Spirit of America Update
Just received this email,
Over the last several days all the remaining gear that – with your help – we donated to the Marines for 7 Iraqi TV stations has arrived at Camp Blue Diamond – the Marines Division Headquarters in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
Below is an update email from LtCol John Lutkenhouse. You’ll find more photos that he sent from Iraq here:
While – like you – I am eager to hear these stations are up and running, it’s important to keep in mind that all the gear is going into a war zone. The security situation changes unpredictably and plans change. Thus, I’d expect some delay. There may be even bad news. It’s a war of ideas there as much as an armed conflict. Those fighting against us understand the danger that these stations (and free, unintimidated media) present to their agenda. One can assume they will resist them at some point. These are my thoughts. I’m not speaking for the Marines. I hope I’m wrong.
On a different note, you’ll be hearing from us more frequently in the next few weeks. We are preparing to launch a national campaign that – for internal purposes – we are referring to as “Spirit of America Full Throttle.” This campaign will have high goals for participation by many more Americans in support of winning the peace in Iraq (I should note that we have received donations from the UK, Spain, France, Canada and Australia, too).
Our view has been that the tremendous support you (more than 8,000 donors) provided recently to this TV initiative and other requests was scratching the surface of the desire that’s out there to support the mission of a free and peaceful Iraq. Our intention with SoA Full Throttle is to scratch the surface a lot harder. We’ll have specific ways that you can help out.
As part of Full Throttle, we will have SoA representatives in Iraq. For starters they will be embedded with the Marines in Al Anbar Province. I’ll be going to Iraq to meet with the Marines to get this new phase established. More on that later.
Lastly, we have received a request originating from Major General Jim Mattis of the 1st Marine Division for 1,000 sewing machines to help Iraqi women earn a better living. This request is the kind of thing that can have an immediate impact on improving the conditions and aspirations of people in Iraq. More on that later, too.
All the best,
Jim Hake and Spirit of America Team
There’s an article here: Marines prepare to distribute gear for unbiased Iraqi media. Lt.Col. Lutkenhouse’s message read,
As far as next steps, we are coordinating with Harris Corp (the folks who are providing the support to IMN) to send reps our way who can add their expertise as we travel out to the stations and distribute the gear. This would include two of their engineers and an IMN cameraman who will document our visits and report on the Spirit of America equipment we donate. We will also use some of the equipment for the local AM radio station that we are moving onto our camp from an outlying base. We will be integrating our efforts with Harris Corp’s strategic plan in order to make sure we give the right type of equipment to the right sites (i.e. avoid giving video production equipment to a TV station that is not designated as a production site). Keeping in mind the required combat assets to get around our AO, as it looks right now we should able to hit all of the stations within the next 2-3 weeks. In conjunction with this, we will continue to engage the media leadership in Al Anbar (station managers, etc) in order to build relationships that will foster trust and cooperation. In fact, we are even exploring mentoring programs to help these broadcasters think and operate as independent news organizations/media enterprises. Case in point, one of the things we are finding is that their reporters don’t really know how to be reporters (ask questions, think critically, and dig for the truth). As you well know, one of the legacies of the former regime is the pervasive fear that effects the decisions of Iraqis in all walks of life.
As such, we are taking ‘baby steps’ to encourage both media professionals and local governments (town councils) to see the benefits of getting information to the public, to be seen making decisions in council, and to develop the instincts of an open society.
The end state here is to give the Iraqis in Al Anbar an open and independent broadcast media that will present the truth and serve as an alternative to the biased reporting from the likes of Al Jazeera. At the same time, this will also gain us access to the airwaves across our entire zone in order to help ensure that our message gets out. I will keep you and the folks back home posted as we move forward.
Thanks again to you and to the donors who are generously supporting our efforts.
This is great news. Now I’m particularly interested in the upcoming sewing machines project. More on that as it develops. In the meantime, Belmont Club has a very interesting article on News Coverage as a Weapon.