Note: Also available at the "Opinion Journal" and Winds of Change. A traditional warm thank you to James Taranto and Joe Katzman for their support for the "Good news" project, and to all of you who are reading it, blogging about it, and cluttering up your friends' inboxes with a link to it.
Marine Cpl. Isaac D. Pacheco of Northern Kentucky enlisted in the Marines on September 12, 2001, and has been serving in Iraq at the Combined Press Information Center. Recently he wrote this for his local newspaper:
It has been a mission of this fortnightly column, now in its nineteenth edition, to bring to readers' attention all that "gets overlooked if not ignored" in Iraq: the advancements of the political and civil society, the rebirth of freedom, economic growth and reconstruction progress, generosity of foreigners and positive role played by the Coalition troops in rebuilding the country, and unremarked upon security successes. Contrary to some critics, the intention has never been to whitewash the situation in Iraq or to downplay the negative; the violence, bloodshed, disappointments and frustrations are all there for everyone to see and read about in the mainstream media on a daily basis. But to point out positive developments is not to deny the bad news, merely to provide a more complete picture. As voters faced with the defining foreign policy issue of the new millennium we owe it to ourselves to be fully informed about the state of affairs in Iraq. And that means both the car bombs and rebuilt hospitals.
"Something struck me as odd this fall as I watched a U.S. satellite news broadcast here in my Baghdad office. Something just didn't seem right. There was the usual tug-of-war between presidential candidates, a story about the Boston Red Sox and a blurb about another explosion in Iraq. The latter story showed the expected images of smoke and debris and people frantically running for cover - images that have become the accepted norm in the minds of many Americans thanks, or should I say no thanks, to the media."
There were no smiling soldiers, no mention of rebuilding efforts, no heartwarming stories about honor and sacrifice. I could swear I've seen that 'stuff' here."
I've become somewhat callused to this kind of seesaw reporting because every day I work with the news agencies that manufacture it. However, many service members shake their heads in frustration each time they see their daily rebuilding efforts ignored by the media in favor of the more 'sensational' car bomb and rocket attack stories. Not to say that tragedies don't happen - Iraq is a war zone - but there is so much more happening that gets overlooked if not ignored."
Below is not the full picture of Iraq - merely that part of it you don't often see on the nightly news or the pages of newspapers. This does not automatically make it more - or less important in the scheme of things, merely equally important to consider.