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Top 10 contradictions
October 22, 2001 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Top 10 contradictions regarding the US bombing of Afghanistan.
posted by Rastafari (35 comments total)

 
Their definition of a "contradiction" is as accurate as Alanis Morrisette's definition of "ironic." It seems that they regard as a "contradiction" a question to which they do not fully understand the answer. Example:

"What's left to bomb? The Pentagon says there are few "high-value targets" left in Afghanistan. U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the country is "rubble ... pulverized" by years of war.

"A week later, bombing is heavier than ever."

Possibly because they're going after troop concentrations, supply lines, etc., instead of fixed facilities?
posted by lileks at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2001


Alanis, Ha! Exactly what I was going to say, lileks. I may not exactly agree with everything that's going on over there, but this site sees "contradictions" that simply aren't there. A bunch of half-thoughts strewn together.
posted by jpoulos at 10:02 AM on October 22, 2001


You could also call this 'Top Ten Things That You Might Think If You Only Put 10 Seconds into It"
Each of these things could be explored further, but the contradiction sounds nicer.

The Pentagon says there are few "high-value targets" left in Afghanistan. U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the country is "rubble ... pulverized" by years of war.
A week later, bombing is heavier than ever. Yesterday, Gen. Richard Myers, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described targets asTaliban command-and-control sites, airfields and military targets, including missile, vehicle and armour maintenance facilities.


Yeah, where's the contradiction? "High Value" Targets have been destroyed. However, they did not say all targets have been destroyed, and presumably continued bombing would be needed to stop them as they attempt to reassembe/rebuild what has been bombed, or move command and control to other locations. And there are still many millitary targets - for instance the armies themselves.

What is a 'Moderate Taliban?'

By your definition, There is no difference between Charlie Rangel and George W. Bush.

The US was exploring moderates in the Taliban government, though they may not be the controlling majority
of that government, whose policies they control.

Go back to the thinking board and most of these 'contradictions' will disapear.
posted by brucec at 10:03 AM on October 22, 2001


lileks,

I can't believe it! I literaly though about the Alanis thing too, but thought it might be too outdated.
posted by brucec at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2001


the Alanis thing too, but thought it might be too outdated

nah, Julie London is outdated. Alanis is still in short term memory.
posted by billder at 10:13 AM on October 22, 2001


A bunch of half-thoughts strewn together.


Agreed. This is just a compilation of conflicting news reports which in themselves are written on the 5th grade level and are more or less strewn together. Hi, welcome to mass media 101.

It looks more like a 'look at how messed up the reporting is' than a deep investigation of events. Its a look into media distortion and conflicting reports and opinions. In that context its a pretty relevant article.

I think this kind of discourse is important in mainstream papers like the Toronto Star, which is where it originated from. The media has a responsibility to correct itself or admit, like this article does, that their reporting is and will continue to be up to the minute soundbites and ham-handed articles.
posted by skallas at 10:14 AM on October 22, 2001


What does this article show us about the intellectual integrity of the anti-war, anti-US "progressive" community? Hint: confirmation bias.
posted by gd779 at 10:23 AM on October 22, 2001


Note: I put "progressive" in scare quotes because Common Dreams purports to speak for the "progressive" community.
posted by gd779 at 10:25 AM on October 22, 2001


but you just gotta love the self-fulfilling title to this piece: "Add Logic to List of Casualties"

And they said irony was dead....
posted by mattpfeff at 10:32 AM on October 22, 2001


What is the 'progressive' community, anyway.. and why is their news different than my news?

As for the Congress - they've always been the lesser group compared the the Senate. (chuckle) As if that's much of a compliment, though...

As for the 'weapons-grade' comment.. it's funny that she says Daschle is contradicting himself when it was Gephardt who was talking to the news...

Good point on the generic prescription thing, though. It may be the only good point.

As for the Northern Alliance.. you'd think people would learn the US has 'friends of convenience' like the NA and then we have allies, like England.

The Taliban were 'friends' of the US when we were supplying them against the Soviets along with the alliance clans.
posted by rich at 10:34 AM on October 22, 2001


Better title ideas:

"Top 10 contradictions for people more interested in sounds bites than facts or research."

"Top ten things to research before writing articles on the WTC aftermath."
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:35 AM on October 22, 2001


Note: I put "progressive" in scare quotes because Common Dreams purports to speak for the "progressive" community.

well, bin Laden claims to speak for all true muslims, but we all know it isn't so.

where's *your* intellectual integrity?
posted by rebeccablood at 10:36 AM on October 22, 2001


rebecca: eh. That's exactly the misunderstanding that I was trying to prevent with my second post.

