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Iraq Net Assessment: Strategic Overview and Recommendations
May 29, 2004 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Iraq Net Assessment: Strategic Overview and Recommendations
From Defense and the National Interest
Read it and weep.
posted by y2karl (52 comments total)

 
Sample:

Failures

1. Operation Iraqi Freedom in general, and the Abu Ghraib incidents in particular, have substantially increased the circumstances favorable for terrorist recruitment in the Greater Middle East and all other areas in which Muslims are a cohesive minority. This is the gravest failure of Operation Iraqi Freedom: it has directly and indirectly weakened the national security posture of the United States and the safety of its citizens. As such, Operation Iraqi Freedomhas backfired in the larger context of the Global War on Terrorism as badly as Vietnam backfired within the framework of containment policy.

2. More than any other event or circumstance in the last 55 years, Operation Iraqi Freedom has weakened the U.S.-led global alliance structure (a substantially Truman-Marshall-Acheson construct which includes the United Nations, NATO, ANZUS, and various bilateral arrangements). While a looser global alignment following the end of the cold war was inevitable, Operation Iraqi Freedom has qualitatively transformed the relationship to one of mutual suspicion and occasional hostility. These circumstances make conduct of the Global War On Terror more difficult and require the US Government to expend more political and financial capital to continue it.

3. Approximately one-half of U.S. military ground combat power is tied down for an indeterminate period against an insurgency disposing mainly of stockpiled small arms, RPGs, improvised bombs, and only an occasional guided weapon. This circumstance weakens, both materially and psychologically, the U.S. military deterrent posture in the rest of the world, and exacerbates military overstretch (c).

4. Primary rationale for Operation Iraqi Freedom--weapons of mass destruction--was demonstrated by events to be erroneous or a fabrication. US Government credibility in rationalizing future preemptive wars has been diminished.

5. Secondary rationale for Operation Iraqi Freedom--purported links between the Baath regime and al Qaeda--was demonstrated by events to be false. US Government credibility has been damaged among foreign publics and U.S. opinion leaders (this may be less of a psy-op failure than it appears; the bulk of the U.S. electorate continues to believe Iraq was responsible for 9/11).

6. Tertiary rationale for Operation Iraqi Freedom--nationbuilding Iraq into a stable pro-western democracy--is now in the process of being compromised by events into a less democratic but more politically expedient goal.

7. Additional rationale for Operation Iraqi Freedom--facilitating a resolution of the Israel-Palestine dispute settlement--was demonstrated by events to be false. On the contrary, the situation is demonstrably worse. OIF proponents also asserted that the Greater Middle East would be stabilized by U.S. occupation of Iraq; the reverse is true.

8. Sub rosa rationale offered by US Government leaders to U.S. business elites and indirectly to American consumers--that Operation Iraqi Freedom would yield a bonus of cheap, abundant oil--was demonstrated by events to be false. Additionally, the occupation is not self-financing, as was asserted before the war. Instead, $121 billion has been committed to Iraq and another $25 billion has been proposed.

...The US Government serves the national interest better by using military force to deter wars, or by using it to assist in a broad alliance, than when it attempts unilaterally to fight a determined foe on his own territory. U.S. elites are consistently misled, more than six decades later, by the myth that the United States won World War II mostly single-handed. In reality, seven-eighths of all German ground combat time throughout the war was expended against the Soviet Union. China absorbed a similar proportion of Japanese ground combat power. What the United States accomplished was essentially the deployment of its gross national product in coalition with a broad alliance to expel Axis forces from third-party territory. When U.S. leadership has forgotten this model (as in Vietnam) the results are generally unfavorable. This problem is compounded by the emergence of Fourth Generation Warfare, a historical phase shift which has caught the technocratic, process-oriented, and historically illiterate U.S. elites unprepared.


See Also

Anthony Cordesman: What is To Be Done PDF HTML

It may not be as apparent in the US as it is in the Arab world, but several weeks of travel in the region indicate that the course of the fighting in Fallujah and Najaf are perceived in much of Iraq and the Arab world as a serious US defeat. This is not simply a matter of shattering an aura of US military invincibility; it is a growing shift in political attitudes and in the prospects for political change in Iraq.

It is also all too clear that any idea the US is engaging in ''post-conflict operations'' is little more than a farce. The shock of Saddam's fall produced a brief period of near paralysis in the Iraqi opposition to the US and the Coalition. By August 2003, however, a state of low intensity conflict clearly existed in Iraq, and the level of this conflict has escalated ever since January of 2004.

In fact, this follows a pattern that makes the very term ''post-conflict operations'' a stupid and intellectually dishonest oxymoron. As we have seen in Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Cambodia, and many other cases, asymmetric wars do not really end. Nation building must take place on an armed basis without security and in the face of adaptive and innovative threats. The reality is that this is a far more difficult aspect of ''transformation'' than defeating organized military resistance, and one for which the US is not yet prepared. Senior US officials have been in a continuing state of denial about the depth of support for this conflict. They have misused public opinion polls like the Zogby and ABC polls and they have ignored the fact that the ABC poll conducted in February found that roughly two thirds of Sunnis and one third of Shi-ites opposed the US and British invasion and found it to be humiliating to Iraq.

Senior US officials have ignored the fact that roughly one-third of Sunnis and two-thirds of Shi-ites support violence against the Coalition and want the Coalition forces to leave Iraq immediately. They talk about a small minority of Iraqis because only a small minority have so far been actively violent--a reality in virtually every insurgent campaign and one that in no way is a measure of support for violence.

A year into the ''war after the war,'' far too many US officials are still in a state of denial as to the political realities in the Middle East. They do not see just how much the perceived US tilt towards Israel and Sharon alienates Iraqis and Arabs in general. They do not admit the near total failure of US information operations, and the fact that Iraqis watch hostile Arab satellite TV stations and rely on papers filled with misinformation and conspiracy theories.

They talk about ''success''in aid programs measured in terms of contracts signed, fiscal obligations, and gross measures of performance like megawatts; not about actual progress on the ground the kind that can really win hearts and minds. They cannot understand that US calls for ''liberty,'' ''democracy,'' and ''reform'' have become coupled to images of US interference in Arab regimes, the broad resentment of careless negative US references to Islam and Arab culture, and conspiracy theories about control of Iraqi oil, ''neoimperialism,'' and serving ''Zionist'' interests.

The fact these perceptions are not fair is as irrelevant as US tactical military victories that are often political defeats. The present mix of armed nation building and low intensity conflict takes place in a region shaped by such perceptions. This is why the photographic evidence of US mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners is so devastating. For many in the region, it validates every criticism of the US, and vastly strengthens the hand of Islamic extremists, Sunni insurgents, Shi-ite insurgents, and hostile media and intellectuals in both the Arab world and Europe.

The time has come to face this reality. There was never a time when neoconservative fantasies about the Middle East were anything but dangerous illusions. Those fantasies have killed and wounded thousands of American and Coalition allies, and now threaten the US with a serious strategic defeat. It may not be possible to avoid some form of defeat, but the US must make every effort to do so, and this means junking the neoconservatism within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Vice President's office, and the NSC and coming firmly to grips with reality.


Iraqis' doubts of U.S. deepen--New poll says majority wants Americans gone

Sadoun Dulame read the results of his latest poll again and again. He added up percentages, highlighted sections and scribbled notes in the margins.

No matter how he crunched the numbers, however, he found himself in the uncomfortable position this week of having to tell occupation authorities that the report they commissioned paints the bleakest picture yet of the U.S.-led coalition's reputation in Iraq. For the first time, according to Dulame's poll, a majority of Iraqis said they'd feel safer if the U.S. military withdrew immediately.

A year ago, just 17 percent of Iraqis wanted the troops gone, according to Dulame's respected research center in Baghdad. Now, the disturbing new results mirror what most Iraqis and many international observers have said for months: Give it up. Go home. This just isn't working...

Dulame's grim poll doesn't even take in the prisoner scandal's effects. It was conducted in mid-April in seven Iraqi cities. A total of 1,600 people were interviewed, and the margin of error is 3 percentage points. The findings, which must go first to coalition authorities, have not yet been made public.

According to Dulame, director of the independent Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, prisoner abuse and other coalition missteps now are fueling a dangerous blend of Islamism and tribalism. For example, while American officials insist that only fringe elements support the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a majority of Iraqis crossed ethnic and sectarian lines to name him the second most-respected man in Iraq, according to the coalition-funded poll.

"I don't know why the (Coalition Provisional Authority) continues in these misguided decisions," Dulame said last week. "But if they pack and leave, it's a disgrace for us as Iraqis and for them as Americans. Their reputation will be destroyed in the world, and we will be delivered to the fanatics."


Occupation made world less safe, pro-war institute says

The US and British occupation of Iraq has accelerated recruitment to the ranks of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and made the world a less safe place, according to a leading London-based think-tank.

The assessment, by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), states that the occupation has become "a potent global recruitment pretext" for al-Qa'ida, which now has more than 18,000 militants ready to strike Western targets.

It claims that although half of al-Qa'ida's 30 senior leaders and up to 2,000 rank-and-file members have been killed or captured, a rump leadership is still intact and over 18,000 potential terrorists are at large, with recruitment accelerating on account of Iraq. About 1,000 al-Qa'ida supporters are believed to be active in Iraq.


From Billmon
posted by y2karl at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2004


But like all psy-ops, effectiveness attenuated as reality diverged from the message

This reminds of me of an ex-girlfriend...
posted by srboisvert at 12:20 PM on May 29, 2004


This is "the best of the web"?
posted by dagny at 12:26 PM on May 29, 2004


.
posted by y2karl at 1:05 PM on May 29, 2004


This is "the best of y2karl". Read it and weep.
posted by David Dark at 1:15 PM on May 29, 2004


This is "the best of the web"?

no, Douglas Feith trying to cover his ass is the "best of the Web"
/pile on

Read it and weep.

yes. weep for the thousands of innocent lives destroyed by the war you've been cheering for
posted by matteo at 1:19 PM on May 29, 2004


y2karl, you've got to rein in that massive-post habit of yours.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:18 PM on May 29, 2004


Gen. Zinni: 'It's Unpatriotic Not To Question' the Iraqi Fiasco
posted by y2karl at 2:25 PM on May 29, 2004


This is good, important information. Keep it coming, y2karl.
posted by languagehat at 2:26 PM on May 29, 2004


matteo, crocodile tears for thousands are little comfort for the hundreds of thousands you never bothered weeping for.
posted by David Dark at 2:30 PM on May 29, 2004


y2karl: Yes, thank you very much I posted that as one comment, and not as one or four separate front page posts, for a reason.
posted by dagny at 3:02 PM on May 29, 2004


I like big Tony C, he makes sense and looks like Slugworth from Willy Wonka.

