Friday, December 02, 2005

Diamonds and dust

Democratic Lawmakers Splinter on Iraq -- "Many Surprised as Pelosi Calls for a Fast Pullout" . Democrat asserts that Army is 'broken' -- "Most US troops will leave Iraq within a year, and the Army is ''broken, worn out," and may not be able to meet future military threats to the country's security, Representative John Murtha said." Bush's Victory is Defeat -- Washington Post. Bush lied, people died. Here's breaking news: Vietnam War Intelligence 'Deliberately Skewed,' Secret Study Says -- New York Times. Rationale for Vietnam faked in 1964, NSA historian wrote -- Baltimore Sun.

So it's true. Iraq is Vietnam and soon the 21st century version of the Carter era will dawn. Isn't that something to look forward to? Wait. The Iraq story: how troops see it from the Christian Science Monitor tells a diametrically different story. But that means nothing because 'public opinion' has made its mind up: Iraq is a catastrophic defeat. In fact, Martin Van Creveld says it is the worst military defeat in 2014 years, beside which Agincourt, the Retreat from Kabul, Waterloo, the Sedan, the Fall of France, Stalingrad -- all fade into insignificance. So who's coming forward to take the surrender, which is what customarily happens when one side is beaten by another?

Commentary

Blackfive says that the results of fighting on the ground are foregone: what remains is the 'battle of the narrative'. But how do you win a 'battle of the narrative' except with words? Ironically the sheer success of the US Armed Forces in keeping the civilian population from a direct experience of war ensures they will only learn about it through vicarious means: network news, the major newspapers and magazines. Movies. And in that department the OPFOR has Blue radically outnumbered. Any rational observer calculating the correlation of words would have to say that in that battle, Blackfive's narrative hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell. The side with the most power over words has determined that Iraq is a defeat. And yet ...

The problem with using words to trump reality is that it wagers everything on a monumental bluff. The mesmerist must carry all before him or be humiliated. A King must be obeyed or lose the throne. There is no middle ground. Personally I think the repeated conjury of the master-spell of 'Vietnam' and the endless repetition of "we have been defeated" is a strained attempt to achieve what used to be accomplished effortlessly; almost as a background process. Now the spell is being used altogether too often to be convincing, like a lion-tamer who must repeatedly shout at the mountain of snarling flesh before him to sit down. One of the characteristics of the collapse of an illusion is the suddenness with which it comes. The Soviet Union; the EU superstate; the notion of an advanced, enlightened and progressive France, were like Atlantis separated from glory and oblivion by a single night and day. I would be careful about Vietnam because the '60s, like Vaudeville, may never come again.

121 Comments:

Blogger enscout said...

I was watching the nationl evening news (with much dread - I occasionally have to force myself to listen to the voices of the enemy) last night. They had a segment about the DOD's involvement in spreading their news through the Iraqi press - as if there were something wrong with some balance in available news.

You would have thought they had stumbled upon the murder weapon as they toted their cameras to do the spot.

It is clear that the MSM is firmly aginst any positive outcome in this battle.

12/02/2005 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

What's conspicously absent is any sense from the Press that they have something to lose in this War. Yet war on terror is twinned with the political war in the West. Therefore they do have stake in the outcome, and this is often expressed as a concern that the dark clouds of fascism are scudding over the horizon. But that's a caricature of the real threat they face. Bruce Bawer in Reason Online persuasively argues that the press is threatened by Islamic intimidation, both informally and as expressed the spate of blasphemy laws. The relationship with their sources (and not just with Scooter Libby) is starting to constrain them. The paradigm shift in the publishing industry also means they have less monopoly power than before.

The key problem for the press is that they are not winning decisively over the media insurgents. It's a trend with no light at the end of the tunnel in sight. Sometimes I think Iraq is Vietnam; except that it is the Vietnam of the Press.

12/02/2005 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

In the 1960's you wouldn't have had this celebration of a Lost Christmas Eve. The times, they are a' changing.

12/02/2005 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

You're right that the illusion can no longer be maintained indefinitely now that the blogosphere is in hot pursuit and I loved your analogy that Iraq is Vietnam … of the press.

Thanks to you sir, I started my morning on a sunny note.

12/02/2005 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger sunguh5307 said...

It fucking kills me to hear television or any other media reports on Iraq. They put more effort into making sure they pronounce the name of the city correctly than assuring the facts are right. I heard a reporter on NPR this morning telling us why the soldiers don't talk to reporters and all the commanders need more troops- with no context. None. It doesn't exist.

When I was in Baghdad you'd hear a boom- something going off at a checkpoint. Sure enough, 3-5 minutes later it'd be on the BBC or CNN. That's their Iraq coverage. But when you're out in the boonies, where reconstruction is taking place, you don't exist. The reporters who dare to leave their Baghdad hotels are rare, and when they do they come in a 20 car convoy. No fucking credibility in my book. And they want to tell me about how we're losing, and how pulling out would be even better? I could continue to comment, but I believe my language will continue to degrade....

12/02/2005 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I, for one, am confident the "monumental bluff" (excellent phrase) will be called. I believe those who have painted themselves into the corner of advocating for the enemy of freedom will soon find themselves utterly humiliated.

My only concern at this point is that the struggle over public opinion may have wearied the public to the point that support for future actions in the war on terror will be difficult to maintain.

We (those of us that believe in the President's policy) will likely win the current battle with those who oppose victory for immediate political gain. But in their shallow and short-sighted efforts, the left may have caused lasting damage to the overall war effort.

12/02/2005 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I didn't say the bluff would fail; if it worked the status quo would remain. Tomorrow would dawn as if nothing had happened. But if the bluff failed there would be interesting consequences.

12/02/2005 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Greg said...
"I, for one, am confident the "monumental bluff" (excellent phrase) will be called. I believe those who have painted themselves into the corner of advocating for the enemy of freedom will soon find themselves utterly humiliated."

One can only claim a "victory" in Iraq by excising who is actually gaining control in Iraq through electoral means. This requires that Khomenei-ism goes down the memory hole. Along with the history of how fascist took power in Europe, or the history of the Shiite theocratic parties that now govern. To declare that we are approaching victory is to ignore what SCIRI, the acronym and the party stand for. If the US insists in supporting these SHi'a Islamofascists, then who really is "advocating for the enemy of freedom"?

12/02/2005 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger talnik said...

I've had enough. I do not care what Murtha did 30 years ago. I care what he is doing now. Murtha, Pelosi, Kennedy, Kerry, Durbin, New York Times, et al are DELIBERATELY undermining the war effort. They are supporting the enemy. An enemy that saws off heads of aid workers and blows up weddings! This is treason. Why am I the only one saying this? At what point will the US military (after being continually thrown under the bus by these jerks)decide that the ingrate Congress and supporting press are not worth defending?

12/02/2005 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

I agree with Greg. The real problem is not the effect the MSM and the Demos are having on Iraq; we are obviously winning on the ground there. The real problem is whether, in the future, politicians will be willing to take this type of action knowing what the political cost will be.

GO NAVY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12/02/2005 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

reocon,

Interestingly enough Secretary Rumsfeld addressed this issue in a press conference. The key lines, shortened in places (see the link for the full text):

"neighboring Sunni countries ... now they're starting to lean forward. It's increasingly clear to them that they're a bit worried about Iran -- as well they should be; they're a bit worried about excessive Iranian influence in Iraq -- which they should be ... they're starting to ... encourage Sunnis to participate in the election ... because I think they see it coming."

There are two points in that paragraph. The biggest is that Saddam and the insurgency, at least as the press understand it, are tacitly history and everyone is looking beyond them. In that sense the war is already over. The second is that Iraq is a microcosm of the region. There's a balance of power inside Iraq just as Iraq is part of the balance of power in the Middle East. Because Iraq stood on the Sunni-Shi'ite fault line of Islam, not to mention the Arab-Kurd division it was always a place where you could play both ends against the middle. Where there is no dominant party the power holding the tipping hand dominates. In that respect the US is to Iraq and the Middle East as Britain was to the Continent throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Just my two cents.

12/02/2005 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

wretchard said...

"The second is that Iraq is a microcosm of the region. There's a balance of power inside Iraq just as Iraq is part of the balance of power in the Middle East. Because Iraq stood on the Sunni-Shi'ite fault line of Islam, not to mention the Arab-Kurd division it was always a place where you could play both ends against the middle."

Which is why we should be playing the Shi'a Islamists against the Sunni Islamists and not choosing a single side that is still antithetical to our interests. I don't see much of a "middle". We were promised a "middle" of educated, liberal, secular Iraqis who would rise up and claim their rightful socio-economic place after Saddam was brought down. We were promised this by pro-invasion Islamic scholars and craft exile groups. That dream is dead. The educated professional classes in Iraq have been terrorized and polarized and do not constitute a real political force. In a civil war between Islamists, I agree, for once with Henry Kissinger, who commented on the Iraq-Iran war: "It's a pity they both can't lose."

Wretchard said . . .
"In that respect the US is to Iraq and the Middle East as Britain was to the Continent throughout the 18th and 19th centuries."

A bit of a strained analogy in my book, but here's a shot: How often did Britain find itself allied with the Ottomans?

12/02/2005 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

talnik:

Call a spade a spade, and what we hear coming out the mouths of those you name is, as you say, surely treasonous and not mere politics. What to do?

OTOH, I don't subscribe to the idea of "victory" for US in Iraq, regardless of the outcome. While it may result in greater liberties for the people of that country, I see the completion of our mission there as another successful battle in the long history of battles against evil oppression and tyranny.

Many here have foretold in vague reference what will likely happen after this phase is completed. The successes in the current struggle will be temporary. Most soldiers will return home and continue to live their lives. Some will not come home alive. Others will fight on in the next theater. But the war will go on.

Meanwhile, the battle for supremacy on the media front will continue as well. Here too, I don't expect victory in any real sense. Only the continuous slog on the part of the players to dominate the dialog.

In the end, victory will come in an entirely different form, that too was foretold by many.

12/02/2005 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

One problem is that the MSM never sufefrs any consequences. Not only do they not end up kneeling before an Imam in the U.S., they don't seem to suffer much from customers lashback. When they do, it a happens so slowly they can blame someone else.
The company that owns the NY and LA times annonced more layoffs the other day, CNN is losing to FNC, and the liberal radio news network has all but expired.
But Mary Mapes is still making the rounds claiming that she was right about the National Guard memos, and Mike Wallace is still claiming there is no bias in the typical newsroom.
The MSM is a frog and they are boiling to death - slowly.
Faster, please.

12/02/2005 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger EddieP said...

enscout

Amazing, isn't it. What's been utilized through the years to disarm your enemy? PROPAGANDA. What in hell is wrong with our military using propaganda in Iraq? How is a newspaper different than Voice of America? The MSM use propaganda 24/7 to rail against our military and the administration. They are jumping up and down hoping that this latest manufactured scandal will get rid of Bush.

What's disheartening is that FOX reported that DoD is going to investigate. What BS, the MSM have DoD hopping like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. No investigation is necessary, just call it what it is.

12/02/2005 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Left will play the "defeat" angle as long as they can. As long as there is a car bomb going off in Iraq it will be presented as a US loss. Years after the last US trooper is gone.

