May 28, 2007

Improving Iraq

When Iraq started fielding its first troop post-Saddam troop formations things were pretty grim. Entire units melted away. Others had desertion rates of 75%. Many of those who stayed would not fight insurgents. Others wouldn't travel. Others were insurgent plants. But since then, things have measurably improved. You don't hear about entire units melting away anymore. You don't hear about massive desertion rates. There are units who will fight and die for Iraq and they grow more numerous as time goes on. But not all of those problems have gone away and the NY Times provides a most unhelpful spin with "As Allies Turn Foe, Disillusion Rises in Some G.I.ís". Instead of looking at the sorry mess as part of a time sequence, providing the context that people really need to translate events into proper news, what you get is a sort of time sequence in reverse. They were our allies and now are our enemies. By implication, they are monolithic, undifferentiated and only the brave captain's inexplicable optimism is holding things together.

The reality is that US soldiers in WW II didn't much care about Hitler in 1944. In fact, the consensus view on the question of combat motivation (which really only started to be seriously examined in WW II) is that soldiers fight for their comrades in arms most of all with little ideology being involved, though some have argued that latent ideology plays some role. So unless you are aware of this background, having either served yourself or applied yourself to study warfare, you end up with a completely distorted picture of a perfectly normal situation within the abnormal milieu that is warfare.

It would be disappointing save that I don't really expect that much from the New York Times.

Posted by TMLutas at May 28, 2007 12:45 PM