In fact, this follows a pattern that makes the very term ''post-conflict operations'' a stupid and intellectually dishonest oxymoron. As we have seen in Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Cambodia, and many other cases, asymmetric wars do not really end. Nation building must take place on an armed basis without security and in the face of adaptive and innovative threats.

Tonys an old cold warrior and he knows shit about Cambodia. He says they never end but no context for which they began. Also, if he was thinking clearly, he would see that Cambodia is very peaceful and that is in part by the leadership of a former KR defector and so called "puppet of Vietnam" which he is not. A majority of the tension Cambodia suffered was U.S abandonment, and vietnamese/cambodian clashes that had taken place for decades. And after 1980, U.S./U.N waffling.

Mr. Dark just SPANKED matteo.
bravo. But I'm sure he is hard at work finding fault with american politics, as hard as he is finding fault with his own country.
posted by clavdivs at 3:27 PM on May 29, 2004


David Dark: Your remarks about the hundreds of thousands suffering under Saddam is little comfort to the hundreds of millions around the world living under cruel regimes the U.S. has little interest in offending.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:08 PM on May 29, 2004


And let us point out for the nth time those hundreds of thousands died a decade or more ago, that there were no mass killings going on in Iraq prior to or when we invaded as Human Rights Watch, for one NGO, stated quite clearly

War in Iraq: Not a Humanitarian Intervention

There was no pressing reason to invade when we did save perhaps for the fact that we could as the the government's PSYOPS program against its own populace was at peak effect. We were rushed into this war with no planning for the aftermath and chaos resulted. Look at today--

Pick Appears to Catch Bush Administration Off Guard

"And so we have no position on any candidate at this moment because we are waiting to hear from Ambassador Brahimi, and he needs time to complete his work," he added.

At a televised briefing that began at 3:02 p.m., McClellan still referred to "news reports on Mr. Allawi" and said the United States was waiting "until we hear more" from Brahimi.

By dinnertime, a senior administration official conceded that there was no mystery about who would be prime minister but emphasized that the United States will not consider the matter official until Brahimi announces the whole slate. "There was clearly an emerging consensus that Allawi was the best choice and the logical choice," the official said. "What we saw today was the Governing Council decided to join that consensus by making their statement."


And here's this--

Guantanamo Interrogators Were Sent to Iraq

Iraq prison abuse 'widespread'

Oh, and here's a comment from the usually pro-CPA blog Healing Iraq you won't see quoted by the prowar crowd:

At last, the four soldiers that forced my late cousin into the Tigris at Samarra have been 'REPRIMANDED'. They still insist that no one had died even though Zaydun's DEAD body had been retrieved from the river. Also makes me wonder, if no one died, why did they offer a handsome sum of money to the family in return for their silence? And why did the mentioned Commander (the one who was also 'reprimanded') impede the investigation and LIE to the Army investigators? The stench of cover up is overwhelming. This won't go unpunished.

Came across that looking for Iraqi blogger reactions to Allawi's ascension.
posted by y2karl at 5:06 PM on May 29, 2004


Iraqi Governing Council agrees on provisional government lineup, led by secular Shiite physician Iyad Allawi. Key posts for two Kurds: current FM Hoshiyar Zebari becomes defense minister and PM of PUK region Barham Salih, foreign minister. Shiite Adel Abdul Mahdi assigned to finance ministry, Sunni Samir Sumaidy retains interior ministry. Thamir Ghadman to be offered oil portfolio. Frontrunners for president: pre-Saddam FM Adnan Pachachi and current IGC president Ghazi Yawar – both Sunnis.

Oh horror, disaster, despair! All is lost! We must panic!

Despite what "Citizen X" says, "Citizen Y", a close, personal friend of mine assures me that most everything is still on track in Iraq, that dictatorships across the Middle East are fretting and looking at their democratic options lest they be overthrown, and that, most assuredly, the sky is not falling down.

C'mon y2karl, try harder. You're just not scary enough. Maybe if you post the entire article instead of just half of it.
posted by kablam at 6:20 PM on May 29, 2004


Oh horror, disaster, despair! All is lost! We must panic!

What is necessary is clear thinking, not panic. Sadly, the current administration has shown a lack of clear thinking. We have spent 120+ billion ensuring that we are in a weaker position to fight the GWOT.
posted by moonbiter at 6:42 PM on May 29, 2004


Thanks, y2karl, I've got some reading to do now..
posted by Space Coyote at 6:50 PM on May 29, 2004


Here is a little more on Iyad Allawi. Sounds like a winner.
posted by moonbiter at 6:55 PM on May 29, 2004


I wonder more and more about the Vietnam analogies. Maybe Iraq is another Vietnam, but in a sense which isn't "good" but not really bad, either.

There's every reason to believe that the battle against the anti-American/anti-Western ideological complex is going to be as difficult and as long as that against Communism, and we're not going to win it without making mistakes, and learning from them.

Vietnam certainly played that role for us in the battle against Communism. It was a hard fight, with a bitter denoument, one that may well have been predestined by some flawed tactical premises.

Nevertheless, the overall the result was at worst mixed. The Communists were held back for 10 to 15 years, and won only at a great cost. The Chinese and Russians were pinned down and kept from increasing their investment in Communist insurgencies elsewhere in the region (Indonesia, Malysia, Nepal and the Philipines) or were kept from starting up insurgencies in Thailand, Bangladesh and other places that had looked promising at one point.

Moreover, key lessons were learned, and were platformed with great success in Latin America and Africa, to more or less completely squelch Communist expansion without recourse to overt war. We learned that sometimes you folded on a pair of threes (Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Cuba) in order to win big when you had a full house (Brazil, Kenya).
posted by MattD at 7:24 PM on May 29, 2004


dictatorships across the Middle East are fretting

For what--not getting in on help pin us down?

Approximately one-half of U.S. military ground combat power is tied down for an indeterminate period against an insurgency disposing mainly of stockpiled small arms, RPGs, improvised bombs, and only an occasional guided weapon.

As for Citizen Y...

Welcome to Defense and the National Interest. Our aim is to foster debate on the roles of the U.S. armed forces in the post-Cold War era and on the resources devoted to them. The ultimate purpose is to help create a more effective national defense against the types of threats we will likely face during the first decades of the new millennium.

Contributors to this site are, with a few exceptions, active/reserve, former, or retired military. They often combine a knowledge of military theory with the practical experience that comes from trying their ideas in the field. As you browse our site, please pay particular attention to the e-mails from our deployed forces in such places as Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and other Middle Eastern Countries.

The original inspiration for this site was the collection of commentary by Franklin C. (Chuck) Spinney, who was at the Office of the Secretary of Defense from the mid-1970s (retired in 2003) and was active duty Air Force before that. We will be adding other material as it becomes available.


The thing about Defense In The National Interest, and hence, Citizen X, kablam, is they have a bit more credibility than you. Your comment is just another in a long line of things are working out fine--because you said so. Because you said so--boy, we can take that to the bank.
posted by y2karl at 8:17 PM on May 29, 2004


"I asked a friend whom I respect deeply and who has worked in the US government for many years — a man I will call "X" for reasons that will become apparent — to bring me up to speed with his analysis of events..."

Whoa! He worked for "the government?" That must mean he is some kind of strategic geopolitical expert, not like the government employees who deliver my mail on weekdays plus Saturday.

Now, granted, he does seem to have some grasp of the diplomatic, if not military, bureaucratic speech patterns, but gives no other cred to his opinions. And they are opinions, I might add, and second hand.

I would like to compare his dour assessment with the batch of enthusiastic positivism coming from the pens of field officers in Iraq--all over the web--who seem singular in their judgement that the US media is utterly, totally wrong in their potrayal of Iraq as anything but a smashing success.

I will believe a living, breathing US Marine Corps Major over any number of anonymous pundits anytime. Marines are so, almost annoyingly, honest and clear sighted.

http://www.thegreenside.com/
posted by kablam at 9:30 PM on May 29, 2004


I will believe a living, breathing US Marine Corps Major over any number of anonymous pundits anytime. Marines are so, almost annoyingly, honest and clear sighted.

OK.

increasing opposition among US military officers against the way Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of the Bush team are conducting the war in Iraq.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:11 PM on May 29, 2004


Surprise, Security, and the American Experience

I think the grand strategy itself still makes sense. But the execution, particularly in Iraq, has been bordering on wretched, really. I supported the war in Iraq. I supported it for a reason that I think was consistent with what the administration was trying to do. But the administration gave a lot of different reasons for going into Iraq--enforcing U.N. resolutions, dealing with weapons of mass destruction, securing oil supplies, promoting democracy in the Middle East, stopping terrorism, et cetera, et cetera. All of these reasons were there. I don't doubt that they were all sincere. But I do think that there was another big reason that lay behind all of this that was not articulated, and this was basically what I called in the book, shock and awe. The idea was to repeat what we had done in Afghanistan. Afghanistan had been a relative cakewalk compared to what has happened to everybody else who has tried to invade Afghanistan in the past. It sent an impressive signal about American strength and American capability. I think there was the sense that the same signal needed to be sent by deposing Saddam Hussein, and that the effect would be simply to scare the pants off of anybody--any tyrant anywhere who might in the future be harboring terrorists, or be thinking about harboring terrorists. And I like to use the comparison to [former New York City] Mayor [Ed] Koch's parking policy around here some years ago. Remember his signs? "Don't even think about parking here." [Laughter.] I think something like this was what was intended with the Iraq strategy. Don't even think about harboring terrorists in the same way that the Taliban harbored terrorists. I think that was the signal that was intended. And I think it was useful to try to send that signal. The problem is that, in trying to scare the pants off of future supporters of terrorism, I am afraid we have scared the pants off ourselves and our allies by what we've gotten into in this situation. This is where it seems to me the execution has been wretched in the sense, first of all, that there was no thought given to what to do with Iraq once we got it. This is known in the strategy business as the dog and car syndrome. Dogs spend a lot of time thinking about how to chase cars, but they think very little about what to do with cars if they actually catch one, you see. And something like this, I think, was going on here. There just was not enough thought given--and this was quite obvious from day one after we got in there--to how to run this place. And I fault the role of theory in this regard. I fault, in this case, the neo-conservative proposition that democracy was simply going to be automatic once we went in there, toppled that statue. Then it was going to be easy. And that was a lamentable misjudgment, from which then, it seems, there are other misjudgments--
posted by y2karl at 10:32 PM on May 29, 2004


I will believe a living, breathing US Marine Corps Major over any number of anonymous pundits anytime. Marines are so, almost annoyingly, honest and clear sighted.