The issue of Iran is much more political than military, at this point. The synergy follows, though. If Victory is unachievable in Iraq, Iran would just increase US troubles. Never a chance of Victory there, either.

Half the posters here believe the KSA is a geater threat than Iran.
They're wrong, but firm in their beliefs. There is no consenus on the threat because there is no leadership on the issue of the greater Mohammedan Wars.

The Global War on Terror is still, today, waged against individuals not nations. Syria, Sudan nor Iran are targeted, by US, as sponsors of terrorism, so they must not be.
Or Mr Bush is a liar.

Osama is still the target, why have we let him slip away?

12/02/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

eddiep:

The MSM have so much perceived clout that we have a classic "wag the dog" scenario.

The folks at DOD need to get a grip.

12/02/2005 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

enscout

It heartens me to see that there are others that still believe in the precepts of the Revolution.

That is really what US should be out hawking, a Global Revolution, based, of course, on our own Declaration.

Some day the World will be safe for Democracy, it just took a little while longer to make it so than some would have thought.

As to the purchasing of editorial space in Iraqi newspapers for pro US stories, it is done here all the time. Sometimes entire sections of Forbes is dedicated to an industry or Nation. Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong have all purchased sections. Prominent lageling is demanded, by Forbes, not by any law. Even if there was such a Federal Law the Iraqi newspapers would not bound by it.

When al Jezzera is subsidized by the UAE why should not the US match them on the ground, in the battle of ideas?

Would the "Left" deprieve US of that avenue of attack in the ideological Wars. Why do they insist on saturation bombings, as in Yugoslvia, or nothing?
Where is the humanity or charity in that?

12/02/2005 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger dtup said...

Let's see some pols come forward and DEMAND that other nations(read; France/Germany/UN)help us in the rebuilding of Iraq. Then I will believe the corner has been turned on the BushLied meme.

12/02/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

As a retired and aging literary critic and theorist my inclination is to say war is always "narrative," even in the making. None of which belies the fact that human flesh and humanly-constructed implements of war confront real death, evaded at any given moment, or not.

What any commander does at any given moment must be relayed through a complex series of filters, all of which are composed of words or other encoded signs plus the rules of their placement in texts. How you react to the bomb down the street is determined by the particular "narrative" you place that bomb within so as to give it intelligibility.

One could call this a "post-modern" viewpoint, and go on to say that the MSM has tacitly taken it over, and is in the business of using it to do what it does best--spinning out verbal narratives--as a way of thumbing its nose at the US military, Bush, and Al-Quaeda, all at the same time.

And this would be true. The argument of the present post holds--correctly, of course--to the notion that when the shrapnel hits the flesh, it's a "trans-verbal" injury that occurs.

How you get the inside curve on a narrative you disagree with is with another narrative. And here, I submit that the only force on this planet that can do this or is doing this with success is the blogosphere. At its best it has the intelligence, it has the freedom from constraining threats, and perhaps most important, it has the will to go for the jugular.

The Mapes fiasco shows that the MSM and the liberals fear what the blogs say about them. And frankly, in a world where, as W. has pointed out before, leftist writers enjoy the freedom to write against their defenders only as long as the defenders do what the leftists criticize them for, namely defend them and do is successfully, the real fear is of the written word used sharply, incisively against them.

It is time, I think, for the blogs and their aiders and abettors, among whom I count myself, to move from a defensive posture, and start calculatedly constructing narratives that deliberately challenge world lefistism where it hurts. That means no more complaints about their moral deliquency. What we need is serious attacks on their intelligence and their ignorance.

E. G., it seems to me time to start pointing out that they talk about Vietnam because that's the only war they know anything about, and that knowledge is quite slim. In brief, they are completely--and vulnerably--ignorant of military history. The essence of true ignorance is ignorance of that ignorance, and this fact needs to be iterated with numbing and absolutely destructive purpose and intent.

In the U. S., there is the general grumble among those who, like myself, have voted Democratic all their lives until the 1990s, that Republicans don't know how to slit throats, verbally speaking. That's because Republicans are finally not interested in politics, because they're not interested in government save as something to be controlled.
IOW, they're entirely too nice.

What the people W. cites at the beginning of this post can't possibly stand up to is a direct, elaborated, and detailed attack on their every word.

This is indeed a propaganda war, with the continued existence of western culture at stake. I believe that the blogosphere needs to take a deep breath and recognize that it is only it that is going to reduce the MSM spinmeisters to silence.

For this reason I think we ought (1) ditch Instapundit and its ilk, who as a law professor still thinks we live in a world where polite debate means anything; (2) say "thanks, but no thanks to the type of blog represented by "Little Green Footballs," that specializes in "just one outrage after another," since it doesn't verbalize a serious critique, plus generating a lot of name-calling. No more name-calling.

And we need to get serious political and military thinkers out in front, those who sniff the blood in the wind, and who have a taste for the jugular. In place of name-calling, I envision--I've done it myself personally as the occasion warrants and earned lasting enmity from my victims, which shows that it works--relentless, pulverizing refutation and destruction of every argument, every verbal fast shuffle, every ignorance. It requires work, it requires the bloggers to get out of their pajamas and put their work-clothes on, because this sort of thing requires research--Wretchard is a prime example in a blogosphere where way too many shoot from the hip--and expenditure of time and care.

I can, e.g., imagine a blog which does nothing but go after the New York Times, every day of the week. Better, a series of blogs that sub-divide the task. The result would be a Times staff that knows every time anyone puts a word down that goes to press, they're going to suffer. And the suffering of our enemies in this war is what we should be after.

12/02/2005 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger stavr0s said...

Interestingly enough, my Senator, John Warner (R, VA) is today calling out the Pentagon for it's own propaganda in the Iraqi press. From his position as Chairman of the Armed Serviced Committee, I wish he was increasing funding for some publicity for our troops or at least doing something like inquiring as to why the MSM is against them. Not a chance.

12/02/2005 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Yes, Wretchard, the press -- and the entire media/entertainment complex -- complains about largely imaginary infringements on its 'rights' by democracies, yet is easily cowed by Islamic theocrats, totalitarian regimes that can withhold press 'privileges’ (CNN in Saddam’s Iraq; any media that wishes to operate in China), and political correctness agitators. They seem to be setting the conditions for their real -- as opposed to imaginary -- neutering.

12/02/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

What leads you, dtup, to think that any of your candidates for Iraqi involvement have such a duty?

What would give Mr Bush or Ms Pelosi the "right" to demand their involvement?

The people that have both the capacity and the self interest to become involved in helping the Iraqis are the Indians.
Your Eurocentric view is understandable, it is the view of the MSM.
The future does not live in Europe, but in the sub continent of Asia.

Where are the Mohammedan nuclear weapons, today? Yes, that's right, Pakistan.
Where is the oldest front of the Mohammedan Wars?, Kashmere.

Who is fighting, there?
Pakistani Mohammedans vs Indians.

When will there be Victory in the Mohammedan Wars?
Not util the scope of the War is understood by the US public.
There is NO leadership in that project, anywhere.

12/02/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

A very interesting discussion on this subject at YARGB
This is not a topic that should be allowed to drop.
The Quitters know that the trial of Saddam Hussein is on hand,that thee are fewer sucide bomber victims,that Iraq is going right..they dn't have much time to lose in with the 2006 elections coming up.

I have never in my life seen such despicable,amoral,duplicitous behaviour by power hungry politicians.

If Iraq descends into the pit because of this,no American President will be taken seriously for decades.The military may as well be disbanded since its power would be empty...no military power is credible if the enemy knows its boundaries.
It took from Vietnam to Gulf WarI to restore America's credibility,for Gods sake don't let the Quitters destroy it now!

12/02/2005 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Lupin3 said...

I think those of us who support the war should be more receptive to the Vietnamization of Iraq. We should realize that there are superficial similarities that appear as "obvious" to the war critics, that while superficial may have (indeed are having) deeper consequences.

The most pointed similarity is the general strategy for the employment of force by the opposing forces. Rather than direct military confrontation, the enemy has used violence on a limited scale but with a carefully controlled frequency, in order to exploit the media coverage of such events, magnifying them in importance to the American people. On the other hand, the US forces are limited (militarily in Vietnam, politically in the Iraq war) from engaging the sources of support for the insurgent or guerilla forces. Thus we have a war in which the relative strengths of the opposing forces are never really engaged.

Whereas in World War Two the Allies had established the inexorable destruction of the Nazi regime in it's first 1000 days and having lost more than a quarter million Americans to do so, in the war on terror (which I believe is to most Americans the context in which they supported the Iraq war) no such end-game is in sight. This makes the relatively miniscule numbers of US dead irrelevant as a sign of success and more potent as a symbol of the uncertainty not just of the Iraq war, but of the war against Islamofascism more generally.

Perhaps the most ominous similarity is that in each war, a populist insurgency was hijacked by a brutal regime intent on inflicting it’s will not just on the imperialist invaders, but on the local populations as well. Of course, in the case of the Iraq war, that regime is far more interested in taking the fight to the United States itself.

Another important similarity is simply the criticism that the war furthers the imperial intentions of the US to dominate the region. In both cases the bulk of truth of this criticism is actually an inversion of it’s thesis, as the truly colonial and oppressive forces were the insurgents themselves. Nevertheless, supporters of the Iraq war should recognize and admit the reality that in pursuing such a policy, the US stands to gain in hard power throughout the region, which while not imperialism in the classical sense is near enough to create such a degree of cognitive dissonance in critics as to make any discussion of the war in the absence of a frank discussion of imperialism impossible.

We should return the discussion of imperialism to it’s rightful context – of the advancement of democracy. This must ultimately result in forcing those critics who wish to maintain the imperialist canard into a position of equating democracy with American imperialism (an equation which I can readily accept) and so to reject democracy itself (as either unobtainable or simply corrupt). The subsequent “puppet regime” criticism won’t hold up well against images of ink-stained fingers giving thanks to Allah – the single most effective propaganda of the war.

Which brings us to the single most important difference between Vietnam and Iraq, a difference which I believe will inescapably call that “monumental bluff.” It is that while in Vietnam the cause against which we were fighting had a truly popular appeal, in Iraq the insurgency is, as has so often been voiced by Christopher Hitchens, the minority of a minority. We should remember that the violent resistance to a democratic Iraq is not representative of the Sunni population as a whole, though it is often represented that way. Just as importantly, the terrorist influence of Al Qaeda in the Sunni triangle is even less politically viable. Ultimately, the Shia will regain control of Iraq regardless of whether we leave tomorrow or in two years.

The cost of regaining that control will soar astronomically, however, if the US pulls out sooner rather than later – which will greatly undermine the humanitarian case for the war, and it is this case that is the strongest and most important case for the war. In the absence of stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, making Iraq safe for democracy will ultimately be the cause that legitimates the Iraq war in eyes of the American people. Such a democracy will refute, by it’s very existence, that foolish bluff of a great American defeat.

It is now in the interest of the defeatists and Islamofascists to delay that success as long as possible, and to make it’s purchase as costly as possible. The real defeat here, the real tragedy, is that a major faction of American (indeed, Western) politics has allowed it’s political success to be coincident with the success of Islamofascism.

12/02/2005 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Wretchard,
Thanks for the link to the Trans-Siberia Orchestra. I consider it auspicious as I have never heard of the show before this morning. I logged into my email 5 minutes before my morning fix of the BC and there was an invitation from a friend to attend the show tonight. I think I will go now...

On topic: Eric Alterman "cleverly" takes an old Nixon speech and substitutes Iraq wherever Vietnam appears in the text. See how easy it is? Probably took him 45 seconds using the find/replace function on his word processor.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3449870/

12/02/2005 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

We once confidently destroyed two of the most murderous regimes and formidable war machines in history, and from the ashes created the world’s second and third largest economies and two of its most respected democratic global citizens.

We went on -– not so confidently, at times –- to contain, outperform and exhaust a third genocidal tyranny.

How is it that our fathers and grandfathers, facing far bleaker circumstances, could envision ‘complete victory’ and think it within their grasp?

How is it that they were able to deal with the ambiguities and challenges of rebuilding entire societies from the ground up – this at a time when people knew far less about other countries and cultures -- without concluding with every set-back that they had failed?

Why were they able to deal with, say, the political subterfuge and intrigue which wracked Europe during post-war reconstruction – while we wonder what to do with a punk like Sadr or fuss about news articles planted by the military in the midst a war (gasp!)?

Why were they able to wade into swamps of unspeakable violence and barbarism, do what was necessary to destroy evil, then return to raise families and build the modern world as we know it?

I believe it was confidence, a rock solid belief in themselves and what they stood for – virtues which have been under siege for decades.

The erosion of confidence is evident in our often tentative approach to some aspects of the GWOT, in our hair splitting discussions about ‘mistreatment’ of those who’ve renounced any and all ‘rules of war,’ and in our pig-headed insistence that the timeless brutality and suffering of war be suspended whenever an American soldier steps onto a battlefield – as if we were telling the waiter we preferred free-range chicken.

12/02/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This just in from the Times of India

" ... LAHORE: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri on Friday said Pakistan would not allow the use of its soil for activities against India, but ruled out sealing the border to prevent terrorist incursions. ..."


Same position the Syrians and Iranians maintain about Iraq, isn't it?


And from Moscow this tidbit about the importance of Central Asia

" ... MOSCOW (AP) - The chief of the Russian military general staff said Thursday that Moscow was concerned about U.S. interference in the political affairs of other ex-Soviet nations.

Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky also said that Russia's relations with the United States and other NATO nations were clouded by Western efforts to expand their military presence on ex-Soviet territory.

"We cannot agree with our American colleagues when the political situation in some nations has been developed through the encouragement of velvet or color revolutions," Baluyevsky told journalists. ..."

" ... "There have been attempts to engage the ex-Soviet nations in the alliance's sphere of influence and weaken their relations with Russia," he said.

Moscow has been particularly concerned about the U.S. military presence in the formerly Soviet Central Asia. U.S. forces are utilizing a base in Kyrgyzstan to support military activity in nearby Afghanistan, and they were recently evicted from another base in Uzbekistan.

Baluyevsky said that Russia "always had and will have interests in Central Asia," but denied that Russia and the United States were vying for influence in the strategically placed, resource-rich region. He said Russia sees no need to deploy troops to Uzbekistan, even though an alliance treaty signed last month allows that. ... "

my way


Why not Osama, now?

12/02/2005 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Voltimand,
An excellent post,that is exactly what needs to be done,with one proviso,we need to be able to target the same readership as the MSM.The latter will continue to lie,they are in my view irredeemable,the truth has to be disseminated to their audience,how?

12/02/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Wretchard wrote:

“One of the characteristics of the collapse of an illusion is the suddenness with which it comes. “

I find it interesting that so many here think that the MSM has created some sort of illusion that has yet to crack. I think what we are witnessing is the fast cracking of the illusion that was previously created and consumed almost whole by the American populace; the illusion that Iraq was somehow involved in 911, the illusion that we can introduce democracy to Iraq with the military, the illusion that ‘media’ is an independent observer, that Bush and crew know what they are doing, the illusion that debt doesn’t matter. These illusions are starting to crack.

Our military can take virtually any ground it chooses, but so what? Our government surreptitiously places ‘facts’ in the press, my, my what are we to believe now? Bush and crew are master illusionists who have even convinced themselves, but reality still does have a nasty habit of intruding. There is more to ‘democracy’ then voting, and debt does matter.

12/02/2005 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

oh yeah, and that other whopper of an illusion, that we can fight terror with the military. I had a terrifying dream last night, what the heck is the military going to do about it?

12/02/2005 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

The US has, in the last 60 years, created such a safe and prosperous climate for the citizens that the Senators feel they could vote for more free bread and bigger free circuses for the forseeable future, and damn the consequences. Just like Rome.

IMO, the media is fighting for a state like that here in the US. When the citizens get restless, throw a bigger circus and increase the bread ration. It is the problem of the republican system of government. Yes, it allows you to create a safe, affluent, and powerful state; but it also devolves into decadence readily. The shortcoming of the system is that the elected officials feel the need to be "doing something" to address the perceived problems of the constiuency. I would love to do the experiment of placing a moratorium on all new laws and taxes for 2 years and see what happens. My hypothesis is that the country would get along just fine. Another way to address this is to have all laws and taxes expire every ten years. At some point, the burden of re-ratifying the old legislation would significantly hamper the ability to pass new legislation and representatives would be forced to prioritize.

12/02/2005 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Fred K said...

I concur that the "Battle of the Narative" is currently raging. It is good to have the supporting fire from my brothers at Belmont Club.

I predict that media narative emphasis will change suddenly. The Dec 15th elections will produce a temporary swell of positive glow toward Iraq. The Dems will announce "we are done" and blather for troop withdraws.

I see the seeds for narative victory in the contradiction of the democratic position: Dems are FOR patriotic victory of our troops, but AGAINST the war that was a lie. Dems are FOR a pullout now but AGAINST the terrorists. The cognative dissonance cannot be maintained with credibility -- this leads, inevitably in my opinion, to a John Kerry like candidate of contradictions.


My Blog

12/02/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

"oh yeah, and that other whopper of an illusion, that we can fight terror with the military. I had a terrifying dream last night, what the heck is the military going to do about it?"

So terror is merely a bad dream is it Ash?
There are pleny of military psychiatrists who can assist you.

12/02/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

The problem for those who equate Iraq with Vietnam is that we didn't lose Vietnam militarily, but through an erosion of public confidence and commitment. It is the pervasiveness of irony, I suppose, that allows the spectre of Vietnam to also be summoned in support of our continuing presence in Iraq.

It is usually argued that we should never have committed to Vietnam to begin with, that the threat wasn't real, and the resultant sacrifice was too great. Perhaps. In any event, these are the same arguments that some who oppose our going into Iraq make today. And it comprises part of the parallel that explains for them why our eventual defeat is, if not actively wished for, at least understandable.

The problem in both instances is that by going to war our country committed itself to winning, not least because of the responsibility we incurred to allied and/or dependent populations who trusted us. The failure to see the effort in Vietnam to a proper end led to the unnecessary deaths of innocent millions who were condemned for no other reason than our country had abandoned them.

The same thing may easily happen again in Iraq if we leave too soon. We abandoned and betrayed the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs of Iraq once before; do we dare risk instigating similar slaughter again? By 'pulling out' too precipitously, not only will we have truly wasted the efforts of our own good men and women who have already given so much, but in all liklihood we will also condemn many thousands--maybe millions--of others who trusted us to stay, not forever, but only until their security and safety could be reasonably assured.

Whatever arguments there might be for our leaving post haste, there remains the argument that trumps them all: that we have a moral commitment to stay as long as we are needed. It is a commitment we did not honor in Vietnam, to our shame. Let us have no more Vietnams.

No, if we stand for anything worthwhile then we must stand, not retreat, when confronted. Otherwise all our fine words about democracy and freedom and stability and safety in the Middle East or anywhere else become but mere words, meaning nothing.

12/02/2005 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

peterUK, what was it Churchill once said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself"

The terrorists have tactics that we can, for the most part, counter. They multiply their power by scaring you.

12/02/2005 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Come on, Ash.

Not all enthusiasm for completing the mission is based on illusions.

Iraq is the fastest-growing economy in the Arab world, with with income growth at an all time high and everything from cellphoone to auto sales booming. No refugees are fleeing the 'civil war' we keep hearing about. Instead, ex-pats are returning.

How many stable, free-market democracies have been built in less time than we've been in Afghanistan and Iraq? Both are moving are moving faster toward constitutional democracy than any nations in history.

As a business person and investor, I recognize the ongoing risk that the situation can deteriorate out of control. But I can't take seriously the argument that a bright future for Iraq is an illusion.

12/02/2005 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

It is often mentioned that the American public is wary of the ongoing OIF, but I don't remember if this is because they think "Bush lied!" or because they think they get too little out of it, and that they in fact would agree to more forceful means to kill off the Islamic threat. It would be interesting to see which one it is.

Is it possible that MSM could win this "battle for the narrative"? Possibly. In the longer term they are losers, as much as they thrash, kick and scream now. Why? Because they've run out of arguments. The war in Iraq is wrong, because ...? [insert rationale of the week here] As long as the internet remains open there are other sources of information and they will be shot down again and again because they just can't help themselves, charging over minefields of factual errors, slanting, etc.

Wider still, this is the fate of the whole Leftist movement. I believe that in say 25 years they will have lost most of its dominance in the universities and in the media. They have nothing genuine to offer to the Americans anymore. Disgusting as they are now, we are witnessing the death throes of the Left. It is both an ugly and exhilarating spectacle.

12/02/2005 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Ash,what on earth are you talking about? I give up trying to find a coherent thread in your comments.

12/02/2005 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Back on topic: The media's role

The so-called 'free' press is a paper tiger, all piss and vinegar at things like White House press conferences, where they snipe and sneer at the people who run the governments responsible for protecting their right to abuse the First Amendment.

But put them in a room with a genuine totalitarian -- not the John Ashcroft bogeymen of their imaginations -- and they suck right up, like spineless apparatchiks.

You know exactly what these toadies were like back in school -- humoring or excusing the bully, ass-kissing the popular kids, trashing the nerds and snapping wet towels at teachers and administrators -- in other words, spineless apparatchiks.

The shame of it is, unlike the champions of truth they imagine themselves to be, most of them will fit in perfectly as accomplices to the politically-ruthless, unaccountable ruling class they'd like to see running this planet.

12/02/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Cosmo makes a good point (8:29), but I think the most significant thing about his post is implicit.

When we look at the victories of the past we see it in a meta-narrative. When we look to the present War on Terror we experience it as a micro-narrative.

How much of the day-to-day heartburn will disappear with time, lost between the lines of the grand narrative of the twenty-first century? Quite a bit, I imagine.

When I ponder on what our descendants will read in their history books, I am confident that we will come off well. We have kept the faith of our fathers, we have fought the good fight, and we have advanced an already auspicious narrative of freedom, decency, and courage--a narrative inaugurated by our founders. One day Americans of all stripes will look on our generation and say thank you. One day they will read the soaring words of our President, and they will understand.

Our toils in freedom will ring throughout history. Our human failings, thankfully, will be overshadowed by our deeds.

