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November 22, 2005

World

Fortitude and Caution

By Marvin Hutchens | November 22, 2005

“I will take the ring, though I do not know the way.” And with those words, Frodo Baggins, a very young 50 year old hobbit accepted the responsibility for elven kind, man and all free folk to fight and destroy the evil that threatened Middle Earth.

In the days following the attacks of September 11, 2001, our nation was filled with men and women of such fortitude in the face of a newly uncertain future. It has been but four short years since that most terrible of days. Thankfully, the courage found in the hearts of those who responded to such evil has not faded from all of our citizens, for the task is yet incomplete. The battles hard won in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world to combat jihadists intent on destroying the West have severely weakened their ability to attack our home again. Yet for some here at home, the cost and time passed has been too great. For them the memory of that day is far away – and the message which our united hearts carried on banner high must be restated from time to time.

It is right that we question and challenge the details of our handling of the war, and right that our elected leaders in Washington do the same. Yet it has become too common a practice to make to do so in a public arena transmitted instantaneously around the world to friend and foe alike. Media and political leaders have become caricatures of the foolish who know no discretion and state truth and falsehood as one. The impact on distant shores being difficult to immediately know – it can be safely assured not to be to our advantage. And here, it challenges every citizen of our nation to parse yet another level of rhetoric in search for real understanding of our station in Iraq or elsewhere.

That everyday life does not lend itself to our continued awareness and remembrance of the loss we felt that day four years passed, or of the manner in which we stood together against the enemy of our very being, is a testament to our perseverance. This makes it all the more vital that we should take steps to remember for what we fight, no matter the battlefield. Afghanistan and Iraq being but two of the necessary battlefields to rid the earth of an enemy focused on ridding it of us. To separate Iraq from the War on Terror – no matter how one believes we came to be in Iraq – is to deny that the enemy of Iraq – jihadist and Ba'athist alike – are also the enemies of America and free people around the world.

To those who believe our departure from Iraq on any terms other than the successful establishment of a stable and secure Iraq – capable of defending its people and interests against internal and external enemies – I would offer caution. Caution your words against their unexpected adoption by our enemies, caution your hearts against the forgetfulness of hours passed, and by all means caution your aspirations.

The fortitude required to check that which we are most assured of equals the fortitude to hold such positions at all.

November 18, 2005

Iraq

Alternatives in War

By Bill Roggio | November 18, 2005

It isn't always the strongest gust of wind that bends a branch to its breaking point. More often than not, the limb is broken by the gust that is unexpected and counter to mainstream forces. This same contravening wind is found in independent military bloggers — who, without the vast resources of the mainstream media, manage to remind that the war in Iraq is more than headlines of casualties, car bombs, and IEDs.

We approach this Friday's remembrance of veterans, past and present, with a nation bent into the gale-force winds of a story that, while not false, is far from the truth. And so, more and more are looking outside their local daily paper or nightly news for insight into the war — or they are turning it off entirely. The consequences of this culture of quick headlines and blurb news is that we see not the war, its heroes, its villains, or its predicament. Instead we are left with the nausea of casualty counts, grim milestones, and acts of terror without hope, gravity, or context. Poll numbers show the impact. Fortunately there are those who stand against these winds.

In the halls of the Capitol building today Sen. Rick Santorum and four bloggers will stand to present — in what is believed to be the first joint press conference of a senator and bloggers — we will be offering an alternative view of the war. The point is to bring the character and context of the underreported story to the forefront, to highlight the men and women in service to our nation's defense, and to broaden awareness of the larger, more vital, reality in this war: U.S. and Coalition forces are defeating the insurgency.

The non-lethal weapons of our enemy, no matter their political or religious affiliation, include our own apathy and acceptance of the media's presentation of the war. In their efforts to be objective citizens of the world, the media's oftentimes morally neutral reporting on the terrorist insurgency-in all its horror — paints an incomplete picture of what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It isn't my place to predict tipping points in the political arena or the social impact of blog going mainstream, nor would I offer advice to the mainstream media. Yet I do see in the words of the families left behind, and the soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine on distant shores that the media must be more aware of its perhaps unintended consequences in striving for ultimate objectivity. Reporting is more than stating a run of details, numbers, and facts. To convey as accurate a portrait of our efforts in Iraq as possible, the media must be willing to develop context, present the situation rather than the result of an action, and be clear that the scattered success of a car bomb or IED is far from the steady progress of coalition forces throughout Iraq, or political progress by the Iraqi people.

Concerned Americans will continue to seek alternative sources of reporting. And more political leaders will recognize that polls don't show the state of the war, only the state of our misgivings. As such, more will follow the lead of the Senate, which this past week began reading the accounts of servicemen and women in Iraq. This act is one of recognition and respect and highlights the need for all of us to remember, no matter our general awareness of the war or its status, that these Americans are our friends and neighbors, our husbands, wives, children, and parents.

[Originally published at the National Review Online on November 9, 2005.]

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