Marines are given military, not politcal objectives, and one of the (obvious) things the article points out is that it's entirely possible that Iraq will be a string of military successes that are part of a sum of politcal failure.

It is not clear at all that a Marine Corps major on the ground in Iraq is going to have a keener view into what's going on in other countries in the middle east.

the US media is utterly, totally wrong in their potrayal of Iraq as anything but a smashing success.

If the success is that real, my question would be: what could any amount of contrary media coverage possibly do to cause it harm?
posted by namespan at 12:24 AM on May 30, 2004


Marines are given military, not politcal objectives, and one of the (obvious) things the article points out is that it's entirely possible that Iraq will be a string of military successes that are part of a sum of politcal failure.

It's also entirely possible that the sky will fall before I wake up in the morning. Chicken Little, armed with his apples of bad news, wants me to believe it's a certainty. I admit it's possible, though I don't admit that it's likely.

If the success is that real, my question would be: what could any amount of contrary media coverage possibly do to cause it harm?

It affects morale, one of the five pillars of the military. War is long and hard. Ideas are powerful. Soldiers are human, on both sides. Contrary media coverage plants seeds of doubt in the conscience of the American public, which slowly seeps into the minds of soldiers, who then begin to doubt the missions they previously believed in. Confidence in command wanes. Morale dissipates. Defeat, once an impossibility, becomes certain in the minds of those who no longer see the merits in the difficult tasks they are asked to perform. All the while, the enemy grows stronger, emboldened by a neverending stream of uncertainty and bad news from the media and citizens of the country they oppose. Perceived weakness, real or otherwise, manufactures strength inside the hearts and minds of the enemy.

Daniel Ingham:
Part of my 11 years in the United States Army was spent serving in a Psychological Operations unit. The primary job of such a unit is quite simple -- use basic principles of human psychology against our enemies in order to lower or eliminate their will to fight. In other words, to destroy their morale.

How do you destroy the enemy's morale and will to fight? It's simple, really.

First, you call into question their mission. Make them question why they are fighting. Make them question whether they are doing the right thing. Soldiers unsure of their mission question their orders and hesitate to act when quick action is most necessary. In combat, you're either quick or you're dead.

Second, call into question their leadership. Make them question their commander's skill and honesty. Make them question the motives of the political figures that made the decision to go to war. Soldiers unsure of their leadership may refuse to follow their orders or take direct action against their leadership. In combat, failure to immediately follow orders usually gets soldiers killed.

Third, make them homesick. Point out how miserable they are; remind them how long they have been away from home; how much their loved ones miss them; accentuate the bad and ignore the good; tell them there is no foreseeable end in site (no, you won't be home by Christmas). Homesick and depressed soldiers are not effective soldiers. Ineffective soldiers often become dead soldiers.

Fourth, make it all about them. Point out that the war is not in their personal best interest. "Hey, you can lose an eye (or worse), doing that." This last step, converting the soldier back into the psychological equivalent of a civilian, is the most deadly. Soldiers who start thinking only of themselves stop acting as members of a team. A soldier concerned only with his own safety stops watching his buddy’s back. Unit cohesiveness breaks down. Desertions and insubordination becomes rampant. Casualties mount higher.

Conversely, the same propaganda that can destroy enemy morale can boost the morale of friendly forces, and vice-versa.
This is how it's possible to win and still lose. Or lose and still win, as the case may be.
posted by David Dark at 2:48 AM on May 30, 2004


David Dark just gave a good outline of the "iraqi information minister" strategy.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:13 AM on May 30, 2004


Baghdad Bob actually was trying to employ psychological warfare. However, his big mistake was that false propaganda, to be effective, must have a semblance of the truth. His accounts were so demonstrably false that they quickly became comical and accomplished very little. If no one believes it, it isn't propaganda. It's just lies.

But please don't try to tell me that perception can't alter reality. At least one of us knows better.
posted by David Dark at 4:20 AM on May 30, 2004


The thing is we're talking about journalism here, not PR for the military.

Do you want to live in a country with freedom of the press, and with a press that does its job, or not?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:46 AM on May 30, 2004


I have no problem with freedom of the press, or a press that does its job, as long as it does that job in an unbiased and responsible manner. However, as demonstrated by Toby Harnden, the Middle East correspondent for the Daily Telegraph:
The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool, fringed with the usual cast of tattooed defence contractors, I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials.

She had been disturbed by my argument that Iraqis were better off than they had been under Saddam and I was now — there was no choice about this — going to have to justify my bizarre and dangerous views. I’ll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no ‘imminent threat’ (though the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge), a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’ Startled by her candour, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing.

She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go. By this logic, I ventured, another September 11 on, say, September 11 would be perfect for pushing up John Kerry’s poll numbers. ‘Well, that’s different — that would be Americans,’ she said, haltingly. ‘I guess I’m a bit of an isolationist.’ That’s one way of putting it.
Forgive me while I don't champion the second amendment for these journalists, since many of them seem to have forgotten their ethics and abandoned their training in pursuit of Pulitzers and an ego driven agenda.
posted by David Dark at 4:59 AM on May 30, 2004


Or the first amendment.

Bedtime.
posted by David Dark at 5:21 AM on May 30, 2004


Look, there is one statement that bothers me more than anything else. And that's the idea that when the troops are in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning, and troops were dying as a result.

I can't think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not speak up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed? It’s leading down a path where we're not succeeding and accomplishing the missions we've set out to do.


General Anthony Zinni

''There has been poor strategic thinking in this,” says Zinni. “There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure.''

Zinni writes: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

“I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning,” says Zinni. “The president is owed the finest strategic thinking. He is owed the finest operational planning. He is owed the finest tactical execution on the ground. … He got the latter. He didn’t get the first two.”

Zinni says Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time - with the wrong strategy. And he was saying it before the U.S. invasion. In the months leading up to the war, while still Middle East envoy, Zinni carried the message to Congress: “This is, in my view, the worst time to take this on. And I don’t feel it needs to be done now."

But he wasn’t the only former military leader with doubts about the invasion of Iraq. Former General and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki all voiced their reservations.

Zinni believes this was a war the generals didn’t want – but it was a war the civilians wanted.

“I can't speak for all generals, certainly. But I know we felt that this situation was contained. Saddam was effectively contained. The no-fly, no-drive zones. The sanctions that were imposed on him,” says Zinni.

..."Now, at the same time, we had this war on terrorism. We were fighting al Qaeda. We were engaged in Afghanistan. We were looking at 'cells' in 60 countries. We were looking at threats that we were receiving information on and intelligence on. And I think most of the generals felt, let's deal with this one at a time. Let's deal with this threat from terrorism, from al Qaeda.''

posted by y2karl at 8:47 AM on May 30, 2004


Looking for the exit

If it wasn't a quagmire, it was certainly quagmiry. And the first prominent retired general to break ranks with President Bush's Iraq war policy was a Republican who once headed the National Security Agency and also served as a deputy national security adviser. Gen. William E. Odom, a fluent Russian speaker who teaches at Georgetown and Yale universities, told the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood staying the course in Iraq is untenable.

It was hard to disagree with Gen. Odom's description of Mr. Bush's vision of reordering the Middle East by building a democracy in Iraq as a pipedream. His prescription: Remove U.S. forces "from that shattered country as rapidly as possible."

Gen. Odom says bluntly, "we have failed," and "the issue is how high a price we're going to pay -- less by getting out sooner, or more by getting out later."

At best, Iraq will emerge from the current geopolitical earthquake as "a highly illiberal democracy, inspired by Islamic culture, extremely hostile to the West and probably quite willing to fund terrorist organizations," Gen. Odom explained. If that wasn't enough to erode support for the war, he added, "The ability of Islamist militants to use Iraq as a beachhead for attacks against American interests elsewhere may increase."

Gen. Odom... also calls the sum achievement of U.S. occupation of Iraq "the radicalization of Saudi Arabia and probably Egypt, too. And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more isolated America will become."

posted by y2karl at 9:26 AM on May 30, 2004


"SHOW: NIGHTLINE (11:35 PM ET) - ABC

May 6, 2004 Thursday

LENGTH: 3473 words

HEADLINE: NIGHTLINE HANGING IN THE BALANCE

BODY:
graphics: May 6 2004

TED KOPPEL, ABC NEWS

No one ever said it would be easy. But few predicted it would be like this. Today, the most hawkish Democrat on the Hill said this ...

CONGRESSMAN, MALE

We cannot prevail in this war with the policy that's going today.

