The mainstream media, which is to say CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, network news channels and most of the large news papers in the nation seem to believe that Iraq is a black box. Some days we're told the tide is turned and the Iraqi people are stepping back from civil war and a very bloody insurgency. Some days we're told that the conflagration is expanding, fueled by Al Queda and Iran. The truth is, the truth about the Iraq war is extremely easy to accurate document.
Roughly 500,000 US troops have served in Iraq.
These guys come from every walk of life. Most, it is true, come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, but there are folks from Ivy League schools as well. Some have only a highschool education, some have advanced degrees. Some are doctors and lawyers, some are car mechanics.
These guys have been all over Iraq. They have dealt with Iraqi's face to face for five years. They have met, helped, worked with, and fought Iraqi's. There is no secret corner of Iraq these folks haven't explored.
They can answer the following questions from first person experience:Every soldier will have a different opinion and each will tell a different story. Because the nature of truth is that its complicated. What is not complicated is developing a plan of action based on information provided by experts.
- Based on the operations you undertook in Iraq, why did the US declare war on that country?
- Based on what you saw, are the Geneva Conventions being enforced in Iraq? Did you witness torture or collective punishment of civilians in Iraq?
- Based on what you've seen, is the US presence in Iraq improving the situation or making it worse?
- Based on what you've seen, is Iran arming the insurgents or are they arming themselves?
- Based on what you've seen, is there corruption and profiteering in military contracts?
- Based on what you've seen, has the war in Iraq had a negative impact on the ability of the US to defend itself should need arise?
- Based on what you've seen, are military men getting the treatment they need. Are you getting the treatment you need for PTSD, physical injuries, ongoing health concerns. Are your families financially secure?
- Based on what you've seen, what should the US do to bring peace to Iraq? Do we need more troops, more money, fewer troops, more humanitarian aid? What will turn the tide in Iraq?
One of the most annoying aspects of this war has been the branding of US soldiers and Marines as some kind of "alien nation", a warrior class of virtual slaves who cannot be trusted. Haditha, Fallujah, Abu Ghraib . . . the truth is that there are some very bad, and very mentally ill, men in our military. But, taken as a whole, the guys serving in your military are still the same kids you went to school with, who used to go to your churches, who frequented bars and went to football games. Taken as a whole you can trust them to tell you the truth if its clear you actually want to know.
And really, that's the issue.
You cannot trust the mainstream media to tell you the truth about Iraq because, the evidence suggests, they are determined NOT to interview the only US citizens in a position to know how the war is going.
You can trust men who have served in the US military to tell you the truth. You may not want to know all the "truths" they will tell you. There may be facts that individuals hide. But talk to enough military men and you'll know exactly what is going on, and nothing (nothing) that happens in Iraq or to our military will surprise you.
The Truth Is . . . The Truth Matters
From time to time we may all want to believe that "wishing on a star" will make our dreams come true. We may also want to believe that "sooner or later Iraq will settle down" or "the war will magically end".
The truth is, real problems require real solutions based on real data. In order for you to take effective action politically, financially, personally, you need to know the truth. Trying to ignore the Iraq war is like trying to ignore a bad case of cancer.
Its time to start talking to military men, vets and active duty, about the war in Iraq. You may not like all the guys you talk to, though you'll find some heroes in he bunch. You may not like everything they have to say. You may not trust all their answers. But listen to enough vets and real world solutions will emerge. It is time to encourage your local newspaper to interview vets. Its time to ask your local TV channels to put vets on TV. Its time to get answers . . .
For first person accounts about Iraq, check out Iraq Veterans Against the War, Operation Truth, MilitaryProject.org, Soldier blogs and your local Veterans Administration.