Thursday, September 22, 2005

The News Magazine of the Mysteries

Chester does a textual analysis of the Time article entitled Chasing the Ghosts and finds it larded with the following phrases:

"elusive and inexhaustible enemy"
"success" is "elusive"
"inexhaustible enemy emboldened by the US presence"
"gradual . . . erosion" in public support
"millions of Iraqis will vote on a constitution that threatens to further split the country"
"beleaguered US mission in Iraq"
"unwinnable military fight"
"series of failures"
"hardened local fighters"
"politically compromised outcome"
"dangers, dilemmas, and frustrations that still haunt the US in Iraq"
"temporary tactical gains"
"doubts about whether anything resembling victory can still be achieved"
"powerless to do anything" about atrocities
"intelligence suggests insurgents are displaying their mettle"
"This enemy is not a rabble."
"fierce resistance"
"shaken US officer"
"troops . . . embittered"
"momentum lost"
"insurgents proving so resiliant"

It's possible that the author, Michael Ware, has a certain point of view and he is certainly entitled to it. The problem I had, reading it, was with the who, what, where, when of the narrative. What really happened at Tal-Afar? Let's consider the battlefield metric of casualties. How many enemy troops died? Ware's answer is found in two places, suggestive, atmospheric and devoid of particulars.

Two weeks after the start of the offensive, the military claimed more than 200 insurgents killed.

then later

Only one blackened corpse, left rotting for days, is found. "They've even removed their dead," said a Green Beret, not really believing it himself.

The impression conveyed is that US casualties were much heavier. We almost come to know each and every one.

Eight Delta men are wounded, two so seriously that an AC-130 Spectre gunship has to give a medevac covering fire to get the wounded to a combat-hospital operating theater in time to save them. Elsewhere, an improvised explosive device detonates under a Bradley fighting vehicle, blowing off its lid and killing a young medic who, though based in the rear, had volunteered to enter the fighting fray. A few feet forward, the toll would have been worse, killing the Bradley commander and his gunner. "This is a war of inches," says a shaken U.S. officer.

And although Ware does not adopt a categorical estimate of casualties on either side, his account if used by historians of the far future to reconstruct the Battle of Tal-Afar would probably lead to something like this:

Two groups of men fought in a place called Tal-Afar about 3,532 years ago. One group of men, called 'insurgents', soundly defeated another group called Americans, and their allies the Kurds, but for reasons unclear in the manuscript fragments, the insurgents evacuated the battlefield although they could hardly be pressed by the Americans, who were apparently a people who frequently cursed, yelled and ran from place to place in fear.

That is what Ware's dispatch conveys as an account, not as an opinion piece. However, if this other fragment were found it would immediately precipitate a crisis among future scholars trying to interpret its assertions in light of what the Ware story depicted. (Hat tip: DL)

-- fragment of manuscript starts

SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon, folks. As the country continues the challenging task of recovery from Hurricane Katrina, coalition forces continue to make inroads against the terrorists in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

On Sunday the people of Afghanistan voted in their second successful democratic election in less than one year. These were their provincial and parliamentary elections. Terrorists have done everything in their power to try to intimidate the millions of Afghan voters and the literally thousands, in this case of the most recent election, thousands of candidates from participating in their elections. And they failed this week, just as they failed in the successful presidential elections.

Think of it. The country that hosted Osama bin Laden, that supported training camps for al Qaeda, endured decades of civil war, Soviet occupation, drought, Taliban brutality, is now a democracy that fights terrorists instead of harboring them. The Afghan people's courage should be a stunning reminder to all of those seemingly self- confident prognosticators who foresaw an Afghan quagmire. They were not just wrong, they were harmful by making the cause seem hopeless. Let me remind you of just a few examples.

"The war effort is in deep trouble. The United States is not headed into a quagmire, it is already in one." That was The L.A. Times. That was five days before Mazar fell.

"The question was suspended like a spore in the autumn air: Are we quagmiring ourselves again?" That was The New York Times.

"Without a clear exit strategy, another generation of American servicemen may be sucked into a quagmire in a foreign land." That was, I think, the Dallas Morning News. And there were many, many others.

Thankfully, millions of Afghans were determined to prove them wrong. A determined coalition put a plan in place -- yes, there was a plan -- adjusted it as needed -- and it did need to be adjusted, as all war plans do -- and followed a steady course despite the cassandras of the West echoing the predictions of the terrorists. I mention this because many who were so quick to predict gloom on Afghanistan are today eager to toss it in on Iraq, claiming that it's hopeless. But the Iraqi people and the coalition have a plan for Iraq, just as there was a plan for Afghanistan.