TED KOPPEL

Now, the former director of the nation's largest intelligence agency says it's time to get out. That looks like a prescription for disaster.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM,

FORMER NSA DIRECTOR

We predestined that when we initiated the war. In other words, to say you can't fail at that now, is to fail to realize that you've already failed.

graphics: Hanging in the Balance

TED KOPPEL

Tonight, "Hanging in the Balance," is Iraq an unwinnable war?

graphics: ABC NEWS: Nightline

ANNOUNCER

From ABC News, this is "Nightline." Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) You want to know how things work here in Washington? Here's an example. Last night, driving home, I heard a radio report from ABC's White House correspondent, Terry Moran, to the effect that President Bush had called his Defense Secretary on the carpet. The President was upset, Terry told us, that he had not been informed sooner about those prisoner abuse stories and those terrible photographs from Iraq. It did occur to me to wonder how Terry could have gotten the story of such a private meeting. But he's a terrific reporter and he has great sources. Well, there it was again this morning, in "The Los Angeles Times," which obviously heard the story from the same source. "Bush rebuked Rumsfeld during an Oval Office meeting," a senior Administration official said. More of the same in the "Washington Post." "Bush privately chides Rumsfeld." Privately? Not exactly. Not when the White House is leaking it all over town. But why, you may ask, why would they do that? Especially when today, taking a few questions in the rose garden, the President praised Rumsfeld as a really good Secretary of Defense who will stay in the Cabinet. Contradictory? Not really. This is one instance where the President is making it quite clear that the buck stops at the Pentagon. He didn't know and it wasn't his fault. The Secretary of Defense had actually been scheduled to meet with the President so that they could discuss a request for $25 billion in new funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House had previously promised that there wouldn't be any further requests for funding in this fiscal year. But if you're going to drop that news, it helps to do it at a time when the media are distracted. That's another vintage Washington technique. Meanwhile, there was another suicide bombing in Baghdad, and fresh fighting in Najaf and Karbala today. None of which comes as any surprise to my guest this evening.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Retired General William Odom expressed serious doubts about the war before it began. And now, takes the position that we have already failed in Iraq. That, in fact, it would be better to get out sooner, rather than later. General Odom is a former director of the National Security Agency. And he joins me here in our Washington studio. Just to give people a little bit of a sense about who you are and what your background is, I mean, you're a former -you were a four-star?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

No, I was a three-star. Lieutenant General.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Three-star. Almost impossible to believe that you are in principle anti-war.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, I think a lot of generals are anti-war. I mean, it depends on what the war's for. I don't think it's a matter of being anti or pro. It's a matter of what you use military force to achieve.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Just to give people context for the conversation we're going to have. Do you have any politics? And if so, do you consider yourself a liberal Democrat, a moderate Republican?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

I have never belonged to a party in my life. I don't think I voted before 1972, or somewhere in that period. And I've generally voted against whoever is in office.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Because?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well ...

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) You're ornery or what?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, I generally don't -I become irritated with some of the policies. But that's really beside the point. When you're in the military you learn to follow a lot of policies that are not very pleasant to you. And that goes with the job and you just do it.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) But if people listen to what you're going to have to say tonight and say, well, what do you expect, liberal Democrat. Worked for Jimmy Carter at one point as a military aide, what did you expect?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

I was a -colonel in the Army at that time. How could you have politics as a colonel in the Army? And -when he hired me, he said ...

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) He was the National Security Adviser.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

He was the National Security Adviser. He said, when you've been asked by your President to serve, you serve.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) All right, let's talk about the war. You opposed it even before it began. And one of the -one of the objections or concerns you expressed, at that time, before the war, was we're never going to stay in there long enough anyway. Since then, more lately, you have indicated that rather than feeling we need to stay in there for the long term, that we should probably get out sooner rather than later. Explain what appears to be a contradiction there, would you?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

It occurred to me from the very beginning that Iraq -I knew that Iraq was not a supporter of terrorism in the sense of being allied with al Qaeda. Saddam certainly might have played with some terrorists. But he was not a well-known backer of these organizations. And I also knew that Osama Bin Laden had, in his gun sights, all the secular Arab leaders and secular regimes. So, destroying Saddam's regime certainly would please Osama Bin Laden. And then I asked, what interest of ours is served by this? While I didn't know about the WMD, my last intelligence understandings of this, when I was director of NSA, was that Saddam certainly was trying but he didn't have the physical material. And we didn't have any evidence that he'd ever been able to get the fissile material.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) For?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

For nuclear weapons. Designing the weapon itself is not hard to do, with the availability of products now that were not available 20, 30 years ago. But as long as you don't have that material, you can't make the bomb. Then, when it came to the third war aim, and that was convert Iraq to a democracy, a liberal democracy, a constitutional regime, and then spread that throughout the Middle East, I am also a professor now and have been teaching comparative politics for some time. And one of the issues I deal with in a particular seminar is, how do liberal democracies come about? And we don't know a lot about that. One thing we're sure, it's easy to create democracies. And most of them become ill-liberal. Of the nearly 50 democracies, some 40 after World War II that have been created, only 8, 10 or 11, depending on how you judge mature constitutional liberal systems, can be called truly liberal democracies. So, most of them are ill- liberal. And ill-liberal democracies can do things that you won't like. Iran has a democracy. And we don't like its output. And that's the kind of democracy you're probably going to get in Iraq.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) But you're going to have ill-liberal democracies that are at least pro-American. And as long as they're pro-American, that serves our interests in the Persian Gulf.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

I don't see how any democratically elected leader in Iraq, can afford not to be anti-American. He will have no legitimacy. In the Arab world, for somebody to be pro-US, pro-West, they have to be a dictator to protect themselves. Because the clerics there have too big a role. And as long as they're going to have a big influence in politics it's going be anti-West.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) General Odom, hold that thought. And we'll come back to in just a moment. I'll be back with General William Odom in a moment.

graphics: Nightline

ANNOUNCER

This is ABC News "Nightline." Brought to you by ...

commercial break

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) And I'm back once again with the former director of the National Security Agency, General William Odom. General Odom, let's get right down to the nitty-gritty. You're saying, better that we pull out of Iraq now than later. Why?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

We will not succeed in making that a pro-US liberal system. We will continue to have an expansion of violence there. The country may break up into three parts. Eventually, we will probably be driven out. Also, just from a practical point of view, I don't think we have the Army ground forces adequate to hold that beyond another six months or nine months.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) What's -magic about six or nine months?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, the forces that have been rotated in and out are going back now. We have four-plus divisions committed there. The ones that have just been extended for 90 days have been there a full year. In World War II, we generally considered people -involved in combat, combat-fatigued and not useful after 180 days. And we tried to pull them out and rotate them. Some exceptions but that was a rule of thumb. We've had some of our troops out there doing guard duty and pulling patrols, facing the same kinds of risks that soldiers face in combat everywhere, for over 365 days. We're now sending them back for 90 days. How long have we do that with the same forces? If we had 16 to 18 divisions, then we could rotate back for two days for everyone day you spend in the combat zone.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) So, if I were to suggest to you that, perhaps, things that can't be done now could be done if you had 250,000 troops in there. You're saying to me, yeah, maybe so but we can't get 250,000 troops in there.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

I'm saying that. And I'm saying I wouldn't -stay if I could, if you had them. I think we are alienating Europe. We've alienated our allies. We're not going to make this succeed. We can be repressive and make our image worse and worse, the longer we stay. And we can make the Iranians happy. And we can create a condition where, I think the country now, Iraq now is probably going to be available for al Qaeda. It was not before. And so, we've improved the position for terrorists in the world. And we haven't really achieved what we set out to do in Iraq. And I don't see any prospects of it.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) It seems to me that perhaps what we have not done but we could do with additional troops is at least create a secure environment. And within a secure environment, in which I mean perhaps even having an overnight curfew, really shutting the place down, so that at least the roads are open, commerce can move back and forth, kids can go to school, women can go to market during the day without fear of being killed. And if we looked upon this as being in a 3-year to 5-year project, rather than something that can be achieved, you know, in a matter of months, perhaps it can still work. But I take it you disagree, too?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, we could never know what you could do with three to five years without trying it. I would say the precondition for succeeded in that just don't seem to me to exist. Look at the size of ...

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Fallujah?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Fallujah, yeah. A City of what, half a million or a million people. Only about -one battalion of troops, 400 or 500, are available out of -maybe the Marines are there now, they could put a few more. But the 82 Airborne, out of three battalions in that region they can only commit one to the city. Can you imagine trying to pacify Washington, DC, with one battalion of troops?

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Not if all of Washington, DC, felt as negatively toward that one battalion. I mean, I must tell you, what troubles me more than anything else is the old Maoist dictum that in order for insurgents to succeed, they have to be able to swim among the people as a fish swims in the -water. My question to you is, and obviously you've implied your answer. It sounds to me as though those insurgents are quite popular with the population. At least they're not being turned in to US forces.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, the Vietcong in Vietnam were not all that popular. But they gave their fellow citizens there what Stalin used to call the dilemma of one alternative. Either you support us ...

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Or you die.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Or you will die. And the intense organized minorities in these cities are probably going succeed in mobilizing the majorities against the US. I heard two days ago, that polls in Iraq now report higher than 50 percent of the population want us to leave. Now, those polls were showing quite the contrary a few months ago. So, things are really moving against us very rapidly.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Let's assume that, yes, it becomes a Shiite -I mean the Shiite majority takes over the government, as inevitably it would if majority rule is allowed to prevail. And you think it's automatic that it would become an anti-American government like -neighboring Iran?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, the man who seems most likely to lead it, the Ayatollah Sistani, is certainly not pro-American.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) He's not pro-American but neither does he appear to be terribly anti-American.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

That's tactically very appropriate ...

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) And once we're out of there, he can afford to be even less anti- American, if he chooses.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Well, but he can also afford to be more anti-American. But let's put it this way, if that's possible, I'd certainly sign up. I would like to be wrong about this. It is not a happy thought to be vindicated in this affair.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) That's a good point. Forgive me. It's a good point on which to take a quick break. And we'll come back with our final segment with General Odom in just a moment.

commercial break

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) And I'm back once again with General William Odom. I think you would agree that the Persian Gulf is a vital strategic interest to the United States, to western Europe, to Japan.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

It is, indeed.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Fair enough. In 1979, prior to which we had looked upon Iran as being our surrogate in the Persian Gulf. The Shah was overthrown, there went Iran. Then, we put our marbles in Saudi Arabia. It looks as those they're not going to be able to stay there much longer. The Saudis have forced us to withdraw our military from Saudi Arabia. Doesn't look as though they are gonna be a terribly reliable ally for much longer. You're suggesting to me that we get the Hell out of Iraq, too. What do we have left in that region then that allows us to protect that vital strategic interest?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

I would withdraw optionally and tactically from there now, in order to position the US and its allies to deal with the region as a whole, later. We can't solve the problems in that region by ourselves. I think we can keep stability in this area from Afghanistan to the eastern Med, with the support of the Europeans and I think also the Japanese, the South Koreans and even the Chinese. And we need to get that support, we need to mobilize it. We are making that harder to do, the longer we stay in. Now, let me point out, you mentioned 1979. I lived through that in the White House. And I can tell you that we understood clearly then, that the US strategy implicitly had been in the Middle East to keep a foot in two camps, on both sides of two camps. The Arab/Persian camp. We were in Persia and also had good relations with some Arab countries. And the Arab/Israeli camp. When we had our footing in both camps, we can balance and keep reasonable stability at a low military cost. Losing our footing in Iran, caused us to have to create central command and the rapid deployment force. That all began under Carter.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) You're saying we had no place in which to leave troops?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

