Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor
Hewitt is senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
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Is The War Really Going?
Remember the lessons from a year ago…
[Hugh Hewitt] 5/5/04
A year after
the victory in the second Iraq War, the third Iraq War isn't
going so well. Or if it is, the American public isn't
hearing about it. Which is why Secretary Rumsfeld needs to
send one of his famed "snowflake" memos (because
they come in flurries) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The subject:
Keeping the American people in the loop.
There is a solid majority of American public opinion behind
the war effort, despite the best efforts of the Left and the
elite media to diminish public support for the ongoing contest
for this crucial battleground in the larger War on Terror. There
is no evidence of malaise among the ordinary Americans who understand
the stakes and provide the political support for the war.
are questions – questions which
are not being asked and answered as they were during the course
of last year's
major combat operations.
It is difficult to figure out what the strategy in Fallujah
is, to name the biggest source of confusion, or to assign a name
to the decision to empower one of Saddam's old generals to assist
in the pacification of the city. Have the Marines withdrawn?
If not, what was all the muttering about? Are there insurgents
inside Fallujah or not?
In the south, where is al Sadr and how big is his force? Which
elements of the Army are engaged with those militias? Are there
other militias of equal or greater threat?
How many troops are presently in Iraq, and how many of those
are front-line vs. support troops? What's the rotation schedule,
and what's the expectation for one year and two years from now?
In the campaign to convert a totalitarian state to a functioning
democracy, who's got the lead oar on building the new Iraqi security
services and Army? Who is training the police? Which Iraqi leaders
have charisma, talent and a hope of standing up to the Saddam
remnants and the Iranian-backed extremists? Is Syria still importing
gunmen to shoot at our troops?
is that most of these questions have been answered in one way
or another by one spokesman or another,
but the delivery
of the information has become fractured, and the news – good
as well as bad – isn't getting through as it was last year.
Maintaining public support for the war means maintaining the
information flow to the public.
week with an overview briefing of 10 minutes or less – delivered
by Gen. Pace or any of the Pentagon's experienced and trusted
voices – on the state of the effort in Iraq. Such a scheduled
brief becomes easy to rebroadcast on shows such as mine or to
transcribe and post on any number of websites.
Then take questions at the same time on Monday and every day
of the week. Supplement the daily brief with statements by Secretary
Rumsfeld and other senior officials as appropriate, but do so
with plenty of advance notice and easy to access rebroadcasts
over the Web. Get Central Command on a similar schedule.
The public information operation run by Ambassador Bremer's
team appears to be non-existent, perhaps owing to the press of
business, but that's not what the public cares about anyway.
They want to know how the war is going, and are much less concerned
with the structure of the peace. Do-gooders can wring their hands
over this, but it is the situation the troops find themselves
in that holds the interest of the public. The administration
should stop trying to downplay the combat and instead respect
the desire of the public to be fully informed of all the details
of the fighting.
Put the embedded reporters back with the units and thus remove
the filter that is obstructing the news. There is a reason why
the Belmont Club and Command
Post and other blogs are seeing
their traffic skyrocket: They are providing overviews and analysis
of the fighting. The Pentagon needs to match the public's interest
with the information it has available to it. CRO
Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television
and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh
Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country.
He blogs regularly at HughHewitt.com and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly
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