Teleconference With Generals In Iraq, Provide Students A Clearer Understanding Of War Effort
February 28, 2008
We’ve often said here that the media is very one-sided when they report news from Iraq, or Afghanistan for that matter. Often, as during the Vietnam War, the media tends to show the bad, ugly side of war, emphasize mistakes that have been made, yet rarely tell the public about the positive things that are happening. Because of this type of coverage, many people in this country have a very jaded attitude about the war, because they’ve only heard the side that the media wants them to hear. Our young people, aren’t any different from their adult counterparts. Many proclaim that they are against the war in Iraq, without knowing anything other than what the media tells them. That’s one of the main reasons that we here at A Soldier’s Mind, and many other milbloggers continue to do what we do. We know how biased the reporting from the media is, as a whole and we also are aware of the progress that is being made, that they fail to report, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to ensure that the public is better informed.
The students at Naperville Central High School, in Naperville, Illinois had the opportunity last Thursday, to listen to a different side of what is occurring in Iraq. One student, senio Joe Cotton said that when he entered the auditorium, he firmly believed that the US should remove their Troops from Iraq. After an hour of participating in a teleconference with Lt. General James Dubik, US commander of multinational security transition in Iraq and Iraqi Lt. General Nasier Abadi, vice chief of staff of the Iraqi joint forces, Cotton walked out of the auditorium convinced that the Troops should stay in Iraq and finish the job that they started.
Cotton was one of 275 students who had the opportunity to participate in the teleconference and ask questions about the war and listen to what the leaders downrange had to say. One of the questions that Cotton had, was how the Iraqi media portrayed the US forces. Lt. Gen. Abadi answered that question, saying that the image was not portrayed very favorably at the beginning of the war - mostly because of the anti-American propaganda from Iraq’s neighboring countries such as Iran. He said however, that the image has improved vastly as insurgents are removed from power and the people of Iraq are beginning to see tangible results. Abadi said as well that most Iraqis are thankful to the American and Coalition forces for removing Saddam Hussein from power.
“Our people have recognized that America is not the devil,” Abadi said. “It’s Al-Qaeda who is the devil. They have seen what the American forces are doing for them — providing services and building hospitals.”
Lt. General Dubik pointed out that there was still much work to be done in Iraq. He said that there still remain areas of Iraq, including areas in Baghdad, where insurgents remain active and continue to terrorize the citizens. By doing so, he was able to provide a realistic picture of the progress and areas that still needed to be worked on, so that the students were able to get a more rounded picture of conditions in Iraq.
“I don’t want to give the impression things are better everywhere,” he said. “There are parts of the country where progress has not been as robust as we would like, and there are groups that will stop at nothing to undo the security that is already in place.”
Students had numerous questions for the Generals. One student asked how they could measure the progress in the country. The generals shared that several factors had to be taken into consideration, such as the most obvious factor, the decline in civilian deaths. Another factor they said showed progress, was the increasing numbers of Iraqis who are reporting weapons caches and identifying terrorists. According to Lt. Gen. Abadi, he considers that factor critical to achieving long-term success in the country.
“We don’t need guns or tanks. What we need most is information,” Abadi said.
One student, Visraant Iyer said that after listening to the generals’ comments, it just confirmed his opinion that there isn’t any one definitive answer about the war. That there are many factors that define the war in Iraq. Another student, Katie Fricke said that hearing the generals gave her a greater respect for the men and women who are fighting in Iraq and more understanding about what’s going on behind the scenes. The event at Napperville High School was attended by US Representative Judy Biggert from Illinois. She’s also the co-sponsor of the legislation requiring President Bush to provide updates every 30 days on the progress being made in Iraq. Rep. Biggert said that she was extremely impressed with the students who attended the teleconference.
“I think they had very thoughtful questions,” she said. “Some of them even better than what I’ve heard from Congress.”
I think teleconferences like this are a fantastic idea. It’s too bad, that we can’t have public teleconferences such as this on a regular basis, so that the people of this country, aren’t subjected to just what they’re hearing on television and reading in the newspapers, most of which is biased. I feel that it’s time that our citizens are allowed to see both sides of the issue, instead of just what the media wants us to hear.