We didn't have a place -well, we ended up getting some places. We had to be able to project them into the area rapidly. In this case, we've had Kuwait, and we had the Saudis overbuilding bases and giving us capabilities in an emergency to come in. And if that hadn't been done, we would have been in a mess in 1990, '91. Now, we need to get back to good relations with Iran. If we -and that's the thing we ought to shoot for. Then, it will be easier to handle Afghanistan and Iraq. And if we have our allies with us, rather than convincing on the side or engaging in -we'll be much better positioned to do this. To stubbornly go right on down this course, and to say I'm on course, reminds me of someone jumping off the Empire State Building and as he passes the 50th floor on the way down, he says, I'm on course, I will not change course. Sometimes wisdom requires changing course.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) Nevertheless, if we pull out of Iraq today, and until recently, the opinion polls in Iraq have reflected this, there is a great fear that the Shi'a and the Sunni and the Kurds will be at one another's throats. It will create a devastating environment in which certainly the terrorists groups are going to be able to flourish. It is certainly going to increase the power of the Iranians, whether ultimately they decide to align themselves with us or not. Short- term, that looks like a prescription for disaster.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

We predestined that when we initiated the war. In other words, to say you can't fail at that now, is to fail to realize that you've already failed. Now, what I -when I say get out, I don't mean just get out and -pull out and walk out today. I would go through the procedures of going to the United Nations and encouraging a United Nations resolution to approve some UN force there. And I would be quite prepared to participate in that for a while, if we could get allies and others to come in. But then I would make it clear that I am slowly moving that responsibility to this force and withdrawing the US over six months or so.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) A friend of mine who once held high office in the US government said to me, you never go into the President of the United States and say, things are terrible, things are awful, without also having some kind of a solution that you can offer. In less than a minute, what is your solution?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

It is to withdraw -eat some humble pie with the UN and our Europeans. Iraq is not worth Europe. Reestablish our strong relations with Europe. Try to improve our position in the far East. And encourage an overall strategy to the region in the next three, four, five years, as we can recover from our one-down position, as a result of this unilateralism.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) General Odom, not exactly encouraging talking to you. But good of you to come in anyway. Thanks very much.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM ODOM

Thank you.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) It was another deadly day in Iraq. I'll have the details when we come back.

graphics: Nightline: Abcnews.com

ANNOUNCER

To receive a daily e-mail about each evening's "Nightline" and a preview of special broadcasts, log on to the "Nightline" page at abcnews.com.

commercial break

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) The US military reported another three deaths in Iraq in the line of duty. In Baghdad, a car bomb exploded at a US checkpoint just outside the green zone. That's the area which houses the Coalition Provisional Authority. One American soldier and six Iraqis were killed in that incident. And two US soldiers were killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad, late last night. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow. ABC News live coverage of his appearance will begin at approximately 11:45 AM Eastern time.

TED KOPPEL

(Off Camera) That's our report for tonight. I'm Ted Koppel in Washington. For all of us here at ABC News, good night."
posted by clavdivs at 10:00 AM on May 30, 2004


BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Joe in Houston, Texas. Welcome to the EIB Network.

Hey, Rush, how are you doing?

RUSH: Pretty good, sir, thanks for the call.

CALLER: I've been hanging on here for a while, back from the discussion of should we pull out of Iraq, or what should we do, you know, the whole Iraq issue earlier in the program. And what caused me to call in was, looking at the Capitol Journal article in the Wall Street Journal the day before yesterday --

RUSH: Hold it just a second. Just a minute. I know I'm tired, and I've admitted this, and I'm running on fumes here today, but have we discussed pulling out of Iraq earlier on this show today? We haven't discussed that -- I'm glad to discuss it with you, but --

CALLER: It was about Iraq and what should we do and what shouldn't we do.

RUSH: That was about Ted Koppel's Nightline show tonight.

CALLER: Well, I'm here.

RUSH: You're here -- if you want to -- that's right, but, fine, I just--

CALLER: I want to talk to you about.


RUSH: I'm not being critical. I'm telling you I'm fatigued. I didn't remember talking about it and if you did it means I'm in worse shape than I think I am. It's okay. Just fire away, man. Go for it.

CALLER: Did you see the article in the Wall Street Journal from Wednesday, the Capitol Journal article, "former general says staying the course in Iraq is untenable."

RUSH: I have that article right here. I'm the host.

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: I don't have it, wait a second, now.

CALLER: This guy makes the point --

RUSH: Wait a minute. Look it, you're going to get all the time you need here. Let's have a conversation. I'm not trying to make you lose your place, but I've got the article, but I don't have it from the Wall Street Journal. I want you to know where it's now appeared. I have it in something called the Khaleej Times, and the logo for the Khaleej Times is a palm tree and an oil well. The Khaleej Times is somewhere in the United Arab Emirates. So this guy --

CALLER: Why do I care about this?

RUSH: It's not why -- you obviously don't. It's why should you. It's that what this guy has said has reached our troops and it's a demoralizing thing for him to say.

CALLER: Well, okay, so the Wall Street Journal shouldn't have published the article originally.

RUSH: Didn't say that. Didn't say that. That's not -- how do you get that? What I'm saying is --

CALLER: What difference does it make where it is?

RUSH: No, no, no. The answer is Odom shouldn't have said it publicly is what I'm saying, but did and the cat's out of the bag. For people who haven't seen this or heard about it and want to know what you're talking about, let me read just a couple of quick graphs and you can tell me what you think about it. You already know but some people in the audience may not. "Former U.S. general says U.S. troops ought to get out of Iraq." Odom is the former head of the National Security Agency, I believe during Reagan. And he has criticized George Bush's Iraq policy, demanded the country's forces return from Iraq as rapidly as possible for the sake of American security and economic power alike. "We have failed. The issue is how high the price we're going to pay: less by getting out sooner or more by getting out later," said William Odom in the Wall Street Journal. So that's basically it. We've got a former NSA guy saying get out now, and you want to agree with him.


CALLER: No, I'm saying that his argument is one that needs to be taken seriously. I argue this. Here's the way I've seen it from the beginning. The upside of going into Iraq and transforming Iraq into this representative democracy that's an ally of ours, and it's a beacon for hope in the Middle East, that's an admirable upside. The downside is we're going to end up destabilizing Iraq to the point where it's going to become a fundamentalist Muslim state, we're going to destabilize Saudi Arabia, we're going to destabilize Egypt, we're going to essentially end up destabilizing any allies we have in the region. That's the downside. Now, well, it's hard to argue with Dick Cheney and those guys, they've been right all along, right?

RUSH: No. It's just I think you and retired general Odom have selected the wrong enemy here. Have you ever heard of a group called Al-Qaeda?

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: Well, you know, Al-Qaeda is blowing up places all over the world, blowing up Saudi Arabia, they're blowing up --

CALLER: But not in Iraq.

RUSH: The hell they aren't. Who the hell do you think is there?

CALLER: The Pentagon just pronounced the other day that the resistance in Iraq is coming from former members of the Saddam regime.

RUSH: Sure. Of course they are.

CALLER: -- these guys are doing. This has been all over the press.

RUSH: Joe, if it's in the press, I know about it, I'm the host. I'm not disagreeing with that. But Al-Qaeda is there as well as all these other people. Al-Qaeda is blowing up the United States. Al-Qaeda is blowing up Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda is blowing up everything. We're not destabilizing anything. We are the only chance to stabilize this region by taking these people on. It's up to the rest of the world to join us. I respectfully disagree with general Odom about this. If we pull out now, it's catastrophic to think what's going to happen in the future --

CALLER: -- this is what he does for a living, he belongs to the Hutchison Institute, a very conservative think tank.

RUSH: Yes.

CALLER: His opinion, after having done this his whole life is we are screwed if we stay in this. His opinion is it's not a question of whether we're going to pull out, it's a question of how much we're going to spend before we pull out. Read the article.

RUSH: I've got the article. The whole line of reasoning here is perplexing to me given that this man is a general, a retired general. You know, the World War II comparison has been made today. It was made by Ted Koppel on Good Morning, America. You know, as I said, there were more people that died in a training exercise for D-Day than have died so far in Iraq. They died in one day. I think this is the [noise interruption] go ahead. It's Open Line Friday. Go right ahead. Yeah, go ahead.


CALLER: No, I was listening to you. I think this comparison between this and World War II --

RUSH: Oh, I'm sorry, Joe, I thought -- they tell me -- I have a cochlear implant, it was your dog barking and I thought you were interrupting me trying to speak. I thought your dog was you.

CALLER: I had simply made some noise and I apologize if it was a distraction.

RUSH: You don't need to apologize. I apologize to you. I'm sorry. I want to read you a quote from Winston Churchill, and you've got four more minutes here before we go to the break so don't think I'm trying to shortchange you, okay?

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: This is a speech by Churchill, January 20, 1940. Now, this is before all the heavy action of World War II picked up. And I just want to quote you a paragraph, and it's relevant, a lot of scholars around the world are citing this with respect to the March 11th attacks in Madrid. Here's what Churchill said, 1940. "What would happen if all these neutral nations were with one spontaneous impulse to do their duty in accordance with the covenant of the league and were to stand together with the British and the French empires against aggression and wrong? At present their plight is lamentable and it will become much worse. They bow humbly and in fear to German threats of violence, comforting themselves meanwhile with the thought, the allies will win, each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear and fear greatly, the storm won't pass. It will rage and it will roar ever more loudly, ever more widely. It will spread to the south, it will spread to the north. There's no chance of a speedy end except through united action."

This is Churchill trying to warn the world about Hitler.

CALLER: And I know of the speech and I know of what you speak. But here's the point. I think that's -- I think that's beside the point, if you will. The point is this. Even using that.

RUSH: Hitler did not attack the United States.

CALLER: The only way we're going to get other countries to support us --

RUSH: Hitler did not kill 3,000 Americans in one day. This is worse.

CALLER: Okay. The only way we're going to get the rest of the world to support us is to show true leadership and not a "it's our way or the highway attitude," and that's what we're doing, and that's largely what Odom says. Odom says we should pull out to force the Europeans to take ownership of what could happen there if we don't do something.