Consider the following. Have the Iraqis been able to form a government that realistically incorporates the views of the various responsible factions in Iraq? Yes, they have. Have Iraqis successfully held representative elections? The answer is yes. Have they now succeeded in drafting a constitution that accords respect for individual rights? Indeed they have. Are the insurgents gaining or losing the support of the Iraqi people? President Talabani recently spoke in the United States about this. He noted that the vast majority of Iraqis, including Sunnis, want to participate in the political process and have been disgusted, and indeed, outraged by the barbarism of the extremists. Finally, despite the critics, are the Iraqi security forces growing in size and capability and allowing the Iraqi government to secure areas with coalition support? Yes, this too is happening. Iraqi security forces now number over 190,000.

Last week, for example, the people of Tall Afar were liberated from the grip of insurgents and foreign extremists who had tried to turn the city into a base of planning operations and training. A number of insurgents were caught fleeing the city dressed in women's clothing -- hardly a sign of a confident group supported by the citizenry.

-- fragment of manuscript ends

The only thing that will matter in the long run is not which opinion was better expressed, but which of these two stories was true.


Blogger Tony said...

Great post, Wretchard!

Thanks, I needed that.

Lately I've been engaging my friends to help me understand their fervent belief in the meme: "Swift Boat Liars." I plead with them to send me one lie form the SwiftVets, somehow they don't respond. Of course, they never read or listened to anything from the Swifties, so it's a tough question. Meanwhile, mainstream media uses the phrase "Swift Boat smear" as if they were talking about a proven fact of Nature, like Gravity.

It's not just the pathetic media lying, it's our weak-minded fellow citizens choosing ignorance.

"There are none so blind as they who will not see." -- J. Swift

9/22/2005 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

""The question was suspended like a spore in the autumn air: Are we quagmiring ourselves again?" That was The New York Times."
I missed that one:
Quagmiring ourselves.
Sounds almost pornographic
...but it is the very Grey Lady
On her last legs.

9/22/2005 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

Islamic Jihadist are our enemies; the MSM are their enablers and collaboratosr. Once upon a time enablers and collaborators were confronted but no longer, in the name of free speech and free press. It appears to me we have safeguarded the freedom to destroy ourselves.

9/22/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

22 days, and a wake up

The verbage used to describe the conflict in Iraq, is notinconsequential to actions on the ground. "Time" is, has been, off my reading list for years, except for online articles.

Just saw a powerful commercial on Fox about "Bush's Mistake". Mothers & Wifes of US dead. If the Admin does not create a counter narrative ... well, the mood will continue to shift anti war.

Especially after the October and December elections, in Iraq.

As I've said before, no matter the outcome, there will be enough accurate, negative news, for & about US, to spin a Jihadist Victory. The Time article W references is a prime example.

W speaks of "headhunting" and leadership decapitation as tactics against the Mohammedans.

Why not Osama?

9/22/2005 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Chester said...

W: - Thanks for the link!

9/22/2005 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Harrywr2 said...

"AC-130 Spectre gunship has to give a medevac covering fire"

Covering fire is a pretty euphemistic way to describe what happens when an AC-130 turns on it's guns.

9/22/2005 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger anybudee said...

This is the nature of the real war, the one that will be put out for consumption, as was said, 15 centuries from now. This war is for the continuance of american culture. Or, if you please, looking at the track Europe is on, of western civilization.

It will not matter how many insurgents are killed vs. allied troops if the war HERE is not won. Because those who win will write the history.

I wanna believe that the grey lady and her ilk are on the way out, but as long as the majority of Americans allow these people to frame the question there will never be a right answer.

9/22/2005 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Victoria said...

Wretchard: It is always amazing to me that people don't pay more attention to those DoD opening statements--they're filled with fascinating stuff. For what it's worth, I think that Rumsfeld's "plan...plan...plan...plan..plan" statement, and Myers' subsequent flower-strewing story were both in specific response to Kerry's miserable speech on Monday, in which he referred to Iraq as a "sideshow adventure." And that, of course, is what the AP reports on. It's maddening.

