As you are reading this right now, there are 147,000 of our men and women serving our country in Iraq. One of them is my brother-in-law.
He is a part of the Army’s 172nd Stryker Brigade that is currently operating in Baghdad. He was among those who got their tours extended this summer after being there for a year. I love him very much and appreciate his commitment to our country. He and the rest of our troops have sacrificed so much throughout the war in Iraq.
They do their job each and every day with a work ethic that I truly envy. Regardless of whether you think we should have gone into Iraq or not, the reality is that we are there. That’s not what I want to debate right now. My concern throughout the course of the war has been that the true story in Iraq is not being told.
Here in the United States, it seems all the media want to talk about is how bad things are in Iraq. Every car bombing is reported, every IED is reported and every death is reported. They discuss whether or not Rumsfeld should resign, the troop levels and when the mission will be over.
Although many of these stories are true, they only represent one side of a large and complex story unraveling in Iraq. Even the alleged Republican-loving Fox News doesn’t properly paint the picture.
Unknown to most of the citizens in the United States, there are a lot of good things going on in Iraq. There is more going on there than people killing each other. Real progress is being made toward the goal of a free Iraq run and maintained solely by Iraqis. Since Saddam was removed from power, our troops have been training Iraqis to take control over their own country.
And they are well on their way.
Nearly every patrol preformed by U.S. soldiers is a combined operation with the Iraqi Army. And they are getting better and better at what they do. In the past two weeks alone in Baghdad, 36,835 houses and businesses have been cleared along with 23 mosques.
This resulted in the discovery of five weapons caches and more than 500 illegal weapons. I’ll say it again, that was in just two weeks! Have you heard that on the news? Most of the northern part of Iraq has been secured and is now controlled entirely by Iraqis, which includes the once hotbed city of Mosul, where my brother-in-law started his tour 14 months ago.
Where was the praise of the major news outlets for that huge accomplishment? Thousands more children are now attending school in newly renovated schools. As of last month, the Army Corps of Engineers had 3,800 projects planned. These included building new hospitals, power plants, police stations and repairing infrastructure among many other things.
Out of those plans, 2,800 of them are already done, with 600 new jobs started. Isn’t that something Americans should know about? Last month, operational control of the Iraqi Army was handed over to Iraqi leaders. Why wasn’t that a national headline?
What I am getting at is that our media has failed us. Its biased portrayal of Iraq is irresponsible and is undermining the efforts of our brave soldiers overseas. Moreover, what would the effect be on public opinion if the whole story was told?
I believe Americans would support the war much more than they already do. When some politicians belittle our work in Iraq, they cite polls that say Americans don’t support the war.
Well, if I only knew about the bad things going on, I wouldn’t support it, either.
So the next time you sit down and watch the news, keep in mind that our mission is making great progress, whether or not it is reported. We owe it to our soldiers to know the true story. We should honor them by standing united in our mission to secure a free Iraq.
Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.