October 21, 2005
The Major's Disappointment
Army Maj. Steven
Warren, 39, is not happy, because he believes the media are painting
an inaccurate picture of what's happening in Iraq. In a call arranged
by the Florida-based Central Command of U.S. forces in Iraq, Warren
spoke from Diyala province in the Sunni Triangle, where he has been
stationed since January.
walk into the mess hall every day," he told me. He watches
American TV news reports from Iraq, "and I ask myself, 'Where
Warren saw a cable TV story on what the reporter called a fierce
firefight in Diyala province. Warren believes the reporter got
it all wrong. An IED (improvised explosive device) had gone off
near Iraqi troops. Whenever that happens, "the first thing
the Iraqis do, they start pulling their triggers" and shooting
toward the wood line, he said.
a fierce firefight; it's not even a firefight, Warren tells me,
because a firefight requires that two sides shoot at each other.
the bad news stories. Warren wants Americans to read some good
news, too. A translator with his outfit began monitoring a local
talk-radio show, "Good morning, Orange City." Callers
complained bitterly about U.S. troops and Iraqi police. Locals
also complained about the trash in Baquba, and that resonated
with U.S. troops, who were drilled from boot camp to appreciate
"clean and tidy."
"We came up with the idea" of cleaning up the town.
They got garbage trucks, hired trash collectors. The city is cleaner.
Iraqis are seeing a future, and now their biggest complaint on
"Good Morning, Orange City" is unemployment.
15, as Iraqis voted on their constitution, "I saw a lot of
people walking around with purple fingers," Warren said.
This is big, because the voter turnout in the Sunni-rich Diyala
province doubled, from 34 percent in January to 65 percent this
month. Voters came out, Warren believes, because it was safer
to vote, but also because many Sunnis who boycotted the Jan. 30
elections later realized "they missed the boat, they got
14, Warren said: "I wasn't too concerned one way or the other
if (the proposed constitution) passed. I'm not sure it's the best
constitution that's ever been written." Now, Warren hopes,
the new constitution and Sunni participation "will take a
little wind out of the sails of the insurgency."
are cleaner. Talk-radio callers are grousing about schools and
unemployment. There's shopping and greenery by the two rivers.
Despite all the bad news, a visitor to Warren's territory would
look around, he said, and say, "Wow, this place really has
2005 Creators Syndicate