Via Jack Kelly’s well written and charmingly illustrated blog Irish Pennants comes this link to retired US General Barry McCaffrey’s report on his recent trip to Iraq. McCaffrey, drug czar under Clinton, was an early critic of the war, but here he seems more optimistic than most in that guarded way that makes you believe him. He has an interesting suggestion:
6. Coalition Public Diplomacy Policy is a disaster:
1st – The US media is putting the second team in Iraq with some exceptions. Unfortunately, the situation is extremely dangerous for journalists. The working conditions for a reporter are terrible. They cannot travel independently of US military forces without risking abduction or death. In some cases, the press has degraded to reporting based on secondary sources, press briefings which they do not believe, and alarmist video of the aftermath of suicide bombings obtained from Iraqi employees of unknown reliability.
2nd – Our unbelievably competent, articulate, objective, and courageous Battalion, Brigade, and Division Commanders are no t on TV. These commanders represent an Army-Marine Corps which is rated as the most trusted institution in America by every poll.
3rd – We are not aggressively providing support (transportation, security, food, return of film to an upload site, etc) to reporters to allow them to follow the course of the war.
4th – Military leaders on the ground are talking to people they trust instead of talking to all reporters who command the attention of the American people. (We need to educate and support AP, Reuters, Gannet, Hearst, the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc.)