RUSH: Joe. This really does pain me. We should pull out to force the Europeans to do their duty? Would somebody explain to me when was the last time the Europeans did their duty? I'm sure you're aware, you sound like an informed guy, I'm sure you're aware of the oil for food controversy that's raging, I'm sure you've heard of all these European nations that were on the take from Saddam with oil futures contracts, millions of barrels, plus cash payments, in order so that they would oppose the United States at the United Nations, France, and Germany, and even Russia, which was giving Saddam arms. Europe can't take care of Kosovo. Europe can't defend -- look at Madrid. You watch what happens, you watch what happens in Spain, Madrid has pulled out because of what happened on March the 11th, and the terrorists are going to go nuts, they're going to be emboldened throughout Europe, it doesn't happen overnight, but they're going to increase their attacks because of this, because they've seen weakness. This is not the way you fight people such as Al-Qaeda. This is not how you fight evildoers, this is not how you fight people who are hell-bent on killing everybody they don't like. You have to make a stand at some point.

You know, if we hadn't gone, and the argument being we shouldn't go, you know, that would be a different matter to a slightly less degree, but at this point I think pulling out of there would be tantamount to giving carte blanche -- a little French lingo there -- to Al-Qaeda and their buddies all over the world to just go crazy. Because let me tell you what they're trying to do. Al-Qaeda's objective is to get weapons of mass destruction into this country. Al-Qaeda's objective is to get chemical, biological, and if they could get a nuke, they would do it. If they could get into this country they would. We can't guard every port, we can't guard all of our coastline, we can't guard every airport. We can't stop it unless we take them out. This is not difficult to understand, but the political disunity that exists here in a presidential campaign year is causing people to see this without the proper perspective. I think, you know, try this, folks. This thought of mine is, I think wars every 20 years are good so that every generation knows what the hell is at stake here. We are at a period of time where we have a lot of American generations who do not remember World War II, do not remember a truly difficult war that we won, do not have that perspective, do not remember an America victorious at war, other than the Gulf War which took a couple of months, which can create, by the way, and has, perhaps incorrect impression with too many people.

This is -- I don't say this lightly -- deadly serious stuff. And pulling out is the same as conceding defeat. And especially if the objective is to pull out so Europeans take over, there is absolutely no way that that is going to happen. And if the Europeans don't join us here pretty soon, the Europeans don't get serious, it's London that's going to go up, and then it's Paris that's going to go up. Just like all these other countries have had cities around the world go up because of Al-Qaeda attacks. It's not going to stop unless they are made to stop. It's not going to stop by us pulling out and saying, "okay, sorry, we're going to turn this over to the international community now, we'll work with you on putting together an Iraq like you want it to be." It's not going to work. The vision that we have is the correct one. It's the virtuous one. To me it's not even arguable. And to do all this talking and have all this stuff published over there in publications where the troops can read it, not helpful. Free country, deal with it, but it's not helpful.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

RUSH: This is Mike in Holly Spring, North Carolina. Welcome to the program.

CALLER: Thanks, Rush, appreciate it.


RUSH: Thank you.

CALLER: The guy that was on just a moment ago was quoting Odom as saying that we need to get out of there and it's based on his expert opinion and the fact that he's been doing this his entire life so he really knows what he's talking about. My point would be if you were to sit down and talk to the commanders that are out there in the theater right now commanding our troops and ask them, I would guarantee that they would come back and say that we definitely need to be there. The point here is that here's Odom saying essentially what the liberals want to hear.

RUSH: Well, they're latching onto one guy who says it, but you can understand that. That's a question of what they're made of.

CALLER: Of course you do because you're all-knowledgeable. But the point here is they've got one guy quoting and saying this, and they're saying that it's gospel, but take a look at all the other people that are saying the direct opposite--

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: -- yet they're going to believe this one guy is the truth.

RUSH: Well, look, it's just predictable that okay, here you've got a guy, doesn't hurt, all of a sudden the liberals are quoting a Reagan guy, you know, I mean this Reagan guy comes and says we've got to get outta there, and the liberals focus on this one guy. They hate the military anyway. Liberals don't trust the military, don't think the military is any good, and when a military guy comes along and says something they expect or like, of course this guy is the smartest guy in the country, this Odom guy. Let me get rid of this. I've never met general Odom and I have all respect for people in the military, but – [tearing paper] -- I normally throw things away but I don't want to be able to find this and read it again if I have to do it. [Still ripping paper.] Thanks very much.

Fred in McAllen, Texas, welcome to the EIB Network. Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. How are you?

RUSH: Fine, thank you, sir.

CALLER: You were talking about the destabilizing in the Middle East, what we are doing, and I clearly have to call in and say when it comes to the Middle East, it shouldn't be like the liberals and conservatives, it should be the educated ones that they know and the ones who are ignorant. Joe doesn't know anything about geopolitical or what's going on in the Middle East. Middle Eastern governments are the destabilizing force for themselves.

RUSH: Exactly. And you're from Iran, right?


CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: Okay, you can tell me if I'm right or wrong about this because I've heard it from so many people, that Iran is really, when it comes to even the pre-Al-Qaeda days, Iran was the destabilizing force utilizing terrorism for that express purpose.

CALLER: It has always been that way. And it's always been in the other countries also, because none of those governments are Democratic governments, they're a bunch of diaper heads and goat herders who have come to power one way or another and they have the guns and they are ruling.

RUSH: Now, you're talking about the uneducated class, the diaper heads or goat herders?

CALLER: The uneducated, geopolitically uneducated Americans here who have no idea what goes on in the Middle East.

RUSH: No, that's --

CALLER: -- destabilizing them, and we are not destabilizing them, we trying to destabilize that region --

RUSH: I know, but of course we're dealing with the uninformed here in this country, but let me tell you something. He's exactly right. The way these Middle Eastern monarchies function is to keep their populations as dumb as possible. You would not believe, if you were to learn what little young kids, primarily boys, are taught starting at age five, even earlier. They go to the mosque. They don't go to school. And they are filled morning to night with lies and BS about the United States, about the West, about Israel, they are raised, they are brought up on pure, unadulterated hatred. They are not educated. They are not informed. They are not taught about the world. They are lied to about it. And these are the people that end up becoming the worker bees, the suicide bombers, what have you, of Al-Qaeda. And it is these mullahs and the sheiks and the Imams in these mosques. Egypt is a hotbed of this. Every time I see Hosni Mubarak I say, "What the hell are we even talking to him for?' What we need to do is get hold of him and say, "Straighten out your education system." If that doesn't happen, folks, and that's a long part of this process, too, because what is really going on with the uneducated class in these Arab countries is criminal.

END TRANSCRIPT
posted by clavdivs at 10:03 AM on May 30, 2004 [1 favorite]


David Dark - Re : "Destroying the Morale of the troops" -

"Contrary media coverage plants seeds of doubt in the conscience of the American public, which slowly seeps into the minds of soldiers, who then begin to doubt the missions they previously believed in. Confidence in command wanes. Morale dissipates. Defeat, once an impossibility, becomes certain in the minds of those who no longer see the merits in the difficult tasks they are asked to perform. All the while, the enemy grows stronger, emboldened by a neverending stream of uncertainty and bad news from the media and citizens of the country they oppose. Perceived weakness, real or otherwise, manufactures strength inside the hearts and minds of the enemy."

These sure sound like Cal Thomas' recent talking points, or maybe you've just been watching FOX too much ? :

"Cal Thomas Ponders 'Voluntary' Censorship on War Coverage" (Editor and Publisher Magazine, May 22, 2004, by
Dave Astor)

NEW YORK Cal Thomas, in a May 22 appearance on TV's "Fox News Watch," said he might favor media censorship in coverage of the Iraq war. But the columnist told E&P today that he didn't want censorship imposed by authorities outside the press.

"I think, like in World War II, it should be voluntary -- but with strong government and citizen disapproval if it were violated," said Thomas, whose client list of more than 570 newspapers makes him the most widely syndicated op-ed columnist in America. He said any censorship program should be overseen by a professional journalist.

Why does he feel voluntary censorship could be desirable? "I worry that some of the reporting and pictures are giving the enemy a false impression concerning American resolve and thus could add to more of our troops getting killed and bolder attacks inside the U.S.," "

________________________________


If you are arguing that the US media should not tell the truth about what's going on in Iraq, then I can make a number of assumptions about your underlying philosophy :

You do not believe in the capability of the American people, operating through the American democratic process - especially in the upcoming 2004 election, to make informed decisions about which politicians to vote for in light of their positions concerning the conflict in Iraq.

You might be a "Straussian" (which I'd say codes for a type of neo-fascism : "Straussians also believe that the public is not capable of understanding or accepting the universal principles of right. Therefore, they posit the rectitude of the "noble lie" which shields the uneducated public from knowledge of unpalatable truth" (wikipedia)) or you might believe in dictatorships or kingships as the best form of government.

If you DO believe in Democracy, you would have to recognize and support the right of citizens in working democracies to have access to good (and varied) information concerning foreign policy, domestic policy, and the world at large. If you are arguing against the freedom of the press, then you are arguing against Democracy itself.

_________________________________________

With regard to the effect of a free press on military morale, I would have to make a pointed observation and pose a question :

1) The revelations of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in the US run prison in Iraq dealt a major blow to the morale of many in the US military. Do you think that news reports and press coverage of the Abu Ghraib story should have been censored ?

And - if so - is there any level of atrocity (in your opinion) which so stands out as such a clear abomination that it should NOT be censored ? Would you place the My Lai massacre in such a category.....or do you feel that news of that massacre should have been censored as well ?

Further, the leaks of pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison did NOT come from the US press but seem to have, instead, originated from the Pentagon. Would you favor a type of "inquisition-lite" to ferret out the source of the leaked pictures ?

2) Most corrosive of all on the morale of US troops in Iraq may be the continued extension of the tours of duty of many service members - especially those in the National Guard.

Given that the "Stop Loss" orders which compell many Guard members to serve, effectively, forever - in spite of the devastating consequences to the families and careers of many of these service members - I think you'd have to conceed (though I'm sure you won't) that the Bush Administration is doing a bang-up job, all on it's own, of demoralizing US troops serving in Iraq.