My goal was to restrict my comments to a very narrow and marginalized portion of the far-left. I realize that pieces like this don't speak for the progressive community as a whole; hence the scare-quotes. Sorry for any misunderstanding I caused.
posted by gd779 at 10:42 AM on October 22, 2001


I was reading this post, then decided to chime in and say that I was going to post something Alanis-related.
posted by adampsyche at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2001


Why did you have to bring up Alanis... now I will be haunted by that song all day, doncha think.

As far as the Anthrax, that is just a question that hasn't been answered yet. All the information we are getting is from amateur sources relaying what they heard. Plus, they haven't gathered enough evidence to point to anybody to hold responsible for the anthrax. So, what does that have to do with the bombing? Nothing, as far as we know right now.

One of these things are not like the other...
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2001


It's really kind of pointless to bash on this kind of misinformed knee-jerk liberal drool. They do a good enough job of lampooning themselves. I'd have thought this was a parody site had I not been informed otherwise.

We are seeing the death of a certain kind of liberalism: the namby-pamby whiners who protest everything from globalization to the environment without actually suggesting an alternative. Their lot is simply to go around crying "Woe!". Naomi Klien is just such a person -- she can only talk about what's wrong rather than how to fix it.
posted by mrmanley at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2001


"is not" like the others.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 10:51 AM on October 22, 2001


Has anybody else simply stopped believing anything the US Governement or the Taliban or the Northern Alliance says regarding casualties, status of "targets," suspects, who's at fault, etc...?
posted by bob bisquick at 11:29 AM on October 22, 2001


I guess what bothers me is not the post and what it says--I have long given up on that "organ"--but rather that any number of fairly nice and bright fooks (bloggers included) will cite a piece from CommonSense as though it was Grand. (I know. Grand an old fashioned expression. But I am that way.) It was CS that reported that the picture of the Palestinians rejoycing when the WTC was bombed was a fake picutre taken some ten years previously.
posted by Postroad at 11:29 AM on October 22, 2001


Top Ten Ways Left-of-Center Simplistic, Frightened American Hating Thinkers Complete Their Weekly Column
posted by ParisParamus at 11:48 AM on October 22, 2001


mrmanley, naomi klein has a thoughtful essay in the nation today :)
posted by kliuless at 11:48 AM on October 22, 2001


We are seeing the death of a certain kind of liberalism: the namby-pamby whiners who protest everything from globalization to the environment without actually suggesting an alternative.

Alas, straw men appear to be multiplying from the right like bunnies in heat.
posted by holgate at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2001


And while we're looking at the list...


Does the United States now support cheap generic drug production?

Yes, it does. Two antibiotics that are effective against B. anthracis, penicillin and doxycyline, are available in cheap generic forms.
posted by Alwin at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2001



What is the 'progressive' community, anyway.. and why is their news different than my news?

its not really. it just includes sources you'll never ever hear being cited in the mainstream American media. It also publishes commentary from people who would never ever get ink/air time in the mainstream American media.

The progressives pretty well had to develop their own media networks altogether since only far-right commentary is allowed in the mainstream, i.e., where is the mainstream left version of Rush Limbaugh?

Much of the commentary at Common Dreams is just that... commentary. Its worth as much or as little as Rush or Dr. Laura or whatever other conservative commentators are out there anymore.... I don't listen to them so I don't know whose around anymore.

My observations.
posted by zodiac at 12:39 PM on October 22, 2001


gd779, who is part of the anti-US community that you refer to?
posted by gluechunk at 12:41 PM on October 22, 2001


Arundhati Roy, for one.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 1:51 PM on October 22, 2001


Has anybody else simply stopped believing anything the US Governement or the Taliban or the Northern Alliance says regarding casualties, status of "targets," suspects, who's at fault, etc...?

I certainly have. Both sides are spinning wildly, and while it's good to stay informed about the progess, it all has to be taken with larger grains of salt right now.

We will probably not know the definitive, factual truth for several years.
posted by Dirjy at 2:18 PM on October 22, 2001


Let's see...lots of bombast and smoke and mirrors on the right about this article, without any refutation of the points raised. Lots of fingers pointed at "anti-US communities" and terrible "progressives" without actually showing what's wrong with those views.

