View Full Version : And Now, the Envelope Please ….

04-17-03, 07:16 AM
And Now, the Envelope Please ….

By Ed Offley

Now that the U.S. Central Command has formally announced that combat operations are over in Iraq, it’s time to assess the campaign and cite the outstanding, if not other-worldly, performance of key players.

Not the military campaign: We know how that went. It went like a hot bayonet through butter.

After deploying over 250,000 American and British military forces in the Persian Gulf region, the U.S. Central Command on March 19, 2003, simultaneously launched a ground invasion and precision air strikes aimed at isolating and neutralizing Iraqi command authorities. Less visible, special operations forces roamed from the western Iraqi desert to downtown Baghdad on clandestine reconnaissance and disruption operations. Naval forces offshore and aerial combat units throughout the region kept up a “shock and awe” bombing campaign that steadily degraded Iraqi ground forces.

The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division and other U.S. Army units sprinted up the Euphrates River Valley toward Iraq, capturing the major cities of Nasariyah, Najaf and Karbala before arriving at the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital on Day 15. British forces advanced to and encircled Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, while elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into northern Iraq with Special Operations Forces personnel. After capturing Saddam International Airport, 3rd Infantry Division maneuver elements drove through the southern part of Baghdad, and several days later fought their way into the downtown center of the city. Meanwhile, Marine units approaching from the northern side of the Euphrates penetrated Baghdad from the south and east.

On Apr. 8, 2003 – the 20th day of the war – the Iraqi regime crumbled and its surviving leaders disappeared from sight.

No, it’s time to look at the news media campaign of predictions, speculation and instant analysis that vainly tried to keep up with the torrent of live and near-live reports from the battlefield. It’s also time to the present awards to those who truly deserve them:

The It All Looks Like Vietnam To Me Award: To ABC NightLine anchor Ted Koppel, for confusing the Euphrates River with the Mekong River.

“The U.S. military has only just begun to engage the first of the enemy's strongest and most capable divisions. There is no reason to believe that ultimately, perhaps even in the next week or two, U.S. forces will not prevail. But success will come at a significant cost. Forget the easy victories of the last twenty years; this war is more like the ones we knew before. The President has determined that U.S. security and national interests are at stake. Such determinations always carry with them a high cost in blood and treasure.

-- Commentary from the 3rd Infantry Division advancing up the Euphrates River valley, March 25, 2003, six days before the armored division crossed to the north bank of the Euphrates and advanced to Baghdad.

The My Analysis Is Better Than Yours Award: (Second Place) To CBS reporter Leslie Stahl for her attempt to out-argue Secretary of State Colin Powell on the progress of the war:

Stahl: “The Powell Doctrine in military terms is that you throw a massive force, if you're going to go to war, make it huge. There are now criticisms, we're beginning to hear, that this force isn't massive enough.”

Powell: “It's nonsense. It's the usual chatter, I mean we have commentators everywhere. Every General who ever worked for me is now on some network commenting on the daily battle and, frankly, battles come and wars come and they have ups and downs, they have a rhythm to it. The Powell Doctrine was you use decisive force, and the plan that General Franks and his commanders have put together is a decisive force that will get the job done. So don't let one day’s ups and downs suggest that the battle isn't going well. The United States armed forces with our coalition partners, the British principally and the Australians, have gone 300 miles deep into Iraq in a period of five days. That is a heck of an achievement.”

Stahl: “Yeah, but our, the rear is exposed.”

Powell: “It's not. Exposed to what? Exposed to small- ”

Stahl: “Exposed to fedayeen, exposed- ”

Powell: “Fine. So? We’ll get them in due course. They are not exposed to a massive Iraqi army that is operating in a coordinated way that can assault our flanks and stop our assault.”

Stahl: “Are you saying you're not worried or concerned about guerilla warfare?”

Powell: “Of course we are, and that, and we’re trained to handle this, but this chatter for the last 24 hours that everything is coming apart because on Sunday we took a few casualties. The casualties for this operation have been low. You don’t want to slow your advance to go into a particular city and spend all your time rooting out people that you will get in due course. They're not threatening the advance.”

