In scenes unimaginable only two years ago - and scorned as impossible, undesirable and impractical for months - millions of ordinary Iraqi men and women braved terrorist violence and came out to vote for their future government...
Chrenkoff's got plenty of election news, links, and quotes from around the world and in Iraq. Check it out.
Marine LtCol Mark Smith - Elections In Iraq and the Media
Posted By Blackfive
Here is the latest update from Marine LtCol Mark Smith, Commander of the 2/24th Battalion (Chicago, Illinois) - the Mad Ghosts! - about the elections in Iraq. LtCol Smith is a US Marine Corps Reserve Officer, and, when not leading Marines in Iraq, is an Indiana State Trooper.
As you are all probably already aware, the polls have closed in Iraq. Due to the historic significance of this day and YOUR loved ones role in it, and while I have just a few minutes, I must communicate a few things to you.
First, the fight is not over! Much work remains to be done, and the Mad Ghost Marines and Sailors of TF 2/24 will slacken not one inch in our cause.
Second, I violated my own rule. I'm sorry, I could not resist. I just had to know how the media was portraying this day. I turned on the dust covered TV in my "office" at the FOB and caught the initial lead in to a network broadcast from their main anchor. It took all of about 30 seconds before I had hit maniacal rage stage, known around here as "oh crap, they tripped Mayhem 6's switch again." Moral of the story, in Cliff's Notes version, is this: after describing both the violence and the turnout, this anchorman said that the best way to handle the coverage of what has actually occurred is "to do it the same way we do in the states, and wait until all the facts are in," or words to that effect.
Well...knock me over with a feather, slap my face and call me a stupidhillbilly! "do it the same way we do it in the states." Did I hear thatright? You have got to be kidding me! This was not an election in the onlycountry that has known true representative democracy for 229 years. Thiswas not an election in a country that has overcome the human indignity ofslavery, survived a civil war, slowly and, to our shame, took hundreds ofyears to bring the vote to women and minorities, has fought through TWOWorld Wars, all in the name of evolving and perfecting the human condition.THIS WAS AN ELECTION IN THE HEART OF THE ARAB WORLD, AND BY AN ELECTORATE THAT HAS NOT ONLY SUSTAINED DECADES OFREPRESSION, BRUTALITY AND TERROR, BUT VOTED UNDER THE THREAT OF DEATH, AND THE ACTUALITY OF VIOLENCE!
Thanks to John (a ret. USAFR Officer) for sending me this email about yesterday's elections from his daughter, an AF Photographer, in Sadr City, Iraq.
Hello all! Many different accounts of what happened today here in Iraq. CNN said we were thwarted by bombers, FOX said it was a unrivalled success, and some say variations of these two. However it was, I wanted to give you my view of what happened here in Sadr City, Iraq
I woke up ridiculously early to go out with the BRT team to document the polling sites around Sadr City and the Iraqi National Guardsmen (ING), the Iraqi Highway Patrolmen (IHP), and others who were securing them. Due to lousy lighting and the fact that no one else in Iraq seemed to be awake as early as me, my experience and footage was lackluster. But, happy to have done something with the elections, I edited my footage, turned it in, and ate a very large breakfast.
My partner out here <...> went back to bed as I headed to the 1st Brigade Headquarters to talk with the Major in charge of us. Without warning the commander of the brigade headed out into the city and I was swept along in the last remaining seat.
It was late morning and our first trip was to a polling site where a suicide bomber had blown himself and two IHP into pieces (literally). I videotaped as they put the pieces into bags to be carried off. I think this was, without a doubt, the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. But I handled it like a troop- separating myself from the gruesome scene by way of my camera lens.
As they carted the men's body bags away, Iraqi people filed back in to continue voting. How about that?
For the next five hours the Colonel toured many neighborhoods and polling areas throughout Sadr City. And Sadr City was an unbelievable site. Hundreds of people lined the streets and congregated outdoors. Children, teenage boys, and men played dozens of soccer games in the grass between the streets. Children swarmed me and the other troops chanting "Good, Good Mistah (the nickname they call us)! Good, Good Mistah!" Men and Women held their blue fingers high with pride and thankfulness so that I could get pictures of them. One man came up to my camera, held his blue finger up and shouted, “Bush Good! Bush Good!" They played music and danced. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Soldiers with me smiled and shook their heads in disbelief telling me that this was the same street they'd traveled down 8 months ago when they had their bloodiest and costliest battle. It was the route you could not go down for many months without being ambushed with RPGs and towing back at least one tank or Bradley. These soldiers leave in a couple of weeks and I think the best thing they could have experienced-proof: their job well done.
I returned this evening euphoric, exhausted, and hungry again. The Command Sergeant Major riding with us gave me his coin (which apparently he only gives out when his guys reenlist) and told me I had bragging rights. I was the only female to have gone that far into Sadr City and that I had a great attitude. I didn’t think I was that brave riding a convoy into a group of happy, joyous people and there was no where else I would have rather been today, but I said thanks and accepted the coin. But I think when I come home I'll brag just the same.
This morning, coffee and baby daughter in hand, I turned on CNN to see what was going on in Iraq. Big mistake - it was a medical show talking about the flu vaccine.
Turned to Fox. Estimate of 72% turnout. 95% in Sadr city where Sadr tried to stop the voting. Women voting in droves. Incredible.
Next thought was how the left-wing blogs would respond.
What struck me more than anything else was that the Iraqi Army was doing well securing the voting zones. And, if reports are correct, Iraqi policemen did most of the dying today, protecting their fledgling country with their lives. That's horrible, and yet, it's sends a strong message - beautiful in a way about the power of democracy. It also proves that democracy is not a western institution - it's an idea for all of us.
