Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Enforced Humility

I am humbled by the national treasure that is Jeff Emanuel:

The killing of Iraqis by Iran's Revolutionary Guard should not surprise any who have followed the course of the Iraq war (and postwar) to this point. While Tehran is raising the outcry that the Kurdish freedom fighters (known as the PJAK) they are trying to exterminate along the Iraqi border are "a terrorist outfit being sponsored and armed by the US to increase pressure on Iran" - a statement which, as the UK Guardian reported from its own eyewitness accounts of the equipment the PJAK are using, is patently false, despite claims by Dennis Kucinich and Seymour Hersh to the contrary - the Islamic Republic is denying its proven-beyond-dispute interference and involvement within Iraq itself.

I do not mean to suggest that I am humbled the way some do, when they really mean that they are flattered or pleased with some bit of attention. Nor do I mean that Jeff's writing is flawlessly edited or grammatically pristine.

I mean I'm humbled.

There are two kinds of people in the world, doers and thinkers. Jeff is both, while despite the pretense and arrogance I present at this blog I am more clumsy at whichever I happen to be trying.

However, I'm still not sold on the whole embedded reporter thing. People like Jeff and Michael Yon are doing excellent work, and I can only look on with awe and envy the courage, initiative, and fortitude of those who are carrying the day on the information front of the Global War on Terror.

I can't help thinking that they are doing the work of others. I suppose it's not such a big deal to have civilians in harm's way, not part of any battle command, but clearly partisan and tied emotionally to their subject matter. But war is a messy business, and its destruction could allow feelings of remorse or guilt to interfere with impartial presentation of the facts.

And do we even want impartiality, or the appearance of impartiality? I suppose other things being equal, it's more convincing to hear news from someone who isn't a mouthpiece for one side, but I don't think anyone who wouldn't be swayed by a soldier telling his own story is really swayed by an embed.

Speaking of people telling their own story, my thought is nicely adorned by the Scott Beauchamp episode. In an information war, do we need loose cannons? What if Scott Thomas had been more careful to retain plausibility, merely dyeing or tailoring facts to suit his agenda and not weaving his own yarns into the whole cloth he used to fabricate the emperor's suit? I think I ripped a hole in the seat of my metaphor.

But none of the above diminishes in any way my respect and admiration for those doing the job. And this is not a "support the troops, hate the war" analog, because I am not saying that the work they are doing so well should not be done, or that they should be doing something else. Hmmm... perhaps I have created for myself a false dilemma.

My conclusion is that everyone, from President Bush, to flag officers on the ground, to grunts in the HMMVs, should be doing what Jeff is doing: telling our side of the story.

And last time I checked, "everyone" included Jeff, and it included me.

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