9/22/2005 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Let us not forget the predictions of the same news media prior to the start of Desert Storm in 1991. U.S. forces were "too high tech" and would be sucked into a massive bloodletting against teh simpler armed, bayyle harddened, deeply dug in troops of Saddam.
One report by an NBC reporter (one who I actually had the chance to converse with briefly when he called our office in The Building) described how much trouble the US Army was having disengaging from the defense of West Germany and redeploying to the middle east. The reason? "Too much high tech." He did not quite yawn when he said it.
The truth was far, far different. Our excessively high tech military ripped through the Iraqis like eggs through a hen. One British reporter on NPR descibed how he looked out the window of his hotel and saw a U.S. cruise missile fly down the street, turn the corner, and hit the Iraqi Air Force headquarters building. "I think the things can stop at traffic lights." he said wonderingly.
There were no mass cries of "Boy were we ever wrong!" or investigative reports on the clueness nature of the media. One reporter, Fred Reed, said that he noticed the hacks who had been spouting the "too much high tech" line did not leave the business but were switched to other subjects.
They're Back!

9/22/2005 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

These days i'm constantly in mind of one of those jokes popular in the dark days of the Soviet Union:
A guy goes to the doctor and asks him to check his eyesight. After checking, the doc tells him itsfine. so the guy then asks the doc to check his hearing. After checking, the doc reports that his hearing's fine too.
"S'funny," says the guy, "i keep hearing one thing and then seeing something completely different."

maybe dr sanity can tell us how much of this cognitive dissonance our society can take before we all go collectively round the bend?

9/22/2005 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/22/2005 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Yes, W. The truth eventually comes out. In the meantime, we have to deal with viral memes which could tip the balance here on the home front.

Tony highlighted the 'Swift Boat Liars,' which I've also heard dismissed conclusively as the 'debunked' Swift Boat Vets.

Same goes for the 'illegal' occupation, despite its endorsement in resolution form (IIRC) by -- all genuflect, now -- the UN.

The entire Iraq enterprise is confidently branded 'hopeless' and a 'disaster,' despite the booming economy and rapid movement toward consitutional democracy.

There are countless others.

Reading Katrina coverage worldwide, one wouldn't suspect that per capita income for African-Americans exceed that of Swedes, or that America's 'poor' are among the richest people on this planet.

As I commented in a previous thread, until recently spin was confined to highlighting the negative or lint-picking at a generally-accepted reality or stipulated facts.

Today, regardless of facts on the ground, polemecists seize on any event as 'proof of the failure of X,' or 'complete repudiations of Y.'

Thus, in this upside-down world, a free Iraq with fast-growing economy is 'undoubtedly' a 'failure,' and Katrina 'conclusively' 'repudiates' small-government conservatism.

During the Cold War, we knew state-controlled media behind the Iron Curtain lied to their captive populations about life in the West. But how many of us ever thought we’d live to see the free people of the West so deliberately and consistently deceived by a free press bent on crippling the very institutions essential to its survival.

9/22/2005 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

No matter what the outcome of the current 'insurgent' battle, it will be spun and re-written as a U.S. failure. 30 years from now, you will probably be able to crack open a high school textbook and read about the criminal negligence of Bush and Co.

I hope I'm wrong.

9/22/2005 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

In Time, truth is the first casualty.

Michael Ware is the same man who lived with insurgents in Fallujah only to return gushing about their indomitable seriousness, incomparable fortitude, and big, soft hands. He's a hack with an adjectival fetish.

Every American is shaken, every insurgent inexhaustible. Michael Ware's bullshit is both.

9/22/2005 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Victory in the Indian Wars (and they were wars, hard-fought and brutal) is now considered a racist extermination by the valets of modern morality. The cute brownish-red nature lovers offered the olive branch; the evil white man counteroffered the trail of tears.

In 30 years, Iraq will be a success, don't worry about that. In a 150 years, though, it will be something quite different.

9/22/2005 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

I disagree on your final point. Opinion does matter because it can shape the accepted naration of the battle.
If Congress and the voters come to accept Mr. Wares opinion of events (which seems increasingly so), then they might be encouraged to quickly withdraw, or atleast cut funding, from Iraq as a lost cause; they might also come to view alternative viewpoints, like the DoD's as lies.
Thus, opinion shapes the short term view and long term outcome of the battle.

