Monday, May 11, 2009

Plan for your PR, Pelosi

As we approach eight years of war, too many military families are quietly coming apart at the seams. The public hears the most dramatic stories and statistics -- soldiers killing their wives, themselves, each other. Less well known are the effects that prolonged war and multiple deployments have had on our daily lives. As the wife of a commander of a battalion that deployed last year, I know that many of us feel embittered, powerless and disconnected from the Army in which we and our husbands serve.
The blogosphere provides a sense of the many families coping with health issues and the less tangible effects of war and military life, including how marginalized many feel. "Spare me the rah rah party line about how much the Army is doing for the soldiers once they come home," wrote one wife whose husband had suffered a traumatic brain injury. "[T]hey don't do even half of what they should to provide adequate treatment for soldiers coming back from deployment." Wrote another wife: "We are outsiders living inside an institution that doesn't want to see or hear us. . . . You don't have to wear a uniform to be wounded by these wars, but no one outside of those of us impacted seem[s] to know this."
Dishearteningly, the response from Army and Defense Department leaders has been haphazard, sluggish and widely ineffective.

The above is from Kristina Kaufmann's "Army Families Under Fire" (Washington Post) which is probably the only must read in the paper's this morning. Last night, we noted US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US House Rep Rush Holt visit to Iraq and there's not a great deal you can say about it though many try. In the New York Times, Campbell Roberston covers it with "Pelosi Meets With Iraq Leaders in a Surprise Visit to the Country" (A8 in the national edition). Online a version of the article appears with Timothy Williams added to the byline and an opening about the Kurdistan region being allowed to sale oil (only thep hoto of Pelosi with Ayad al-Sammaraie runs in the paper, a Reuters photo by Saad Shalash, the other photo online does not appear in the paper). Jack Dolan covers it for McClatchy here. Anthony Shadid and Nada Barki cover it for the Washington Post and probably do the strongest job (including when you factor in AP) because they've got some perspective and context. We'll note this section:

Pelosi was careful not to signal any long-term military commitment in Iraq, saying the United States intends to "help economically and culturally."
She expressed hope that "all of this struggle will be worth it in the end." But she warned against thinking "there's a guarantee there might not be some continued violence."

And we'll also note that when the Trade Minister's brother got arrested depends upon which outlet you read this morning. (We'll stick with Saturday based on the BBC.) Actually, we'll point out one more thing: Pelosi and Holt wanted publicity for their visit. They bungled it. Neither features photos on their website. By the time their offices get around to posting photos, the news cycle will have moved on. (And with Pelosi, it's two websites. Her Congressional one and her Speaker website.) It was really dumb to have made a visit like that and not been prepared ahead of time to ensure that you got the publicity you wanted. (And the trip was pure PR.)

Dropping back to Sunday's New York Times, Sam Dagher's "Arrest of Ex-Militant Who Switched Sides Shows Iraqi Reconciliation Pitfalls" (A12 in the national edition) addressed the continuing targeting of the Sahwa members. Mullah Nadhim al-Jubouri was arrested on May 2nd along with two brothers and charged with terrorism. He tells the paper, "Arresting Awakeing leaders at this juncture is a very big mistake that created a security void." Most important line in the article: "The Awakening members in Dhuluiya will get their last paychecks from the American military this month, after which the government is supposed to take over, according to Mr. Jubouri's deputy, Mohammed, who also goes by the same tribal last name." It's the same old song . . . And I'm remembering all the nasty e-mails that came in here, specifically from two news outlets, insisting we were wrong and they were right, that all Sahwa were paid by al-Maliki in April. I won't hold my breath awaiting news that they've e-mailed again to say, "Woops!"

On not being in the mood yesterday, Mike's already called and you can read his site tonight. He's going to write about some of the issues during the latest edition and my problem was and is, if people are preparing a report and we need to do a rollout, we do one. There was a short feature that was either completed or would have taken two seconds to complete that got killed and may run next week but it is part of a rollout for a feature Dona, Jess, Isaiah and Dallas will be writing next month. It's also part of a new focus we'll be doing at Third. I'm not mad at anyone (including Jim) but I did think it was incredibly rude to have had Isaiah participating ALL NIGHT during the writing edition when the only reason he was participating was for the feature that got killed. (Isaiah asked that his name not be listed in Jim's note to the readers, lest anyone think he's been forgotten.) On Ava and my end, we were talking to friends working on Fringe when they mentioned something that we worked into one sentence and did so because it was part of what we thought was the rollout for the upcoming article and for part of Third's new focus. It's a funny line so it's fine that's it's still in there but it was supposed to be part of a focus that didn't happen. Mike'll go into this at length tonight. He didn't ask (maybe because he knew) so I'll note this here. We're going through next November. We may go past that, but we made the decision to go through November. Elaine, Ava and I want to bail, we're tired of it. Others wanted to continue so we'll do another six months or so. My one request was that, for Third, we think of one thing we're not doing that we could be doing to make it worth six more months. I tossed that out two weeks ago and Dona, Ty and Jess came up with an emphasis which I think is a good one (and has been hugely popular the other times we've accidentally stumbled upon it). That new thing being brought in is part of the story Dona, Jess, Dallas and Isaiah will be doing. And three of them will have to fly somewhere for this story. I think it's an interesting story, I think it's a new element, I'm looking foward to seeing the photos and reading the copy. This paragraph covers Third's writing edition so I'm tossing out links for all (copying and pasting from Jim's note):

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

Back to the Sunday New York Times, Tamar Lewin's "Drafted at 19, Opposing Military Recruiters at 61" ran on A19 of the national edition and dealt with Miles Wooley who teaches at Southwest Miami High School, a veteran of Vietnam, and someone who opposed to the campus military recruitment going on, "I love my school and my students, and in a way they've become my children, so the intensity of recruitment struck me as wrong. I recognize the need for a national defense, but high school students are too young and unformed to really question what they're being told, and it feels to me like exploitation."

Remember Steven D. Green faces his sentencing hearing today. The defense is planning a sob-fest.

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