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Dear Captain Dan:
I wanted to specifically mention to you that I would much rather prefer to watch news coverage of "a group of soldiers working together to solve problems so they can all come home alive." In fact, I can't stand "Survivor" for the reason that it doesn't promote positive ideas. Though, if I was in your situation I also probably couldn't wait to get home to watch it. I think the media has the mindset of their viewers completely wrong in that respect.
— James B.
Why is it that everyone who wants to be positive about Iraq speaks in what "will be" and "why" and to a lesser extent "how" but can never do more than quote Excel spreadsheets with statistics about how many pencils and bottles of water we passed out and how many we arrested? Success is measured by control and peace and by all measures the largest population areas are out of control and not at peace. You're asking us to look at the micro when the macro is fairly clear.
We credit the Israelis with knowing how to take action and how to take the fight to the terrorists, yet we seemingly forget to look at their little foray into Lebanon -- an act similar in reasoning to our, what, fifth reason for going to Iraq. They left in shame and not because their soldiers weren't good at what they did or didn't execute their op orders. They left in disgrace because the concept upon which they were sent was flawed.
— Mike O.
Operation Enduring Freedom veteran
My husband has been in Iraq since August in and around the Sunni Triangle embedded with Iraqis as a MITT team leader. Last week I went nuts when I heard on FOX News that Richard Belzer blasted Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on "Real Time With Bill Maher" saying that she only talked to uneducated 18- and 19-year-olds about the war when she visited Iraq so that's why she got positive feedback. She actually talked to my husband and other higher-ranking officers in a C-Span interview in late January. These guys may not read 40 newspapers a day like Belzer but they are college-educated and they understand the dynamics there on the ground with the Iraqi people.
— Annie B.
I just finished reading your column about your life at Iraq. I’m not from your country, and even when I do not always agree with U.S. foreign policy, I’m really, really glad to hear the real news. For me it is wonderful to know that your mission has changed so dramatically, from “invaders” to “peacemakers.” In the international context, sometimes you, the working soldier who is doing your best to stay alive and to solve other people's problems, get blamed for some not-so-bright people about your country’s political decisions. I just wanted to say keep up the good work, and come home alive.
When you do not see the major networks report the news on Iraq, you are not missing much. The same reporter stands on the same balcony in the Green Zone and lists off all the explosions and shootings he has heard about for that day. If nothing happened, then he will repeat the same numbers from last night and say that it is over a two-day period. Also, like you said, they use stock footage of old events and they even encourage bystanders to get into the action for the shot and be on the news.
— John R.
I may not agree completely with how things have been and are being run with this war (and I know that you can't do much about that in your position), but I agree that this world is a better and safer place with a stable Iraq without Saddam Hussein. ... Maybe it is because I was a soldier, but I cannot comprehend those who use the freedoms you defend to belittle your very defense of those freedoms.
— Phil R.
I am finding the general public opinion is going against the war and local people are now turning their frustration against military personnel. It is a sad time when I walk through a local Costco during my lunch and I receive dirty looks.
— Nino I.
Nevada Air National Guard
I served as an armored cavalry scout and infantryman in Vietnam. Much of what was reported on television about that war created inaccurate perceptions. An excellent example is, during the
siege of Khe San, there was a C-130 that was hit by artillery fire and burned on the runway. The various news crews on the ground kept filing film stories over successive days using the burned C-130 as a background. This created the perception among viewers that numerous aircraft were being destroyed at Khe San, when in reality there was only the one. It seems the broadcast media, in their haste to get a story on the air, continue to use the same procedures.
— Dave C.
How many embedded reporters does FOX have, and if they are so concerned about media bias, why don’t Bill O’Reilly and friends embed and give us the real story?
— David M.
I don't think most of the people in the U.S. believe what is on the news and in the papers; to some degree, the unending sensationalism in the press has forced the public to discount the institution. I'd suggest that most people are in awe of and grateful for the self-sacrifice of our professional military.
— Charlie F.
Most people here have really lost interest in our government. The feeling is that the leaders have passed over the truth and lied to the average Joe that goes to work every day or accepts the free handouts from our government, and as long as the people have not been moved out of their place in life, why worry. I wish that our leaders had to fight our wars, but as we both know that isn’t going to happen.
— Pete P.
Pine Bluff, Ark.
You made the comment in your last entry about war not being sexy. I agree wholeheartedly, being a veteran of Somalia, Kosovo and soon to be Iraq. Even though we are soldiers/sailors/airmen/Marines and we are taught to maim and break things we are the last to want an armed conflict. Some civilians have a hard time understanding this.
— Christopher A.