Another typical day with the "kill a Muslim for mommie" mentality, I guess.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:07 PM on October 22, 2001


You don't need to dissect a pile of shit to realize it's a pile of shit.
Another typical day with the 'Westerners are baby-murdering savages' mentality, I guess.
posted by darukaru at 7:19 PM on October 22, 2001


I like your answer best, darukaru. I was going to pick this article apart and waste a half hour doing it but then I realized that anyone with sense knows it's a biased piece of shit, and a baseless one at that.
posted by MarkO at 8:01 PM on October 22, 2001


Everybody has their just so stories as to the hows, whys and prescriptions for success. But as any able-minded, be we progressive or conservative, we all owe it to ourselves and our common humanity, country, community to continually remain skeptical about anything and everything we read. Our emotions must be tempered with a recognition that we will never know everything. And in some cases, such as this all too vast case beleaguering our world, as much as we think we know, we actually will never know anything of. Such as what it's like to be an Afghani refugee, what it's like to be a young adult in the Arab world surrounded by such "life or death" peer etc. pressure.

However, there is a certainty that remains pillar tough: Common humanity. Perhaps, perhaps. . .the combined, collective bullshit, (this link for example) years from now will have sufficiently colored at least the mood of people that we can all live in a hopelessly boring, but just world.

Uhhhhh yeah. . .Just enough bullshit is what we need. See, I don't know either.
posted by crasspastor at 8:18 PM on October 22, 2001


gd779, who is part of the anti-US community that you refer to?

Well, I'd name MetaFilter usernames, but that wouldn't be polite...

The group that I'm talking about is not anti-US in the sense that they hate the government of the United States. Rather, I think that they are simply blinded by their preconceived notions of life and enraged by western values that they do not share. They are the sort of unthinking knee-jerk reactionaries that, while unshakably and even unthinkingly committed to their chosen political party, are found equally on both sides of the political spectrum because their only true cause is contention and prejudice. These tendencies may be masked in a veneer of politeness in an attempt to win support for their beliefs, but a lengthy conversation with one of them reveals their true nature. Like I said, I've met several on MeFi, but they often abound on college campuses.

Steven mentioned one such person in the media; I'm not media-savvy enough to know any others by name. But I've read their work. Sorry I can't elaborate more on that; while I generally remember the substance of what I read, I usually ignore the byline.

Again, it would be an extreme disservice to conflate these idiots with your average progressive. I may not be "progressive" myself, but I at least try and recognize reasonable people when I see them. Most progressives are perfectly reasonable, intelligent people. They just happen to be wrong.
posted by gd779 at 8:29 PM on October 22, 2001


Fine.

Point #1. The "high value targets" were mainly the air defense system. The point was to take out their SAM batteries and the radars used to aim them; that was accomplished within the first three days. Up to that point, a relatively small number of jets were used. Once they were destroyed, it became possible to use a larger number of jets on more intense missions. The secondary goal was to take out such command-and-control facilities as they had, which wasn't damned much. Those were the "high value targets". But once those were destroyed, it was time to move on to the medium value targets; things like ammunition dumps and cave complexes and Mullah Omar's compound. Most of those are gone now, too. The current air campaign involves three things. First, a certain number of jets simply patrol looking for things like supply convoys, artillery batteries and tanks, and attack them when they're found. Second, Taliban troop concentrations are being hit. Third, air power is being used to back up ground operations by Special Forces units. That's "what's left to bomb".

2. The training facilities all needed to be destroyed so as to set back the ability of al Qaeda to operate while the war is going on. Some of their facilities were being used and some were abandoned, but if the ones being used were the only ones attacked, then they'd just move to the others. There wasn't that much more effort involved in taking the rest out. There was also the psychological effect this would have, on the Taliban, on al Qaeda, and on the rest of the Afghans. Some of those places were taken out with particularly destructive weapons; it was possible to demonstrate how powerful they were without killing anyone.

The primary purpose of this campaign to to destabilize the Taliban. They control what amounts to a coalition; most of the forces they "command" only cleave to them because they're viewed as being winners. Changing sides is a staple of tribal warfare in Afghanistan and has been for a long time. The hope is that enough of the right kinds of operations will convince most of the warlords who currently support the Taliban to abandon them, which would substantially weaken them. Among other things that the Special Forces have been doing, they've actually been visiting some of the headquarters of these warlords to try to talk them into defecting. Some of the reason for the airstrikes is as a show of force to convince those guys that the Taliban are doomed.

When you blast an abandoned camp so thoroughly that there is literally nothing left standing, the message is clear: the next one could be on your head. These warlords are being enticed both with carrot and stick. The bombs are the stick. There's a difference between reading about that kind of thing in the newspaper and really seeing it for yourself.

3. "Moderate Taliban" was a code phrase that Colin Powell used which was deliberately ambiguous. This is common in diplomacy; it permitted Musharaf to continue to try to tell the Pakistanis that the Pashtun would be represented in the post-Taliban coalition government. But Powell's statement was quite deliberately ambiguous; in practice, what "moderate Taliban" really means is those warlords I mentioned a minute ago who are currently allied with the Taliban but might be considering changing sides.

