And darned if some of us don't seem to be trying, with all the bad news that fits to print.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld had a great observation this week that I'm sure you've seen in all major media; here from Donna Miles at American Forces Press Service via Defense Link:
Sept. 30, 2005 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pointed to this week's open congressional hearings involving the two top generals in Iraq as an opportunity for the world to watch democracy in action. Had the tides been turned, he said, terrorists would have had some "awkward" explanations to make....
"If they were called to account for the state of their strategy, consider what might have been asked of them," Rumsfeld said. He proposed several lines of questioning, including:
- Why did they fail to stop millions of Afghans and Iraqis from voting in free elections?
- Why had Iraqi Sunnis, natural allies of the insurgents, decided, "albeit belatedly, to energetically embrace the political process, registering (to vote) in large numbers?"
- Why had the terrorists failed to prevent nearly 200,000 Iraqis and 75,000 Afghans from joining their countries' security forces despite efforts to prevent them from doing so?
- And why had the vast majority of Afghans and Iraqis "rejected the terrorists' twisted ideology" to support efforts to build new societies?
Rumsfeld acknowledged that line of questioning "could be awkward," because "by every one of those measurements, the enemy is losing."
It's really too bad that mainstream media, definitely including the Washington Post, doesn't focus much on these or many other measures that suggest an alternative to the beloved quagmire. That's bad enough, but twisting middling-to-good news about military recruiting into an ominous foreshadowing of worse things to come, well, I guess that's how you know you're in a modern American newsroom. Holly Aho at Mudville Gazette points to Big Lizards Blog where Daffyd ab Hugh demolishes a story by Robert Burns with the hed Army Faces Biggest Recruiting Slump In Years. Holly's good summary:
I was going to say something about this today, but another blogger beat me to the punch with such an awesome post that I'll just give you the link to his post. I'm talking about the headlines in the AP today that say, "Army Faces Worst Recruiting Slump in Years".
What the AP chose to ignore is that the Air Force, Marines and Navy had over 100% (101%, 102%...) recruitment, and only the Army fell short...by about .7% of its intended goals to ENLARGE the army. They didn't shrink - just fell a little short of the goals to have more members than last year.
Read the Big Lizards Blog post and you too will walk away shaking your head at our media.
Hey, watch that "our media" business; as far as I'm concerned they're on their own. Daffyd:
So we wanted 80,000 recruits but fell 7,000 short. That's 8.75% short of what we wanted -- or a shortfall of 0.7% of total Army members. In other words, we recruited enough to reach 99.3% of what we hoped to gain. Since we are trying to increase the number of troops, that 99.3% figure means we likely at least achieved replacement levels: in other words, the "recruiting slump" means that, while we didn't gain as many additional soldiers as we wanted, we probably at least broke even and didn't actually lose men. And this in the midst of a war that appears, at least if you get your news from the News, to be dragging on and on.
Is it just me? Or is this not a bad result at all? In fact, it seems pretty good... especially when you consider that the entire shortfall occurred in the early part of the year; for the last four months, Army recruiters actually exceeded their goals...
Daffyd adds that re-enlistments are high in units serving in Iraq, something noted widely around the right side of the blogosphere:
So let's review the betting: among people who have never been in the service, and who therefore probably get nearly all their knowledge of the military from news and entertainment shows on TV and in the movies, recruitment is slightly down from expectations, though probably enough to maintain the level of troops we have now.
But among soldiers who have actually fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who therefore know what is really happening on the ground from personal experience, re-enlistment rates were met. In fact, since the goal is to retain more people than normal (to meet the goal of increasing troop strength by 30,000 -- right?), it's safe to bet that the re-enlistment goals were higher than in previous years... which means there are more veteran troops in the Army than before, which would partially mitigate the lower numbers of raw recruits....
I hope I haven't added too much detail to distract from the main points: We're trying to grow the Army. And recruiters are signing up more candidates for the regular Army than they have in the past, and re-enlistments are strong. So what shall the AP highlight? But of course, we're falling slightly short of the new, higher recruiting goals. This is how it's done.
Maybe everybody in mainstream media is just too depressed about all the layoffs to see the bright side of life. And maybe the MSM ramparts wouldn't be buckling if they did a better job of telling us what's actually happening out there.