Some interesting media viewpoints on what is occuring in Iraq, and a short commentary on what it all means.
From Iraq the Model:
Operation “Imposing Law” continues in Baghdad. In contrast with previous operations to secure the city, this one is managing to not only keep the initial momentum, but the operation’s effects seem to be growing as well. . . I read today that the count of various death squads’ victims for this month is one half that of January, and little more than one third that of December of last year. This comes from the official figures reported by the Baghdad morgue.
The other number that’s become one of the important parameters for assessing the situation in the Baghdad is the number of displaced families that have returned to their homes since the beginning of Operation “Imposing Law.” This one too is giving a positive sign. The last official count by the authorities brought the total to little over 1,020 families in just two weeks.
The Fourth Rail provides some insight on the upcoming regional security summit to be held in Iraq with its neighbors and the U.S. in attendance:
While much of coverage on the upcoming regional summit in Iraq has focused on the rare convergence of U.S., Iranian, and Syria diplomats, the Iraqis are showing they plan on using the conference to pressure Syria. Hamid Al Bayati, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations has said Syria's failure to prevent al Qaeda and Islamist terrorists from crossing the border will be on the agenda. "Most of the terrorists, especially suicide bombers" pass through the Syrian border, said Al Bayati, during a conference at New York University.
The relatively new Small Wars Journal blog has a trip report from a recent excursion to Iraq, and assesses the current situation there:
Overview. What is shaping up in Iraq? There are four ongoing wars. 1) Shiite mafias in the south, 2) Anbar Sunni extremists 3) Shiite ethnic cleansing around Baghdad 4) Sunni extremist car bombings in Baghdad.
What, then, is the biggest problem? How the Americans can infuse into the Iraqi army and police in Baghdad a sense of mission and even-handedness such that the Americans can withdraw from neighborhoods in eight to twelve months without backsliding.
The Online Version of the New York Times passes on analysis of exactly what is going on in Iraq right now, and stays with the body count/BDA theme to drive hits and visits. CBS News chimes in with more of the same, as does MSNBC. Better safe than sorry, I guess.
Not surprisingly, small town papers like The Fayetteville Observer (which admittedly has a slight advantage on the NYT, with it's stone's throw distance from Fort Bragg's gate) trumps the Gray Lady with some decent coverage of local 82d Airborne units deployed to Iraq; check out this account of an infantry company's raid on a suspected kidnapping and torture cell ringleader:
Al-Akabi [the suspected insurgent leader] had heard the paratroopers outside his house and opened the door just a crack to see out. When he saw Ciro at the door, the soldiers said, Al-Akabi went for a small silver pistol. Ciro fired and quickly forced his way into the house where Al-Akabi, wounded, was on the floor. Inside, Al-Akabi’s wife jumped on the sergeant and Al-Akabi reached for his rifle, Ciro said later. “I felt threatened, so I shot him again,” he said.
Al-Akabi was hit twice in the stomach. Other paratroopers rushed in and immediately started first aid. Minutes after the raid, the paratroopers carried the obese and naked Al-Akabi — bandages across his belly — out of the house to a waiting Humvee that raced him to a military hospital.
In the foyer of the house, Al-Akabi’s robes lay in the corner, next to several bloody bandages. Paratroopers fanned out, searching for weapons and evidence linking Al-Akabi to the kidnapping cell.
Several paratroopers stood in the house’s plush living room bagging up pamphlets and a CD. Al-Akabi’s cell phone was confiscated — a major find since it likely contains numbers to his associates and other leaders of the militia. Everything taken from the house was photographed and documented. The paratroopers call the process “CSI: Baghdad” because it’s more like police work than soldiering. But they have to be careful — Iraqi judges release suspects when the evidence is shoddy.
The paratroopers returned to Combat Outpost War Eagle elated.
“There is a buzz in this town: The Americans are here, and they are not messing around,” said 1st Sgt. Harold Reynolds. “The sooner they can embrace us and we can embrace them, the sooner the country will turn around.”
The purpose of the above linkfest was not to sway opinions one way or the other on the war; rather, the linked articles and posts illustrate the comprehensive coverage provided by the newer media, especially when compared to the Iraq stories posted by mainstream, staid outlets. If one really wants to have an idea of what's going on in the war, scanning through some of the many excellent bloggers and regional media accounts is now the most effective way to get information (short of donning a uniform and going there yourself, of course!).
My guess is that the example of the old vs new media war coverage is intersubjective, too; that is, potential readers with interests other things, such as business, technology, and the like are probably relying more and more on new media outlets to gather and share information on their favorite topics.
It's a good time to be a blogger, but it's a better time than ever before to find and read your favorite blogs as well!