9/22/2005 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

"During the Cold War, we knew state-controlled media behind the Iron Curtain lied to their captive populations about life in the West. But how many of us ever thought we’d live to see the free people of the West so deliberately and consistently deceived by a free press bent on crippling the very institutions essential to its survival."
Well said

9/22/2005 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'd apprecaite some historical perspective. It's hard to imagine in other times and places a sillier, more biased, and dangerous media, but I some how think our current crop of hacks is more the norm than the exception.

Does anyone take Time seriously aside from the hacks themselves, and the cynical media types who make a living sucking up to the media?

I suppose the rag still gets cited in high school term papers, but I wonder how many readers and former readers realize just how corrupt and intellecutally bankrupt it really is?

9/22/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

If we're successful in Iraq (I'm confident that we will be, but I suppose it's possible to fail even at this late juncture simply because I guess pretty much any human endeavor can fail up to the moment when it succeeds), how the history books write about it will be secondary.

Revisionist histories of the United States may dwell on the fact that Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders, but they can't change the fact of the nation's existence as a result of these and other men's efforts, lives, fortunes, and honor, nor of its philosophical shape. The same will be true of Iraq: even if textbooks my grandchildren read perpetuate the Mooreian kite-flying paradise of Saddam's Iraq, a democratic Iraq allied with the US and prosperous because its government is no longer a kleptocracy will speak for itself.

9/22/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

Why worry about a negative Time magazine article, any article, when the insurgency - to include AQ in Iraq - is on its last legs, as is oft claimed here? Why pay any attention to the defeatists and nay-sayers when victory is in the bag, when triumph is assured?

In six months, in twelve months, in eighteen, the dust will have settled, Iraq will be at peace with itself, and the muj, those among them who survived, will have retired to civilian life, and John McCain will be able to WALK unmolested from BIA to the Green Zone, if he so desires.

Let not your hearts be troubled by the NYT or Newsweek. The truth will out. Soon.

9/22/2005 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Revisionist histories of the United States may dwell on the fact that Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders, but they can't change the fact of the nation's existence as a result of these and other men's efforts, lives, fortunes, and honor, nor of its philosophical shape.

Those histories are, to put it in Gen. Honore's famous words, "stuck on stupid". But we cannot afford to downplay the role of historical perception, or what is written in contemporary textbooks used to educate our children, against historical fact which becomes ever more elusive to the newer generations as exaggerated or falsified perceptions reinforce minds against reality.

9/22/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

In the race to the finish, it seems to me that it's a question of whether the terrorist insurgents or the LA Times/NY Times will go belly-up first. Don't forget that there are increasing evidences that both of those newspapers are in SERIOUS financial difficulties, and if they weren't being fed intravenous funding from rich liberal backers, they'd already be in bankruptcy.

If Dubya is willing to continue financing an extremely costly war to introduce democracy to the barbarians, are the George Soros's of the world willing to finance an increasingly mutated version of liberal reality on the pages of the MSM?

9/22/2005 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

True enough, Nathan - it wouldn't be wise to disregard the "agenda-setting" function of the media nor the power of perception - but in the end it's more important that the Roman Empire indubitably affected the destiny of most of Europe, and by extension the British/American hegemony we see today, than that some choose to ignore all of its positive contributions in favor of its oppressions, debaucheries, and indignities.

9/22/2005 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger anybudee said...

As for Time -

MAD magazine calls itself, "America's longest-running humor magazine, except for Time."

9/22/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I think the biggest problem with the misinformation campaign the media is waging is not the effect it will have on Iraq, but the effect it will have on (potential) future issues of a similar nature. It will take even more political courage than what Pres Bush had to show for a future president to take similar action. That is going to be the lasting legacy of this.

9/22/2005 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...


Don't you know that on the Left, the NYT is commonly, sneeringly referred to as the New Pravda? No faction has more contempt for the MSM than anti-war, anti-Bush liberals, leaving the MSM to please no one but perhaps the politically lukewarm among us.

There's a reason why the battle, so to speak, has moved to the internet, to blogs, to amateurs and freelancers and part-time pundits, reserchers, and data scavengers. (Not to mention full-time jihadists.) Advertising is moving along with it.

9/22/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Tony, the Swift Boats will rise again because, unfortunately, the mental carnival is going to run again.

9/22/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Thanks for highlighting this. I've been bothered for years by the way the bad guys get all the good adjectives: fierce, deadly, elite, tenacious, flexible, (and the favorite bad-guy adjective of the NY Times) sophisticated.

9/22/2005 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Taumarunui said...