These soldiers - who are being treated as slaves, or as press-ganged conscripts from the military conflicts of past centuries, are paying - essentially - for the refusal of Don Rumsfeld and the Neocons to listen to the US Army War College analysts who forecast a need for a far greater number of troops to pull off the Iraq gambit.

"Speaking off the record", writes a military wife, :"my husband was supposed to come home from Iraq this week but has just been extended another 120 days. His old unit, 3rd Infantry Division, is already seeing an exodus of junior officers. Since their return from Iraq, 35 captains have left the Army for greener pastures." Several more read: "another 15-20 are due to leave, but who knows whether or not they'll manage to do so before more stop losses and stop moves come down prior to their return to the desert. ... Between separation from family, no guarantee of tour lengths, no clear mission and consistent pay problems, folks are pretty fed up. If they can get out, which is no small feat, they seem to be doing so while the getting is good." ( Source)

Would you argue that the voices of these service members - whose families and careeers have been damaged or put at risk from the constantly extended tours of duty that have been forced on them (at pain of dereliction of duty and consequent court marshal, I presume, should they refuse ) - should be suppressed - because of the effect on overall morale - of such expressions of frustration and pain ?

Further, your argument would imply that the commander of the 82nd Airborne, and other leaders in the US military, are directly guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy (see quote below). Is that your position ?

"Dissension Grows In Senior Ranks On War Strategy U.S. May Be Winning Battles in Iraq But Losing the War, Some Officers Say" (Washington Post, May 9, 2004)

"Deep divisions are emerging at the top of the U.S. military over the course of the occupation of Iraq, with some senior officers beginning to say that the United States faces the prospect of casualties for years without achieving its goal of establishing a free and democratic Iraq.

Their major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.

"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

_____________________________________________

MEDIA BIAS ? SNICKERING EAST COAST EDITORS ?

Also - on that last quote from Toby Harnden ( of the Daily Telegraph ) " I’ll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no ‘imminent threat’ (though the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge), a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be."
-

[ Harnden plays Brad Pitt playing an amnesiac ! ]

Harnden's striking amnesia concerning the constantly shifting rationales given by the Bush Adminstration for the US invasion of Iraq casts a bit of doubt on his memory, I would say :

"the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge" - was that the point ? members of the Bush Administration, Colin Powell included, asserted that they knew - on TV and before the UN - that Iraq had massive stockpiles of biological weapons, other types of WMD's, and ongoing and extensive WMD research programs.

The Bush Administration claimed that it knew that these WMD's existed and even claimed to know the approximate quantities and locations of these WMD's which have now, inexplicably, vanished without a trace : presumeably because every last bit of those massive WMD stockpiles, even all fragmentary evidence of their ever having existed, was smuggled across the border in vast truck fleets that somehow escaped American notice, in the middle of the night, into Jordan.

Right ?

[ As an interesting aside, I have to imagine Harndon re-cast playing the lead of the movie "Memento", as he forgets - over and over again - the entire past two years and notices then the talking points tattooed all over his body :

[ Tattooed Talking Points ! ]

"Invasion of Iraq : Coalition forces invaded Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction"

"WMD programs were the real - and only stated - justification for the invasion of Iraq"

"Whatever happens, blame the media for damaging military morale. That's always an effective cheap shot."

OK, leaving Harndon - playing Brad Pitt playing an amnesiac - back on the Memento movie set, to pick up the point about Harndon's "snickering" East coast (US) editors.........

A bit on media bias


posted by troutfishing at 10:18 AM on May 30, 2004


Oh for fuck's sake, people, quit posting encyclopaedic messages. Get your own blog already!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 AM on May 30, 2004


clavdivs - it was hard for me to discern your point (I'm taking to breaking up long chunks of text with annotations, or headlines, so people can identify my general argumentative line and - if they don't want to follow it all - can scroll quickly past), but it was interesting to read that transcript.

I preferred the first caller the most - he seemed to be a handful for Limbaugh. Was that you ?
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 AM on May 30, 2004


fap fap fap fap
posted by keswick at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2004


Also, Nightline is still refusing to mention (on it's main web page) either the May 6, 2004 segment that clavdivs just posted in it's entirety or an earlier show (May 3rd, 2004 ?) Nightline did as the Abu Ghraib story was just breaking.

Wimps.

FFF - I wrote a comment that was TWICE as long - with a humungous encyclopedic rebuttal of David Dark's claim that the US media has a left-leaning bias.....then I decided that my comment was way, way too long, and hacked off the "media bias" chunk - which I posted on my blog.

Take that, David Dark!
posted by troutfishing at 10:45 AM on May 30, 2004


Rush needs to up his dosage - reality came dangerously close to his little bubble there.
posted by trondant at 10:49 AM on May 30, 2004


yappity yap yap yap!

was that a little chihuahua I just heard ?

They bark so much.
posted by troutfishing at 10:52 AM on May 30, 2004


[ trondant - not you. ]
posted by troutfishing at 10:54 AM on May 30, 2004


Thanks for not blogging MeFi, Trout. At least that one time. :-)

IMO, MeFi functions best in TV newshour mode: snippets that get right to the point, no deep insights required. Let the links take care of the insights and supporting evidence; make one's post the executive summary.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:08 PM on May 30, 2004


trout: Arf!
/offtopic
posted by trondant at 12:15 PM on May 30, 2004


Meanwhile, in another part of the Axis of Evil, "the reported export by North Korea of the uranium material needed to build warheads has escalated the stakes in the Korean nuclear crisis, threatening the six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its program."
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2004


These sure sound like Cal Thomas' recent talking points, or maybe you've just been watching FOX too much ? :

No, my quoted source is Daniel Ingham, as noted. I've quoted him before, here, on May 14, so unless I've perfected my time machine (and I'm not saying I haven't), I couldn't be using Cal Thomas' recent talking points from a May 22 interview. Surely you will concede that you made an error in judgment, and a silly accusation to boot.

I guess, then, it's actually you who is watching FOX too much, eh? Who was on tonight? I missed it. I was too busy watching 60 Minutes interview MUQTADA AL-SADR. Good thing our right-leaning media wishes to give a spotlight to the radical Shiite cleric whose followers have been constantly battling U.S. troops, and who says Saddam Hussein was his enemy, but America is an even bigger foe. This is surprising, coming from such an unbiased media. Then again, how else were they going to top last week's sensational interview with y2karl's (and the left's) new darling, General Zinni?
________________________________

If you are arguing that the US media should not tell the truth about what's going on in Iraq

I'm not. I'm arguing that the US media should attempt to find out the truth about what's going on in Iraq before they publish their opinions as fact, gossip as truth, and fabrications as evidence. They choose not to do so, and are acutely aware of the effects of that cause.

You do not believe in the capability of the American people, operating through the American democratic process - especially in the upcoming 2004 election, to make informed decisions about which politicians to vote for in light of their positions concerning the conflict in Iraq.

Nonsense. The people will choose and choose wisely, of this I have no doubt. The handicap here is that they are not being provided with accurate, unbiased information on which to base any decision, and their positions concerning the conflict in Iraq have changed, in large part due to this imbalance.

You might be a "Straussian" (which I'd say codes for a type of neo-fascism : "Straussians also believe that the public is not capable of understanding or accepting the universal principles of right. Therefore, they posit the rectitude of the "noble lie" which shields the uneducated public from knowledge of unpalatable truth" (wikipedia)) or you might believe in dictatorships or kingships as the best form of government.

Your labels, in all fairness, are about as accurate as your assessments of my position. Since I don't smile and nod and agree with you, I'm a neofascist. Is this what they call a smear campaign?

If you DO believe in Democracy, you would have to recognize and support the right of citizens in working democracies to have access to good (and varied) information concerning foreign policy, domestic policy, and the world at large. If you are arguing against the freedom of the press, then you are arguing against Democracy itself.

If you believe that there is currently easily accessible good and varied information about everything that is happening in Iraq, and that the media isn't reporting in overwhelming disproportion the bad news over the good, you're simply not being honest with yourself.

If you read my comments and concluded that I am arguing against the freedom of the press, then you are guilty of the 'misperceptions' you are so fond of accusing the American people of holding.
_________________________________________

With regard to the effect of a free press on military morale, I would have to make a pointed observation and pose a question :

1) The revelations of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in the US run prison in Iraq dealt a major blow to the morale of many in the US military.


This is your 'pointed' observation? I'm afraid I must take issue with it as it is stated, because I disagree. The revelations affected morale in a negligible way to the enlisted men; they reacted the way you or I react to crimes we hear or read about. Some care too much, some care too little, most feel sympathy for the victims and hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Around here, we commonly read statements like, "Now I'm ashamed to be an American." I never understand this. When I see nightly news coverage of, say, a rapist at large, I don't think "Now I'm ashamed to be a man," or when I see a criminal flash a dimpled smile, I don't think "Now I'm ashamed that I have dimples." It makes no sense. In the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, I read a lot of articles covering the story, it was unavoidable. What I never read was an enlisted man state, "Because of the Abu Ghraib scandal, I am ashamed to be a United States soldier." That's a tactic reserved for the crafty anti-war drama queens, used to demonstrate disgrace spread upon all of us by the actions of a few. Rational men don't think in these terms. No, it wasn't the revelations themselves that dealt the blow to morale. It was the perception that the revelations were being politicized and used as an excuse to blacken the mission of the military at large, and that they may be responsible for swinging public opinion against finishing the job in Iraq. It was only the possibility of the effect the revelations would unjustly cause, not a direct cause in and of itself.

Do you think that news reports and press coverage of the Abu Ghraib story should have been censored?

Of course not. These things must be brought to light, and with that I take no issue. I take issue with how they are then manipulated to represent something they're not, and are used to destroy something very much worth preserving.

And - if so - is there any level of atrocity (in your opinion) which so stands out as such a clear abomination that it should NOT be censored ? Would you place the My Lai massacre in such a category.....or do you feel that news of that massacre should have been censored as well ?

I get to skip this one, because it rests on my affirming your false assumption, which I refuse to do.

Further, the leaks of pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison did NOT come from the US press but seem to have, instead, originated from the Pentagon. Would you favor a type of "inquisition-lite" to ferret out the source of the leaked pictures ?

That's right, they originated from the Pentagon. As did the investigation into the scandal, the court-martials, the punishments, all of which would have taken place regardless of whether or not 60 Minutes II broke the story. Interesting how your party clamors on about how the scandal indicates a broken system, the blame must climb the chain of command all the way to Secretary Rumsfeld, while the credit for the investigation curiously stalls on the desk of Taguba.

