Friday, May 20, 2005

Privileges and Responsibilities

I've been sitting on this Newsweek issue for a little bit, trying to control what I say here.

Continuing a bizarre string of luck that continues to place me in close vicinity to infamous incidents, I caught a ride to the FOB at Ghazni on Monday. After taking care of some business, I found myself sitting in the chow hall watching Fox News. Of course the story of the day was Newsweek's apology for their story on the desecration of the Koran that they now said may not have been accurate.


I watched the video that Fox was running while they concurrently talked about the story. "That's Ghazni!" said the Operations Officer of the unit that is stationed here. Sure enough, it was Ghazni City, just over the wall from where we were sitting. Rocks were being thrown at policemen and Afghani troops who were answering with automatic weapons fire. Cars were in flames and buildings were being looted.

"We [Newsweek] regret that we got any part of our story wrong...".

"That's Rocky!" excalimed the Operations Officer. General Rahkim (sp) was the Chief of Police in Gahzni. On the television, his image staggered forward a few paces, began to fall, and was caught by two of his policemen. "They brought him in yesterday," the Ops officer told me "the bullet went traight through him, back to chest. The medics managed to save him."

"...and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence..."

Later, I was talking to one of the US troops that lives with and trains the Afghan National Army in the area, the ones that had to respond to the rioting. The US troops were directed to remain in the compound for fear that their presence would inflame the tensions even more, so the Afghan troops were required to wade in without the assistance of their US mentors.

"...and to the U.S. Soldiers caught in its midst."

Bullets zipped over the compound where the US troops huddled around radios attempting to advise and assist their protoges anyway they could. They received reports that the district governor had been hit. Vehicles and weapons were loaded, as the US troops prepared to wade into melee.

"We believed our story was newsworthy..."

Pressed by the rioters, the first of three concentric rings of Afghan Army troops which had been formed around the governor's house, cracked and the troops fell back into the second ring. The riotors pressed forward. The US Troops prepared to mobilize, they were not going to stand idly by while the troops they had trained for months were overrun by the rioters.

"...the issue here is to get the truth out, to acknowledge as quickly as possible what happened [at Guantanemo in 2002] ..."

The second ring held. The governor, having been hit in the face with a rock, but fortunately not shot, knew the Americans would come and reiterated the call for them to stand fast. Frustrated, they stood by and listened as the turmoil gradually subsided.

16 people died in these demonstrations across the country ignited by this reckless reporting and fueled by extremists using any opportunity to destabilize the fledgling democracy. It's a bit surreal watching this occur in a country where the freedom of speech is newly re-discovered. Even when it turned violent, it was a more honest and above board exhibition of free speech than what I saw in Newsweek. Hiding behind the freedoms of the first amendment, Newsweek will never admit to their overt, "progressive", "liberal", "enlightened", or anti-Bush agenda, while publishing an incendiary article under the guise of getting a 3 year old truth "as quickly as possibly".

I would venture to guess that if these 16 people died as a result of erroneous U.S. military action, the peacable lives the victims led up until the time of their deaths as well as the grieving of their families would be considered newsworthy. I guess it's a matter of perspective.

I imagaine that if anyone from Newsweek were ever to read this, they might grumble a bit or experience some passing irritaion, but they won't have to rush their bleeding comrade to get medical attention because he had been shot over it. I don't think that they will see any cars set ablaze or buildings being looted around their workplace because the population of lower Manhattan saw this on the internet. I seriously doubt they will have to make the life or death decision of remaining in sandbagged bunkers or coming to the aid of comrades under fire because this writing meets it's intention of being inflammatory.

Perhaps we have grown so accustomed to the privileges of our freedoms that we forget the responsibilities that accompany it.


Huntress said...
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Huntress said...
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Huntress said...
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Huntress said...

Perhaps we have grown so accustomed to the privileges of our freedoms that we forget the responsibilities that accompany it.

So true, FP5. So sadly true!

Great post! I wondered if we might hear from you about the travesty inflicted upon the people of a fledging democracy.

The Afghan National Army has my deepest respect and admiration for being steadfast in the light of the insanity that ensued. They have been trained well, but in the end, each man made his choice to hold his ground against these rioters!

I walked my friends dog then used my copy of NewsWEAK to pick up the dogshit, and threw it in the trash.It seemed the only appropriate thing to do!

MKL said...

Great to get a first hand account and thanks for putting a personal face on the story of the riots and the Afghan soldiers. I'd say that the fact that the Afghans didn't just mow the protestors down is a good sign.

Rob Purdy said...

Great post, Sir. My Copilot and I were the Apache escort for the medevac for Rocky and were proud to do so. We are all glad that he survived here in TF Sabre. Terrible when the brave ones who step up to take these tough jobs (military, police, government, etc) in this fledgling democracy get injured or worse especially over liberal, erroneous reporting on the US media's behalf. What a shame...CW3 Rob Purdy

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great post, and for injecting some realism into the parallel universe occupied by the U.S. and international media.
No one else is telling this part of the story, and we all need to hear about it.

devildog6771 said...

Sir, the Wall Street just did a "fair" story on Irag and all the good that's been done there. Why don't you send them your story and see what they say? It may just get written.

Anonymous said...

Sir: Am a little behind on my online reading of late and just read your newsweek story. It was such an honor to read such a well-written piece on the truth of the story. It's really getting to the point that in this country, Fox is about all the news I half - way listen to, and have to search out the truth online. Since my response was extreme anger at the treatment of this fabrication ,and its aftermath, I can only imagine how you must feel. The placing of politics above the safety of not only our troops, but, those they have fought so hard for, is really getting to be too much to ignore. For me, it means that I will never look at, much less buy, another issue of Newsweek. An 'apology' is just so many words, and on they go! I wonder how those families felt at their appology?! The human tragedy of it all just seemed to go right over their heads, and I have to ask myself at such times, 'is it just Me?' 'Am I getting that sensitive to what the media is doing?' And then, thank God, I find your post. No, its not me! Oh, how I wish your reaction could be gotten into more hands than I have the capacity to deliver it to! Thanks for what you're doing,I am so sorry for the trouble it caused all of you and your comrades, and realize this cannot undo anything-but-hope it helps to know you're appreciated, and have our sympathy. Keep on getting the truth from your corner out to us at home -we sure need to hear it. Betty