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"Happy Iraq" Turns Out To Be Not That Happy

Reported by Nancy - January 14, 2005 -

On FNL today (1/14), one interview stood out among the usual crop of likely suspects: Rick Folbaum (who substitutes for David Asman on Fridays) interviewed Paul Vallely, Fox News military analyst, who had recently returned from a trip to Iraq. The topic was "Happy Iraq" -- & to listen to Vallely, you'd think the US military had learned nothing in Vietnam.

At 12:06pm there was an ALERT so Folbaum could report that "terrorists have fired on a bus carrying Iraqi National Guard" members, 15 were kidnapped. Kathryn Herridge essentially repeated her earlier report on a new CIA study, then Dana Lewis reported from Baghdad about the funeral for Sistani's aide, a suicide car bomb north of Baghdad killed 3 & wounded 8, roadside bomb hit US military vehicle in Baghdad, & a "senior Iraqi official" says he expects 50% voter turnout.

At 12:14pm FNL repeated the ALERT about the attack on & kidnapping of Iraqi National Guard members. Folbaum added (as had been previously reported by Brigitte Quinn) that 28 prisoners from Abu Ghraib escaped while being transported to another "facility". Folbaum then said that "Sad reports can drown out" the good ones, & to remind viewers that there are "good" ones he interviewed Vallely (US Army General, ret). The interview was long on hyperbole, short on actual facts. Vallely claimed there's "more successes than failures" & offered as an example of "success" that the "Marines have made Fallujah the safest city in Iraq" because "we took out the bad guys." [Comment: he didn't address how the surviving citizens of Fallujah might be feeling about how "safe" we've made them, or about the means we used to achieve that "safety".] He added that "We're defeating the enemy every time we can find them." [Comment: well, duh -- isn't that one of the hardest parts when you're fighting a guerilla insurgency? No one disputes that the US military has enough firepower to turn the entire globe into one big cinder, so course we'll beat the crap out of anyone stupid enough to stand & fight.]

Folbaum waxed enthusiastic about how "We are so proud" of what the US military is doing in Iraq & asked Vallely what he thought we should be most proud of. Vallely said he is "most proud of their morale" & of their "very, very positive attiude" in the face of "isolated incidents like the attacks today." Folbaum asked if there were any suprises while Vallely was there. Vallely replied that he was surprised by "how well organized they are for this election" [comment: neither gave credit to the UN]. Vallely added that there will be "extraordinary security" for the upcoming election & he expects everything to go pretty smoothly "except up in Anbar province." He also admitted that the "amount of foreigners [is] greater than we thought" [comment: he didn't mention that there were no "foreign fighters" at all until the US invaded].

General comments: In the context of the daily bombings, assassinations, kidnappings & other assorted violence & mayhem in Iraq, it's hard to find "good news" -- but such stories do exist (admittedly they're rare & isolated examples, but reservists are doing some excellent reconstruction work; Halliburton isn't). You'd just never know it from listening to Vallely & Folbaum, or to FNC in general. No one ever talks about "quality of life" indicators, like clean water & a steady supply of electricity & functioning farms or hospitals. No one ever mentions Halliburton or any other US war profiteer unless it's in the context of some of their employees being dead or injured or kidnapped. No one ever discusses what life is like for ordinary Iraqis, in big cities or tiny villages. And it's amazing how FNL can never seem to find anyone to interview who has been to Iraq & *doesn't* think it's all a bed of roses. Why don't they send some of their reporters out to talk to average Iraqis in Basra or Mosul or Fallujah? Nope, the sole emphasis on FNL today (& always) is the military emphasis -- body counts, bullets fired, towns "pacified", hearts & minds won.

Vallely has been mentioned often on this website because of his frequent appearances on FNC, where he is always very gung-ho & rah-rah. Today was no exception. For further info about Vallely, there is a brief bio posted at the website of his PR firm, Benador Associates -- I found his PsyOps background particularly illuminating.