June 24, 2005

News from Iraq

Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette has a five part series up, the fifth instalment posted today. It is long, and you also need to read the other four parts, but it is without a doubt, along with Michael Yon's reporting one of the absolute best views of what is really going on. Really going on as opposed to what the leftwing MSM is telling you. Now, if you really don't want your mind messed up with facts, don't bother, in which case you are probably one of my more radical lefty readers (and I love all of ya), but if you want to know what is happinging, where there are boots on the ground, this is required reading.

Posted by GM Roper at June 24, 2005 04:48 PM | TrackBack

I didn't have time to read the whole series, but I did read the last one. Great stuff. Remember the old newspaper line "Blood Leads". Good news and progress are not real "grabbers." When a Marine or soldiers gives a longish interview, the reporters may well prune it. The story gets more and more fuzzy as it heads back to CONUS. I have been interviewed and more often than not the main points were either left out completely or just wrong. Frequently, it wasn't that the reporter was a rabid Lefty....my experience was that the reporter knew so little about the military and was so inexperienced that it was just errors on his part. Added to that were editors that were equaly in the dark re: things military.

Posted by tad at June 24, 2005 09:08 PM

I don't exactly know the best way to tell you this...but I'll try anyway.

I read your link to The Mudville Gazette. It was interesting, in some degree, but if you can with a straight face claim that the site is the "real" news from Iraq, you are in deep doodoo. Without passing judgement on how accurate the Gazette is in it's chosen mission - which I can't say - it's obvious that the site isn't "news from Iraq". It is a website with a prosecutorial perspective on the "mainstream media's" reporting on Iraq. They are not reporting...they are making a case from a preordained belief they hold.

Their arguments are also prone to non-sequitors and over-reaching to make their point - a political arbument they've already tasked themselves when they wake up each morning. (There was one comment about "armoring" followed by a long clip from a reporter in Iraq that had nothing to do with armoring, as an example of one non-sequitor that leaped from the page.) They also quote liberally from "MSM" sources when it suits their perspective. Although the whole point of the site is to dismiss the "MSM" as uniformly defeatist and left-wing ("left-wing MSM" is a completely crazy charge, incidentally, but you'll never be convinced of that, which says more about you than the "MSM".) Also, an enormous amount of their counter-evidence to prove how tendentious and biased the "MSM" is comes from Defense Department press releases or anecdotal comments from soldiers. Again, nothing wrong with that...but stuff that needs to be kept in perspective and not a uniformly objective source of "real news" when just clipped together. The anecdotal comments from soldiers are often used in tirades about how the "MSM" has been using anecdotal comments from soldiers to suggest something or other. So we've got dueling anecdotes. Again, that's soft news at best, not "the real news".

I'm not saying that this website isn't legitimate or providing a valuable service for people who find themselves compelled to argue a particular point of view. But to make the claim that it is "news" as opposed to argument and that it is an antidote to bias when it's blatantly and singlemindedly prosecutorial in intent (not that there's anything wrong with that) is preposterous. You know as well as I that they wouldn't print certain stuff that was equally credible because it didn't fit their point of view. Or if they did, they'd be on a mission to debunk it. That's not the same thing as reporting. I'm sorry...you're fooling yourself if you are reliant on this stuff as "the real news from Iraq". I'll take my chances with a traditional journalist like John Burns' relative objectivity PLUS the fact that he's actually reporting FROM Iraq - duh - over some website that where "Mrs. Greyhawk" does a daily cut-and-paste to prove a pre-fabbed point and justify the chip on her shoulder.

As I said, it doesn't mean they're wrong - just as their using the same approach doesn't in-and-of-itself prove Media Matters or Al Franken is wrong. But get a grip. It's delusional to call this type of argument "the real news". It's a critique of the "news" from a certain point of view (also called "bias".) I'm not saying you shouldn't tout this stuff for what it really is if it suits you and you find it useful, but the way you characterize it means you don't even have the ability to discern your own propaganda. That's when you're in deep doodoo and lose the ability to think critically, pull back from one's own brinks or look at all sides of an issue.

Posted by reg at June 25, 2005 06:19 AM

Without passing judgement on how accurate the Gazette is in it's chosen mission - which I can't say - it's obvious that the site isn't "news from Iraq". It is a website with a prosecutorial perspective on the "mainstream media's" reporting on Iraq. They are not reporting...they are making a case from a preordained belief they hold.

Dear REG,

I'm not sure how to tell you this but it is a soldiers site and, if you had ever bothered to visit it before and read anything else he wrote, you would know that he was deployed in Iraq up until a few months ago.

having seen the news coverage prior to deployment, seen action with his own two eyes and then come back to the same news coverage, i believe he is in a unique position to comment on whether the news media is covering anything with any real "accuracy" or completeness.

You know as well as I that they wouldn't print certain stuff that was equally credible because it didn't fit their point of view. Or if they did, they'd be on a mission to debunk it.

The Mrs Greyhawk, aforementioned soldiers wife, does the "dawn" patrol where she goes out and finds interesting posts by other bloggers, particularly military bloggers and includes actual news stories of interest including opposing news articles on specific interest to the war and military in particular. You might have noticed, had you read the dawn patrol that there were two opposing articles on Guantanamo.

However, having military experience and personal experience with the media, it is correct that he does engage in debunking or at least providing in more complete detail, information regarding stories covered in the media.

That is why GM refers to it as the "real news" because it is first hand accounts of soldiers in the field and detailed information either from direct sources or digital sources that can be referenced.

Frankly, all things considered, I'd trust this guy long before I trusted Al Franken, CNN or the like for the "real news".

Other than that, I'm not sure what your point is? Are you arguing semantics because there was nothing else to argue about?

Posted by kat-missouri at June 25, 2005 08:13 AM

Michael Yon is a free-lance writer who publishes on a blog entitled “Michael Yon’s Online Magazine.” I enjoy reading what he has to say because, for the most part, you won’t find any of this kind of reporting in the MSM. Now, I suppose there are all kinds of reasons for this. Some of what Tad had to say certainly applies, but so does the particular policy bias of any given MSM. Many of us forget that bad news attracts more readers than good news, and more readers means increased profits for the news outlet. My experience as an editor in the publishing business certainly affirms that items that conflict with policy are not going to be published.

As a case in point, not long ago a homicide bomber detonated himself near a large line of Iraqis who were waiting to sign up to join the police department in Baghdad; this was a story that was well publicized in print and televised media. What was NOT reported, however, was that the very next day, there were 700 more people standing in line to join the police department.

Perhaps a journalist actually wrote up a story about the seven-hundred new recruits and sent it to his editor. But common sense suggests that the journalist who wants to keep working will figure out what the editor will accept, and what he will not accept. I can almost hear the editor speaking to the reporter now on a cell phone, “Listen, writer . . . no one back here gives a tinker’s damn about 700 people who want to become police officers who didn’t get blown up. Don’t send me any more of this crap. Now, get out there and find some bad news – that’s what sells.” