March 16, 2006

Being Frederick Jameson

In his latest effort to turn blog excerpts from those he disagrees with into part of some master narrative he’s confident will be picked up by the anti-war, anti-Bush flock and spread like truly patriotic bird flu (dissentbeingthehighestformofblahblahblah…), Glenn Greenwald plucks a few crumbs from this post of mine and runs with it—original context be damned!

(2) In a post condemning Feingold’s censure resolution, Jeff Goldstein predicts that the U.S. is headed for another civil war—at least he hopes so:

But then, today’s liberal-Democrats are nothing but opportunistic and increasingly reprehensible tin-plated Macchiavellians; to many of these people, rhetoric trumps truth; spin is paramount, and power is all.

Never before in my lifetime did I find it even remotely possible that our country could fight another civil war. But I’m beginning to think that a (non-violent) civil war is coming—and that, frankly, it needs to happen. How it transpires, I have no idea—though I suspect migration patterns and a strong move to re-affirm federalist principles could provide the groundwork.

The sentiments underlying Jeff’s hopes for a civil war are found in the Comments section. In response to a commenter of his who pointed out that yet another formerly pro-war Bush follower (Greg Djerejian at Belgravia Dispatch) has acknowledged his error in supporting the war, Jeff relieved himself with this outburst:

Me, I say fuck it. Surrender. I’m tired of hearing all the bitching and whining from those who, had there been a 24 hour news cycle and a media like we are now blessed with, would have called for us to pull out of WWII on a thousand occasions. Which is cool. I look great in ash.

Jeff thinks he’s going to be zapped into ash if we withdraw from Iraq. For people who have been driven to that level of personal fear and irrationality, is it really a surprise that they will start screaming for the removal of federal judges, the imprisonment of investigative journalists, and “another” American civil war – just for starters?

[My emphasis]

Of course, in my comment, I noted that had we had a 24 hour news cycle and a media like we do today, we’d have pulled out of WWII 1000 times.  Which is where my reference to looking “good in ash” came from.  Because, you see, such ACTUALLY HAPPENED to many many Jews—and had Hitler not been defeated, who knows what the world would look like today?  As for being fearful of being turned into ash by a defeat in Iraq, well, that’s hardly the case—though I hope it’s still okay to note that I believe a defeat in Iraq will have disastrous long-term consequences, both at home and abroad (and not all of them foreign policy related).  Or is that just further “evidence” of my Bush Kultism?  So hard to keep all this deep logic straight…

But be that as it may.  Glenn is forgiven for using my comment in an entirely unintended way to present me as “fearful” and irrational.  Because that’s what he does:  he bends and twists and spins and shoehorns any bit of verbiage he can pull from the context of one of his pet Bush Kultists in order to fit it into his master narrative—in this case, the delightfully titled “Cornered Rats”.

Though I weary of doing this, let me just set it out there for posterity.  1) I have never called for the removal of judges or the imprisonment of journalists.  2) And the “soft” civil war I talked about (which I decribed as non-violent) was really just an extension of the so-called culture wars of the last 20 years, which I surmised could show up in migration patterns and a call for more legal appeals to federalism, allowing individual states who wish to do so to adhere more closely to the Constitution as it was written. 

In fact, my argument was no more than an extension of what I’ve been arguing for the past two weeks—specifically, that in order to win the war against Islamic terror worldwide, we need first to defeat here at home the pernicious strain of cultural relativism and self-loathing / liberal guilt that, coupled to a collectivist progressive philosophy disguised as the far more agreeable sounding “diversity” and “tolerance” movement, has increasingly insinuated its way into our public policy (and is evident in any number of social engineering programs, as well as, most recently, in our own media’s capitulation to Islamic fundamentalists’ demands that no cartoons of Mohammed be published). 

I apologize to Glenn if none of this really fits his thesis willingly, but I’m certainly not surprised that, like some intellectual date rapist, he’s gone right ahead and shoved it in there anyway.  Because I can’t remember the last time he was honest.

Just so long as he gets his Atrios or Kos link, all is justified.  Because that’s what he’s after:  influence

And of course, Power.  In fact, just about everything Glenn writes of late is intended to augment his newfound power as memetic superstar to the administration’s detractors.  Glenn has become the L. Ron Hubbard of the anti-war crowd, bless him:  he provides the Bush haters with easy soundbite wisdom and gives them their daily affirmation through demonization of the “fearful” and irrational “wingnut” / Kultist / “extremist”—by extension, reassuring his flock that they are none of those things.  And they, in return, tithe him with riches beyond his wildest imaginings!

Kos, Atrios, Huffington Post…!  Glenn Greenwald, opinion shaper to the STARS!

Yawn.

full disclosure:  One of Glenn’s guest posters contacted me earlier this week and asked me to provide her with a number of links that make clear my positions on a number of issues that would show that I am far less of a Bush Kultist than Glenn likes to make me out.

That post was supposed to go up earlier this week, but Glenn bumped it to “cover” the Feingold “censure” story.  And, presumably, to pen today’s piece, who knows?

At any rate, his guest poster told me she hoped to try to bring rapprochement to the discourse.  And I was happy to help.

I didn’t know at the time that “Cornered Rats” was what they were going for.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 5:33pm
100 comments | Trackback

Comments (100)

  1. Blog fight! Blog fight!

    SB: window

    aka chaff

  2. “In fact, Glenn has become the L. Ron Hubbard of the anti-war crowd.”

    He surrounds himself with nubile kids and is on the run for tax fraud?

  3. By the way, love the title of this post

  4. Meanwhile,

    Chimpy at my last check is still President until January 20, 2009.  And no, there will be no impeachment.  Because that would make Cheney Prez and Greenwald’s head would explode.

    And no, we will not abandon the people of Iraq to the tender mercies of Al Qaeda and the loon in Tehran.  IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  However much Murtha scowls and forgets that young Marines find him loathsome.

    In addition, I’d suggest that those on the left who are all starry-eyed over Russ Feingold ask those of us on the right who would make a PERFECT Dem nominee in 2008.  He would be PERFECTION.  McCain, Condi, Rudy, Romney…whoever…it would not matter.  Two words, morons: GEORGE MCGOVERN.  For that matter: WALTER MONDALE.  Hell:  MICHAEL FRIGGIN’ DUKAKIS.  I’d throw in John Kerry, but I’ve already exceeded the overkill governor on a PW post.  The mind reels.

    I’m tired of this idiotic posturing.  Kostards, Greenwalds, Huffingtons–you’d think that years of screeching would have taught you that the public, while not enamored of the President, is not willing to embrace your idiocies.  Period.  Get a clue, you self-important bags of…nothing…not even air.

  5. 1) I have never called for the removal of judges or the imprisonment of journalists.

    And why not, Mister? You better hop to it and enforce the Imperial Presidency, or else KKKarl Rove will cancel your neo-con stipend, of evil.

  6. I’ve already exceeded the overkill governor on a PW post.

    Is that possible?

  7. It is insane but sad to see how the Libs massage each others egos by standing on their soapboxes and spewing their recycled garbage. Let them eat cake…. Or PIE!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Because, you see, such ACTUALLY HAPPENED to many many Jews—and had Hitler not been defeated, who knows what the world would look like today?

    So, now you Bush Kultists are claiming there were operational ties between Saddam and Hitler? 

    (This out of context stuff is fun!)

  9. What I have a problem understanding is how anyone can accuse the administration (Bush) with breaking the law when they are not privvy to the classified nature of the program.

    Might as well skip the trial in a lawsuit.  After all if someone sues, there are “charges” so therefore there must be guilt.  Just skip to the “damages” portion and get it over with.

  10. So, now you Bush Kultists are claiming there were operational ties between Saddam and Hitler?

    FDR Lied, Jews Died!

  11. 2) And the “soft” civil war I talked about (which I decribed as non-violent) was really just an extension of the so-called culture wars of the last 20 years, which I surmised could show up in migration patterns and a call for more legal appeals to federalism, allowing individual states who wish to do so to adhere more closely to the Constitution as it was written.

    Can you tell me more about this culture war and federalism? Why only in the last 20 years? That would be since 1986?  I’d say if there was a culture war that is linked with questions of federalism, it extends at least as far back as Brown v. Board.

  12. My comment of 1:57 was purely tongue-in-cheek, but it reminded me that during WWII there were quite a few Republicans who believed, based on pre-war intelligence, that FDR “knew” of Pearl Harbor in advance and allowed it to happen in order to get America into the war and Protect World Communism and Save the Jooos.

    Thankfully, today the few True Believers of this theory are isolated among the John Birch crank wing of the Right.  But according to what I’ve read, Republican Thomas Dewey was encouraged to make an issue of it during the 1944 campaign (he declined).

    Which brings up interesting parallels to today…

  13. Don’t sweat it man. I mean, do you really understand how frustrated these people are? They know not what they do. Since 1980 they’ve only been as politically successful to the extent that they’ve ape republican positions. Do you know how disgusting that makes them feel? Still, they can’t reform themselves because in their worldview it’s simply not possible that the majority of Americans aren’t on their side. Therefore it’s necessary that their opposition lies with every breath, and steals elections that are rightfully theirs. Their bag of tricks is completely empty ever since the rest of the world started referring to “capitalism” as “economics,” leaving the destruction of their political opponents as their only means to power. And so intense is their will to power that they’ve competely lost any understanding that for democracy to be democracy, all sides are required to accept that losing requires the acceptance of defeat by the losers. But these days they are the losers, and in their worldview, accepting defeat is tantamount to accepting meaninglessness, a feat no ego can endure, so they will continue to attack and attack and attack the electoral process and any winners it produces other than themselves.

  14. Don’t sweat it man. I mean, do you really understand how frustrated these people are? They know not what they do.

    I guess I truly don’t understand why you’d even CARE what they think, much less talk to them about well…anything. Screw ‘em I say.

  15. Someone needs a life, and it ain’t Jeff.  *cough*Greenwald*cough*

    And someone needs his head fumigated of them antisemite fleas whispering in his ear *cough*Vega*cough*

  16. Early in the comments in his post, Greenwald noted that ash could have been interpreted differently:

    The ash reference could be a reference to the color of the german uniforms.

    Yes, that’s true – or he might have meant that he would be covered in ash (from the explosions), rather than reduced to ash. The reference wasn’t entirely clear, but whatever it was, it is a paranoid vision that rules the world-view of many of them.

    And it is a pretty warped worldview to state that “had we had a 24 hour news cycle and a media like we do today, we’d have pulled out of WWII 1000 times”.

  17. And it is a pretty warped worldview to state that “had we had a 24 hour news cycle and a media like we do today, we’d have pulled out of WWII 1000 times”.

    You’re right—the US would never have even entered it. The British certainly would have folded, given how close they were in reality.

  18. “Its June 15th 1940 and today on Good Morning America, Surrender … its the Conventional Wisdom … our guest this morning is Vidkun Quisling ….”

  19. And it is a pretty warped worldview to state that “had we had a 24 hour news cycle and a media like we do today, we’d have pulled out of WWII 1000 times”.

    Uh huh.

    Today, the propaganda of our WWII movies and news reels would be deemed sinister—inasmuch as it goes against the “neutrality” our “advocacy” media (explain that contradiction in self-definition) prides itself upon.

    Similarly, instead of reporting on allied victories, the sensationalist, soundbite media would focus on the nature of dissent as patriotism (we’d have a Quaker Cindy Sheehan, no doubt, the upside being the high collar); the massive casualties in certain battles; the “blowback” from World War I (“which, let’s face it, war is never the answer, but…&#8221wink—justifying German nationalism and expansionism to take back earlier Visogoth borders; the “Otherness” of the Japanese that we shan’t presume to judge (and besides, if we kill one kamikaze, we spawn 10 more); and on and on and on.

    Polls would should that American people, thanks to the relentless negativity of the press, are demanding that the President come up with a “coherent” plan to win the war (and then, to win the peace).  Such loss of life!  Troops must be withdrawn!  Why are we fighting for the freedom of those who won’t take it for themselves?  Why are we being so interventionalist?  Such a huge undertaking was, after all, bound to fail…

    Yup.  All wingnut fantasies.  After all, where is the precedent for such actions?

    Oh, wait…

  20. Llama, you can bet your ass that if the media in WWII had screamed 5,800 dead on Normandy beaches, 23 ships sunk in one day at Okinawa, or only the Memphis Belle out of her squadron made it to those 25 missions–yeah, we’d have faced a different world.

    Thankfully, Murrow, Severied and others knew that there was more at stake than flashing back to the “groovy” days of Prohibition.  If you don’t get my jest analogy, look up McCarthy, Eugene and then ask Senator Feingold who his role model is.

    And next time you accuse Chimpy of exceeding his authority as CIC, read ANY bio of FDR, you intellectual lightweight.

  21. The way Greenwald dotes on you I think he may be in lurve. Tell the ‘dillo to be careful your lover doesn’t step on the little guy on the way out the door.

  22. You’re right—the US would never have even entered it. The British certainly would have folded, given how close they were in reality.

    Thank god we had a democrat in charge that wasn’t more fearful of communism than of fascism.

  23. Thank god we had a democrat in charge that wasn’t more fearful of communism than of fascism.

    And as we all know, there’s absolutely NO reason to fear communism…

  24. Actus,

    Once again, you miss the entire f-in’ point.  Stick your head in the blender and hit “Puree.”

  25. And as we all know, there’s absolutely NO reason to fear communism…

    Specially not when we got a fascist to fight them for us!

  26. Fascist/Communist.  I’m at a loss to make a meaningful distinction when it comes to freedom.  To actus, one is actually a good guy.

    Idiot.

  27. Fascist/Communist.  I’m at a loss to make a meaningful distinction when it comes to freedom.  To actus, one is actually a good guy.

    Oh god no. But to the people who thought we should not stop fascism, one was the good guy.

  28. (we’d have a Quaker Cindy Sheehan, no doubt, the upside being the high collar);

    Actually, there were such folks. From my blog, last August:

    I’ve been reading “Under Cover”, the story of John Roy Carlson’s four years infiltrating anti-American organizations in the 1930s. I’ve just started a chapter titled “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” about the Coughlinites and others running a campaign using distraught mothers and widows—from WWI—to oppose any US involvement in WWII. Like the story linked above, the mothers were used to stage photogenic “civil disobedience” such as storming the Capitol building and being blocked by Capitol police. They’d cry on cue, even.

    Today we rightly view the Coughlinites and America Firsters as useful idiots.

  29. And the Baathists have nothing in common with fascists, right, actus?  Remember that there is a CONTEMPORARY context for this thread.

    You are like a yip dog that pees on the carpet…con-f-in’-tin-u-ous-ly.

  30. Oh god no. But to the people who thought we should not stop fascism, one was the good guy.

    Those were the Communists, up to a point. Until Hitler invaded Russia, the Communists were staunchly opposed to America getting involved in Europe’s war.

  31. Dear Acuts:

    Do you know or even care to know that:

    1) FDR was a big fan of fascism

    2) That the communists murdered more than 100 million people compared to National socialism’s 20 million?

    Yes, I know George Bush hates black people and kittens, just like the jews did. That doens’t give you an excuse to hate.

  32. Yes, the comparisons between Iraq II and WWII are STRIKING!

    Please…

    Mr. Blogger, could you show me ONE valid comparison between what’s going on in Iraq (it’s not a “war” is it?  Only Congress can declare war) and WWII.  Just ONE.  Please, enlighten the intellectual lightweights in the audience (those who don’t agree with you). 

    Otherwise, leave your stupid, inane WWII references at the door. 

    By the way, the fact that Iraq and Germany both have an ‘a’ and an ‘r’ in their names doesn’t count.

  33. Skiman,

    Umm, You missed the whole point.  There was no comparison between WWII and Iraq in the post or discussion. There was a hypothetical about the media and WWII vs media and Iraq.

    Your comment seems inane and stupid.  And redundant.

  34. Otherwise, leave your stupid, inane WWII references at the door.

    I’m not Jeff’s policeman, but…

    A little reminder – you’re in SOMEONE ELSE’S blog – not the other way around.  If you don’t like the WWII references, go back to Greenwald’s place.