Stahl: “But you can't get your supplies, well you can't- ”

Powell: “Who says?”

Stahl: “ - can't get the humanitarian- ”

Powell: “Who says?”

-- CBS “48 Hours,” March 27, 2003, 12 days before the collapse of the Iraqi regime.

The My Analysis Is Better Than Yours Award: (First Place), to Secretary Powell.

-- Same “48 Hours” program.


04-17-03, 07:17 AM
The Quibbling Quaverer of Quagmire Award: To R.W. “Johnny” Apple of The New York Times for being the first American journalist to declare the war stalemated:

“With every passing day, it is more evident that the failure to obtain permission from Turkey for American troops to cross its territory and open a northern front constituted a diplomatic debacle. With every passing day, it is more evident that the allies made two gross military misjudgments in concluding that coalition forces could safely bypass Basra and Nasiriya and that Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq would rise up against Saddam Hussein. Already, the commander of American ground forces in the war zone has conceded that the war that they are fighting is not the one they and their officers had foreseen. 'Shock and awe’ neither shocked nor awed.”

-- Analysis in The New York Times, March 30, 2003, nine days before Saddam Hussein disappeared.

The Drawing a Line in the Sand Award: To Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera, for misuse of a low-tech journalistic tool (his index finger) to violate operational security by predicting the future movement of the Marine Corps unit with which he was traveling. Mr. Rivera could not accept the award since he was forced to leave the unit and exit Iraq.

“Let me draw a few lines here for you. First, I want to make some emphasis here that these hash marks here, this is us. We own that territory. It’s 40 percent, maybe even a little more than that.”

-- From a live Fox News broadcast somewhere in Iraq, March 30, 2003.

The One Hundred Years’ War Award: To ABC National Security Correspondent John McWethy, who predicted:

“As the U.S. begins to really squeeze Baghdad, U.S. intelligence sources are saying that some of Saddam Hussein’s toughest security forces are now apparently digging in, apparently willing to defend their city block by block. This could be, Peter, a long war.”

-- ABC World News Tonight, Apr. 4, 2003, four days before the regime collapsed.

The Newsweek Conventional Wisdom “Down Arrow” Award: To Newsweek magazine for its “Conventional Wisdom” feature “down arrow” on Vice President Dick Cheney:

“[Cheney] Tells ‘Meet the Press’ just before the war, ‘We will be greeted as liberators.’ An arrogant blunder for the ages.”

-- April 7, 2003, one day before Iraqi crowds in Baghdad cheered advancing U.S. Army soldiers and Marines as liberators.

The Paint It Black When the Facts Have Gone Against You Award: To Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift, who was the first journalist to bypass the subject of the imminent coalition victory to address other, more important things:

“The danger is that we can win the military victory and lose the peace. I think the measure of resistance that we’ve seen, and the kind of fighting, bodes ill for the occupation ... and I know we want to call it a liberation, but I think this looks more like a war of conquest than a war of liberation.”

-- Clift interview by Fox News, Apr. 3, 2003, five days before the coalition liberated Baghdad.

And last but not least:

The Peter Arnett “Shock and Awe” Memorial Award for Career Self-Destruction: To Peter Arnett, formerly of NBC, MSNBC and National Geographic Explorer, for the least prescient prophecy and most slimy suck-up to a dictator in the entire war:

“Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces .... And I personally do not understand how that happened, because I’ve been here many times and in my commentaries on television I would tell the Americans about the determination of the Iraqi forces, the determination of the government, and the willingness to fight for their country. But me, and others who felt the same way, were not listened to by the Bush administration .... Now America is re-appraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and re-writing the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance now they are trying to write another war plan.” – Interview with state-controlled Iraqi TV, March 30, 2003, nine days before the liberation of Baghdad and one day before he was fired by NBC, MSNBC and National Geographic Explorer.

Footnote: Thanks and credit to the Media Research Center for keeping track of journalists’ words, before during and after Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Ed Offley is Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at dweditor@yahoo.com.