This article presents Representative Hoekstras version of what is happening in Iraq and nothing else. No other perspectives or opinions are included in the piece, nor is any attempt by the reporter made to provide additional information either refuting or collaborating Hoekstras claims. The article is about 600 words of which 250 are direct quotes from Hoekstra, a very high percentage compared to most GR Press articles. This article, by including so many direct quotes without presenting any other perspectives or verifying information is basically stenography, not journalism. This trend of only reporting government and military voices is not uncommon. GRIID has documented that the local media rely almost exclusively on “official” voices when reporting on war.
The first quote from Hoekstra is “If we just leave Iraq without getting the job done, our credibility in the Middle East will be shot and we will leave a haven for terrorists.” No where does he clarify what would constitute the job being done or what exactly he means by credibility. Hoekstra goes on to say that the said Iraqi insurgents “want a civil war. That is the ultimate chaos. That is a good environment for them and a bad environment for us.” Again, this claim is not verified nor does the reporter ask if this is possibly a simplistic explanation of what the various insurgent groups operating in Iraq want. Further in the article Hoekstra makes two statements that are linked together in the article: “These are people who remember the Crusades,” “And they are just learning the art of politics. Again, the meaning of this statement is probably unclear to most readers and deserves some clarification. Viewers should ask themselves, if reporters asked these kinds of critical questions to people in positions of power, how would that change or clarify peoples understanding of the war in Iraq?
Credibility at stake in Iraq, Hoekstra says
Friday, August 26, 2005
By Myron Kukla
The Grand Rapids Press
HOLLAND — The United States needs to get the job done in Iraq and leave a stable government there before it pulls out its troops, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra told Holland Rotarians Thursday.
“If we just leave Iraq without getting the job done, our credibility in the Middle East will be shot and we will leave a haven for terrorists,” said Hoekstra, who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee recently returned from a tour of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
The Holland Republican said the United States and Iraqi leaders are making progress toward a stable country, but face fierce opposition from insurgents.
“The insurgents will do everything and anything they can to stop the process of an elected government and constitution there,” he said.
“They know that once there is a legitimate government in Iraq, their support will be undermined.”
He said Iraqi insurgents “want a civil war. That is the ultimate chaos. That is a good environment for them and a bad environment for us.”
Between 800 and 1,000 Iraqis are being killed every month, but most Iraqis continue to show they are willing to make democracy work, he said.
“You’re seeing young Iraqis 18 to 25 years old signing up for the police, signing up for the armed forces, knowing that just the mere fact of signing up makes them targets” of insurgents’ attacks, said Hoekstra, who has been to Iraq six times since the war started.
He said despite mounting U.S. casualties, morale is good among military troops.
“They understand the need for us to be successful there to help create stability in the Middle East,” he said.
Crucial to that strategy for success is developing a strong, well-trained military and police force. The United States is working with and training 175,000 Iraqi military personnel to take over the protection of the country.
If that falls into place, Hoekstra believes U.S. troops could start coming home by next summer. But there are no guarantees, and nothing is easy about the process.
Hoekstra said the job of reconstructing Iraq would have been easier if the Iraqi army had not been disbanded.
“We are paying for that mistake today,” Hoekstra said.
“They were not loyal to Saddam Hussein, and when we disbanded the army, all we did was take away the paycheck that fed their dependents and put a guy with military training and a gun on the streets,” he said.
The biggest hurdle to progress on Iraq’s constitution is getting factions that have been enemies for generations to work together.
“These are people who remember the Crusades,” Hoekstra said. “And they are just learning the art of politics.
“They are great at brinksmanship, where they take things to the edge, but have to learn when to take a step back, discuss things and come to a compromise,” he said.
While the focus has been on Iraq for the past three years, Hoekstra said other major issues that need to be addressed by the United States, including making its borders secure against terrorists.
“One thing we need to do is enforce our immigration laws,” said Hoekstra, noting there are now between 8 million and 10 million illegal aliens living in the country. “If they are illegally here, they have to go home.”
Rotarian Dave Shellenbarger said he felt Hoekstra was very straightforward in his comments.
“He is very candid and shares what he thinks without being real political,” said Shellenbarger, who agreed with Hoekstra’s assessment that the job of creating a stable government in Iraq must be finished before U.S. troops leave.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.