Australian Broadcasting Corporation



Broadcast: 01/07/2004

Journalist spends time with Iraqi insurgents

TONY JONES: And returning to our top story - Saddam Hussein's court appearance and the impact that might have on Iraqis.

The new Government clearly hopes the images of a shackled and broken dictator will inspire trust in their ability to rule the country.

But what effect will this have on a resistance movement that's increasingly aligned.

Not to Saddam Hussein, but to the ideology of Osama bin Laden?

Joining us now is a man who's had, you could say, the unique opportunity to get inside the insurgency and find out what makes its fighters tick.

He's Time magazine's Michael Ware.

As you'll quickly find out, he's a former Brisbane boy who's recently spent a lot more time in Fallujah.

TONY JONES: Thanks for joining us.


TONY JONES: Let's begin, if we can, by asking whether you think the highly symbolic images of Saddam Hussein facing a court will have any impact on those who are fighting the insurgency?

MICHAEL WARE: Look, to the insurgency, the supposed June 30 transition to Iraqi sovereignty, and this trial of Saddam Hussein, mean absolutely nothing.

I mean, this whole Saddam circus the theatre of Saddam is irrelevant to the real dynamic at play now in the war here in Iraq.

Even to the Iraqi people.

As you well point out, it's only a symbolic value.

Saddam no longer impacts on their lives nor the political or military dynamic that's taking place here.

The Iraqis themselves, I don't think they care a great deal, certainly not those in the street and those in positions of power who are talking to me.

The trial is more for us, or more pointedly for the Bush administration.

As far as they're concerned, it's a done deal, as a senior, very senior member of the Iraqi intelligence service said to me yesterday, "His fate is sealed, let's just put him against a wall and put a bullet in his head. Then we televise it".

That's the attitude of most Iraqis too, let's just get on with it and go.

But to the insurgency, equally, it means nothing.

I was with a group of Iraqi Nationalist guerrillas, former military officers fighting the coalition last year when Saddam was captured.

I was with them, I saw the impact of the capture as it washed over them, there was a mixed bag of reactions, but to every man they said, "This is a body blow, this hurts but it's emotional. This is not what we're fighting for, we're fighting for Iraq, not for this man."

Now these same men are fighting for global jihad, Saddam has nothing to do with that.

TONY JONES: How did that transformation in these people take place.

Because you tell an extraordinary story of old Baathists who have completely changed their entire outlook and their ways of life?

MICHAEL WARE: Absolutely.

I've been tracking the insurgency for over a year now.

I've been joining their groups, visiting then in their safe houses, their villages, I've been travelling with them, I've seen their weapons caches, I've been trying to keep as close tabs as possible over the last 12 months.

I've seen the shift.

Men I know, professional military officers from the Republican Guards, the secret police, these men are in the military for a career.

They fought for their nation.

Two years ago they were out drinking and whoring under the regime, a year ago they're out defending their homes.

Now, they're talking about how they want an Islamic state for Iraq.

They didn't dream of that six months ago.

Sharia law, they want a pan-Islamic Khilafati, they now adhere to the extremist teachings in Saudi Arabia, they didn't care about anything beyond their borders before now.

TONY JONES: What has happened is this change has occurred, particularly in the last six months.

MICHAEL WARE: We used to have a two track war, a terrorist war with terrorists such as Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the suicide bombings, the assassinations the symbolic political strikes, but the daily drip feed of attacks were the guerrillas fighting for Iraq, when Saddam was captured in the time that evolved, the coffers of the Baath started to dry up the squeeze was on.

So they turned elsewhere, what did they find?

Terrorist money - with that comes ideological baggage, new membership, a change in tactics and ideology.

TONY JONES: How did that transformation take place - were they literally converted by Imams, or foreign fighters who came with that ideology deeply embedded in themselves?

MICHAEL WARE: The veins through which the rhythm of the insurgency now courses here in Iraq, certainly in the Sunni heartland, the true dark centre of the resistance, that courses through the mosques, the Imams are the key to this, the ones who are making and breaking it.

In the west, where this insurgency is based in the Sunni heartland where Saddam's military institutional knowledge resides, these are skilled men - in these place they've always been conservative in their religion, Saddam knew this - kept a lid on it.

When Saddam left the lid came off and with the introduction of the zealousness of the Jihadis, these men's minds were fertile to it.

Some of them I now know, former Saddam Fedayeen - just bloodthirsty psychotic killers.

These men danced a tune of jihad only to court the money and they admit that to me and they suspect the terrorists know this, so they're not well favoured.

