Mona Charen

 Fallujah, of course, was different, as the city was a hotbed of terrorism, and the battle of Fallujah was one of the fiercest engagements of the war. During the battle, Bowers found himself sharing a ride with an embedded reporter for the AP. He was asked what he thought of the destruction. Bowers responded that it was "Incredible, overwhelming. But it definitely had to be done." He also stressed that because the enemy had fought so dirty, tough calls had to be made. Later, he saw himself quoted in newspapers around the country to the effect that the destruction was "overwhelming" as if he could not cope. He had also made some anodyne remarks about rebuilding the damaged areas of the city, and responded "Where to begin?" when asked about the plans. He was speaking of the water treatment plants, medical facilities, and schools American forces were about to help build, but his comments were offered as evidence of the futility of the situation -- the very opposite of this eager Marine's intent.

 There was plenty of progress to report, if the press had been interested. When the battle of Fallujah was over, the Marines set up a humanitarian relief station in an abandoned amusement park. Together with Iraqis locally hired and trained for the purpose and with an assist from the Iraqi ministry of the interior, they distributed rice, flour, medical supplies, baby formula, and other necessities to thousands of Iraqis. For six weeks, Bowers reports, the distribution went beautifully, "like a well-oiled machine." Not worth a story, apparently. Only when something went wrong did the press see something worth reporting. A small group of Iraqis were turned away from the food distribution point, though they had been waiting in line for hours. They were given vouchers and told they could come to the front of the line the next morning when supplies would be replenished. These few unhappy souls were then besieged by press types eager to tell their story.

 At the same site, the Marines had repaired an old Ferris wheel. The motor was dead, but when two Marines pushed and pulled by hand they could get the thing turning to give rides to the children of the Iraqi employees. They did so for hours on end. A photographer from a large American media company watched impassively. "Why don't you take a picture of this?" demanded one Marine. The photographer snorted, "That's not my job."


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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