Does anything good ever happen in Iraq…

Day 147
I ran across Sgt. Ray Reynolds email and also read the dissection of it on Orwellian Times. I read most of the comments to the Orwellian Times article. It is amazing to me the number of people who seem to believe that the Iraqi people would be better off under Saddam’s regime.

I think calling Ray Reynolds’ email propaganda is inflammatory. Propaganda is defined by WordNet as a noun that means “information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause.” Strictly speaking, Orwellian Times was not incorrect in its labeling of Sgt. Reynolds’ email. However, the word propaganda carries with it a connotation that I think is really beyond what Sgt. Reynolds’ intended. Sgt. Reynolds’ didn’t have his facts straight. That’s too bad. As many people mentioned in the comments section of Orwellian Times, Sgt. Reynolds’ intended message is still valid. Sgt. Reynolds’ clear states the intent of his message. “And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you.”

Reading through all of this gave me some insight on why it is that the media carries far more ‘negative’ stories than positive one. You hear it all the time. “I don’t read the newspaper because all that’s ever in there is bad stuff.” Why is that? One possible answer is that it is a lot easier to discover and track terrible things as they happen. Everyone notices and tells their friends when bad things happen. Catastrophic events by their very nature command a lot of attention. Success and good deeds are far less disruptive.

Orwellian Times took the time to discredit Sgt. Ray Reynolds. They might have followed up their critique of his email by pointing out some positive facts that Sgt. Reynolds might have used instead. However, that would not be in keeping with the primary motivation of the web site. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that Orwellian Times primary motivation is very probably to provide propaganda, “information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause.”

To Sgt. Ray Reynolds’ point, I believe there are some good things going on here. 25 million people no longer suffer under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. For a real glimpse into what that was like read the first third of Kenneth Pollack’s book, The Threatening Storm. The Iraqi people are already enjoying new found freedoms that they did not have under Saddam Hussein. They realize that they are free to speak out against the ruling leaders and are doing so regularly. Witness those protesting United States presence. How many Iraqis do you suppose were willing to speak out against Saddam Hussein? There were many but none of them lived in Iraq.

For those interested in tracking the positive progress made in Iraq USAID publishes weekly reports. Reading this week’s report, number 42, I would like to comment on one particular item. The re-opening of Umm Qasr. The port of Umm Qasr, the waterways leading to Umm Qasr and the oil terminals in the Northern Arabian Gulf waters off the coast are all currently protected by Coalition Warships. I was on the oil terminals when the port of Umm Qasr was reopened. I was able to see the increase in the number of cargo vessels taking goods into Iraq through the port of Umm Qasr. This article talks about what it was like in this region at the beginning of the war.

Coalition forces currently provide the protection to ensure that the oil terminals stay open. This is Iraq’s primary means of delivering the oil it sells. Selling oil is fundamental to the Iraqi economy. Coalition forces also keep the waterways leading to Umm Qasr open and free of piracy. One anecdote. While I was on KAAOT, one of the oil terminals, an Iraqi worker on the platform complained of severe stomach pain. Our corpsman took a look at him and decided that he was probably suffering from appendicitis. The military team on the platform and the ships around the platform sounded the call to action. Although seas were very rough and it was already dark, a British ship put a RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) in the water to make its way over to our terminal. The ill man was by now in so much pain he could not walk. Sailors and Iraqi workers together carried him, first to the ladder which led to where the boats usually tie up. It was decided that the patient would never be able to negotiate the ladder. The Iraqi workers suggested putting the patient in a motor boat that was on davits. The boat would then be lowered to the water where the patient could then be transfer to the RHIB. The RHIB was notified and the patient was carried to the boat davit. It was no easy going on the ocean that night. The seas were rough and it was dark. The RHIB had difficulty holding position long enough to get the patient transferred. Once transferred the boat pulled away and then returned. The coxswain insisted on including two of the patient’s friends for the transfer to the ship and its medical services. The two friends turned out to be critical in helping the patient remain calm in the very foreign environment.

The patient was stabilized and made comfortable on board the ship while a helo was called in to effect a med-evac. The patient was flown off the ship that night. The corpsman stayed with the patient all the way to the hospital not leaving his side until the patient was on his way into surgery. There were a number of heros that night. I suspect there are a lot of similar stories from all over Iraq. I’ve heard quite a few talking to the guys coming out of Iraq. You’ve got to wonder why the media can’t find these stories.