No joke. So despairing is he of the gap between what he’s seeing on the ground versus what he’s seeing in the papers, especially in Basra, that he’s offering his reports and photos to the National Newspaper Association at no charge. But he needs your help, in two ways:

Using the lessons learned from “Bless the Beasts,” it probably won’t be enough just to make the news I am reporting available to NNA-member publications at no cost. There may need to be a little irritating sand in order to get a pearl out of this oyster…

[R]eaders can first check to see if their local paper is a member of the NNA… If their local paper is a member of NNA, readers can contact the editor, urging their participation. [If Bob Owens’ experience is a reliable indicator, this might take several, uh, prompts.] By encouraging their local daily or weekly newspapers to reprint these dispatches in their print editions, more people without internet access can begin to see a more accurate reflection of the progress I have observed and chronicled in dispatches like “Achievements of the Heart,” “7 Rules: 1 Oath,” “The Hands of God,” and “Three Marks on the Horizon.”

He’s also planning to pay for his dispatches to be translated into 17 languages. Why do that?

As I travel around the world, I see that even many of our close allies have a false impression of American soldiers as brutally oppressive towards people. Even our great friends in Singapore and the United Kingdom, and the pro-American people on the island of Bali, Indonesia, think we are savaging people. This loss of moral leadership will be costly to Americans on many fronts for many generations to come…

We represent only about 5% of the world population. What those other nineteen people think about America is truly very important to each one of us. We cannot afford to let the media around the world continue promulgating so many recycled misconceptions about our soldiers and the character of our nation.

Which brings us to his second request: in order to pay for all this, he figures he’ll need $100,000 in donations. WaPo is reporting this morning that Petraeus is planning to shift his focus soon from Al Qaeda in Iraq to the Shiite militias — including, somewhat ominously, an initiative towards “political accommodation” — all of which will bear most heavily on Baghdad and Basra, where Yon’s been spending most of his time lately. If you’re willing and able to help keep him going, here’s his PayPal.