April 5, 2004

A WHILE BACK, I linked to an account by Iraqi blogger Zeyad of serious misconduct by U.S. forces in Iraq. (Original post here, later roundup here). Now there’s a report in the Washington Post that the battalion commander has been punished for impeding the investigation. It’s still unclear what really happened, and why, though.

More from The Mudville Gazette and from Andrew Olmsted, who has some pithy comments on how to run an occupation:

As we all should know well by now, one of the keys to our success in Iraq will be whether or not we can get the Iraqis on our side of the fight. There are many ways to do this, but forcing Iraqis to jump into the Tigris River, possibly drowning one of them, isn’t one of them.

I’ll note that I got some criticism for publicizing Zeyad’s account, and for saying that I trusted him, from people who thought I was being duped. And, of course, I could have been wrong. But although the facts aren’t clearly established yet, it seems clear that Zeyad’s report was largely correct.

This leads to a bigger point on the Iraq reporting. Neither I, nor, I think, anyone who wants the Iraq effort to succeed, wants the press only to report good news. This is bad news, and it deserves to be reported. In fact, it needs to be reported, because it’s only by finding out what’s wrong that we have a chance to fix it. It’s the cheap-shot faux-bad news, the lazy hotel-bar reporting, etc., that I object to. If a Western journalist had dug out this story, it would have been good journalism.

Instead, of course, they were scooped yet again by an Iraqi dental student. To some degree this is a tribute to Zeyad’s native talent at journalism, but it’s also something of a rebuke to the foreign press corps in Iraq.

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