The independent groups are being forced to shake downs and crime to fund their ongoing fight.

But those who have adopted the mentality and even more, those who have soaked it up, I've been with these guys, I've been in a safe house outside Fallujah.

I'm now growing a beard like I had in Afghanistan, I didn't need this before.

In their house there was no pictures on the windows, no TV, no air conditioning, this is all Haram.

I had to pinch myself to remind me I wasn't back with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

For these men, they have taken it on wholesale.

TONY JONES: How does the man the Americans now describe as their number one enemy in Iraq, the Jordanian terrorist, al Zarqawi, how does he fit into this picture?

And is he a direct conduit to the ideology and indeed the orders of Osama bin Laden?

MICHAEL WARE: The roles Zarqawi is playing is still difficult to fathom.

But I've been in contact with part of the Iraqi faith of his network, and through them, I've gleaned what I can about how he works.

In Iraq, there's no one commander in chief.

It's not Zarqawi, there's no Iraqi who fits into that.

Essentially at the moment, they have what they call the Mujaheddin Shura.

This is the top emirs or princes, who come together to swap ideas, intelligence, men, munitions.

The Arabs, as they call them, the foreign Jihadis, including Zarqawi, are a part of that.

They are able to influence and prod and suggest and finance and help coordinate.

It's like Zarqawi is some svengali, whispering in their ear, shifting and changing and guiding them, all the time this being grafted to the new financing that's coming in.

He's not the only one but he's certainly the most significant.

And he's become an inspirational figure.

His role there as the pin-up boy of global jihad, as he is now, transcends what immediate power he has, much like Osama bin Laden beforehand.

Osama, after September 11, he must have known he would not be able to exercise command and control any more.

He is in hiding, he doesn't direct Al Qaeda any more, if it indeed exists as we once knew it.

Now, we see franchised Al Qaeda, the McDonald's brand of Al Qaeda, lots of different groups popping up, inspired by Osama's example.

Osama opened the Pandora's box of jihad.

Zarqawi, thanks to the Americans giving him the platform, has peeled that box open.

Now we have the jihad that we say we came here to prevent.

TONY JONES: What's the point behind the kidnappings, the ransom demands which are never obviously held.

Or in some cases they may be but mostly they're not.

And the decapitations of people - is that simply a propaganda tool to terrify Westerners?

MICHAEL WARE: There's actually more to it than that.

And this has become somewhat of a personal issue for me of late.

On Saturday night, I was actually given a hostage tape by part of Zarqawi's network.

In this, there was a Pakistani driver and he was to be beheaded three days from the receipt of this tape.

It dragged me in and made me a participant, so I have a deep interest in this.

I've spoke to some of the men who've been involved in these hostage takings.

I've spoken to someone who was present when the Italian male was executed.

I've spoken to someone who was involved with the execution of Nicholas Berg.

I've been with the people who held a Turk and Egyptian of late and now I've been in contact with the men who are holding the Pakistani driver.

It's twofold.

One, sure, it terrifies us.

No one wants to move.

The Westerners, the foreigners, in Baghdad are in lockdown.

No one dares venture out.

It's very, very difficult.

It also terrifies contract workers, like the Pakistanis, however, there's a broader purpose here.

It's purpose.

The jihad money market, the global jihad milieu now - it's like a free market.

The money ebbs and flows, it follows trends, it follows personalities.

Some time ago, Chechnya was hot, then Afghanistan was hot.

That's where you put your money to bless it.

That's where you send your fighters.

Now, Iraq is the hottest of hot, and Zarqawi is here.

He's making his mark.

The guts of the message was to that market.

Not only did he behead people, he had the audacity to tape it and then air it branding it as his own.

That's saying, "I am here, I am the true performer," as Al Qaeda recently recognised in the latest issue of one of their training manuals.

For the first time in a long time, they applauded him.

He's saying, "I'm the one."

It's forced Al Qaeda to re-embrace him.

It's extraordinary successful.

TONY JONES: Michael, why are they letting you get behind this curtain?

Is there a message they are wanting you to get out through Time magazine to the rest of the world?

MICHAEL WARE: Clearly, these men, just like the American military I deal with and the public affairs officers who stick to me like glue and only let me see what they want me to see when I'm with them, so it is with the Jihadis.

They're showing me what they want me to see, which is, to be truthful, quite a lot, but they know anything I see or hear is public record.

