Saturday, January 08, 2005

What you probably didn't hear

LTG Metz gave a press conference here in Baghdad two days ago, and the main story I saw on it was a NYTimes piece brilliantly titled, "Some Iraq Areas Unsafe for Vote, U.S. General Says," based on his comment that 14 of 18 provinces are prepared for elections.

Not surprisingly, the Times flipped the script, using a bar graph with the story to imply that the populations of the 4 provinces that LTG Metz said he is focusing his attention on would be unable to vote.

The real story is more like this:

The 4 troubled provinces' population is close to half of the country's population - true.

These provinces are in complete chaos and the inhabitants will be unable to vote - false.

Anyway, here are some clips from his opening comments that probably didn't make the 6 o'clock: (you can read the transcript here)

The free nations whose service members comprise the Multinational Corps-Iraq have a deeply held belief in self-determination, representative government and individual freedom. We stand by the Iraqi people in full support of their efforts to establish a peaceful, secure and prosperous Iraq via these elections, which will establish a body of Iraqis to write the Iraqi constitution. As partners, we refuse to be intimidated by the thugs intent on advancing their selfish, oppressive intent through terror, destruction, intimidation and murder. This tiny minority of thugs has only their selfish interest in mind instead of the interests of the Iraqi people. They are growing weaker, and the Iraqi people's fierce determination ensures that the thugs will not succeed.

As I have said before, I am certain that the vast majority of Iraqis do not support the thugs and terrorists. This insurgency is not a popular one, because the anti-Iraqi forces, former regime elements, terrorists and criminals offer the Iraqi people nothing but brutal repression, just like Saddam. Brutal intimidation is one of the only tools left in their arsenal, and murder, kidnapping and torture are not tools of a popular movement.

I believe Iraq has -- I believe Iraqis look forward to upcoming elections as a major milestone in bringing peace, security and prosperity to this great country. Each vote is a vote against the insurgency, and I am very optimistic as I look forward to Iraq's future.

Although we have seen a downturn in the anti-Iraqi forces' activities since the end of Ramadan, I expect an increase in violence as the elections approach. I expect the thugs and terrorists to make every effort to stop the elections by targeting candidates and polling sites, and by attempting to intimidate the Iraqi people. These attempts show that the enemy of Iraq are (sic) working only to squander Iraq's potential, hinder reconstruction and withhold freedom from the people of Iraq. However, the insurgents are destined to failure, and freedom will prevail.