Monday, October 22, 2007

Michael Yon: Perception Versus Reality in Iraq

A special hat tip goes to a few places: Hot Air, Weekly Standard, and the Jawa Report. It seems that Michael Yon cannot believe the disconnect between what he sees on the ground. (Yon is one of only a handful of reporters that actually reports from deep inside Iraq). He is so befuddled by the disconnect that he is offering his reports for free. Here is how he saw the differences between what he saw on the ground and how the media portrayed the events.

All describe the bizarro-world contrast between what most Americans seem to think is happening in Iraq versus what is really happening in Iraq. Knowing this disconnect exists and experiencing it directly are two separate matters. It’s like the difference between holding the remote control during the telecast of a volcanic eruption on some distant island (and then flipping the channel), versus running for survival from a wretch of molten lava that just engulfed your car.

I was at home in the United States just one day before the magnitude hit me like vertigo: America seems to be under a glass dome which allows few hard facts from the field to filter in unless they are attached to a string of false assumptions. Considering that my trip home coincided with General Petraeus’ testimony before the US Congress, when media interest in the war was (I’m told) unusually concentrated, it’s a wonder my eardrums didn’t burst on the trip back to Iraq. In places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Britain people hardly seemed to notice that success is being achieved in Iraq, while in the United States, Britney was competing for airtime with O.J. in one of the saddest sideshows on Earth.

Here is how he described the reason for the misanalysis and what he intends to do about it.

No thinking person would look at last year's weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery, that all Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, or are waiting for us to leave so they can crush their neighbors.


Several upcoming dispatches will focus on how the situation in Southern Iraq has dramatically improved over past months. Ironically, the character of this improvement is distinguished by the lack of violence, as well as the increasing order and normality as Iraqi Security Forces step up to greater responsibility for security in the region.

Yon was the first reporter on the scene in the aftermath of the bloodbath that AQI created in Anbar. He was the first one to report on the horrors of AQI like cutting off the middle and index fingers of smokers, beating and raping women that put the wrong combination of vegetables in their baskets, and worst of all inviting families to dinner and literally serving their child's head on a platter. He was the first one to report on the amazing change in Ramadi, and he was the first one on the scene in Basra. I recommend that everyone read each of his dispatches to see what is really going on in Iraq.

He wants to get the truth out and so he is willing to by pass payment from the major newspapers so that authentic on the ground reporting finds its way in the the mainstream.

Here is where the folks come in. Hot Air picks it up.

in order to pay for all this, he figures he’ll need $100,000 in donations. WaPo is reporting this morning that Petraeus is planning to shift his focus soon from Al Qaeda in Iraq to the Shiite militias — including, somewhat ominously, an initiative towards
“political accommodation” — all of which will bear most heavily on Baghdad and Basra, where Yon’s been spending most of his time lately. If you’re willing and able to help keep him going, here’s his PayPal.

He needs $100K folks. He can get it $10 at a time. As I have already shown, the situation on the ground has improved markedly, however, I have also shown that the media largely chooses to ignore or hide the good news. Now, we have a chance to get the best on the ground reporter's stories into the mainstream. Please do what you can to help get the story out.

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