their home areas.
So you’ve got the tribes shifting over, their kids joining the police. You’ve got the Iraqi army and the Iraqi security forces today, they are probably running around, about 52 percent of the casualties in our medical treatment facilities are Iraqi security forces. Which says something about the nature of the fight and the nature of the Iraqi troops who are now represented among the casualties. It’s one way to indicate whether or not they are really in the fight or not.
So these are significant shifts right now. And the transition teams and the Marines who are over there, fighting in a very lethal area where the efforts have been unrelenting, have basically achieved successes that we would not have anticipated this early in this process.
Its really good to hear that we are fighting Al Qaeda over there, and not in our malls, airports or stadiums. Because if it wasn’t there, it would be here, and it would certainly not be our military dying. It would be innocent people.
Regarding sending the enemy’s message, instead of our own, Gen. Mattis says:
I was talking to a lieutenant in Haditha, he told me that because they are now all connected nowadays in their FOBs, he could read stories about Haditha. He said, ‘I guarantee you there has not been a reporter in Haditha in my last two and a half months here.’
We’re seeing, I think, an unwitting passing of the enemy’s message, uncritical, unwitting passing of the enemy’s message because the enemy has successfully denied the Western media access to the battlefields.
I’m not sure what Lloyds of London is charging now, I think it’s over $5,000 a month insurance for a reporter or photographer to go in. But the murder, the kidnapping, the intimidation means that, in many cases, we have media folks who are relying on stringers who are Iraqi.
Now you can have any kind of (complaint) about the American media or Western media you want, but there is at least a nod, an effort toward objectivity. The stringers who are being brought in, who are bringing in these stories, are not bringing that same degree of objectivity.
So on the one hand, our enemy is denying our media access to the battlefield, where anything perhaps that I say as a general is subject to any number of interpretations, challenges, questions, but the enemy’s story basically gets there without that because our media is unable to challenge them. It’s unwitting, but at the same time, it can promote the enemy’s agenda, simply because there is an apparent attempt at objectivity.
This is not a surprise to those of us who have been keeping up with the Jamil Hussein controversy coming out of the AP (check out Patterico, Flopping Aces, Hot Air and Michelle Malkin if you want to get caught up on the latest in this on-going saga), but its still so discouraging to see that things are NOT changing with regards to accurate reporting. Hopefully this trend will start to wane, and we can get some (even somewhat) objective reporters on the ground in Iraq. They can start in Haditha.
Hat tip: Townhall