12/02/2005 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Aristides,

I hope you are right. But much depends on our ability to persevere and preserve success.

12/02/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Aristides:

I hope you're right, too.

12/02/2005 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Sirius, Cosmo,

I think the debate on cutting and running has already been won, though it has not ended. As Iraqi forces stand up and are able to fight on their own (very soon now), our tactics will begin to resemble those in Afghanistan, tactics that Wolfowitz and Perle originally prescribed for Iraq pre-9/11 (once 9/11 happened, we could no longer wait to build an Iraqi indigenous force). Once we get to that stage, once we are used primarily as force multipliers and for supply, the public debate on withdrawal with end in a whimper.

Once this happens, our victory will be obvious to all but the most committed anti-warriors. By that time, the ball of freedom will be rolling at a steady clip down the hill.

12/02/2005 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Aristides,

I agree with your analysis that facts on the ground mean that the debate on leaving is all but won. But... There is nothing to keep us from reiterating as forcefully as we can, whenever we can, that the "debate" over leaving prematurely should never have risen to the level of serious consideration to begin with.

12/02/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger mdraper said...

I suspect that the relentless negative media coverage of the situation in Iraq is solely due to the fact that we have a Republican President instead of a Democratic one.

If John Kerry had eked out a win, the balance of favorable/unfavorable coverage would probably be stood on its head, with Fox News breaking the Abu Grahib story instead of 60 Minutes.

A poster wondered why our parents and Grandparents were more willing to see a war through to the end despite a much higher level of sacrifice. Perhaps it is due to the fact that in WWI, WW2, and Korea the Media would do all it could to back Liberal Democratic Administrations.

Why did the Media turn on Vietnam? Was this due to the fact that they sensed the war was lost? Or was it due to the fact that they realized that LBJ was doomed and they didn't want a Republican administration to get credit for successfully prosecuting a war?

The pride the American people rightly take in successful military campaigns can cement a party's hold on power for a generation. Perhaps this is the real reason the Media is putting on the full court press to spin the situation as a defeat regardless of the actual state of affairs.

12/02/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Well Martin Van Creveld is certainly wrong about at least two things, the Teutoburg Forest massacre occured in 9 AD, not 9 BC; and it was Publius Quinctilius Varus that sent three Roman legions to their deaths, not Emperor Augustus

12/02/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Ash,

Just which narrative is illusion will eventually become clear. Just today 10 Marines were killed in Falluja, one of small units patrolling it now. Sad as it is, that's data. But it's also true that casualties in 2005 are now below the to day figures of 2004 in KIAs and WIAs. Last year was a defensive; this year offensive, with fights maybe even in Syria.

If you listen carefully no one actually claims the enemy is winning in a military sense. They preface things with "although the US has killed ... despite offensives to clear ..." before switching to the assertion that notwithstanding, it's a political defeat. Or they make a lesser but similar sounding charge. The armed forces are 'broken', can't meet their 'wider' commitments. It's a defeat "in some sense". Nations in defeat are normally at their last gasp. Yet a global conflict has been fought for four years on volunteer forces with military spending at a lower % of GNP than any time in the last 60 years. In the news the US is always 'bullying' other nations, even European ones, somehow displaying an immense and even increasing strength despite the worst defeat in 2014 years ...

For that reason the critical conflict, by almost common consent, is over the narrative. Whether called the political war or mythmaking, the battle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, or for the American public; or fighting the 90% non-military and 10% military strategy of Gingrich: it's is the field of words. Yet while the media (for want of a better term) has grotesquely misdescribed the physical battlefield, it's far from clear they are lying about the outcomes in this battlefield of words. The US may well be losing the political war, the '90%' of the effort for the front pages of the US and Arab news consciousness. And because the Press are participants, not just distinterested observers in a fight that has now spread to the newsrooms, they can be enmeshed in the defeat, maybe not physically, but in a reputational sense.

12/02/2005 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

It's all about signal vs. noise. Most of what we get in the daily media is noise: it exists, it's real, it's just not meaningful. The meaningful stuff only appears after the noise is filtered out.

But filtering is done by the processor; it is active, not passive. It is like Heisenberg's observer: it changes what it observes, so can't be certain what it observed. That's why we have so many folks looking at the same data and coming to such radically different conclusions.

Eventually, the noise will dissipate so we can read the signal clearly. That is the proper role of history and historians. But it may take a long time, too long for impatient Westerners (Interviewer: Was the Enlightenment a good thing? Chiang Kai-Shek: It's too soon to tell.) So it's simply too tempting not to try our hand at it now:

- reocon is concerned about Sadr and his "brigades." I consider that noise. He says its a signal, a bad omen. I believe a consitutional democracy has been established (my signal, his noise), he says Sharia will be estabished (his signal, my noise). To establish Sharia under the constitution, however, the Kurds will have to agree. Now this could lead to civil war. That would be a defeat. Or it could force the Shia to compromise. I believe that with the US still in theater, compromise will prevail. A balance of power will be established among Iraqis, and that will be a victory. But he might be right. I guess we'll see.

- ash appears to say that because the entire effort is based on a false claim that Saddam was behind 9/11, it is all noise, no signal. Like Enron, once everyone realizes there's nothing to it, it will collapse with amazing speed. Just a bunch of previously stupid Americans finally getting wise to the lies perpetrated by their leaders. Yeah, sure. Whatever floats your boat, dude.

The cold, hard fact is that the American people reviewed the cold, hard facts about a year ago, and came down firmly on the side of the President. They then went back to their primary focus: living their lives. The wisdom of crowds, indeed.

And these cold, hard facts (i.e. signals) have not changed since that time, although the noise level has gone up. But the noise doesn't matter, since the American people are smart enough to know that paying attention is only worth their time around elections.

Signals win elections. The rest just sells advertisments.

Or used to, anyway.

12/02/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Aristides:

I'd bet on the outcome unfolding just as you describe it -- absent, of course, some Tet-like event, played to the hilt by our media, which buckles the knees of an easily-spooked public and our shaky political class; something I've been concerned about in the runup to the Dec 15th elections..

12/02/2005 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Goodfellow said...

It's funny to see that even as our armed forces have become more capable, more dynamic, and more experienced than they have been at any time since WWII (and even then surpassing the feats at that time), they are called, by some, spent and worthless. Look at what has been achieved by these forces in the last five years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Compare and contrast to the achievements of, say, the Soviet/Russian armed forces in Afghanistan and Chechnya under similar conditions and against similar opponents. Or even to the US performance in Vietnam. The difference could not be more striking, and the achievements of our current forces could not be more impressive. Losses of our forces are at an extraordinary low and comparable to losses due to accidents during peace time. And yet these unprecedented achievements are portrayed as monumental failures by those with a political axe to grind. To anyone with a hint of sanity and connection to reality these portrayals ring hollow and false. It's really only a matter of how much time the popular media can continue to put forth a facade that bears only a casual resemblance to reality before the obviousness of the facts on the ground makes such make-believe news untenable.

12/02/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Ex press secretary Ari Fleischer's book poses an interesting thesis on the problems of the press. His thesis is that the information vendors of this country have two separate hang-ups in their reporting. One is a fetish for conflict in general, where they focus on arguments over agreements and problems over solutions. The second hang-up is their affinity for the social-liberal narrative in domestic and foreign affairs.

The latter shows up in their lexiconic bias. The former shows up in their reportorial bias.

I think Ari Fleischer is substantially correct, and I think this explains much about the reporting on Iraq. Since Iraq is the wedge issue of this young century, its "wedgeness" is played up at the expense of other, less incendiary elements of the war. It is not just that our failings and shortcomings in Iraq are problems for Bush (though it is that, too), it is that these shortcomings are problems in general.

This fetish for conflict is probably beneficial in peacetime, but in wartime such a hang-up brings diminishing marginal returns. An institution that must work to find problems in peacetime can grow lazy and fat if their preferred informational diet of conflict transfers unchanged into wartime.

Yes, during war there is more conflict for consumption. Too bad our media haven't noticed the addition of heroism and accomplishment at the buffet.

12/02/2005 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Ash, FDR said, we have nothing to fear, but fear it itself, not Churchill.

12/02/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

An emailer sends in a link to a related discussion.

12/02/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Of course, the media elite also fashion themselves as outside, impartial, post-national observers, which is a posture that doesn't hold up to scrutiny. They might be able to think of the war in the abstract, unencumbered by notions of citizenship, but these people will feel and experience the consequences of failure, if we should fail, as Americans.

A sad joke on them, especially on them, if we should fail.

12/02/2005 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Wretchard 11:51:

Same can be said for America's image abroad. Media spend decades presenting this country in the worst possible light, then blame it for the willingness of others to beleieve the worst about it.

Talk about a skewed narrative.

12/02/2005 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

CSpan is going to re-run a panel discussion, on the Conservative Debate on Iraq, Sunday, 5:00 pm EST. Bill Kristol and Francis Fukuyama are participants.

Now, these are Heavy Conservative Thinkers. However. Check it out: the premise, for all of them, is that the GWOT is OPTIONAL for the USA. And these are people that THINK about this stuff!

Fukuyama, for example, seems to object to the Invasion of Iraq because it wasn't planned well enough - does the man think that the real world lies inside his conference rooms??? What does he think War is, or does, to all sides involved???

The side represented so well by Ms Pelosi and Howard Dean and the NYT thinks that the most important issues are maintaining bike paths in their communities, and they are irritated, IRRITATED, by all that stuff on the other side of the world.

And then, the current crop of "journalists": they are courtiers in search of a Master.

12/02/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

History never repeats itself, but sometimes is rhymes said Mark Twain long ago.

Last night I read Secretary Laird’s article Iraq: Learning the Lessons of Vietnam, in the current Foreign Affairs and it hits on many of the same themes that Wretchard does.

On my travels through the left and right portions of the blogosphere (and not to be too much of a kiss-ass but the Belmont Club is one place where the intellect is always challenged as opposed to usual demagogic appeals to pure emotion that one finds on many sites), the one thing that the two sides have in common are their constant denunciations of the MSM. The media attacks form the left ( is currently leading the charge) tend to be specific and process oriented (i.e. source-reporter relationships and corporate ownership) while the right tends to be vague and results oriented (i.e.)not enough good news from Iraq). But the fact is, major American corporations own the vast majority of the MSM. Is the right really attacking the private sector media? What are the alternatives to corporation ownership of the MSM?

The Walt Disney Company (which donated 640 thousand to GW's 2000 campaign) owns ABC.

The Westinghouse Electric Company (with Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group as the head of its board of directors) owns CBS.