I believe that US forces were used in stopping any border traffic from Syria and Iran and THAT may have had a lot to do with the less than predicted violence.
The first blog that I read this morning was, of course, my new friends Mohammed and Omar of Iraq the Model. Be sure to read the whole post but here is passage that indicates how things are changing:
...The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted "vote for Allawi" less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said: "You're a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people's choice. This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's"...
Jim Hake of Spirit of America just sent this confirmation that Friends of Democracy will be on CSPAN tomorrow. I'll be watching:
We've just received confirmation that C-SPAN is planning to cover Spirit of America's Iraq election event this Sunday from 2pm to 4pm Eastern (11am to 1pm Pacific). Please watch. Your support has made this possible. Please forward this message far and wide and encourage people to tune in.
Iraq's elections are an historic event. This broadcast will provide a unique, more complete picture of the elections with ground-level news and views from the Iraqi people. You will get much more than the typical focus on violence and terrorism. We'll have reports, photos and video from all corners of Iraq. The broadcast event is described more here: http://www.spiritofamerica.net/site/blog/459
THERE ARE still people in the mainstream media who profess bewilderment that they are accused of being biased. But you need to look no further than reporting on the war in Iraq to see the bias staring you in the face, day after day, on the front page of The New York Times and in much of the rest of the media.
If a battle ends with Americans killing a hundred guerrillas and terrorists, while sustaining 10 fatalities, that is an American victory. But not in the mainstream media. The headline is more likely to read: "Ten More Americans Killed in Iraq."
This kind of journalism can turn victory into defeat. Kept up long enough, it can even end up with real defeat, when support for the war collapses at home and abroad.
One of the biggest American victories during World War II was called "the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" because American fighter pilots shot down more than 340 Japanese planes over the Mariana Islands while losing just 30 American planes. But what if our current reporting practices had been used back then? The story, as printed and broadcast, could have been: "Today, 18 American pilots were killed and five more severely wounded as the Japanese blasted more than two dozen American planes out of the sky." A steady diet of that kind of one-sided reporting and our whole war effort against Japan might have collapsed.
Whether the one-sided reporting of the war in Vietnam was a factor in the American defeat there used to be a matter of controversy. But in recent years, high officials of the Communist government of Vietnam have admitted that they lost the war on the battlefields but won it in the U.S. media and on the streets of America, where political pressures from the anti-war movement threw away the victory for which thousands of American lives had been sacrificed.
Too many in the media today regard the reporting of the Vietnam War as one of their greatest triumphs. It certainly showed the power of the media - but also its irresponsibility. Some in the media today seem determined to recapture those glory days by the way they report on events in the Iraq war.
First, there is the mainstream media's almost exclusive focus on American casualties in Iraq, with little or no attention to the often much larger casualties inflicted on the enemy. Since terrorists are pouring into Iraq in response to calls from international terrorist networks, the number of those killed is especially important, for these are people who will no longer be around to launch more attacks on American soil.
With all the turmoil and bloodshed in Iraq, military and civilian people returning from that country are increasingly expressing amazement at the difference between what they have seen and the one-sided picture that the media present to the public here.
Our media cannot even call terrorists "terrorists," but instead give these cutthroats the bland name "insurgents." You might think that these were like the Underground fighters in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.
Real insurgents want to get the occupying power out of their country. But the fastest way to get Americans out of Iraq would be to do the opposite of what these "insurgents" are doing. Just by letting peace and order return, those who want to see American troops gone would speed their departure.
But the real goal of the guerrillas and terrorists is to prevent democracy from arising in the Middle East.
Still, much of the Western media even cannot call a spade a spade. The Fourth Estate sometimes seems more like a Fifth Column.
Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes a syndicated column that appears Thursdays in The Sun.
Then, you've got Teddy Kennedy telling the terrorists to keep it up because we're going to leave....Yeah, whenever I think that the media is awful, I think about Kennedy and, all of a sudden, the media seems much better to me.
Ask yourself: How can a US Senator denounce our actions in Iraq and call for troop withdrawls just days before a historic Iraqi free election when he knows that fueling doubt about our resolve will embolden the terrorists and possibly create more violence and murder?
While the violence will continue during the election period in Iraq, many have hope for a free and democratic Iraq...none more so than the US military and the Iraqis.
Here in Chicago, the local media has been finding Iraqis voting at polling places throughout the area - some travelling for hours to cast their vote. I was listening to the radio on my way in to work and heard one Iraqi American yelling "FREEDOM!" while casting his vote in Rosemont, Illinois.
In Iraq, it will be a bit different. Al Qaeda wants the elections to fail. They want a civil war. They want the Shia and the Sunnis to fight. Because Al Qaeda will thrive in Chaos. Killers of women and children, Al Qaeda will try to make the elections a victory for the terrorists.
Possibly, the greatest outcome of blogging for me has been that I was able to meet Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model. As I've said before, it was then at that moment that I knew my friends' sacrifices were worth it.
Please, spread the word that the truth about the elections is being posted by Iraqis in their own words at Friends of Democracy (I just read about the first electoral debate - it reminded me of Chicago City Hall). And word is that C-SPAN will be airing Friends of Democracy sessions in DC on Sunday between 1-3PM EST.
One thing that really stood out this time is how big the audiences are getting for some of the bloggers out there.
For example, guess which web page pulls more traffic according to Alexa...
The Daily Kos or The Rush Limbaugh Show? Instapundit or The Weekly Standard? Little Green Footballs or Lucianne? Wonkette or Neal Boortz? Power Line or Sean Hannity? Talking Points Memo or The New Yorker?
If you guessed the blog in every case, you were right!
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.