Michael Morris the assistant managing editor for The Facts wrote:
Published March 23, 2006
Now in our fourth year in Iraq, it is difficult to be surprised by anything that happens there. The predictions of our soldiers being out of the country in a year are long forgotten, as is the insistence the war effort would cost us no more than $1 billion — it currently stands at $450 billion and counting.Our soldiers continue to perform admirably, making inroads with common Iraqis with small, often overlooked acts of compassion and friendship every day, even as they are forced to run a gauntlet of potential bloodshed wrought by the increasing sophistication of a robust insurgency no one expected.When we hear one of our military heroes has died, or a suicide bomber had rained carnage on innocent shoppers at a market or a funeral at a mosque, or another aid worker or missionary has been kidnapped or beheaded, we no longer are startled. It merely is another day of death in an ill-conceived war with no clear resolution.Unless you are President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or another administration official, in which case the glass isn’t just half-full, it’s overflowing with celebratory champagne. While there have been welcome — albeit belated — admissions that all things on the ground in Iraq are not rosy, the insistence of great progress and optimism of a sweeping change being afoot are overstated.How many times have we heard that the insurgency is in its final throes, a claim repeated again over the weekend by Cheney? Yet, a major offensive was required last week in the area around Samarra, north of Baghdad, in another attempt to clear it of insurgents.The Iraqi people are embracing democracy we are told, but more than three months after elections a new government is no closer to being formed.Life is getting better for Iraqis and they are better off, it’s repeatedly said. Three years after the end of hostilities, however, electricity generation is barely above prewar levels. Before the invasion, half of Iraqis had access to potable water, compared to just 32 percent now. And the oil that was supposed to offset most of our costs? About 1.8 million barrels are being produced per day now, barely more than the 1.5 million barrels a day that were being pumped in the final months of Saddam’s regime.It was more than two years ago we first heard a variation of the phrase that when the Iraqis are ready to stand up, we will stand down. Those Iraqi soldiers, while far greater in number, still are nowhere near ready to be self-supporting.Those are the realities of the situation we face. Progress will be slow. Our soldiers will not be coming home in any great number anytime soon. The country is on the brink of civil war, if it has not already fallen into one. The insurgents remain a deadly force with few signs their power is abating.It is a failure to acknowledge those realities which has damaged the credibility of the administration and President Bush personally. Insisting Americans believe what they are told and disbelieve what they see with their own eyes is patronizing and makes any effort to rally support impossible. The misguided delusions that we are winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and are closing in on victory only move us further from those attainable objectives.Somewhere in between the mindless optimism of the administration and the indigestible pessimism of its critics is the truth about what is happening in Iraq. It is there the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people must be fought, and where the patient acceptance of the eventual success of our mission can be found.
Mr. Morris’ editorial was just another opportunity to rail against the Bush administration. He provided a litany of reasons showing “the mindless optimism of the administration” while not providing one example of “the indigestible pessimism of its critics.”He complains that the administration is “insisting Americans believe what they are told and disbelieve what they see with their own eyes.” The problem is we do not see anything with our own eyes, only what has been filtered through the eyes of others. Are those filters to be trusted? A casual observation of any newscast will reveal that almost all news that is reported is bad. To watch most newscasts one would conclude there is nothing good happening anywhere. While there no doubt is plenty of bad news in Iraq and elsewhere, I believe there is good news as well. And although it is not generally reported, that does not mean it doesn’t exist.We have a problem in Iraq, but we had a problem there before the war. Solving problems is often unpleasant work. Those who recoil from the unpleasant will solve few problems. I am thankful we have a president who finds reason for optimism in trying times.James McEntire Jr., pastor, Faith Baptist Church, Freeport