General Electric (which donated 1.1 million to GW Bush for his 2000 election campaign) owns NBC

Microsoft and GE own MSNBC

Time-Warner TBS-AOL (donated 1.6 million to GW's 2000 campaign) own CNN

News Corporation LT aka Rupert Murdoch (enough said) own Fox.
(sources)

Is admitted drug addict Head-Rush Limbaugh part of the MSM? He sure has a lot of listeners. From Michael Massing recent article The End of the News?:

But South Park Conservatives does give a concise account of the right's successful assault on the mainstream press. "Drive across the country these days," Anderson writes in a chapter on talk radio, "and you'll never be out of range of conservative voices on the AM dial or satellite radio." The list of the top twenty talk radio shows nationwide is thick with conservatives. The most popular is Limbaugh, whose daily three-hour show attracts an estimated weekly audience of around 14 million. Next comes Sean Hannity, whose show, carried on nearly four hundred stations, attracts 12 million weekly, and who is also the co-host of Fox News's nightly TV program Hannity & Colmes. "Dr. Laura" Schlesinger, who inveighs against feminists and homosexuals, has eight million listeners, as does Michael Savage, who ridicules the handicapped and considers Arabs "non-humans." Laura Ingraham, the author of Shut Up & Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN Are Subverting America, has five million. Other popular right-wing hosts include Bill O'Reilly, William Bennett, G. Gordon Liddy, and Michael Medved. (The liberal Air America is now carried on sixty-eight radio stations nationwide, but its daily audience is puny compared to that enjoyed by the right.)

snip

Limbaugh's three hours on WABC were followed by three by Sean Hannity, who denounced the media for its distorted coverage of Iraq and its "nonstop attack on the President" from the very start of the war. Then came two hours by Mark Levin, a lawyer turned talk show host who specializes in right-wing name-calling (he called Joseph Wilson and his wife "finks," Judy Miller "a rat," Ted Kennedy "a lifelong drunk," The New York Times the "New York Slimes," and Senator Charles Schumer "Chucky Schmucky"). Then came two hours by Laura Ingraham, who, also taking up the Bush staging charges, denounced the "elitist" press for scripting "everything" and being "out of touch with the American people." Such tirades are issued daily on hundreds of stations around the country.

Call me naïve but I’m just not seeing the huge media Left Wing Conspiracy. Au contraire. Eight of the top ten political blogs are conservative. AM radio is 95% conservative. 90% of television is owned by right leaning corporations. Is the MSM corrupt and utterly incompetent? Yes! Do they have the slightest clue about war? 90% No. But at the end of the day, Andrea “Mrs. Greenspan” Mitchell, Judith Miller, Bob “Dumb Blonde” Woodward, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, the whole lot are “Power Tools”; they will do and say anything to maintain their access to power.

12/02/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

As to the demise of the Big Newspapers, national, international and regional: during a speech by the guy who runs the Black(?) Kidder chain of "news" papers said something I think is so INTERESTING: that big chains like Wal Mart and Staples and etc do not have to advertise in newspapers ... and that this is a very big reason why income is dropping for them.

And then, in my opinion, the core group of political junkies is moving on, away from the newspapers and Television, to the Internet. Remember when "Time" magazine was a big thing for all aware middle class folk? At this time, "Time" and "Newsweek" are competing with "People" and "US" on the newstand. Why buy the Globe and Mail or (gawd help me) Macleans, to follow the Canadian election? There are too many great Canadian blogs out there (eg, smalldeadanimals), and excellent columnists like Mark Steyn and David Warren can be found on the Web too.

12/02/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

There flow through history a series of "generations" forged by common experience and who go on to act as a cohort. The civil rights and antiwar generation; in France the generation of '68; in the Muslim world the Afghan veterans. What is really striking is that today's liberals are failing produce the equivalent of the antiwar generation; the pitiful Cindy Sheehan events I don't think qualify.

What's worrisome is that there may actually be an American generation forged by the GWOT experience, composed of the 600 or 700 K people who've rotated through Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn, Southeast Asia or done some related work; and who feel they aren't being listened to by the suits in news offices; who've tuned out of the mainstream channels and are talking in a private language. These people will grow into responsible positions one day and maybe the edge of the wave is there already; and if such a generation is emerging it should be of concern to the media establishment. What I am not too clear on yet is whether it should also be a concern to wider society.

12/02/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger blert said...

The day is not far off when the war implodes and the 'journalists' leave their Baghdad 'bunker'.

A coda, of sorts, will occur when the 'stringers' from AP, Reuters, et. al. are locked up as double agents.

Allowing the enemy to feed us 'facts' is the great failing of this campaign.

We should have long ago blocked their memes at the source.

12/02/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

cosmo said:

"The so-called 'free' press is a paper tiger, all piss and vinegar at things like White House press conferences, where they snipe and sneer at the people who run the governments responsible for protecting their right to abuse the First Amendment".

Actually, the sniping has been effective. Enough so that our conservative leaders, who have been constitutionally elected are allowing the MSM to effect or, in some cases dictate policy through intimidation. Enough so that even though they are the majority party in both the Senate & House, they hardly act like it.

We need some of our congressmen to take a stand for the principles that they espoused in getting elected to their respective positions, get before the people and take the country back from the sniping whiners.

12/02/2005 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

This Arkin article is tediously pathetic.

Perhaps, perhaps, the 9/11 nightmare is fading, perhaps we are coming to our senses in recognizing that the "war" on terrorism is not the Cold War, when indeed our survival hung in the balance, that it is not World War II, when indeed a military enemy had the capacity to defeat us. Maybe, maybe, the administration is getting the message that the American people don't have their heart in a 50 year clash of civilizations, that there is another way to pursue terrorism.

The American people don't have their heart in it, so Osama is right, we are a paper tiger and we have no courage or will to stand up against our declared fanatic enemy.

We need to go back to a more sensitive government, where we don't fight our enemies, because it might make them mad at us. And if they get mad at us and do something bad, well, we'll get in trouble with the voters and the global community. (It's all in "The 9/11 Commission Report" - I'm not making this up.)

So, let's go back to the 90's, and pretend we are chasing individual bad men who we can prove committed crimes. And if we have to have a 9/11 once in a while, well, that's just the way it goes. We deserve it anyway, why should we be peaceful when the rest of the world suffers because of all the bad things we do?

PATHETIC.

12/02/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

Wretchard says: "What's worrisome is that there may actually be an American generation forged by the GWOT experience, composed of the 600 or 700 K people who've rotated through Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn, Southeast Asia or done some related work; and who feel they aren't being listened to by the suits in news offices; who've tuned out of the mainstream channels and are talking in a private language. "

Precisely. These are people who are another elite, made proud by their military experiences. They have accomplished much AND KNOW IT.

The current 'elites', anti war, badly educated in 'elite' universities, parochial and small minded will find themselves objects of contempt by this new generation.

When I watch the Rumsfeld/ Meyer/ Pace press conferences, I am always struck by the childish, cringe-making questions from the 'journalists' and the patient, careful and knowledgeable responses by the Military Guy beside Rumsfeld.

I guess I am thinking of the old Roman experience, the disintegration of the Republic, as the Armies came to power. Because, this war is going to continue, above or below the radar, for at least another generation, so long as the gap between the 1st and the 3rd world exists. It MUST have consequences for the USA and the Western Mind.

12/02/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

History never repeats itself, but sometimes is rhymes said Mark Twain long ago.

Last night I read Secretary Laird’s article Iraq: Learning the Lessons of Vietnam, in the current Foreign Affairs and it hits on many of the same themes that Wretchard does.

On my travels through the left and right portions of the blogosphere (and not to be too much of a kiss-ass but the Belmont Club is one place where the intellect is always challenged as opposed to usual demagogic appeals to pure emotion that one finds on many sites), the one thing that the two sides have in common are their constant denunciations of the MSM. The media attacks from the left tend to be specific and process oriented (i.e. source-reporter relationships and corporate ownership) while the attacks from the right tend to be vague and results oriented (i.e. not enough good news from Iraq). But the fact is, major American corporations own the vast majority of the MSM. Is the right really attacking the private sector media? What are the alternatives to corporation ownership of the MSM?

The Walt Disney Company (which donated 640 thousand to GW's 2000 campaign) owns ABC.

The Westinghouse Electric Company (with Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group as the head of its board of directors) owns CBS.

General Electric (which donated 1.1 million to GW Bush for his 2000 election campaign) owns NBC

Microsoft and GE own MSNBC

Time-Warner TBS-AOL (donated 1.6 million to GW's 2000 campaign) own CNN

News Corporation LT aka Rupert Murdoch (enough said) own Fox. (sources)

Is admitted drug addict Head-Rush Limbaugh part of the MSM? He sure has a lot of listeners. From Michael Massing recent article The End of the News?:

But South Park Conservatives does give a concise account of the right's successful assault on the mainstream press. "Drive across the country these days," Anderson writes in a chapter on talk radio, "and you'll never be out of range of conservative voices on the AM dial or satellite radio." The list of the top twenty talk radio shows nationwide is thick with conservatives. The most popular is Limbaugh, whose daily three-hour show attracts an estimated weekly audience of around 14 million. Next comes Sean Hannity, whose show, carried on nearly four hundred stations, attracts 12 million weekly, and who is also the co-host of Fox News's nightly TV program Hannity & Colmes. "Dr. Laura" Schlesinger, who inveighs against feminists and homosexuals, has eight million listeners, as does Michael Savage, who ridicules the handicapped and considers Arabs "non-humans." Laura Ingraham, the author of Shut Up & Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN Are Subverting America, has five million. Other popular right-wing hosts include Bill O'Reilly, William Bennett, G. Gordon Liddy, and Michael Medved. (The liberal Air America is now carried on sixty-eight radio stations nationwide, but its daily audience is puny compared to that enjoyed by the right.)

snip

Limbaugh's three hours on WABC were followed by three by Sean Hannity, who denounced the media for its distorted coverage of Iraq and its "nonstop attack on the President" from the very start of the war. Then came two hours by Mark Levin, a lawyer turned talk show host who specializes in right-wing name-calling (he called Joseph Wilson and his wife "finks," Judy Miller "a rat," Ted Kennedy "a lifelong drunk," The New York Times the "New York Slimes," and Senator Charles Schumer "Chucky Schmucky"). Then came two hours by Laura Ingraham, who, also taking up the Bush staging charges, denounced the "elitist" press for scripting "everything" and being "out of touch with the American people." Such tirades are issued daily on hundreds of stations around the country.

Call me naïve but I’m just not seeing the huge media Left Wing Conspiracy. Au contraire. Eight of the top ten political blogs are conservative. AM radio is 95% conservative. 90% of television is owned by right leaning corporations. Is the MSM corrupt and utterly incompetent? Yes! Do they have the slightest clue about war? 90% No! But at the end of the day, Andrea “Mrs. Greenspan” Mitchell, Judith Miller, Bob “Dumb Blonde” Woodward, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, are all “Power Tools” they will do and say anything to maintain their access to power.

12/02/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

wretchard:

What is really striking is that today's liberals are failing produce the equivalent of the antiwar generation; the pitiful Cindy Sheehan events I don't think qualify.

Yes, point in case to my previous post. The Left are trying to blow life into a dead ideal but the American public refuses to act as the sounding board. They are a spent force and their demise, although messy and perhaps even violent, is a matter of time.

If the polarization between today's parties sharpen in the future, and say the Democrats resort to more and worse things similar to the recount shenanigans in 2000, that is starting to tamper directly with the system itself, a veteran faction could decide they've had enough and do something about it. Sounds farfetched though.