    First given – Iraq is PART of the war on terror, so don’t argue that Iraq is not.

    Similarities:

    We were attacked by surprise in both wars.

    We occupied a country(ies) that didn’t have a direct connection to the original attack (Iraq, Italy, North Africa, etc.)

    Europe, for the most part, stuck its head in the sand and ignored the warning signals in both wars.

    These were the easy ones – I could go on.

    TV (Harry)

  35. it’s not a “war” is it?  Only Congress can declare war

    Good thing they did, then.

  36. I see that you’re attempting to create some historical fiction based on your worldview of what the media is doing re: the Iraq war and applying it to WWII.  BUT there are tons of holes in your analogy.  First and foremost, the Iraq war is NOT World War II.  World War II was a fight against a tyrant that had taken over most of Europe, and a military dictatorship that had taken over a chunk of Asia and had attacked us.  The war in Iraq was a preemptive strike against a neutered dictator who didn’t have the WMD capabilities that were advertised prior to war.  In short, there were serious, considered reasons to question the war in Iraq, and many serious people questioned it.  Virtually no one of any seriousness questioned WWII.  So any points about the media reporting dissent that you make are baseless, since there’s wasn’t any serious dissent re: WWII. 

    Second, there was a “coherent” plan to win the war and the peace (see the Marshall plan) in WWII, there isn’t one now.  Third, intervention in Europe/Asia in WWII is a completely different monster compared to intervention in Iraq (i.e. intervention in Europe/Asia was clearly necessary, not so in Iraq).  Fourth, the polls would show the American people clearly behind World War II.  Your statement makes the faulty assumption that the reason people aren’t behind the war is because of the “liberal MSM” and not because of the mistakes made re: WMDs, securing basic services for Iraqis, the inability to secure the peace with the number of troops we have, etc.  I can go on, but it’s clear that the comparison between the media wrt Iraq vs. WWII is absurd.  The situations that you lay out (lack of a coherent post-war plan, serious questions as to whether intervention was necesssary, a public against the war) weren’t happening during WWII, so the press obviously wouldn’t be reporting them.

    You might want to conflate the war in Iraq with World War II, and want to compare a neutered Saddam Hussein (or “radical Islam”) to a Hitler who had Paris, was destroying London, and an imperial Japan that had overrun the Pacific.  In other words, making Iraq or radical Islam out to be an existential threat to America.  But there is no comparison.  And thinking that these situations are comparable is a pretty warped worldview.

  37. Sean: No, no. You can’t say “operational ties”, because that reminds people there’s another kind that could have Really Existed.

    You have to just say “ties”, and pretend that “operational” is the only kind of tie, when it suits you for that meaning to exist.

  38. OK Skiman…

    Here goes…

    1.  Have you ever actually studied the origins of Baathism?  I have.  Picture Mein Kampf in Arabic.  Dolt.

    2.  I dare YOU to compare the media treatment of World War II with the media treatment of the Iraq campaign OR the War on Terror.  If you do, even a dim bulb as yourself will understand the point Jeff is making.  But you won’t make the effort.  Moron.

    3.  Just for the hell of it–clandestine arms/military programs in violation of internationally imposed limitations.  Ring a bell?  Hint Versailles/17 UN Resolutions.  Bozo.

    4.  Let’s kill Jews in concentration camps.  Let’s kill Jews with bounties paid to asshole suicide bombers.  Twit.

    5.  The American military was/is pretty bad-ass.  Simpleton.

    Having said all that, Jeff did not claim that Iraq and World War II are the same–he points to the difference in attitudes on the part of the World War II media that knew something bigger was at stake than their egos and our current generation of feckless media elites.  Understand?  Idiot.

  39. And then Llama goes and reinforces my points.

    All the things you say do not exist, in fact, do.  There has always been a political plan.  There has always been and economic plan.  There has always been a military plan.

    Were/are they perfect?  No.  By your Marshall Plan yardstick, we could only judge Iraq after many more years of engagement.  Ditto Iraqi democracy.  Or am I missing something in your brilliant analysis?

    What I do know is that cries to cut and run from Germany during the post-war SS insurgency didn’t come from the “loyal opposition.”

    You are pathetic.

  40. The war in Iraq was a preemptive strike against a neutered dictator who didn’t have the WMD capabilities that were advertised prior to war.  In short, there were serious, considered reasons to question the war in Iraq, and many serious people questioned it. 

    Llama, what exactly is a “neutered dictator”?

    I think the tens of thousands of people who were starving to death and being put into shredders would beg to differ, along with the those Jews who were targets of the suicide bombers Hussein paid a bounty to.

    And perhaps you could give me a quote from any Western leader, including the UN, Russia, Germany or France, who said before the war, a war they were trying to stop, that Iraq did not have WMDs.

  41. Oh, and Llama, the Marshall Plan wasn’t started until 1947, well AFTER the war was over and the occupation had begun.

  42. Susan

    I didn’t miss the point.  To make a valid hypothetical there MUST be some analagous properties to those being compared.  I see none here.  Iraq and WWII are apples and oranges.  To then apply a “hypothetical” to the two is, well, ridiculous.  Or, in this case, self-serving.  It’s very much the same as if I as a liberal would compare Bush to Hitler.  I don’t.  It’s easy to taint the argument with comparisons to atrocities of the past.  But they are STRAW MEN, used to prop up one’s case. 

    TV Harry

    I don’t care where I am, but if you’d rather read posts simply agreeing with each you then I’m sorry for visiting your little club.  The WWII references are inane and not germaine to the topic at hand.  To use such references shows a weak hand.

    Your similarities presuppose that the war in Iraq is an extension of the war on terror.  That’s a point of debate but certainly the outcome of this “war” has only exacerbated our position.  Indeed, the official position of this administration unequivocally states this (and if you don’t know what I’m referencing do a little research).

    So, please go on.  I’ll be interested in your others even though I don’t buy your initial presupposition…

  43. L School,

    I understand what you’re saying, and what you’re saying is that you’re willfully ignoring the actual written commentary.

    If I may, I would like to rephrase as a counter-factual:

    “If the media industry at large, as it operates now versus the way it did in the 1940’s, had existed during the Second World War, would it have resulted in a markedly different ‘home front’ reaction to the war?”

    Now before you start pissing around in circles about analogies again, I would like to remind you that we are not constructing anything other than a hypothetical.  You don’t have agree with the premise – that’s stipulated.  What we’re trying to do is explore the actual, you know, question as presented.

  44. Skiman,

    Could I pose another hypothetical that you might be more inclined to work with, since you’re getting picky:

    How would sentiment about the Iraq War be different if the media today were both as restricted and compliant as they were during the Second World War?

    BRD

    TW: BRD – PW Counterfactuals (a micro-series)

  45. As to points about the Marshall plan, it is an example of a clear plan in WWII.  I’m sure that there were also clear plans of action in post-war Germany/Japan before the Marshall plan.  The history books don’t refer to internal memos stating that they were an “unbelievable mess”.  (And this is just one example, but do some searches and you’ll find lots of evidence of poor, underspecified post-war planning in Iraq.)

    BRD,

    I was replying specifically to Goldstein’s commentary.  The media, as it operates now, would not have created a markedly different home front reaction to the war, for the reasons I stated earlier.

  46. Indeed, Llama School’s ignorance of history is almost as frightening as actus’.

    As for a “plan” to win the war, that was in constant controversy.  The “Germany First” plan was agreed to with the British even before US entry but there were constant efforts to undermine this from the first week, including efforts by the CNO Adm. King and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. 

    There was no coherent “plan” to “win the peace” after WWII until FDR was dead.  FDR deliberately allowed conflicting visions of post-WWII occupation to be debated within his administration and never endorsed one.  See the Morgenthau Plan for what FDR’s Treasury secretary actually put out in public during the war – to the detriment of the war effort.

    There is indeed no equivalence between WWII and the Iraq War.  For one, the Iraq War has been run a magnitude more competently than WWII.  All it takes to think differently is an incontrovertible ignorance of history.

