Local councilman served as senior press advisor to US coalition
BY KATHY KAHN
To those who follow national and state politics closely, they know Stony Pointer Tom Basile is more than just a councilman on the Town Board. He has been in the federal, state and local arena for more than two decades and written a book about his experiences in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
“TOUGH SELL-Fighting the Media War in Iraq,” is the story of Basile’s experience as Senior Press Advisor to the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority while serving under former President George W. Bush. He spent seven months in Iraq during 2003-2004 dealing with the press corps.
“I started compiling notes in 2004,” said Basile. “By 2011, when former President Obama decided to pull out of Iraq, I was prompted to put those notes together and into book form, knowing the action on Obama’s part would have a negative impact on the people of Iraq.
“Even more than that, as time had gone on,” continued Basile, “it became increasingly clear the heroic work of so many military and civilian Americans that had been accomplished, particularly in that first critical year, was lost in media bias. The media waved the ‘mission accomplished’ banner while Pres. George Bush countered that it was clearly a ‘generational conflict centering on radical Islamic terrorism.’”
From Basile’s point of view, the real war on terror was far from over when American and foreign media said the U.S. was getting out of Iraq. The Stony Point councilman says Americans need to change their perception on what war has become since the introduction of the World Wide Web.
“We think of a ‘real’ war as World War II, one country invading another and taking over. The War on Terrorism is more of a ‘Cold War’—i.e., communism –v- democracy –bolstered by enhanced technology in a post-September 11 world, enabling terror cells to embed and recruit in almost every country–these are the new challenges we face; from a communications standpoint, if you allow critics to drive the information and allow journalists to skew the facts, you’re not going to be able as a government to effectively maintain and execute policy.”
Basile put the facts, along with his emotional and personal feelings, into his first book. “Any failures or challenges should not be permitted to diminish the fact there were thousands of ordinary Americans who did extraordinary things in the Middle East. I felt so privileged to work alongside our military and Iraqis who fought every day for a better future for their country. Saddam was spending $1 a year for a child’s health, while he and the elitists in the Ba’ath regime enjoyed the best of everything, using even essential services as a weapon to oppress the Iraqi people.”
He also felt frustrated by both Democrats and his own Republican Party running against Obama in 2008 for all running away from the mission so quickly. “No country wants to be occupied, nor does any democratic country want to be occupiers,” said Basile.
While those leaning left may find Basile’s book too complimentary of America’s policy in Iraq, Americans have shown their displeasure with Washington and its inability to get things right the first time by bucking the status quo and voting for President Donald Trump. “People lack confidence in print and broadcast journalism and they question what they read on line as well. We need honest discussion about policy and far more fact-based debate.”
“Tough Sell-Fighting the Media War in Iraq,” with a forward by Ambassador John R. Bolton, is available on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle edition, as well as Barnes & Noble. Basile said his story of his Iraq experience, the good and the bad, will soon be on more bookshelves after hitting #1 on multiple Amazon bestseller lists.
Tom Basile plans to speak on his first book at the Rose Memorial Library in Stony Point in the near future. For those who’d like to hear the side of the Iraq conflict they didn’t read in the news or see on TV, it should be an enlightening look into a fellow Rocklander’s experience with the media, mishandling of information and a look at the mindset of radical Islamic State terrorists.
To read the book’s review, visit www.forewardreviews.com/reviews/tough-sell/