12/02/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

duh, erp, thanks, nothing like trying to pull a quote from memory.

wretchard, this discussion of ‘the narrative’ sounds as if there are a bunch of storytellers telling us stories and that you are saying that many of these stories don’t reflect reality, that there is fact X on the ground but the storytellers are calling it Y and therefore if we can get the storytellers to tell it correctly all will be fine. I think this is a misconception. The stories told are the reality, but each story has its own assumptions and there are many different stories told weaving a fabric of reality, of course some stories have errors in fact and logic. That is why I was interested in the thread a few days ago on what constitutes victory in Iraq. Militarily, sure the US can march about at will, a few die, but that’s it. As I asked Desert Rat, well, if we’ve won, lets go. But we haven’t won, so we stay. I am suggesting that the war is un-winnable because we have set the bar for victory so high (winning hearts and minds to our flavor of democracy) and this is an impossible task to do militarily. The military method actually hinders progress in this task. We are using the wrong tool for the job.

Sirius Sir wrote:

“The same thing may easily happen again in Iraq if we leave too soon. We abandoned and betrayed the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs of Iraq once before; do we dare risk instigating similar slaughter again? By 'pulling out' too precipitously, not only will we have truly wasted the efforts of our own good men and women who have already given so much, but in all likelihood we will also condemn many thousands--maybe millions--of others who trusted us to stay, not forever, but only until their security and safety could be reasonably assured.”

We certainly do bear responsibility for what occurs in Iraq and we seem to have got ourselves entwined in a sticky mess. Early on in the Iraq adventure I asserted that it would be much like a Chinese finger trap, the harder we try to get out the more stuck we get and I think your post reflects this. We have invested so much, that we need stay the course. They depend on us. But are we effective? Can we do what needs be done? Do we even know what needs be done? If we leave will all out civil war erupt, will our staying prevent all out civil war? How are we to prevent civil war, by taking sides? These are difficult problems and I think the US forces have become part of the problem and they lack the ability to be part of the solution.

12/02/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

*sigh*

and that should of course be "case in point"

12/02/2005 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Knucklehead said...

Wretchard,

Uncharacteristically for you, you have made an obvious error of reasoning:

What's conspicously absent is any sense from the Press that they have something to lose in this War.

The "Press" clearly has a sense that they have something to lose in this war - perhaps everything. They are doing everything they can, therefore, to win. Unfortunately for us they are on the other side. We must lose for them to win. If we win, they lose.

They are unconcerned about the "the dark clouds of fascism scudding over the horizon." They lift their faces hoping for rain. They are on the side they have chosen and it the side of the dark clouds of facism. They call it "liberalism" because they are long since too ideologically corrupted to recognize the difference.

12/02/2005 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

leo said . . .

"- reocon is concerned about Sadr and his "brigades." I consider that noise. He says its a signal, a bad omen. I believe a consitutional democracy has been established (my signal, his noise), he says Sharia will be estabished (his signal, my noise). To establish Sharia under the constitution, however, the Kurds will have to agree."

Not just Sadr and his Mahdi Army, Leo, but also the following Shiite parties: SCIRI, Da'wa, Fadilah and Iraqi Hezbollah. Before you dismiss Sadr, perhaps you can tell us what two Iraqi parties have the majority share in the current gov't. All this idle chatter of victory must, of necessity, ignore the hard realities of who we are turning the country over to . . . and analogy that could be drawn with South Vietnam as well. Something tells me that will be having this conversation in a fortnight once the elections have been held.

As to the Iraqi constitution and Sharia, I advise you to check out the document itself, especially articles 90-91. What profession within the Iraqi political spectrum are qualified as experts on Sharia? What sort of power will they have to certify elections? Signal or noise, dear Sir?

Article (90): 1st - The Supreme Federal Court is an independent judicial body, financially and administratively, its work and its duties will be defined by law. 2nd - The Supreme Federal Court will be made up of a number of judges andexperts in Sharia (Islamic Law) and law, whose number and manner of selection will be defined by a law that should be passed by two-thirds of the parliament members. Article (91): The Supreme Federal Court will have the following duties: 1st - overseeing the constitutionality of federal laws before they are issued.

2nd - overseeing the constitutionality of the laws and standing regulations.
3rd - interpreting the text of the constitution.
4th - ruling in cases that emerge from the implementation of federal laws.
5th - ruling in disputes between the federal government and the governments of the regions and the provinces and local administrations.
6th - ruling in disputes between the governments of the regions or provinces.
7th - ruling in accusations against the president of the republic, the prime minister and the ministers.
8th - endorsing the final results of parliamentary general elections

12/02/2005 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Enscout:

A most apt description of the media's ability to cow the so-called 'majority.' I was referring to the press' timidity in the face of the world's hard men. They seem to find their voices only when there are no risks.

Tony:

The last sentences of your 1:04 post describe precisely the sort of rationalized cowardice an educated, yet weak and comfortable society is able to produce; the voice of a civilization intellectualizing its demise.

12/02/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Kevin,

The conservative alt-media successes you mention are enabled by the mainstream media outlets saturating the airwaves with social-liberal slant and opinion. The conservative demographic was always there, but now they are connected and speaking out, for good or ill.

When the entry barrier to expression is lowered, as it was with the advent of conservative talk radio and the internet, the first adopters are those who felt silenced by the old regime.

The monopoly of leftist opinion made many in the MSM forget how to win an argument. The conservatives, who were relegated to the hinterlands of opinion for so long, re-entered the ideological battle with knives sharpened and eyes forward and scared the bejeebus out of our softened elite.

12/02/2005 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard is right that the MSM press has unfotunately limited it's response against radical Islam because they are so intimidated by it and are paying a price.

They are losing circulation to the insurgent media now rising. It is hard to be credible even with committed liberals when the all-consuming Bush hatred causes them to gloss over radical Islam's, even mainstream Islam's real problems with gay rights, women's rights, unsensored media showing "objectionable things". As knowledge of Islam spreads, independents and liberals cannot easily ignore the reality that "infidels must die means me."

And taking big hits on film, TV revenues from cowardace. Ridley Scott is a wonderful director, but he blew it when he caved to Muslim pressure and made the Crusaders the villains and Saladin the hero and assured the critics pronouncing it "Bin Laden's version of history" made his movie commercially DOA. Same with other Hollywood players bewildered when they see bad box office on movies that use the old "white neo-nazis" standby as the source of all terrorism and evil in the world, or seek moral equivalency between American and radical Islam....and are stunned when crowds prefer movies where Jesus is not morally equivalent to the Sanhedrin or the Roman captors....or where Harry Potter is as "balanced" between good and evil as Lord Voldemort.

It is a curious phenomenon to watch the media persuaders march lemminglike towards a cliff defending the very enemy who wishes to destroy most of what these media mavens hold near and dear. It defies reason. There is no upside to what they are doing other than to pummel a man who holds temporary elective office or to pretend the enemy isn't so bad and we can cocoon in a pre-9/11 world. But the downside is so obvious!! Bush is gone soon ....then what?? What if another major attack on us happens? What if radical Islam prevails if we retreat from Iraq?

The liberal media has gone batshit crazy along with elements of the Left seeking post-Communist allies.

I think they will pay for it, and I think the liberal parties of Europe and the Democratic Party of America are setting themselves up to pay a similar steep price for such self-destructive acting out.

12/02/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

I have the highest respect for Martin Van Creveld; he's not only an incredible thinker but also an amazingly gifted writer.

Nevertheless, if you understand his thesis as described in THE TRANSFORMATION OF WAR and you insist that his view is correct, you're left with necessarily insisting that OIF will be a failure. If OIF can be a victory, much of Van Creveld's thesis comes into question.

The question of whether or not OIF will be a victory or a defeat is not one of mere narrative or spin. The question fundamentally comes down to this: will the United States emerge from this endeavor as a more powerful and secure nation? Or will it emerge as somehow crippled in the long-term, with its levels of influence, opportunity, and leadership diminished?

I don't believe that the answers are very clear on this and probably won't be for some time.

Wretchard asked, " So who's coming forward to take the surrender, which is what customarily happens when one side is beaten by another?"

The problem with this is that one need not surrender to an enemy in order to be defeated. People and collectives routinely defeat and annihilate themselves all the time. One doesn't need an enemy in order to be defeated. One only need to apply vast resources towards the unobtainable.

12/02/2005 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

cedarford:

It is a curious phenomenon to watch the media persuaders march lemminglike towards a cliff defending the very enemy who wishes to destroy most of what these media mavens hold near and dear. It defies reason.

Their hidden premises start to show. Horowitz of Frontpagemag.com noted in his autobiography "Radical Son" that the "peace movement" against the Vietnam war didn't have peace as their motive power. Note how there were no public celebrations after the US got out of Vietnam that peace was achieved. It, and all causes the Left espouses are tools, tools to destroy US institutions: the peace-ploy was milked dry of all its potential. Move on to the next on, let's see ... environmentalism. The only constant is: destroy US values.

12/02/2005 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

cedarford,

I don't think most people still believe that the fight in Iraq is a fight against all that is bad in Islam.

12/02/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

reocon,

Your argument is compelling, but there is a counterargument that accepts your premises--that Iraqi democracy brings with it a heightened Islamism--but adds the principles of social evolution to reach a completely different conclusion.

Go here to read it.

I tend to agree with Reuel Gerecht's thinking that a Muslim polis that is concerned with its own governing is a substantial step forward, even if the first iterations of that government are more Islamic than not. As long as their attention is introverted, they won't be trying to kill Americans. As long as the corrective system of democracy remains to hold leaders and governing ideologies accountable, the end result will be a decent and functioning society, grown organically and therefore more lasting. Though it may take decades, the important thing is to get the evolution started in the first place.

Hence OIF.

12/02/2005 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Aristides,

But how do conservatives explain the fact that the private sector has created this monster called the MSM? What would motivate so many Bush-supporting corporations to create the alleged liberal media. Surely if huge corporations could get it so totally wrong in such a critical area then perhaps the whole ideology of the infallibility of the private sector should be called into question?

At some point the conservative alt-media becomes the MSM. How does one blame American ambiguity about the situation in Iraq on the media when the conservative alt-media is so very powerful? Surely they could counter any left wing garbage coming from the private sector media. I don't get it.

12/02/2005 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

kevin,

"But how do conservatives explain the fact that the private sector has created this monster called the MSM?"

Not everyone who makes money in the private sector is conservative. There is no ideological test for making money. In mainland China money is made in the billions -- often by people carrying Communist Party cards.

That said, politics is still subjected to a market test. Rupert Murdoch founded Fox not because he believes in anything in particular, but because he saw a large untapped market of not-very-liberal people. CBS news is at its lowest viewership in decades because their market is shrinking. It will react to that or go out of business. You might say that the market created the MSM in its present form; and the market will also alter it beyond recognition.

12/02/2005 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If we had wanted to impose a "strong man" we could have.
Chosen a King or such and let him have at it. The Brits tried that technique earlier in Iraq with only limited success.

A Baathist could have been handed the reins and let the country run on as before, without Saddam & Sons.
But no, Jefferson gets another try. Our Revolution marchs on.

Ash,
We should start leaving in the Spring. I've held that position for a year or so now. The Battle of Iraq is all but over, mopping up around Ramadi is all that's left. The heavy lifting is over, check out Bill Roggio's reporting direct from the front
He is in Ramadi today and reports on the aQ movie that was played as a "News" story.
And there are complaints the Army buys space in Iraqi newspapers.