  47. As to points about the Marshall plan, it is an example of a clear plan in WWII.

    No, it is an example of a clear plan AFTER WWII.

    I’m sure that there were also clear plans of action in post-war Germany/Japan before the Marshall plan. 

    I’m sure there were too, but they never saw the light of day, did they?

    Funny how reality trumps the best made plans…

  48. L School,

    If I understood your point, is that there wasn’t a large amount of dissent in the US regarding WWII, and as such, the media wouldn’t have been adversarial.

    The question then becomes one of chicken and egg.  The standard article of faith is that the media at large are predisposed to a very ideologically colored view of events, such that they seek to interpret the world around them through that lense.  It’s sort of like shifting public opinion after Tet and Walter Cronkite doing his best to lose the war for us.

    Or, to put it another way, is press a leading or following indicator of public opinion.  I would argue in the post-Watergate deification of Woodward and Bernstein, and the subsequent embrace of “advocacy journalism” that, implicitly, the media sees itself as having a responsibility to lead opinion.  Along those lines, much of the thinking associated with that bears a very strong resemblence to behaviors exhibited by those battling against the so-called Marxian False Conciousness.

    As such, I am very much of the opinion that the media has a strong influence on opinion, and therefore cannot be the simpler recorder of events that your response might imply.

    BRD

  49. Wait, wait, wait.

    WW2 and Iraq are not the same so stop making comparisons as if they were.

    Now let’s get back to how Iraq is like a Vietnamese quagmire….

  50. Now, now, SPQR, you’re forgetting the brilliant execution of Plan Orange, and the precience demonstrated by forward basing of forces.

    tongue wink

  51. To make a valid hypothetical there MUST be some analagous properties to those being ompared.  I see none here.

    The tenor and type of media coverage.  That’s what is being compared.  There’s the analogy.

    Now please, stop embarrassing yourself. And stop wasting my time.  You’re like some moron lap dog who keeps trying to fuck the vaccuum cleaner.

  52. And we are starting to suspect that the vacuum cleaner doesn’t enjoy it.

  53. Vacuum Cleaners

    They’re not just for dogs anymore.

  54. And don’t even get me started on the egregious misspelling of “germane.”

  55. Completely right about AFTER WWII.  Forgot to proofread the post.

    As for plans during WWII, I’m not going to comment much on this b/c I’m sure some of you know more about this.  However, it is clear that with the Iraq war, one of the major complaints has been the lack of a post-war plan.  See the link before, or this article citing an army historian/war planner saying that “there was no Phase IV plan”, etc.  To make a comparison to WWII, one would need to provide evidence that there was no post-war reconstruction plan for Germany/Japan directly after WWII.  If so, then I may be mistaken on this point.

    Again, Goldstein made it clear that our media today would have had the public turn against WWII.  But it is clearly a fantasy, supported only by those that believe there truly is a “liberal MSM” and think that things in Iraq are better than they are.  The public is against the war because it was started under mistaken (or false) pretenses, predictions of post-war Iraq have been flat wrong, and the occupation has been mishandled.

  56. But it is clearly a fantasy, supported only by those that believe there truly is a “liberal MSM” and think that things in Iraq are better than they are.

    Like, for instance, your average rifle squad corporal.

    Unlike, for instance, Howard f-in’ Dean, War Expert.

    The plans for Germany and Japan were in constant flux.  Re-arm or no?  Heavy industry or no?  Permanent American presence or no?  Defensive alliance or no? 

    Canard (n.): An unfounded or false, deliberately misleading story.

    Such as there were no post-war planning–amazing how that whole constitution/election thing happened unplanned, huh?

    Ditto the retraining of entire national army.  The whole thing.  All of it.  Yep, that’s some easy two week task there.

    Schools anyone?

    You are just wrong, Llama.  Wrong.  I’d define it, but that would be overly redundant in your case.

  57. These truths are self-evident and undisputable…

    1) We will lose Iraq…directly because the Left and the media wants us to lose Iraq.

    2) The Iraq War end in a U.S. defeat…because Bush and the American people were shamed into submission by the Left and the media.

    3) In the eyes of history, the U.S. and Hawks will be seen as failures…because he and his supporters chose to listen to those who want the US to fail, mainly the Left and the media.

    4) The biggest failure of the Hawks will be trusting the Left and the media to not stab our military in the back.

    5) The brave US military men and women will have died in vain, because the Left and the media wanted them to.

    6) Millions of Iraqis will perish, and it will be the fault of the US, Bush and the war supporters… because they let the Left and the media subvert the military effort.

    7) The GOP will lose elections because the U.S. lost the war…because the Left and the media wanted to the U.S. to lose the war. Americans will lose first and second ammendment rights because the GOP lost the war, because the Left wanted to lose the war.

    8) The Islamists will grow in power by beating the U.S. and showing how weak and powerless the West is…because the Left and the media wants the U.S. and West weak and powerless.

    9) The U.S. and West will lose the War on Terror and millons of Americans might perish due to nuclear terrorism….because the U.S. is weak and powerless in the face of Islam, as evidenced by Americans caving to the Left and Islamists, which is what the Left and the media set out to prove in the first plance.

    10) The Left and media wants the US to lose the War on Terror…and they will win because the anti-leftists let them win.

  58. The public is against the war because

    Here we go…

    it was started under mistaken (or false) pretenses,

    There was nothing false about removing Saddam Hussein from power, which was one of the main reasons for the invasion. Forgot about that one?! Blame the media, they never mention it.

    predictions of post-war Iraq have been flat wrong,

    Three successful elections and a rapidly growing self-sufficient military and police. Of course, if you depend on the MSM, you wouldn’t know that.

    and the occupation has been mishandled.

    Only if you believe the reports of the MSM, and ignore the word of the men on the front lines.

    Llama, I think you could not have done a better job of making Jeff’s point.

  59. Wow- you’re more inept than I thought.  Your logic is pathetic.

    I guess I’m going to have to spell it out for you:

    If Iraq and WWII were alike in ANY way, you could make your comparisons regarding the press then and now.  In other words, if Iraq and Hussein were in ANY way trying to conquer the middle east on their way to conquering the rest of the free world you’d have an analogy.  Without a reasonable comparison you have no analogy.  That is to say, you have the weakest analogy possible.  Withdraw WWII and submit Vietnam and you have a much better analogy.  And, you know what?  If we had the 24 hour news cycle back in 70 that we have now we might have gotten out of Vietnam much earlier. 

    By the way, it’s good to see where a blogger is coming from (with your dog/vacuum comment).  Typical angry con.  Pissed that Bush is approved of by, oh, 1/3 of the American public.  I stopped talking to my conservative friends about many of these topics long ago.  You know why?  They don’t want to talk anymore.  You know why?  Because I was right and WE (the left) are right.  We’ve been right about Bush from the beginning.

  60. Hey 10-Truths aka Mr. Sunshine, how long does it take to wipe the spittle from your monitor after you write something like that?

  61. it’s not a “war” is it?  Only Congress can declare war

    Good thing they did, then.

    Stomping its feet and declaring WE DID WE DID WE DID.

  62. In general, the biggest thing that a lot of people seem to have glossed over is the core nature of the war itself.

    Essentially, it started out as a conventional high-intensity conflict.  In such a conflict, transition to Phase IV pursuit options are pretty straightforward, and relatively painless.

    In this case, the end of the Phase III Operations essentially marked the funcitional end of the Iraq War, and the beginning of a new conflict.  The new conflict is essentially a low-intensity (SO/LIC/OOW) proxy war.  Proxy wars are very different beasts for a whole host of reasons.  The most significant, however, is that I cannot personally think of any insurgency that succeeded without outside support (with a handful of really oddball exceptions).  Not all externally-supported insurgencies win, but unsupported ones don’t do well at all.

    The point of interest to me is that I don’t really recall anyone predicting the proxy elements of the conflict to any great extent.  Most of the criticism leveled against the war now is markedly different than the anti-war commentary before the the war.

    Oh, yeah, and Llama School, pop quiz:

    Did the President mislead or lie to get us into war?

  63. Tom,

    WMDs weren’t a pretense for the war?  And they weren’t mistaken about this?