4. The term "weapon's grade" when referring to Anthrax has two different meanings. First, it refers to whether the anthrax has been mutated so that it is resistant to treatment with antibiotics. This is not. Second, it refers to whether the spores have been physically processed in such a way as to make them particularly easy to spread. It turns out that they are not that, either. But for a while they thought that it was indeed mutated anthrax; the confusion you've been seeing has been due to preliminary results from tentative initial testing being over-reported by the media.

5. The House of Representatives closed because they were cowards. It was a political blunder. However, there's another thing here. Originally, both the Senate and House were going to adjourn. At the last minute, one Senator made a very good speech and convinced his fellows to keep meeting. Unfortunately, this happened after the House had already decided to adjourn for a week, leaving them holding the bag. A lot of Representatives are pissed about this; they think that the Senate set them up.

6. The children of Afghanistan are going to suffer just like everyone else is. It's unfortunate but it can't be avoided. Despite the pleas of the aid agencies, there is not going to be a lull in the bombing. That would be a blunder of the first order; it would give the Taliban time to collect themselves, move troops and supplies around, and most important of all would give them time to work on keeping the support of the warlords. If we keep the pressure on, there's a possibility that this might actually end in about three weeks, with the Taliban leadership and organization suddenly coming apart like Kleenex in the rain.

If that doesn't happen, then a huge number of Afghans are going to starve. Some of them will be children.

7. For the moment, the United States does not support generic drugs during the interval of patents because the US wants the drug companies to keep developing new ones. It is grossly expensive to develop a new drug; the only reason that the drug companies are willing to do so is because they get the reward for it during the patent interval. This is part of a more general discussion about private ownership of intellectual property; there is a strong movement on the part of certain leftists to abolish the patent system entirely, and that's another subject for another day.

If there were a major series of attacks on the US which overwhelmed the ability of Bayer to manufacture Cipro, the US would acquire generic drugs as needed to fill the deficit. It has that right under the law, but will only do so if it needs to. And once the patent expires, then it will become generic. By the way, a very large number of drugs are available as generics in the US; it's a canard to say that the US has been trying to eliminate them.

8. Giuliani has been polite to all foreign visitors because he really has no choice. The only foreign visitor he's rebuffed was that asshole from Saudi Arabia who acted like a boor. Aside from that, the fact that Giuliani is gracious to a visitor doesn't indicate that he's glad the visitor is there. In fact, I have heard strong rumors that most of the people working there wish that all the celebrities, not just diplomats but actors and sports figures, too, stay the hell away; when they show up they disrupt the work. That was especially true during the first two weeks when they still hoped that they might find survivors and time was of the essence. These days it's a bit less urgent. Chretien was, in my opinion, correct to not go.

9. The Northern Alliance is neither friend nor foe. It is an organization whose goals are partially congruent to our own, and it makes some sense at this time for us to cooperate with them, as long as that doesn't seriously damage the long term plans we have. They serve a particularly good purpose: they also have been negotiating with those warlords to try to get them to defect. They also serve to some extent as surrogate troops; any fighting against Taliban forces that they do is fighting that our own soldiers won't have to do. But we're not just going to turn the country over to them afterwards and leave. That got tried once and the result was disaster. Instead, there's going to be a long period of rebuilding, to reboot something akin to an economy and a society there. Likely the nation will be run under martial law for about a year, and occupied by foreign forces for about five. I expect it to go about the same way as the occupation of Japan after WWII. A government will be set up which hopefully will have broad support; it is not intended to set up a puppet there like the USSR did.

10. I don't have an answer for this one; it's not an issue I've been keeping up on. Perhaps someone else could answer it?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:38 PM on October 22, 2001


gd779, who is part of the anti-US community that you refer to?

gd779 : Well, I'd name MetaFilter usernames, but that wouldn't be polite...


Oooh pick me, pick me!
I definitely am blinded by my preconceived notions of life and enraged by western values that I do not share. I really really am the sort of unthinking knee-jerk reactionary that, while unshakably and even unthinkingly committed to my chosen political party, is found equally on both sides of the political spectrum because my only true cause is contention and prejudice.

What drivel. I'm sorry, but though there are a lot of Americans I love, and I mourn the deaths last month and the deaths that are yet to come as much as any feeling human, I am deeply unfond of the USA, and your half-assed attempt to scoop me and people like myself up in your rhetorical bucket is laughable at best.

Nyah!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:32 AM on October 23, 2001


This article contains a good summary of the overall strategy being used in Afghanistan, including how the bombing fits into it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:23 AM on October 23, 2001


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