Monday, May 28, 2007

Good News on Memorial Day

Michael Yon : Online Magazine » Blog Archive » A Memorial Day Message

Long-time readers know that I deliver bad news with the good. I was first to write that parts of Iraq were in civil war back in February 2005, well over a year before mainstream outlets started reporting the same. I was also the first to report, back in 2005, that Mosul was making a turn for the better. Mainstream outlets hardly picked up on that story, however, although the turn was easy to see for anyone who was there. When I returned from Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, after writing about the growing threat of a resurgent Taliban, bankrolled with profits from the heroin trade, I wrote that parts of our own military were censoring media in Iraq. The recent skirmishing over blogging from Iraq supports that contention. These reminders are for new readers who do not believe that a province that most media outlets had put at the top of the “hopelessly lost” column is actually turning a corner for the better.

Although there is sharp fighting in Diyala Province, and Baghdad remains a battleground, and the enemy is trying to undermine security in areas they’d lost interest in, the fact is that the security plan, or so-called “surge,” is showing clear signs of progress. The city of Hit, for instance. Only about a hundred days ago, Hit was a city at war. Today, the buildings are still riddled with bullet holes, but the Iraqi people are opening shops and painting over the scars. They are waving and smiling while hundreds of men are volunteering to join the police. I saw a “policeman” on duty today whose “weapon” was a plastic pistol. I photographed the toy. And so this man was on “duty” with a toy pistol, though he has not yet attended the police academy and is not even being paid. A writer could probably squeeze bad news from that story, but I won’t try. In fact, Hit is a place where writers who wish to escape combat and bad news should visit.

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