    Or predictions about us being greeted as liberators?  Or that the insurgency was in its last throes?  Aren’t those wrong post-war predictions?

    Etc, etc.  Remember, the media has clearly reported the positives (see the heavy coverage of the existence of the Iraqi elections).  But they’ve also reported the negatives.  And unfortunately, there have been many important negatives with this war.

  64. Because I was right and WE (the left) are right.  We’ve been right about Bush from the beginning.

    If by “right” you mean “deranged”, then yes, undoubtedly.

    Otherwise, be warned that slapping your tiny penis repeatedly against your keyboard does not a coherent post make.

  65. You know why?  Because I was right and WE (the left) are right.

    That would be a first, my friend.  A truly stunning turn of events.  Your ilk has not been right about ANYTHING since…hell, I’m stumped.

    Now to the utter stupidity of your argument.  Iran/Iraq, Kuwait, the Osirak reactor.  Any of that ring a bell since Saddam was a peacenik who never threatened his neighbors or our interests, right?

    And, I’ll just ignore all the stuff Bubba said about him during his time in the White House.  Because, that makes it inconvenient for you.

    I’ll still talk because you are engaged in the traditional lefty fantasy…if we can just make the American people see the TRUTH then we can make things right.  (Hi, I’m George McGovern/Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale/Michael Dukakis/Al Gore/John Kerry!  Trust Me!  Please think about THAT list of names for a moment.) If we judge by elections, your truth…isn’t.

  66. Skiman,

    Could I pose another hypothetical that you might be more inclined to work with, since you’re getting picky:

    How would sentiment about the Iraq War be different if the media today were both as restricted and compliant as they were during the Second World War?

    BRD

    TW: BRD – PW Counterfactuals (a micro-series)

    BRD:

    Hmmm, a reasonable con.  Go figure.

    I hate to dodge your question but I think that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to make comparisons like this (which is why I think this blogger’s entire argument is logically corrupt).  We’re in a different age, with different technologies, exponentially more media outlets- in other words, the world is smaller.

    Who’s to say how the current press would have presented WWII anymore than how the WWII press would present current Iraq?  It’s unanswerable because there’s no basis for comparison.

    Sorry I can’t help you or fall into a trap if one had been set for me.

  67. Skiman,

    I have to give you credit.  There are some people you just can’t reach.  Sometimes you have to find this out the hard way – in your case you make it easy.  Really, really, really easy.  To wit:

    “If Iraq and WWII were alike in ANY way, you could make your comparisons … Withdraw WWII and submit Vietnam and you have a much better analogy.”

    Tell you what – for every way you can think of Vietnam and Iraq being similar, I’ll give you a valid comparison between World War II and – special free deal for you – give you a reason that Iraq and Vietnam aren’t the same.  Heck, because I’m such a nice guy, I can even toss in an argument both comparing and contrasting Vietnam and World War II, if you’d like.

    For that matter, I may be presumptuous, but I am willing to bet that there are a number of commenters who can give you additional bonus comparisons.

    But the long and short of it is that you’re wrong in asserting that there’s no comparison between Iraq and WWII, while there is a much stronger comparison between Vietnam and Iraq.

    Oh, since you have also been magnificent thus far in your detailed and comprehensive response of answering questions with anything but an answer, would ask you maybe a few easy questions.

    Is the media different today than it was during the Vietnam Era?  World War II?

  68. If Iraq and WWII were alike in ANY way, you could make your comparisons regarding the press then and now.

    They are both wars with American troops overseas fighting, in part, to free an oppressed population from tyranny.

    Don’t goop up my vaccuum cleaner, would you.

    And stop trying to suggest my “logic” is “inept” when it’s clear you haven’t any idea what either of those words mean.

  69. BRD,

    I don’t know if the President lied, or misled, or was misled.  I can’t judge that, and I won’t be chanting “Bush lied, people died”.  Though the alternative (“The Bush administration was incompetent, took shaky “evidence” without properly examining the alternatives, and because of this went to war under mistaken pretenses; people died”) isn’t much better.

  70. in other words, the world is smaller.

    So let’s just let the sanctions regime crumble and wait to see what Saddam will do.

    Because U.S. policies are the problem.  Saddam is just a misunderstood neurotic.

    Vapid. Nonsense. Thou. Art. A. Lefty.

  71. They are both wars with American troops overseas fighting, in part, to free an oppressed population from tyranny.

    OMG! just like vietnam.

  72. Wishbone:

    You seem to be a pointless adversary but I’ll take a stab at a couple of points and then make one final one:

    1)Do you honestly believe that the Iran/Iraq war was an attempt by Hussein to take over the Mid East and, eventually the entire continent?  Same with Kuwait?  Read much?  With that logic it could be argued that we’re doing the same thing- we’re trying to conquer the mid-east and eventually the continent because we have pre-emptively invaded Iraq.  See the faulty logic?  Probably not.

    2) Who’s saying “Trust Me!” now?  Don’t worry, we won’t spy on YOU.  Just the terrorists.  Trust us.  We’re only looking out for the country. 

    Interestingly, as we talk about the current state of government and elections things aren’t as open and shut as you seem to believe in your wee little mind.  Remember Florida?  Ohio?  Only took one state and a miniscule number of votes to swing the last to presidential elections.  Nervous?  34%?  Don’t think that hold any weight?  Even 6 months away? 

    I wouldn’t trumpet my horn to loudly when talking about national election results…

  73. Once again Llama, I ask you, please give me a quote from a western leader, many of whom stood to make millions of dollars if the war didn’t happen, that Hussein didn’t have WMDs. You are so sure this is true, yet NOBODY of any weight said that prior to the war. EVERY intelligence service of every western country said Saddam had WMDs, and the evidence continues to emerge that it only disappeared in the 14 month “rush” to war.

  74. L School,

    Fair enough.  Now just a little food for thought about the role of the intelligence community in the diplomatic and security arenas:

    A True/False Quiz On Major Intelligence Events

    And Don’t Be A Bastard And Google The Answers

    Did the intelligence community sucessfully predict

    1) the Fall of the Soviet Union

    2) the Soviet nuclear presence in Cuba prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis

    3) the Soviet lead in ICBMs in the early 50’s

    4) post WWII German resistance movements

    5) the status of the Indian nuclear program

    6) the status of the Pakistani nuclear program

    7) the invasion of Kuwait

    8) the facilities being used in the North Korean nuclear program

    9) the status of the Iranian nuclear program

    10) the status of the Libyan nuclear program

    11) the status of other Libyan WMD programs

    12) Soviet preparations for an offensive nuclear strike in the 80s

    I’ll stop there before I get to the lucky 13.  But the point being is that this President has acted as reasonably and carefully on intelligence reliable as any President historically.  Not a lot of out line on that front, when it comes down to cases.

  75. BTW, because I am a little stinker – at least one of those questions is a trick question with more than one answer – I’ll take either (or both) if correct.

  76. Skiman, Mr. Goldstein here is many things, but “typical” he is not.

    It doesn’t seem to matter how many times Jeff or any of the rest of the regular commenters here restate the point – that today’s media, sent back in time to the WWII era, could have materially affected the outcome of the war – you insist that what he’s really saying is that Iraq==WWII and everyone knows there’re no points of comparison. Vietnam, now…

    Funny. I have a commenter on my own blog, a friend of mine who’s a Man of the Left, who does exactly the same thing: he restates and restates what he says is my position, “improving his lie” so to speak, so that he can better knock down “my” position. The tactic only works if no one notices.

    TW: But when people do, you find you’ve written yourself into a corner.

  77. They are both wars with American troops overseas fighting, in part, to free an oppressed population from tyranny.

    Don’t goop up my vaccuum cleaner, would you.

    And stop trying to suggest my “logic” is “inept” when it’s clear you haven’t any idea what either of those words mean.

    They are also wars that were both fought in the month of April.  I guess you could have said that also to disprove my point.

    logic-that which the blogger here has no concept of

    I checked my dictionary…

  78. Skiman said:



    Read much?

