My blogging about Jill Carroll has reflected the fact that I have truly cared about her and her well-being throughout this ordeal. I was a reader of Jill's well before she was kidnapped. I believe she's a reporter with a strong passion for truth. I have a deep respect for her professionalism.
That said, I am disappointed by all who have judged her before they knew what she truly had to say. It's happened on the right wing blogs (and to be fair, the left). It's doubly dismal to see the spats that occur after both sides have made their misjudgements. I believe it's an ethical mistake for bloggers to react so emotionally about Jill's statement, made while still in cativity. It isn't respectful or thoughtful. We won't even know how this young woman feels until she has had time to sort all of this out. She's been through hell. Leave her alone.
I'm so glad she's back home - safe and unharmed. That doesn't mean that she is ready for public statements. When she's ready, and if she chooses to talk about the Iraq War, I'll be back to talk about her views.
It was chilling to read Edward Wong's interview with the Iraqi prime minister in The Times last week, during which Mr. Jaafari sat in the palace where he now makes his home, complained about the Americans and predicted that the sectarian militias that are currently terrorizing Iraqi civilians could be incorporated into the army and police. The stories about innocent homeowners and storekeepers who are dragged from their screaming families and killed by those same militias are heartbreaking, as is the thought that the United States, in its hubris, helped bring all this to pass.
I apologize ahead of time for having to say something that is rather blunt, but I feel that it's important. When I read this, I immediately thought about Judith Miller and the New York Times' front page stories before the Iraq War. I suspect that hard lessons have been learned. I realize that there has been a mea culpa from the Times and I appreciate that, but I have to say that the United States government wasn't the only institution that has "helped to bring this all to pass."
As we hear more and more sabre rattling on Iran....more fear mongering whistles through Dick Cheney's bottom teeth and lying twisted lips, I'd ask the fourth estate not to forget what happened in 2002 and to vow to never let it happen again. An editorial like this one is a hell of a good start.
General Anthony Zinni was a guest on this morning's Meet the Press. He said we are now paying the price for a lack of a plan from the Bush administration in Iraq. The administration understimated the situation they were getting into, and they got distracted from the actual war on Terrorism.
He said that we have to see the Iraq war through now - for we are committed. Militias in Iraq are a large part of the problem, and it's disturbing that the Bush administration doesn't seem to be addressing that problem. U.S. intelligence capability needs to be strengthened in this war, ie: getting people to turn against the bad guys. We are not fighting the SS in Iraq - it's a rag-tag bunch of fighters with IEDS, etc. Zinni said that we've needed to win hearts and minds in Iraq and we haven't done that yet, three years on. We haven't given the general populace enough security or reason to turn in the insurgents.
When asked about the benefits of having removed Saddam Hussein, General Zinni commented that it was like comparing heart disease to cancer. Saddam Hussein was bad for Iraq; this sectarian war is certainly not good for the country.
In these three years, we've lost ground in Iraq.
Any positive efforts that are being made on the local level in Iraq are made in vain because of the failure of the overall strategy. General Zinni commented that positive efforts are being made by people such as Lt. General David Petraeus, but hearts and minds in Iraq are not being won because of the weakness of the "strategic brand" which comes from the top down (from Washington D.C.)...not from bottom up. Condoleeza Rice has said "tactical errors" had been made, but America sees that no adjustment has been made for the core strategic errors that came from the very top.
General Zinni thinks that the media is used as scapegoat by the Bush administration. Security in Iraq has deteriorated to the point where journalists, of whom we've lost at least 80 to violence, can't get out without the likelihood that they'll be kidnapped or killed. It's hard to dwell on "the good" when "the bad" is so catastrophic. The balance between the two must be considered and it's not fair to blame the media for reporting on what they see.
Zinni bemoaned all the Bush administration's pre-war spin, the cherry picking of intelligence, the metaphors used to invoke emotional response from the public, and all the shaded contexts (ie: "mushroom clouds").
In reality, the U.S. walked away from ten years worth of planning on serious foreign policy. It was literally thrown away. General Shinsecki was insulted by telling the truth. There was faith placed in Iraqi exiles that any experienced official knew was bogus. These were strategic mistakes made in D.C., not on the ground in Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld should be held reponsible for this poor strategical planning -along with anyone who stood by the strategy. They must be held accountable. If they keep defending mistakes of the the past, they can never move on with any success. That's where the Bush administration is now..standing by old mistakes. President needs to annunciate clearly the mistakes that have been made in order to gain any form of future credibility on Iraq.