Monday, July 02, 2007

Good news from Iraq?

I may be something of an anomaly, you tell me: I get almost none of my news of the world from the major networks: I virtually never watch ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or MSNBC news.* I do read the Dayton Daily News, AP, Cincinnati and Washington papers online; but for big stories, I tend to do a fair amount of Internet surfing (when I can) for various reports and angles. perception of the big stories may be rather different from many others. For example: the news I read out of Iraq, after being so bad for so long, seems to be getting better.

I've been reading the dispatches from bloggers who are actually there, the best known, I think, is Michael Yon. Mr. Yon appears to spend all his time there, providing constant, first-hand reports.

Anyway, he seems to have been the first, some time back, to report what is now getting wider coverage: the quieting of the "wild west" Anbar province, as local Sunni tribes have rejected al Qaeda and allied with the U.S.-led coalition. Now he reports something similar happening in Diyala province, which is just outside Baghdad to the northeast. Meanwhile, three provinces (Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah) in northern Iraq are mostly secure, because of the stability of the Kurdish state-within-a-state. Supposedly, four other provinces (Al-Muthanna, Dhi Qar, An-Najaf, and Maysan) are under Iraqi control, not counting the western al Anbar, and Diyala -- so that suggests about half of the provinces are moving in the right direction.

Plus, if you look at a map, you can see how this relates to Baghdad: these areas of control are more or less in a circle around the central region, where the capital -- and where the sectarian frictions -- are located. Also, my guess is that the Kurds could, if asked, provide security in nearby provinces (and maybe they are already), but no doubt that is a very ticklish political issue.

So back to my basic point -- is it possible things really are heading in the right direction?

Some time back I stopped believing the Bush Administration's reports, as I suspect most others have. I was not happy about the President's justification for going to war, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, which under just war theory, he's entitled to (to a point of course). And, once we were in, I believed we must see it through; I still believe that. My view is that we don't withdraw unless the Iraqi government invites us to do so, or until we believe we're not needed, or we conclude our presence can't make things better. The first two surely haven't come about; and personally, I'm not convinced the latter point has arrived, but of course others believe differently.

In any case, there seem to be some good signs. Long way to go.

Does anyone have anything substantive to offer otherwise? Is this news to you?

*Yes, I do watch Fox News, but after all, that is my name; and I wanted it to succeed. But I have to say, Fox News has tended, lately, more and more in two directions I don't like: more and more yelling, and more and more sleaze. Why didn't they just start a round-the-clock Paris Hilton channel? If Bill O'Reilly were any more pompous, I think we'd all get to see him explode right on live TV -- and I admit, that would be compelling television. Sean Hannity, God bless him: he gets ahold of a rhetorical point he thinks is a real zinger, and he'll just keep on it like a dog on a bone. And that is fine, to a point--but some of his attempts to disguise arguments as questions aren't terribly artful, and so you get . . . yelling. Alan Colmes -- who I actually met many years ago, when I worked in D.C. -- comes across as very reasonable: proof, perhaps unintended, that Fox really is "fair and balanced." (And please, let's not get bogged down in that one; does it really matter if Fox is right wing or not? There are LOTS of choices; and if the New York Times and CBS are going to be taken seriously, Fox has nothing to apologize for.)


Fr. Ron Williams said...

Fr. Martin, I don't know if you're aware of this, but Hannity, although he is anti-abortion, still supports artifical contraception. In fact, he has made attempts to silence people whom he has interviewed when they want to point out a connection between abortion and artificial contraception.

Anonymous said...

As a very proud father of an Army brat serving his second tour with the Army's 1CAV, I can relate what HE sees and tells. There IS so much truth that the media apparently deems as unusable in packaging their agenda, that it never sees the light of day here. But we ARE turning the tide...there is desperation on the part of these "terrorists" which of itself should be ample proof that what we are successful!

Would it be better were there never war? Of course! But, we then must ask and HONESTLY answer...would the world be safer, better off, and more secure without the US? Love him or hate his policies, at least Bush has stepped out and decided that it was high-time we took a stand. Not on "Iraq" but in the region, to put ourselves in position to provide a more stable middle east in the LONG TERM. Previous admins, Dem and Rpbl.only wanted to get the sound-bite that gained them re-election.