    Funny, I was about to ask you the same question myself.  Ok, a pretty simple one point question about the Gulf War – why did we have a hissyfit, rather than just making an acommadation with Hussein and just buy oil from him.  (And this is a soft pitch – there are a number of reasonable answers to this because, just like the rest of real life, it’s never that cut and dry)

  79. Skiman Redux:

    Ok, you’ve made the assertion that the media world is different today than it was, as today the media has made the world “smaller”.

    In an unsmall world, without live TV, with only radio as a means of transmitting overseas, without a 24 hour news cycle, with a censorship board, etc., would media coverage on Iraq be different than it is given the reality of the media coverage that we have?

  80. BRD,

    Let’s take your logic here (for now, putting aside your statement that the President acted reasonably and carefully on this intelligence).  If the intelligence community is this bad, then why on earth should a President start a preemptive war based on such a flawed institution?

  81. If the intelligence community is this bad, then why on earth should a President start a preemptive war based on such a flawed institution?

    I know I’m stepping on toes here, but this ties into the question you refuse to answer.

    The fact of the matter is the president had intelligence from the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, the UN, and on and on to work with.

    You also continue to ignore the fact that WMDs were not the only reason for the invasion. You can ignore the other reasons, but they are there, in black and white, for all to see, forever. And no willful ignorance on your part will change that.

  82. As a student of the military history of the Second World War, it always amuses me that it is possible to draw large parallels between the war and any other military engagement in the twentieth century, merely because of the sheer scale of the war and the sheer number of theaters the war covered.

    Merely taking a look at the domestic political situation, we can draw clear parallels on the following:

    – issues of percieved divided loyalty among American ethnic groups

    – issues of loss of civil rights due to the war

    – issues of American culpability for the political situation which led to the war

    – issues of steep political divides among the American population

    – issues of the overstepping of Presidential Authority in the run up to the war

    – issues of limited intelligence leading to massive loss of civilian life

    – issues of alliances with allies that are morally questionable

    We can also draw a sharp contrast between the two wars on several domestic political issues:

    – The press and media was much more supportive of the US efforts

    – The domestic political opponents of the president were willing to sacrifice domestic political advantage in the national interest.  As I recall, Dewey was toying with the idea of making US intelligence failures a campaign issue.  On his own initiative, without informing Roosevelt, one of the top military commanders (can’t remember which) went to Dewey and said “Look, don’t make an issue of this.” and went on to give away the Enigma secret as an explination as to why this wasn’t in the national interest.  Dewey dropped the subject.


  83. If Iraq and WWII were alike in ANY way, you could make your comparisons regarding the press then and now. 

    Both wars started as a result of the previously conquered nations not obeying the terms of their respective peace treaties?

    Is that an okay start?

    Put another way, had Britain and France been able to bomb the living hell out of the Germans occupying forces in the Sudatenland using technologically advanced aircraft in, say, 1939 would that not have been a good thing?

    WWII became a big war. 

    Strangling Iraq in its crib isn’t such a bad thing, imo

  84. L School,

    That, right there, is precisely the VERKAKTE POINT!!!



    Sorry – I just get excited from time to time.

    Ok, here we go…

    Once upon a time, the dynamics governing state-to-state interactions and terrorism were basically understood to have self-limiting elements.  Deterrence, in all of it’s lovely forms, among them.  The interplay of deterrence and political effectiveness between interstate relations and terrorism basically dictated (according to the logic of the day) that there was an upper bound to the amount of damage and fatalities that terrorists would seek.  Think of the self-imposed IRA ban on attacks on the royalty.

    Ok, so then along comes 9/11, demonstrating rather visibly that this self-limiting factor was no longer applicable.  From now on, we could not rely on the restraint of intent by latent threat.  To put it more simply, it became apparent that these guys were really quite serious about killing as many infidels in as spectacular a fashion as possible.

    Now, check this – we have an intelligence apparatus that is mighty, mighty, far from foolproof.  Moreover, our laws have many features that mean that ensuring the kind of domestic controls that could prevent an attack – in other words adequate defense – would be impossible.

    So… we can’t accurately keep tabs on WMD development.

    So… we can’t reliably count on stopping terrorists every time they try for a mass casualty attack.

    So… we can’t make particularly good predictions about the leadership and future behavior of rogue states.

    So… we have a great deal of difficulty tracking and monitoring relationships on the ground in a wide variety of instances.

    Now, let us suppose that Al Qaeda is serious when they say acquiring nuclear weapons is a holy duty.  Furthermore, let us take Al Qaeda seriously when they announce the fact that they consider anyone who pays taxes and thereby contributes to US government revenue to be someone eligible for murder at their hands.

    So, what happens if they are able to make good on their intentions.  And what makes you think for a single instant that we’ll find out about it before the attack Every Single Time?

    I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that war is the lesser of two evils here.  And that’s not the same thing as saying the evil we got is great, it’s just saying the downside potential of inaction is far more significant.

  85. Put another way, had Britain and France been able to bomb the living hell out of the Germans occupying forces in the Sudatenland using technologically advanced aircraft in, say, 1939 would that not have been a good thing?

    Or to use an even better example, had Britain and France been willing to bomb the living hell out of the German forces that had been moved into the Rhineland—in violation of the Versailles Treaty—in 1936, would that not have been a good thing?

    But then, as now, the first impulse of the European “powers” was to ignore or accomodate.  And by failing to take decisive action early, they assured a bloodbath later.

    [insert obligatory Santayana quote here]

  86. Hitler is quoted in Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” as saying that National Socialism was the purest form of Marxism.

    So it’s easy to get confused between Fascist and Communist.

  87. The answer to Llama School’s question about starting a preemptive war is that, as with Rumsfeld’s notorious “army you have” comment, as President you must – you have no choice but to – use the intelligence you have.

    Remember, LS, that no matter how “safe” we all feel in the present day, knowing as we do that Saddam Hussein had voluntarily disarmed and was only bluffing about the WMDs (ahem… well, for the sake of argument let’s stipulate this scenario), at the time what Bush said was,

    …America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, “Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world,” he said, “where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril.”

    Understanding the threats of our time, knowing the designs and deceptions of the Iraqi regime, we have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.

    There’s a widespread tendency on the Left, ISTM, to judge Bush’s actions with full recourse to hindsight, regardless of what information was available at the time of the decisions. Yes, intelligence was (as it always is, because otherwise we wouldn’t need it) incomplete and flawed. But Bush, as POTUS, did not have the luxury of certainty, just as Clinton wouldn’t have in similar circumstances. Clinton might’ve acted differently – Carter certainly would’ve – but one of the gravest responsibilities of the Presidency is to make life-and-death decisions on sometimes terrifyingly imperfect information.

    If it were a game, or a high school debate, no problem. But it’s not. Keep on campaigning against Bush; that’s fine. Bush is going to keep on being President, but only until 2008, at which time I hope like heck that you all have come sufficiently to your senses to start taking national security and foreign policy seriously rather than as just a string of “gotcha” opportunities.

  88. BRD is not God, but a god.

    Yowza.

  89. Skiman:

    I stopped talking to my conservative friends about many of these topics long ago.  You know why?  They don’t want to talk anymore.  You know why?

    Well, if your posts here have any relation to your real life, I’d say it’s because you’re a fanatical, pretentious, concieted asshole who never listens to a God-damned word said by anyone you’re “arguing” with and insists on “recoloring” everything so that you “win.”

    You jump into this discussion as a stranger with invective and accusation, then you REFUSE to discuss the actual point of the discussion and insist on changing the subject (approval ratings, demagoging the as-yet-classified NSA program, etc.).

    You’re only “always right” because you have chosen unique definitions for “always” and “right.” You’re a five-year-old in the playground screaming “I win! I win!” until everyone else goes home.

    In other words, you’re playing the Troll, and it’s pathetic. And for someone like you, stewing and shrill, to accuse Jeff of being angry…. yeesh!

    So if you want to talk, chill out, grab a drink and respond to people. If you want to marginalize yourself further, keep posturing, preening and screaming.

  90. BRD,

    So since we’re not good with intelligence, and since Al-Qaeda attacked us, we should have gone to war with Iraq?  And that’s not meant as snark…that seems to be the point you’re insinuating here.