2) Most corrosive of all on the morale of US troops in Iraq may be the continued extension of the tours of duty of many service members - especially those in the National Guard.

Extended tours can diminish morale, but it varies man to man. I wouldn't say it's as responsible as the constant onslaught of unbalanced reporting. If the media was focused on all of the good that the Marines are accomplishing in Iraq, you would see a hell of a lot less dissatisfaction with extended tours of duty. A recognized sense of accomplishment does wonders for the spirit, and I don't think you'll argue against me on that point.

Given that the "Stop Loss" orders which compell many Guard members to serve, effectively, forever - in spite of the devastating consequences to the families and careers of many of these service members - I think you'd have to conceed (though I'm sure you won't) that the Bush Administration is doing a bang-up job, all on it's own, of demoralizing US troops serving in Iraq. These soldiers - who are being treated as slaves, or as press-ganged conscripts from the military conflicts of past centuries, are paying - essentially - for the refusal of Don Rumsfeld and the Neocons to listen to the US Army War College analysts who forecast a need for a far greater number of troops to pull off the Iraq gambit.

When you put it that way, I feel demoralized. And so you just proved my point.

"Speaking off the record", writes a military wife, :"my husband was supposed to come home from Iraq this week but has just been extended another 120 days. His old unit, 3rd Infantry Division, is already seeing an exodus of junior officers. Since their return from Iraq, 35 captains have left the Army for greener pastures." Several more read: "another 15-20 are due to leave, but who knows whether or not they'll manage to do so before more stop losses and stop moves come down prior to their return to the desert. ... Between separation from family, no guarantee of tour lengths, no clear mission and consistent pay problems, folks are pretty fed up. If they can get out, which is no small feat, they seem to be doing so while the getting is good." ( Source)

When you start quoting wives of soldiers instead of soldiers, I stop listening.
________________________________

Harnden's striking amnesia concerning the constantly shifting rationales given by the Bush Adminstration for the US invasion of Iraq casts a bit of doubt on his memory, I would say :

"the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge" - was that the point ?


The 'imminent threat', yes.

members of the Bush Administration, Colin Powell included, asserted that they knew - on TV and before the UN - that Iraq had massive stockpiles of biological weapons, other types of WMD's, and ongoing and extensive WMD research programs.

The Bush Administration claimed that it knew that these WMD's existed and even claimed to know the approximate quantities and locations of these WMD's which have now, inexplicably, vanished without a trace : presumeably because every last bit of those massive WMD stockpiles, even all fragmentary evidence of their ever having existed, was smuggled across the border in vast truck fleets that somehow escaped American notice, in the middle of the night, into Jordan.

Right ?


Well, it's possible. They found the chemical weapon sarin in a binary shell, and you called it Diet Coke. Those who never believed will never believe, regardless of what the future holds. But the simple fact is it doesn't matter anymore, except as an exercise in "how can we improve our intelligence agencies to make sure that they obtain better, more reliable information in the future?" And I think steps are being taken to accomplish that. But when I say it doesn't matter where the WMD are or if they ever existed in the first place, as I believe the administration has also said, it's because there is no rewind button in life. The question was, "Should we remove Saddam from power?" The reasons were stated, to aid in the decision making process, and that's when it mattered. Our intelligence said that he had WMD. It was on Saddam's shoulders, as an aggressive totalitarian dictator guilty of war crimes and obligated under international sanctions to demonstrate his disarmament, to prove that he was complying with those sanctions. He refused to do so. On those grounds, it was decided to remove him. And from that moment forward, whether or not a warehouse full of WMD would be discovered ceased to be a matter of practical importance on whether or not the war was justified. The war was deemed to be justified based on the available information, which Saddam Hussein, if innocent of illegally procuring WMD, is guilty of not fulfilling his responsibility to demonstrate that fact to the international community.

OK, leaving Harndon - playing Brad Pitt playing an amnesiac - back on the Memento movie set, to pick up the point about Harndon's "snickering" East coast (US) editors.........

It wasn't Brad Pitt, it was Guy Pearce.
posted by David Dark at 3:57 AM on May 31, 2004


Think Again: The Return of the 'Stab In the Back'

Take a look at the morning paper nowadays and it's clear that America has a lot of enemies. Two or three different brands of insurgency are operating in Iraq. North Korea has nuclear weapons and Pakistan is selling them. Our former best friend in Baghdad turns out to be an American spy. Al Qaeda, of course, is still out there. All this notwithstanding, some commentators on the right seem to have decided that the real enemies aren't the ones they read about it the papers, but the people who write them.

Thus, Michael Barone opined in his May 24 column "that today's press works to put the worst possible face on the war" in Iraq. The president's main task, then, is not to improve his war-fighting policies, but to "show, once again, that the media have got it wrong." Three days earlier, columnist Morton Kondracke warned that "the media and politicians" are "in danger of talking the United States into defeat in Iraq."

The argument here - that everything is fine except the media coverage - is absurd on its face. The reporters in question are, unlike their pundit-detractors, on the ground in Iraq witnessing the situation for themselves. It is undeniable, moreover, that a growing chorus of former war supporters - liberals and conservatives alike - people like George Will, Tucker Carlson, Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, and Bill Kristol have grown increasingly dubious that the president's policies will bring us to success. Is this band of ex-hawks really trying to bring America down, or are they sincerely worried that the president is the one bringing us low? The doubters, moreover, are hardly to be found in the press alone. Three of the past four top generals in the U.S. Central Command have denounced the president's handling of the situation and the fourth is on the board of a company that depends on good will from the Pentagon to stay in business. These general are not die-hard liberals, or surly reporters, they're men who've spent years commanding all U.S. military forces in the region. Perhaps the argument can be made that the likes of Barone and Kondracke are more familiar with the difficulties of war-fighting in the Middle East than are these men, but it's a case I've yet to see.

Nevertheless, the political purpose of the theory isn't hard to grasp. The groundwork is being laid for a new version of the "stab in the back" myth that helped destroy Weimar Germany. No matter how far south things go in Iraq, the blame will be laid not at the feet of the president who initiated and conducted the war, but rather on those who had the temerity to note that it wasn't working. Rather than the critics having been proven right, or so the story goes, the critics are to blame for the failure of the very policy they were criticizing...

posted by y2karl at 6:10 AM on May 31, 2004


Mr. clavdivs, many thanks for the transcripts. Wonderfully illustrated points, that Ted Koppel is a tough interviewer, my hat is off to him. Don't worry that some "couldn't discern your point". Some people need to be hit with a sledgehammer.
posted by David Dark at 11:01 AM on May 31, 2004


U.S. humbled by failure of Mideast vision
The war to oust Saddam Hussein was supposed to be a mere beachhead, heralding a liberation that would end tyranny in Baghdad and launch a sweeping U.S.-led campaign to remake the rest of the Middle East into a bastion of peace, democracy and tolerance.

Barely a year later the vision has shrunk. Gone is the grand scheme in which President George W. Bush envisioned a liberated Iraq that could "show the power of freedom to transform that vital region." Instead, his administration is looking to stabilize Iraq, hang on until November's election in the United States and Iraq's a month or two later, then find a way out...

"Thirteen years ago, at the end of the first [Persian] Gulf war, the United States stood at a position of really unparalleled influence and respect in the region," said James Steinberg, directory of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"We had won a great military victory with great prowess. It had been done in connection with the fantastic diplomatic effort that preceded that victory, pulling together an almost unprecedented international coalition in support of broadly accepted international principles," he said. Some are even questioning the merits of having toppled Mr. Hussein. "By attacking Iraq without sufficient preparations for creating a functioning state, we have created precisely what the Bush administration itself has identified as a major threat to world security: a weak state, unable to police its borders or to maintain a monopoly on the use of force," said Jessica Stern of Harvard University.

posted by y2karl at 12:33 PM on May 31, 2004


Why Hawks Should Be Angry
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on May 31, 2004


Meanwhile, the U.S. is lost in Afghanistan, says Robert Novak.
posted by homunculus at 1:56 PM on May 31, 2004


Think tank's report warns of Qaeda's breadth, strength

The report suggested that the two military centerpieces of the US-led war on terror -- the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- may have boosted Al Qaeda. Driving the terror network out of Afghanistan in late 2001 appears to have benefited the group, which dispersed to many countries, making it almost invisible and hard to combat, the report found.

And the Iraq conflict "has arguably focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition that appeared so formidable" after the Afghan intervention, the survey said. The US occupation of Iraq brought Al Qaeda recruits from across Islamic nations, the study said. Up to 1,000 foreign Islamic fighters have infiltrated Iraqi territory, where they are cooperating with Iraqi insurgents.

The report also found that efforts to defeat Al Qaeda will take time and might accelerate only if there are political developments that now seem elusive, such as the democratization of Iraq and the resolution of conflict in Israel.

It could take up to 500,000 US and allied troops to effectively police Iraq and restore political stability there, IISS researcher Christopher Langton told the news conference.


Failing to Disband Militias, U.S. Moves to Accept Them

With only weeks to go until an Iraqi government takes over, American officials have failed to disarm the tens of thousands of fighters in private militias deployed almost exclusively along ethnic and religious lines. In the 15 months since the fall of Saddam Hussein, American officials have declared repeatedly that they would disband the private militias, recognizing that their narrow, sectarian interests could threaten a unified and democratic Iraqi state.

But with the sharp deterioration of the security situation in recent months, American officials appear to have resigned themselves to working with militias in Falluja, Baghdad and elsewhere even as American soldiers die fighting them in street battles in Karbala and Najaf.

A senior allied official said Monday that the Americans were engaged in delicate negotiations with several of the country's main militias to disband and integrate them into the security forces. The official said the Americans hoped to announce an agreement with the militias as early as this week. But it is not clear, with so few weeks left before the transfer of sovereignty, whether the Americans will have the leverage to disarm the militias.

The danger is that on June 30 the Americans will hand over power to an Iraqi administration that will not have a monopoly on the use of armed force, in an environment that many fear could set the stage for sectarian and ethnic warfare as the country moves toward what are intended to be democratic elections. As that date approaches, the Americans are quietly allowing some of these armed groups to flourish and, in some cases, have even helped recreate them.

posted by y2karl at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2004


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