12/02/2005 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

James Kielland,

My original comment on Crevald (in a couple of posts back) was that his comparison with Lebanon was off because the Israelis could not seize and hold, but America can because it does not have territorial ambitions in the Middle East. The objection to Crevald's comments on Iraq were on his own terms. Fourth Generation has to amount to something more than doing nothing. Part of that 'something' is creating the wherewithal to fight the enemy.

I wrote long ago that the principal objective of OIF was not Iraq the territory but Iraqis the people, by which I meant access to hundreds of thousands of Arabic speakers, the intelligence apparatus of a great state, and above all the experience that comes only with engaging the enemy. None of that would have been forthcoming without OIF.

But it's not meaningless to ask 'who will come forward to take the surrender'? Look at Europe. It can happen in many forms.

12/02/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

What is really striking is that today's liberals are failing produce the equivalent of the antiwar generation; the pitiful Cindy Sheehan events I don't think qualify.

What's also interesting regards the "Hollywood" and "MSM" liberals is that there's absolutely no subtlety in their bias. The incompetent propaganda programing seems almost as though it's geared towards a completely different audience than the one they'd purportedly claim to serve. It's certainly not the audience Nielsen's measuring.

12/02/2005 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Just to add onto Wretchard's comment, I think an answer to Kevin's question concerning the genesis of liberal media bias would take a while to nail down. I think the symbiotic relationship between reporters and academia is a part of the answer, I think the lessons and myths of Watergate play a part, I think the guild mentality plays a part, I think the self-described atheism of our elite plays a part, I think the seductiveness of internationalism and socialism plays a part, and I think the age-old conflict between populist simplicity and urbane sophistication plays a part.

And as Wretchard points out, corporations are not per se supporters of Bush or Republicans, a common misperception, and they are not the only actors of consequence in this game anyway.

Wretchard is also correct about the market. Once the market of information was opened up, demand for conservative opinion--which had been lying latent--was exposed and the artificially low supply was alleviated by new-entrants into the marketplace. Demand for liberal opinion (and, perhaps even more importantly, liberal language), which was kept artificially high by monopoly, diminished a bit as some consumers exercised their newfound freedom of choice.

12/02/2005 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Ash writes:

cedarford,

I don't think most people still believe that the fight in Iraq is a fight against all that is bad in Islam.


I don't think it is either. It is just one battle - or war if you wish - as part of a much bigger, longer war we will be fighting with radical Islam for decades. But it is an important war that will hurt us badly in the war of ideas with Radical Islam if we weaken and run.

Iraq was part to eliminate a threat, to show Muslims in particular we wouldn't put up with any bullshit from the likes of Saddam in a post 9/11 world. It was also to show Muslims in the ME that there is another way besides choosing between a tribally-run dictatorship and going back 1,200 years to a purer, but squalid and oppressive radical Islamist existence.

Both goals are important. (1)Muslims know that if their country wishes to take on the US, that we can pretty well flatten them, and perhaps not go in and take the expense in lives and treasure to occupy or nation-build, but stop instead at rubble-making conversion of their national infrastructure, leadership, and military assets. That should give many leaders pause on knowing there are limits to pushing the US (and allies).

Secondly, (2) the Iraq alternative, plus slow reform elsewhere in countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Afghanistan, LIbya, Morocco presents an alternative to letting the terrorists run things or living under stultifying dictatorship. -----We sometimes forget that radical Islam was not well-received where it was tried as a form of governance and rule by death and terror in most cases. Algeria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, in cities and towns Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda like Islamists have held in Iraq. Iran is mixed. Half the country hates the Islamists, half think they are great.

12/02/2005 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I have begun to refer to the nagging left as “Social Vigilantes”. It is an accurate assessment in my view and vigilantism is universally repugnant by leftist standards. Few realize how repugnant they are, but they will shape the world into a more dreary and dangerous place to prove themselves right and to regain the mantle of power so that they can once again remake the world into the image of a homosexual, secular, socialist paradise.

Vigilante
Def; “One who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one's own hands.”

If one deems the current administration as amoral and to be resisted at all cost, it in effect is taking the law into ‘one’s own hands’. I see the treasonous leaks out of the CIA and the state department as acts of vigilantism. They are stringing up our elected officials because they know they are right, not in the eyes of a secular god but in a religion of a liberal Shangri-la.

12/02/2005 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger servius said...

wretchard wrote:
"the principal objective of OIF...the intelligence apparatus of a great state"

I assume this is referring to Iraq. Has the US obtained this now or is it something they are still trying to acquire?

Another objective that wretchard mentions is "experience...engaging the enemy"

The Soviet Union got ten years of experience in Afghanistan, did that improve their army?

12/02/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Kevin, Wretchard and Aristides wrestle with an interesting issue: corporate-owned media's apparent (maybe paradoxical) leftward tilt.

Wretchard points out that money knows no politics. This would be true, as the number of wealthy donors to the Democrat party attests. If big money was conservative, George Soros would be its archetype.

Various complex psychological explanations -- from guilt to elitist entitlement -- have been offered for the Ted Turners and Hollywood 'limousine liberals.'

But, in media's case, more important than its ideological bent is its thirst for power. Since Watergate and Vietnam, media has put itself on a par with corporate America and government, in terms of deciding the overall direction of this society. It has the added advantage of being the unaccountable watchdog of its corporate and government competitors.

That it has allied itself with internationalist, 'progressive,' effectively anti-capitalist and anti-American thinking is logical, in light of its competitive struggle for power, yet is, in the end, perhaps incidental.

12/02/2005 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

annoy mouse:

Few realize how repugnant they are, but they will shape the world into a more dreary and dangerous place to prove themselves right and to regain the mantle of power so that they can once again remake the world into the image of a homosexual, secular, socialist paradise.

While I agree with the general tenor of this, I object to the tendency to classify the Left as champions of secularism. Sure, the old Left claimed atheism and science on their side. This was obviously not true: does the Cult of Stalin strike anyone as very "scientific" or non-religious?

The New Left also heaps scorn on religion, but notice the period when they came to the fore, the 60s saw a blossoming of mysticism and religious experimentation of all variants. And what was their refrain ... This is the coming of the Age of Aquarius? Not very secular to me.

Please do not confuse rational thought and a secular society with a Leftist society.

12/02/2005 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

P.S. That media have allied themselves with the Democrat party is as much a function of that party's Balkanized composition and weathervane leadership as it is a function of the party's ideological focus.

With Democrats in power, the media is effectively in control.

12/02/2005 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

What an interesting thread.

I think Kevin, et. al. are reading too much into corporate ownership of media assets. American corporate ownership typically relies on one measure: profit. The individual workers in companies and divisions are pretty much on their own as long as they pump profit to the top line. The liberalism in the media and academia derives from the PEOPLE who make their careers in such 'soft' fields.

And for the record, I agree with Cedarford for a sentence here and there: Iraq was part to eliminate a threat, to show Muslims in particular we wouldn't put up with any bullshit from the likes of Saddam in a post 9/11 world.

And, if I could have one present for Christmas, it would the Loyal Opposition making their argument in the positive. That is, rather than accuse the current Administration for everything it doesn't do, for everything that happened outside its orbit, or for any new imaginary failing like Katrina, let them make their own argument in the positive. Like:
1. We are no different than anyone else, we make them hate us, it's wrong for us to have better economy, yadda;
2. We have no chance of winning over against the noble if different Islamists, so we should surrender now and get it over with;
3. There is no good or evil, except us evil ones who think we know the difference.

Merry Christmas!

Ps. My word verification right now is "imwet" - that's like PORNO, isn't it?

12/02/2005 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Radical,
Point taken. I was painting with a rather wide brush. My intention was to introduce the concept of Social Vigilantism. There is a righteous fervor there that tends to take on religeous tones of it's own. It has taken the form of the very things that it would rail against.

"The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten."
- Calvin Coolidge

12/02/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others. Those ripples - crossing each other from a million different centers of energy - build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice."
- Senator Robert F. Kennedy
Social Vigilante

12/02/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

reocon -

I don't mean to minimize the negative impact of the Islamist elements. And you may be right in the long run. We'll see.

My main point is that in a constitutional democracy these forces compete for the approval of the people, and the median voter theorem takes over (the policy tends toward the position of the median voter).

WRT the Iraqi Constitution.

How about these basic principles from the text:

Article 2:

First: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation:

A. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.

B. No law that contradicts the principles of democracy may be established.

C. No law that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in this constitution may be established.

Second: This Constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice such as Christians, Yazedis, and Mandi Sabeans.


or

Article 14:

Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, origin, color, religion, creed, belief or opinion, or economic and social status.

Article 15:

Every individual has the right to enjoy life, security and liberty. Deprivation or restriction of these rights is prohibited except in accordance with the law and based on a decision issued by a competent judicial authority.

Article 16:

Equal opportunities are guaranteed for all Iraqis. The state guarantees the taking of the necessary measures to achieve such equal opportunities.


Source: AP, via the American Chronicle

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that just because they're in the constitution they'll automatically happen. But it does mean that if the constitution is taken seriously by the majority of Iraqis (including, crucially, the military), it will be devilishly difficult for Sadr or anyone else to simply snap their fingers and change the last letter of their country.

What would be a major mistake, IMHO, would be for the US to throw its backing to any group of Iraqi politicians. We need to stay out of their politics, and let the chips fall where they may.

After all, we can barely make a decent job of our own politics...

12/02/2005 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

annoy mouse:

I couldn't agree with you more on your judgment of the Left, but I believe what we see is the sun setting for them in the US. Living in Europe I find that the best thing I can do whenever politics is brought up is to shut up. Anything else would be like dropping a stink bomb in the room or just receive looks saying: "The Martians have landed!" Which is why I love the internet.

12/02/2005 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Roger Cosmo, we are in agreeance: the voice of a civilization intellectualizing its demise.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it up, my liberal friends (and Dems and the MSM) are acting like this:

So, let's go back to the 90's, and pretend we are chasing individual bad men who we can prove committed crimes. And if we have to have a 9/11 once in a while, well, that's just the way it goes. We deserve it anyway, why should we be peaceful when the rest of the world suffers because of all the bad things we do?

This is dangerously weak thinking among the voters. For want of a vote, a candidate was lost; for want of a candidate, an office was lost; for want of an office, a country was lost - from 1993-2000.

Just when a benign, long-proven America emerged as the world's only superpower, we lost focus.

Life in the 21st Century is serious, dude! Can't let that happen again. If there really is a worthy Anti-War Argument to be made, let the Loyal Opposition make it. It would have been best for US if Howard Dean was the Dem candidate in 2004 - it would have brought the argument out into the open.

Of course, when brought out into the open, the question of backing down in this war loses about 403-3.

12/02/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger david bennett said...

----------------------
- reocon is concerned about Sadr and his "brigades." I consider that noise.
---------------------

I believe reocon is also concerne about DAWA and SCIRI. They are often in opposition to Sadr and unlike Sadr have close ties to Iran.

They do control the government. Iraq has promised that it would not be used as a base of attack on Iran and last summer the US had to nix a military agreement between the 2. There is evidence of considerable Iranian influence in southern Iraq which has essentially been handed over to various Shitte parties.

I would not consider the role of Shia parties and militias to be "noise." They are a real factor in Iraqi politics and control large portions of the country including the communications lines we depend on.