    And secondly, there was dissent within the intelligence community re: the view that Hussein had what some claimed he had.  So this wasn’t necessarily a failure of the intelligence community…it was a failure of someone to listen to all of the voices in the intelligence community before acting.  This wasn’t an example of the intel community giving a clear, unambiguous sign that Hussein had stockpiles of WMDs.  The intelligence community was torn, the evidence was questionable, and someone in the administration decide to damn the torpedos and go ahead based on what ended up being very very wrong.

    Jamie,

    This isn’t just a “hindsight is 20/20” deal.  Many people questioned the pre-war intelligence, the Colin Powell WMD presentation, the rationale for the war, etc.

  91. Many people questioned the pre-war intelligence, the Colin Powell WMD presentation, the rationale for the war, etc.

    Are you ever going to tell us who these “many people” are that questioned the WMDs?

    Merely restating your assertion over and over and over again doesn’t make it any more true.

  92. Many people questioned the pre-war intelligence, the Colin Powell WMD presentation, the rationale for the war, etc.

    Point of order.

    For every one honest and sincere critic of the “stockpiles of WMD” rationale for the war, there were literally dozens of opportunistic cranks who didn’t have a single earthly clue what they were talking about. It was entirely appropriate for the administration to refuse to egage that panoply of assclowns.

    Should the administration have taken the relatively few good-faith dissenters more seriously? Possibly. On the other hand intelligence is never an exact science—there will always be dissenters—and 9/11 radically altered the administration’s risk calculus vis-a-vis Iraq. The bottom line is that the administration made a policy decision and defended it without caveating said defense to your personal satisfaction. Get over yourself.

  93. So since we’re not good with intelligence, and since Al-Qaeda attacked us, we should have gone to war with Iraq?  And that’s not meant as snark…that seems to be the point you’re insinuating here.

    To put it better:  Since our intelligence is not good enough to react to threats on an individual scale, the only way to remove the threats in the long term is to reform the entire Middle East.

    On 9/11, it was demonstrated that a particularly committed group of individuals could inflict the sort of damage on the US as a whole that it once would have taken a serious military effort to inflict.  In the new reality, defense is a losing proposition, and deterrance doesn’t work, so preemption is the only viable strategy.  Nothing we do will completely eliminate the threat of another attack on the US, but we can minimize the threat.

    We needed to establish that the US has the will to inflict serious costs on those who hurt us, especially those who use proxies to mask their efforts, and that we have the capability and will to do so.  We needed to establish that there is a price to be paid for egregarious human rights violations and defiance of treaty obligations.  We needed to establish that we cannot be deterred from doing what is right by the spectre of violence, and that we will not compromise our rights or our allies to appease others.  Invading Iraq will accomplish all of these if there is sufficient national will to win.

  94. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times Jeff or any of the rest of the regular commenters here restate the point – that today’s media, sent back in time to the WWII era, could have materially affected the outcome of the war -

    Another reasonable post. 

    Okay, here’s the problem with your statement above.  Jeff isn’t simply stating that if today’s media was sent back in time to the WWII era it “could have” materially affected the outcome of the war.  He’s framing the basis for this argument in the context of our CURRENT situation in Iraq.  He mounts his whole analogy/argument on the “fact” that if not for the press/media everything would be going along swimmingly in Iraq.  To even more an extreme, I suspect that he and those of his ilk are saying that things ARE going along just swimmingly in Iraq, the press just isn’t presenting the facts because they hate Bush.  And the public sheepishly follows.

    I don’t buy it.  The tired con argument that the press only reports the “bad” news in Iraq shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the press.  Ever worked in a news organization?  I have.  Have you ever seen an editor’s working model of what’s newsworthy? 

    Picture a graph with a straight line- that line representing the status quo.  In other words, “Today, nothing happened” even though many things happened, they just weren’t considered newsworthy.  As events occur along that timeline they vary from the positive “today Bagdhad received 10% more clean water than they did one month ago” to the negative “14 were killed in a car bombing today in Bagdhad.” Which one is more newsworthy?  To editors the latter.  Why?  Ask a journalism major, but my gut reaction is it sells more papers. 

    Now, does that sound like a partisan model to you?  Sure, there are partisan news organizations on both sides, but this is how the typical newspaper operates.  It’s neither liberal nor conservative.  It’s NEWSWORTHY.

    Which brings me back to this blogger’s contention.  I hate to use a recently-made-trite term (thanks Hollywood) but you can’t avoid the “butterfly effect”.  Certainly sending today’s press corps back in time to WWII would have an effect.  Adverse?  Who knows?  Maybe a more aggressive press could have shortened the war back then.  Maybe there could have been less casualties if more of the world understood Hitler for what he was.  The point is- who knows?

    Reminds me of a tired argument of the right’s:  Thank GOD Bush was elected considering what happened on 9/11.  Imagine if Gore was in charge.  He would have handed over the keys to the bus in appeasement.  Blah blah blah.  The truth is, WE DON’T KNOW what Gore would have done.  We do know what Bush did, and it is breeding terrorists in Iraq.  Don’t believe that?  Ask Porter Goss.  He explicitly stated that to Congress.  They’re not kidding anyone.

    Funny. I have a commenter on my own blog, a friend of mine who’s a Man of the Left, who does exactly the same thing: he restates and restates what he says is my position, “improving his lie” so to speak, so that he can better knock down “my” position. The tactic only works if no one notices.

    Funny.  I didn’t say that the blogger’s position is that WWII and Iraq are the same.  What I said, was that for his ANALOGY to be a STRONG ONE (not the weakest possible that he’s put forth) there would HAVE TO BE similarities between WWII and Iraq.  Similarities that were germaine to his argument (not the one that he posted recently about the US being overseas fighting to free a foreign land from tyranny- a similarity that has nothing to do with his argument).  The problem for him is they are not at all analogous, thus his argument/hypothetical/analogy (call it what you will, the posters here have) is invalid/weak/pathetic/innacurate.

    TW: But when people do, you find you’ve written yourself into a corner.

    I seem to be standing in the middle of the playing field without a vacuum in sight.  How’d that happen?

  95. L School sez:

    So since we’re not good with intelligence, and since Al-Qaeda attacked us, we should have gone to war with Iraq?  And that’s not meant as snark…that seems to be the point you’re insinuating here.

    I was trying for more of a descriptive process, but what the heck, we’ll take it as prescriptive.  I think that of the many nations in the War on Terror that need to be addressed, the Axis of Evil represented the three most significant short to medium term threats.  Clearly, taking all three out was not much of an option for what are, essentially, political reasons.  Furthermore, from a legal and diplomatic standpoint, Iraq was by far and away the low hanging fruit of the bunch.  Think about it, with all this stink after violation of the Gulf War cease-fire, 17 UN Resolutions, the Iraq Liberation Act, and the Authorization for Use of Force, there’s still this amount of rancor.  Other countries may have been more fruitful targets, but the political ruckus would have been unimaginable.

    But, in general, I put the above description to you as an implied question – so what would you suggest?

    Secondly, I am not sure that “dissent within the intelligence community” means what you think it means.  Actually, as far as it goes, I’m pretty certain.  There really isn’t and has never been a way for an analyst writing a report to say, “Well, I’m pretty darned certain about A, provided that B and C are true – if not, A is never going to happen.” Rather the analyst will write something along the lines of “There are strong indicators that A will occur, based on information from B and C.”

    Now this isn’t a matter of shirking or anything else, it’s a lot more to do with the fact that fully qualified reports start to lose utility.  A decision maker will go over material, provided it’s brief.  A staffer will advocate a policy, based on what they actually read.  If the analysis becomes too cumbersome, it just gets skipped because people are freakishly busy.

    So, when you talk about “dissent within the community”, that’s not really saying a whole lot.  Of course analysts disagree about things.  Of course these concerns aren’t always borne out in excruciating detail.  That’s just the way intel works (and incidently is the reason that the US has a preference for technological, rather than human intel).

    Second, the much bandied about claim of “dissent” comes from the notion that of the 16 agencies in the US Intelligence Community, all of them were in agreement that Hussein had retained chemical and biological materials proscribed by UN Resolutions.  Of the agencies that maintained that he posessed nuclear materials in defiance of UN Resolutions, there was one, just one, agency that was of the opinion that he was not in violation of agreements on nuclear weapons programs.

