In our writings at RedState, Human Events, Townhall, and elsewhere, the two of us have spent a great deal of time, ink, and energy discussing the Iraq war and attempting to convey stories about the mission that can’t be found in the mainstream media. We've criticized the quality of the media’s own reportage on events in the Middle East. We've pointed out episodes of anti-war bias, ignorance, and outright fabrications ad nauseam, all the while seeking to “correct the record” with a better reflection of events and developments as they actually are, rather than as they appear through the mainstream media’s anti-war, anti-Bush prism.
Why have we spent so much time and energy on this pursuit? Because the evidence we see suggests a very different picture of the situation on the ground in Iraq than the one which the media presents day in and day out.
The two of us share the view of this conflict as an historic enterprise with profound ramifications for Americans, for Iraqis, and for our world. However, while we see hard-won progress and noble sacrifice that can and should lead to victory, we also, unfortunately, see that progress being threatened by an inexplicable willingness among our political leaders, and citizens of this country, to despair and to capitulate – a willingness which is both fed and reflected by our media, which has embraced the promotion of a vicious and escalating cycle of defeatism.
Against the combined mainstream media and Congressional Democrat juggernaut, our voices can, at times, seem very small. Our writings are strictly about – and based on – the facts which are available to us, and we have no more shied away from calling out what we see as mistakes by the administration, the Congress, and the nation, than we have from praising those things which are being done right. The last thing we want to do is to “spin” events to meet our perceptions, hopes, or expectations; what we want is, like many others, to know and to convey the truth as it really is – not as we want it to be. Given the obvious limits on our access to up-to-the-minute, accurate, objective information, we cannot help but wonder every now and again if we are actually seeing the situation clearly – and what we can do to improve our grasp on these events, and on the situation on the ground in the Middle East.
So to that end, we decided to address such doubts by heading over to Iraq ourselves and getting the real story, straight from the source.
After months of emails, telephone calls, offers, and negotiations, the two of us have reached an agreement with the Department of Defense to take part in a trip to Kuwait and to Iraq in late April. This extraordinary opportunity, which stems from the DoD’s renewed emphasis on “new media” outreach, will enable us, and a few of our fellow web-based writers, to get some of the first-hand perspective generally reserved for the larger and more heavily financed “old media.”
The Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Public Affairs apparatus (OSD-PA) has been incredibly accommodating to us, and has shown itself willing to work with any who demonstrate a seriousness of purpose, a track record of thoughtful writing on the war, and a willingness to endure the rather lengthy process of preparing to embed with the military in a war zone. The DoD has no political litmus test; in fact, despite conspiracy theories from the online left that we are being included simply as a propaganda tool of the administration, the impression which we received during this process was that OSD-PA is actually disappointed that they get so few requests from left-leaning writers and websites, either to embed or to participate in the frequent blogger conference calls which the department sets up with commanders and high-level officers in the field. They believe that firsthand contact with the military, via telephone or, even better, face-to-face interaction is in the best interest of the DoD, which, rather than having something to “hide” from the public, is eager to tell its story.
We are looking forward with great anticipation to taking advantage of this opportunity to get a firsthand look at the actual situation in Iraq. Unlike the mainstream media representatives who have been reporting on the war, we make no claim of impartiality. We consider ourselves to be patriotic Americans – and, as such, we have a vested interest in our country’s success. However, “success” as we define it is not looking at a bad situation with rose-colored glasses; on the contrary, attempting to spin a bad situation into a good PR effort, in our opinion, serves more as a detriment to real success than as a benefit. Success, to us, is success; and, to this end, the overarching goal of our reportage from Iraq will be to accurately convey the real situation – what is going right, and what may be going wrong.
We will be financed entirely by our readers, and our live updates (audio, video, and written) will be featured at our weblog, RedState, and they will be published as often as we can post them. Needless to say, we are both looking forward to this opportunity to bring to our readers the real story of what is actually happening in Iraq, right now, straight from the source – and we hope that you will join us for the journey.
Mr. Emanuel, a special operations military veteran, is a leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a Director of conservative weblog RedState.com, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.
Dr. Coates is an art historian and conservative weblogger. She writes for RedState.com and Elephants in Academia.