What’s YOUR source? | VailDaily.com

What’s YOUR source?

The surest way to defeat militant Islamic fascism ” i.e., “terrorism” ” is by changing the culture of oppression, corruption and poverty that permeates the Middle East and the Arab world.

That’s why we have troops fighting in the Persian Gulf region. Polls, however, tell us a significant percentage of Americans are opposed to the Iraq War.

While polls can be useful, how many preface their results with data about whether the opinions being expressed are by informed citizens. After all, even the nescient can express opinions, right?

The Iraq War offers such a case in point. Few of us have ever been to a war zone, much less visited Iraq. Therefore, opinions about the realities of what’s really taking place are predicated upon the information received from outside sources ” i.e., the media.

But a significant portion of the media is anti-war and in many cases, anti-Bush (since Jan. 1, 96 stories about the military’s performance in Iraq have appeared in The New York Times, of which 79 were negative). So how can an individual have an “informed” opinion if the source of his or her information is either inaccurate or skewed?

It seems to me that if one truly desires to be informed, he or she might glean some information from those who have first-hand knowledge of what is actually transpiring. Like from the troops themselves, of whom the vast majority hold significantly different opinions about the war than those back home. Here’s one of them:

“Dear Family, Merry Christmas! I generally don’t like to do letters like this, but found my time gone, so I apologize. It has been a busy year. This is my second Christmas in Iraq, second Thanksgiving, and many other seconds. But this mission is important for so many reasons. As I reflect on my nearly 17 months here so far (with about eight or so left before I head home), I see so many changes and so many things the same.

“I remember not getting a whole night’s sleep when I arrived due to the continual mortar and rocket attacks. Seems every hour we were getting hit with something. Now it seems we go days with nothing.

“Route Irish (from Baghdad International to the International Zone) used to be the most dangerous stretch of highway in the country, but is fairly tame now. Iraqi police (when you could find them) wore ski masks and civilian clothes from fear of being killed by their countrymen. They now stand proudly in their uniforms on the corners of nearly every city and routinely patrol with impunity.

“The army, which once turned and ran, now plans and conducts many operations on their own, and works with us in places where they need our leadership and assistance. But they get stronger and better every day. Trash and raw sewage greeted us each time we traveled the highways and byways.

Recently, I have seen work crews out cleaning up trash, sweeping and clearing roads and the sewage is in pipe in many places.

“Imams and other religious leaders used to spit venom. Many now are telling their flocks to stop the violence, to vote, to participate in the process, to turn in terrorists and criminals. And they are turning them in! School children are in schools that were closed or destroyed under Saddam, many of which were refurbished or rebuilt by the coalition, and write on paper with pencils provided by the generosity of our countrymen.

“On Election Day, I spoke with a 76-year-old Iraqi man who was standing on a corner in northwest Baghdad. He proudly displayed his purple fingertip. When I asked him what the matter was, he replied in broken English that with that vote, it was the first time in his 76 years that he felt like a human being.

“Ponder that for a moment. Despite the potential for violence and threats of death, people come out and vote in larger percentages here than any election ever in the United States.

“They understand well that their future hinges on their participation in something many of us take for granted. If you know me, you know I am not a hopeless optimist. But I have hope for this country. I see and speak to Iraqi people here who are also full of hope. We aren’t so foolish as to believe there will be peace here anytime soon, but there is hope. The foreign fighters and terrorists will continue to kill and maim the innocent, but there is hope.

“So I ask that as you think of us here in the coming year, you remember that we here see this mission as important and valuable, despite what we hear from politicians who have never been here, and from those that have who never got their shoes dirty. We believe in the future of this country and the region. And we have hope ” which if I recall is one of the real messages of this season. Hope. May God bless each of you. Jeff”

We’re all entitled to our beliefs and biases. But just once I would like to see the Democratic Party leadership illuminate the poll results of the soldiers and Marines, who by a ratio of over 5 to 1 believe we are making significant progress in Iraq.

Or better yet, perhaps The New York Times and CNN could headline the 71 percent of Iraqis (you know, the people actually living in Iraq), who in a recent poll said their lives are “very good or quite good.”

Nah, that type of reporting from the left WOULD be too much to hope for.

Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.net.

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