    For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to pass on open and closed source intelligence from non-USG sources, despite the fact that there are some truly interesting things on that front.

    At any rate, let’s take the tally here, 16 agencies: Yes on Chemical Weapons Programs, Yes on Biological Weapons Programs, 15 Yes on Nuclear Weapons Programs, and 1 No on Nuclear Weapons Programs.  That’s our dissent.

    Now, to define our terms here (and I’m just going to skip compliance with the rest of the provisions of UN 1441 for the sake of simplicity here):

    “Deploring the fact that Iraq has not provided an accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure, as required by resolution 687 (1991), of all aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with a range greater than one hundred and fifty kilometres, and of all holdings of such weapons, their components and production facilities and locations, as well as all other nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to nuclear-weapons-usable material,”

    Ok, so now that we’ve set the stage, what actually happened?

    Let’s start with the nukes – as it turns out, the agencies were incorrect on compliance with the resolution on nuclear programs.  Iraq was in violation, so the dissenting agency here was in the wrong.

    Well, what about chemical and biological materials?  Well, I’m not going to rehash the Kay Report, but on a fundamental, brass-tacks level, Iraq was in violation of the WMD provisions of 1441.

    Period.

    This then presents a few obvious questions:

    1) Why all the hue and cry about not finding WMD?

    2) Did discovery of these materials then justify the war?

    On the first question – you have to recall that the administration itself didn’t rely heavily on WMD.  Perversely enough, more dovish legislators who made the calculation that failure to back the war would make them seem soft on defense issues then had to pitch the conflict to the relatively dovish constituencies they represented.  Being dovish and very vocally in the “war as last resort” camp, the pitch had to be a much spookier hard sell of the argument I gave earlier.  This almost inevitably got rephrased and dumbed down to “Saddam will give Al Qaeda nukes which they’ll use in the US” which is a gross misstatement of the argument and a disasterous oversimplification.

    In other words, in order to make the more difficult pitch, they started (not unreasonably) placing bets on finding a very dramatic smoking gun.  Which, evidently, didn’t show up on cue.

    On to the second point, was the war justified based on the discovery of violations of UN 1441.  Tough call – it depends on how you call the justification.  As far as it goes, Iraq had been in violation of the Gulf War Cease Fire for years and years, which in and of itself is legal grounds for full resumption of hostilities.

    But this is kind of beside the point.  The short answer is that the discovery of weapons is a backhanded justification.  Not because some guy had a centrifuge – while legally passable, I sure as hell wouldn’t drop a cool $100 billion and send home 2,300 “We Regret to Inform You“‘s over that.

    But this is where the more troublesome chunk of the earlier analysis comes in.  We (the US and others) were absolutely convinced that the WMD was a slam dunk.  And you know what?  Even three years on, with complete and total access to everything in the country, we still don’t have any real answers.  Do you recall the recently aired tape about the Iraqi guys spouting off about their weapons and concealment programs?  One of the rather disturbing things, from an intel point of view, was that one of the speakers on the tape is unidentfiied.

    Think about that – after 12 years of inspections, after 3 more years of having full and total access to anyone and anything in the country, we’re still finding out about people at the highest levels who were intimately involved in the WMD programs.  That doesn’t speak highly to our actual understanding of what was – or is – going on.

    So to make a complex answer long, the uncertainty of our intel forecasts is even worse than we had thought.  Moreover, by pure grace alone, it turned out that the error turned out to be a false positive.  If we had a false negative – decided that Iraq had disarmed when they really hadn’t, we wouldn’t know about it until the nuke gets displayed.  If we had a true positive on WMD, then people not too dissimilar from yourself would be crowing about how they knew Iraq had chemical weapons and then Bush had to invade and provoke Iraq anyways when diplomatic measures were working.  They’d probably go on to say that he’s a reckless unilateralist who should have listened to his allies, but now Americans are coming home dead because he’s a brash simpleton.  The bad part of that scenario is that the body count would be higher than it turned out to be, for both Americans and Iraqis.

    To rephrase, I would have to say the course of action Bush pursued with respect to Iraq was the least miserable of all choices available to him at the time.  I also think that the strident opposition leveled at Bush is going to make the next decision make understanably gunshy about using force.  Furthermore, I am convinced that this increasing hesitancy will ultimately (sooner or later) result in the death of thousands and thousands of Americans that otherwise need not have died.

  96. Skiman:

    I stopped talking to my conservative friends about many of these topics long ago.  You know why?  They don’t want to talk anymore.  You know why?

    Well, if your posts here have any relation to your real life, I’d say it’s because you’re a fanatical, pretentious, concieted asshole who never listens to a God-damned word said by anyone you’re “arguing” with and insists on “recoloring” everything so that you “win.”

    You jump into this discussion as a stranger with invective and accusation, then you REFUSE to discuss the actual point of the discussion and insist on changing the subject (approval ratings, demagoging the as-yet-classified NSA program, etc.).

    You’re only “always right” because you have chosen unique definitions for “always” and “right.” You’re a five-year-old in the playground screaming “I win! I win!” until everyone else goes home.

    In other words, you’re playing the Troll, and it’s pathetic. And for someone like you, stewing and shrill, to accuse Jeff of being angry…. yeesh!

    So if you want to talk, chill out, grab a drink and respond to people. If you want to marginalize yourself further, keep posturing, preening and screaming.

    Merovign- ah, the bloodline of Christ… Talk about preening.

    I’ve actually discussed in substance with the contentions made by the blogger here and two other posters who made reasonable posts.  I’d respond to your substantive post but, hey, there’s no substance. 

    Excuse me while I go get a drink, check myself in the mirror and marginalize myself further.

  97. Skiman,

    Here’s a supposition, absent any partisan leanings, would the sensationalist, 24-hour news cycle, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ news media of today, simply by it’s intrinsic nature, have dramatically emphasized bad news during WWII?  In so doing, would they have radically altered the ‘War on the Home Front’ to the extent that the outcome of the war might have been vastly different, even in things like wartime munitions production levels, rationing, war bonds, etc.?

  98. Skiman Redux:

    Ok, you’ve made the assertion that the media world is different today than it was, as today the media has made the world “smaller”.

    In an unsmall world, without live TV, with only radio as a means of transmitting overseas, without a 24 hour news cycle, with a censorship board, etc., would media coverage on Iraq be different than it is given the reality of the media coverage that we have?

    BRD:

    Now you’re doing what the blogger here is doing.  You make a bunch of stipulations and the finish with “given the reality of the media coverage that we have?” Are you talking about Fox News?  The Washington Times?  The Rush Hannity Show?  What “reality” are you talking about?

    I won’t play that game- this administration put it in the place it is now.  Not the media.  Period.

  99. He mounts his whole analogy/argument on the “fact” that if not for the press/media everything would be going along swimmingly in Iraq.  To even more an extreme, I suspect that he and those of his ilk are saying that things ARE going along just swimmingly in Iraq, the press just isn’t presenting the facts because they hate Bush.  And the public sheepishly follows.

    It’s official:  you are an idiot.  The press plays one part in the campaign.  But it is an important part.  And it happens to be the part that I concentrate on, because my training is in narrative and rhetoric.

    How you made the jump from that to “he and his ilk” are saying things blah blah blah—without knowing anything about me, and without having read my blog with any regularity—is why I’m no longer interested in what you have to say.  It marks you as arrogant, presumptuous, and ill-informed.

    I have been critical of a number of individual actions in the war; but that wasn’t the topic of my post. And I don’t feel the need to offer up my bona fides as someone not of a given “ilk” each time I write up a post.

    Your consistent generalization of “cons”—along with your persistent ad hominem attacks on me—make you an unwelcome nuisance. 

    Nobody here owes you an explanation.  And I’m tired of listening to your horseshit.  If you can’t figure out the analogy—or that one can believe that there are consequences of a negative propaganda stream ALONG WITH acknowledging certain missteps in a fluid war—that’s on you.

    But honestly?  Who cares what you think.  Good bye.

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