It's their responsibility to confine their information.

This is what I do.

Yeah, they do want to get a message out.

They're so media savvy.

If they weren't before, they've learnt it, they've polished it.

Even a year ago when I was meeting these nationalist guerrillas who then were ill formed, not yet in clear command and control organisations, even then they were saying to me, "This war is not going to be won on the battlefield. We can't hope to defeat the Americans. It's going to be won in the living rooms of Iraq and Middle America, it's going to be won on television."

They were saying, "We can maintain this, we can, we have, we can sustain this longer than your political will will last. Before your people call you home."

Again, that's a part of it now, they're saying, "We're here and we're not going away," and they want to say that to the West.

They can tell Arabic channels this until the cows come home, but to have it coming through an American iconic publication like Time magazine, people will listen.

And look, the fact is it's true.

They have camps, they have what they had in Afghanistan.

This is another north-west frontier province like Pakistan, where they can roam free within this territorial confine.

I've seen these places and no one can go in there.

The Americans can't, not unless they want to lay waste to the place, and they will miss them anyway.

The Iraqis have nothing to throw at this, Allawi is powerless, just like Musharraf in Pakistan, a threat in his own country from a safe haven that he can't touch.

TONY JONES: Michael, we're almost out of time.

We have about a minute of satellite left.

Let me just ask you quickly - what's your conclusion from all of this?

How can it end?

Can they be defeated?

MICHAEL WARE: This is a big one.

They call this a world war until judgment day, maintaining a state of perpetual jihad.

We're not going to defeat this here in Iraq.

This needs to be defeated elsewhere, on a much larger scale, using methods we're not even contemplating right now.

This is a much bigger problem than Iraq.

The insurgency here is globalised.

We have got to deal with that global threat.

TONY JONES: OK, Michael Ware.

It's been extraordinary talking to you.

You've obviously had an extraordinary time and the message you're getting out is one, I think, a lot of people will hear over a period of time.

Thank you for delivering part of it here.

9/22/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

... in the end it's more important that the Roman Empire indubitably affected the destiny of most of Europe... than that some choose to ignore all of its positive contributions in favor of its oppressions, debaucheries, and indignities.

I respectfully disagree. I believe it is more important not only that this is true and that it happened, but that the public knows that this is true and that it happened. This is especially true of a democracy such as our own, where the knowledge of the people, in all its different flavors, affects the security of our liberties through our choices of the leadership that establishes and maintains the policy of the group as a whole. People vote by their perceptions, and it is upon those perceptions that the security of our liberties relies. It is thus vitally important first that truth, and second, the public perception of that truth, remain forever on the side of the security of our ideals.

9/22/2005 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Taumarunui said...

I posted the interview above to give someinsight into Ware's viewpoint. He seems to think the Jihadists are an unstoppable force. But they are fast becoming fish out of water in Iraq as they lose support from the Sunni tribes that had sheltered them.

9/22/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If "history is written by the winners" and we're supposedly winning, does it matter what is recounted now?

Today, it's hard for people to imagine that Lincoln didn't really want to free the slaves, for example. Historians have glossed over the real reasons for the American Civil War to depict it more as slavery vs. emancipation.

Or, for instance, people do not consider the American Revolutionaries as "insurgents", although their initial acts certainly fit the bill.

Those are just a couple American historical contexts that pop into my head at the moment. History is filled with inaccuracies, mainly due to the winner of a conflict spinning the story to their own liking.

As long as we win, the leaders of this campaign can (and do) write the "official" version however they see fit.

9/22/2005 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Huan said...

Opinion do matter because that is what terrorists are fighting for. Like the north vietnamese, their know victory is easiest not on the battlefield but in american living rooms.

9/22/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Huan said...

one more thing.
I felt compelled to respond to news, published on our front page, that a teenager was forced against his will to bomb a Shi'a mosque in Iraq. The attack failed as the young man fled the scene; he later admitted to being forced to carry out this mission after being kidnapped, badly beaten and drugged by terrorists. A US military report confirmed his version of events.

He was not the only one; all terrorists are heavily sedated. They are drugged by a media, which gives credence to false stories, written according to its author’s mood, added to fabricate pictures and selected from an angle that serve the interest of terrorist groups, be it former Baath party members or Islamic extremists.