12/02/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/02/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Tony wrote:

“American corporate ownership typically relies on one measure: profit.”

And the Bush administration and its policy directly relate to profit. From cross media/production ownership to reluctance for regulation places top down pressure support for right leaning bias. In Canada, Izzy Asper has even gone on record and required editorial support for Israel, not for profit but for…well, you get my drift.

That being said, I believe that there is so much various forms and ownership of media and that with that with the realization that all views are present from a perspective it is really quite absurd to moan on about a general bias. It is what it is, it is biased, and heck so is Wretchard’s blog, necessarily.

Ceaderford,

I guess should further refine my point, I don’t think most people feel that OIF has much of anything to do with Islam. They believe that it has to do with Saddam, the Bush clan, tyranny, democracy, and Oil. Islam….it’s a side show, a pretext if you will.

You maintain that :

“Iraq was part to eliminate a threat, to show Muslims in particular we wouldn't put up with any bullshit from the likes of Saddam in a post 9/11 world. It was also to show Muslims in the ME that there is another way besides choosing between a tribally-run dictatorship and going back 1,200 years to a purer, but squalid and oppressive radical Islamist existence.”

I’m not so sure they perceive it that way. Saddam and the religious Muslims didn’t get along so well (to put it mildly). From the terrorist/bin Laden perspective I would imagine much hardy laughter. Like when the Soviets had the audacity to occupy Afghanistan, so to will the Yankee’s flee from Iraq, after doing them the favor of taking out their enemy Saddam. Sure, they have achieved a degree of respect for out firepower but it is mitigated by its utter uselessness in swaying Arabs hearts and minds. They (the terrorists) care little for country-to-country warfare, but rather the advancement of their ideology. Nations and its treasure means sh*t when the forever lasting idyll is yours.

12/02/2005 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

david bennett wrote:

"I would not consider the role of Shia parties and militias to be "noise." They are a real factor in Iraqi politics and control large portions of the country including the communications lines we depend on"

Speaking of communications, it seems that the US has limited satellite coverage over the middle east to use for remote control of weaponry. They have been renting satellite time from.....France (or so I've been informed by a robotics Univ. prof friend doing 'research' funded in part by the DOD.

12/02/2005 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

Voltiman,

Greatpost - any way to get in touch with you?

Feel free to dop me a note at my site and thanks

12/02/2005 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Reocon,

How often did Britain find itself allied with the Ottomans? The Crimean War comes to mind. The funny thing about the Ottoman Empire was that Germany, France and England were at one time or the other allied with it. See The Eastern Question. The instances are now mostly forgotten as history, but curiously, survive as poetry. We remember the "Charge of the Light Brigade". Lord Byron tried to influence British policy to assist the Greeks against the Ottomans. His famous poem, "The Isles of Greece" has allusions to the diplomatic alignments of the day.

Trust not for freedom to the Franks—
They have a king who buys and sells;
In native swords and native ranks
The only hope of courage dwells:
But Turkish force and Latin fraud
Would break your shield, however broad

12/02/2005 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

David Bennett -

Noise is most definitely real, and it sometimes looks a lot like a signal. And other times, it drowns the signal.

My point was not that the various Islamist elements aren't real - they most certainly are.

What I've been trying to think through is whether they will really matter to the outcome of OIF (i.e. the long-term viability of Iraqi constitutional democracy). That's what will determine whether they are signal or noise. It's certainly possible (maybe even probable) that they are signal, and will have a determinative impact. I'm not smart enough to really predict this.

On the other hand, they may be like a lot of radical groups in functioning democracies: great for the press, but of little import save for their ability to nudge the major coalitions one direction or the other (a non-trivial ability in certain circumstances, as we shall see below, but still of little consequence in the long run).

The funny thing is that the impact extremists have is often unintended and counter to their interests. Let's take for example Ralph Nader's Green Party in the US elections of 2000. There is no doubt that Nader had an impact. That impact was both direct (taking voters from Gore) and indirect (pulling Gore towards the left).

Now these two impacts seem to be contradictory, but they're not necessarily. In 2000, they helped Bush win. I'm sure this is NOT what Mr. Nader desired.

So, it is true that a Sadr, or DAWA, or SCIRI, or whoever can make an impact. But it may not be something that helps their cause. Their impact may, in fact, sink their movement.

The key here is that in a stable, functioning democracy, the only votes that are determinative are those of the median voters. This is, for the most part, a good thing and part of the genius of democracy. It increases the likelihood that governing coalitions will be moderate - or at least as moderate as the electorate.

But for democracy to work, the electorate has to be able to correct its mistakes. Regular elections allow that, and a constitution calls for regular elections, and a balance of power allows for a stable constitution. One man, one vote, once is not a true democracy, and if that happens in Iraq, we will most certainly have failed.

In the end, I still have hope that the Iraqis will get the democracy we deserve. But I'm certain they'll get the democracy they deserve.

12/02/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

If not one is to accept surrender, then we will do what victors have always done - have a victory parade.

We will have a parade in New York, Dallas, San Fran Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Washigton DC.

All the National Guard, Army, Marines and USAF troops will parade in battle dress. We will throng to the streets and wave the US and Iraqi flags and have a day of celebration. Veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War will be there. We will cheer Liberation.

THIS July 4 is the day.

12/02/2005 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

People,

It's over. Anytime you've got to enlist the past pluperfect subjunctive - as did Hillary - to explain away a past decision you are in deep deep trouble.

As I predicted somewheres a year ago, the Democratic party is shattering. Its investment in misrepresentation is breaking it down beyond repair. Although no longer a Democrat, I was actually sad to read Hillary's backtracking speech today. The Democrats need to lead the moonbats away from the falls not go over with them.

12/02/2005 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

Cosmo,

you wrote: I was referring to the press' timidity in the face of the world's hard men.

Yes, this is a very good point. Spot on, to their eternal shame.

12/02/2005 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Ash, you still miss it. We are not in Iraq to proselytize radical Islamoids to the wonders of Burger King. We are there to help end the nexus between bad actor Muslim states - WMD - and unlawful combatants.

Al Qaeda thought that after the US ran from Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, and feared any casualties in Bosnia and Kosovo that Americans were easy marks. Bin Laden called us Russians without the bravery.

Part of us squashing Muslim nations that give us too much bullshit is dispelling that, while showing spineless Americans are a minority.

Ending the nexus is actually doing pretty well. We got Libya out of the nuclear business and smoked out the AQ Khan network. Several more Muslim countries are moving in reform direction and not so interested in WMD anymore, with of course the notable exception of Iran. Saying that while nations are shifting a bit in our favor doesn't matter to radical Islamists is short-sighted. They need to get their money, expertise, weaponry from somewhere and have sanctuary places where they are safe from being picked off. Their ideology is less likely to work if people see an alternative betweem 8th century life and the Saddams and Mubarack Presidents for Life, but also to create a new reality where they see the radical Islamists as hunted dogs with no power to really change anything.

As is already, Muslims and the world have seen that where the radical Islamists have ruled, they killed and tortured a lot in getting and holding power - and were not popular.

And what we did with both Iraq and Afghanistan is show that hospitality to the radical Islamist terrorists or simply giving us too much bullshit can result in a major catastrophy for leadership.

We don't actually have to play the next one like Iraq. We can simply kill lots of people and break things from the air and sea, then go in by land and kill more people and break more things, then simply leave without occupying or reconstructing the place. Avoid the costs and casualties of occupation. The Romans used to call it "making an example"...

12/02/2005 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Voltimand: Big thinking, I wish it could happen.

To make a connection, I see something similar with the narrative of Vietnam. The truth is the US population really knows next to jack about Vietnam, only the myths propagated by pop culture and the media. Republicans don't even try to set the record straight, they generally just let it slide.

We've got smart people on our side, who start with the notion that "this must be different from Vietnam," because Vietnam was a failure, and we can't be associated with failure. From the beginning this was like Vietnam, an anti-war minority gradually controlling the media and opposition party and wearing down the US public with propaganda and distortion.

The lesson from Vietnam that should have been learned is that these people are traitors [in spirit if not in law] and sophists.

However, the Democrats obviously made a career out of distorting the conflict, and put America in a decades long funk that still hasn't ended. As generations pass it by, it'll also be increasingly unchallengable. I deeply desire the day we defend Iraq exactly in context with Vietnam, rather than run away from it.

But perhaps it is a battle we're already too late to fight? Is it too complex a narrative to set straight?

12/02/2005 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Ending the nexus is actually doing pretty well. We got Libya out of the nuclear business and smoked out the AQ Khan network. Several more Muslim countries are moving in reform direction and not so interested in WMD anymore, with of course the notable exception of Iran. Saying that while nations are shifting a bit in our favor doesn't matter to radical Islamists is short-sighted. They need to get their money, expertise, weaponry from somewhere and have sanctuary places where they are safe from being picked off. Their ideology is less likely to work if people see an alternative betweem 8th century life and the Saddams and Mubarack Presidents for Life, but also to create a new reality where they see the radical Islamists as hunted dogs with no power to really change anything.

I leave for a month and Cedarford becomes an optimist neocon? Huh?

12/02/2005 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Nevermind Cedar, I think I see what you're saying.

Not necessarily democracy, but merely that Al Qaeda can do nothing but cause trouble, and is trouble for both regimes and their people.

"We don't actually have to play the next one like Iraq. We can simply kill lots of people and break things from the air and sea, then go in by land and kill more people and break more things, then simply leave without occupying or reconstructing the place. Avoid the costs and casualties of occupation. The Romans used to call it "making an example"...

If the whole democracy thing works out, I agree, that's the backup plan. Don't know if we have the guts and self-righteousness as a country to do what it takes, however.

Still, the optimism was surprising. Makes me think the Mossad got something in your coffee at last.

12/02/2005 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Cedarford becomes an optimist neocon?


So Cedarfard, how many shares of HAL and INTC do you own?

12/03/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Cedarford wrote:

"We don't actually have to play the next one like Iraq. We can simply kill lots of people and break things from the air and sea, then go in by land and kill more people and break more things, then simply leave without occupying or reconstructing the place. Avoid the costs and casualties of occupation. The Romans used to call it "making an example"..."

Hasn't that been Israel's standard approach, you hit us, we'll hit you back twice as hard? It doesn't seem to have worked for them, I'm not sure it'll work for us either.

12/03/2005 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

ash
No that has not been the Israeli approach at all.
C4 is discussing removal or destruction of the problem, not managing it, which is what the Israelis have tried to do.

Remove the Palistinians from the West Bank, enmass. Evacuate them to Lebanon or Jordan. Never let them return. If they do not go kill them, one and all, and raze their buildings. The Intafada would be over.
The Israelis could build from scratch on the rubble.

Mass forced migrations were imposed at the end of WWII, it is neither an unheard of or unusual policy in the Cause of Peace & Stability

Relocation is a real option, that is real war.
The Israelis do not feel that is a viable option, for them. They may not be in a position to do that politically.

We could do that, in Damascus, for instance. Destroy the city, the infrastructure, the entire System and walk away. No occupation, no reconstruction, just devastation and hardship for the Syrians. If they rebuild and are not nice, destroy it again.

12/03/2005 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Howard Dean Catches Up to Belmont Club!

12/05/2005 03:13:00 PM  

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