Michael Yon's most recent post updates us on the state of things in Buqaba. In it he relates some of the more non-glamorous sides of counterinsurgency, namely bringing food into the city. This is what he calls returning a "sense of normalcy".
In the post he includes an observation I find very interesting, as it is in line with my estimation of the media's (non)understanding of the strategies being employed in Iraq.
The Iraqi media was watching. In fact, at least one Iraqi journalist had come on the convoy. The goal was to get the food flowing, but the uber-goal was to show people the food was flowing. A sense of normalcy leads to more normalcy.There are two important things to note from this:
The American press that flooded in for the kinetic fighting in Baqubah left when the shooting stopped. Their interest waned for covering these aspects of counterinsurgency. They were gone and missing the real story. Nobody was even watching, but this play was not for the Americans journalists, it was for the Iraqi people. So with the drivers frightened and ready to abort, the mission could do worse than merely fail, it could backfire. (Like the entire war.)
The story in the Iraqi press might be that after 10 months of no food shipments to Baqubah, Arrowhead Ripper is launched, and food shipments do not resume, and Baqubah and Diyala Province are abandoned by the Iraqi government in Baghdad. This would be a terrific media victory for al Qaeda and its push to deepen the civil war here. (Emphasis mine)
- The American media continues to not "get it". Counterinsurgency is more than killing the bad guys.
- The apathy of the American media and the activist reporting by al Qaeda have the same potential effect.
There's other interesting quotes in the article, particularly from a pair of eyes that are there, and can see the day to day changes in Iraq:
What would it look like in Arab press outside of Iraq? Perhaps, “Shia Dominated Government Declines Food Request for Sunnis in Iraq.” Al Qaeda would win another media victory partly because they play the media like a Stradivarius. Then, driving that wedge just that extra smidgeon forward, they might say Moqtada al Sadr himself controlled the food (and he probably does to some extent).(Tonto is his codename for a brave Iraqi who volunteered his trucks at the risk of his own life to bring food to Buqaba.)
I recalled one of the bureaucrats comments, upon hearing that al Qaeda had scattered like rabbits out of Baqubah. He seemed at first not to believe that news, but once he got confirmation, he made a point to tell us what that news actually meant: if al Qaeda was done in Baqubah, al Qaeda was done in Iraq.
...The new plan actually seems to be working despite the hysterical reporting back home. We need more Tontos in Hollywood, in the media and in the Congress. We’ve got plenty in the military.