9/22/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

What a country! Something far more dangerous to the war effort than, say, Osama bin Laden, freely sells its ideas on every street-corner! Good old TIME-think...the voice of the party which runs the inner-city plantations (both above as well as below sea-level), the party which creates the conditions of wars and then will not fight them, the party forever at the barricades, storming the Bastille of American Exceptionalism.

9/22/2005 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

nahncee said...
In the race to the finish, it seems to me that it's a question of whether the terrorist insurgents or the LA Times/NY Times will go belly-up first. Don't forget that there are increasing evidences that both of those newspapers are in SERIOUS financial difficulties, and if they weren't being fed intravenous funding from rich liberal backers, they'd already be in bankruptcy.

I would suggest also taking a look at such Conservative monoliths as Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard. Both are also propped up by their non-newspaper corporate owners due to constant financial losses.

We already see the case of the Rupert Murdochs of the world willing to finance an increasingly mutated version of conservative reality on the pages of the MSM.

9/22/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


"As long as we win, the leaders of this campaign can (and do) write the "official" version however they see fit."

Point taken. It's what happens as events slide into the past and the revisionists start working on them that concerns me.

For today's school children, WWII is less about liberation from global fascism than about dropping the bomb and the internment of Japanese-Americans.

Same goes for the U.S. torpedoing the inevitable socialist paradise by engineering destruction of the beloved Soviet Union.

Same goes for moral compromises the U.S. made during the Cold War, which are criticized in hindsight and as if they were made in a vacuum, absent the threat of a ruthless enemy who observed no rules and was sworn to our destruction.

To paraphrase John Derbyshire, our children are being taught that their nation was founded and is run by criminals, their parents are liars and dupes, and their culture is a fraud.

9/22/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I haven't seen the Wall Street Journal laying off any employees. I'm also not seeing the WSJ trying various different ways of enticing people to spend more money on pseudo-new programs like the NY Times has just started, and the LA Times has just stopped because *no one* signed up for it!

It seems to me that a barometer of reality might be who/what the majority of the American public are choosing to pay attention to. And right now, and increasingly, that is *not* the NY Times nor the LA Times, while the WSJ is maintaining at least an even keel, and may even be expanding its readership via the internet.

For anyone to compare the WSJ and the bruised, bleeding, battered and thoroughly rejected MSM is another example of LLL denial and wishful thinking of the same kind that tells us that a crazed fishwife like Cindy Sheehan should be listened to because ... just because.

9/22/2005 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/22/2005 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Victor Davis Hanson writes on how our newspapers create opinion and report it. He then elaborates:

A similar theme is echoed in Wretchard's post. This is all well and fine, but the fact remains. The big News networks dictate the initiative and the narrative, and as long as you're reacting to it, we've fallen dupe to their trap. You've become a consumer of their product. I don't care for anything that has AP, Reuters, NYT, AFP, CNN, BBC, CBC, CBS, ABC, etc., labeled on it. These filthy outfits have no credibility and allure for me, and I'm sure many others like me. Why force our faces onto that dirty shopwindow?

9/22/2005 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

nahncee, if you really believe the WSJ is doing so well without resorting to "trying various different ways of enticing people to spend more money on pseudo-new programs" , then I would highly suggest reading last week's The Economist

Here is the printable link (since the online contect requires registration):

Quick synopsis:

ON SATURDAY September 17th, Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, launches a new “Weekend” edition of the newspaper in America. It is a risky move, coming in the middle of an advertising slump and a fierce debate over the company's strategy and the quality of its management. If the new Saturday edition fails to attract a healthy amount of additional advertising, its chief executive, Peter Kann, a distinguished former journalist, may be pushed out before he is due to retire in three years' time. It is even possible that the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, may decide to sell the firm. Last month the company's shares rose 15% following unconfirmed reports that some family members want to sell.

Because of particularly sharp declines in technology and financial advertising, the Wall Street Journal'sdivision of the company is barely profitable this year, despite being the leading business newspaper in the world, with some of the wealthiest readers.

The new paper will include articles on health and fitness, cars, travel, fashion, food, gadgets, entertainment and shopping.

Dow Jones's management has been under pressure for years. The company's shares have underperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 49% in the past ten years, and the Standard & Poor's printing and publishing index by 56%. It is true that most newspapers are struggling with the internet's impact on advertising. What Mr Kann should be blamed for, his critics say, is the company's strategic failure since he took over in 1991 to broaden its mix of assets. Many shareholders and analysts, including Ms Fine, would welcome a change of management.

9/23/2005 10:37:00 AM  
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