Dad29 said...

I agree with every single thing you said here--particularly about relying on the blogs for more-informed and/or simply 'more' news.

You also voice my opinion(s) precisely on 1) getting in, and 2) getting out of Iraq.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

Yes. Admirable clarity. You put the whole question in just the right terms.

Anonymous said...

I recently spoke to an Air Force relative who spent 3 months (Jan-March)in Qatar, and she reported the same thing about the Western Provinces. She was very optimistic about the situation there. I had never heard any of this reported on in the media, and not at all surprised about that...

Anonymous said...

To anon 2:

Qatar is like the Disneyworld of bases over there, you can't really judge the whole middle east on Qatar. It's where the the guys out in the real war, the marines and the army, go for R and R. The AF is just lucky enough to be based there, and I can say this toungue in cheek as dh is AF.

My 2 cents: That point aside, there are still some very dangerous areas out there. In Afghanistan, they are being mortared weekly. Are we making progress? Compared to what? At what cost? My dh doesn't retire from the AF for 8 more years, and he'll STILL be deploying to the desert, with a thrid the amount of troops in manning and faulty equipment.

It's not a quick fix, you have GENERATIONS of thinking to overcome. It's a different culture, and it's not going to change overnight. People complain about how long this war has been going on, but ppl are only looking at movements from '02. In reality, troops have been in and over there since '91. In 16 years, HAS it gotten any better? I don't know. BUT I do know that the terrorists, left unchecked would be over here, and I 'd rater they fight over there than on our doorstep.

My 2 cents,

TerryC said...

Saw Congresswoman Thelma Drake today talking about the establishment of the United States. The revolutionary War lasted seven years. After that it was another six years before the permanent constitution we use today was passed and our government in its present form (more or less) was created. That's eleven years.
After WWII, which itself lasted ten years, though the United States was only directly under arms for four years it was another seven years before the American occupation was official over.
We've been in Iraq for just over four years. It would be nice if these things went like TV and were over by the end of the hour, but real life doesn't move at the speed of MTV.

beez said...


You and I share the same opinion of Fox News. With the possible exception of Brit Hume, I can't stand Fox news because it is so sleazy. It's like the "Paris Hilton, Victoria's Secret" channel

pat said...

It is a shame, Father Fox, that you didn't meet Sean Hannity instead of Alan Colmes. As Father Williams points out, you could catechized him.

Hannity Bullies Clergyman

Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr. said...

We have been at war with the Jihadists for decades. We admitted it in 2001.

Yes we are making progress. But no one is willing to fight the long war. And many junior officers in the army believe their generals are incapable of fighting it. (See my posting at:

Paul said...

I agree with your assessment that things seem to be getting better. I am also very skeptical of the MSM reporting on the war; they focus on the "bad" almost exclusively. It's a good thing that the MSM has been distracted of late by other news and that has allowed some good news from Iraq to bubble up.

Let us hope and pray for success so that our troops can come home with peace secured.

Paul said...

btw, Michael Yon's latest (from July 5th) is excellent. He also mentions Michael Gordon of the NYT, who wrote at very positive piece today (sorry, having trouble linking, go to "World" then click "Middle East").

Anonymous said...

Well, it's all nice and everything to read these positive comments about the war, but I wish you could tell it to my son. He's on his second tour in Iraq.

The first time around he was all gung-ho. He was positive about our efforts and quick to point out the good we were doing.

This time he's very discouraged. He's glad to be there, to be doing his job, but he's seen enough blood and guts spilled by his buddies that he fears he'll be "messed up for life." And the next three weeks promise to be even more intense.

Personally, I don't know what to believe anymore. I just pray that Our Lord grants them strength and courage to perservere in spite of their tours being extended three months with the threat of three more months added on. That He give peace and comfort to the families of those who have lost their lives fighting for a cause that's become muddled and eclipsed by Paris Hilton and others.

I know this sounds bitter and sarcastic, but I really don't mean it to be. I really do support our efforts there, but I just don't know what to believe anymore.

John said...

Well said, Father.

As for Sean Hannity, I have no respect for him after his little stunt he pulled.

I look forward to reading more of your posts now that I've found you here!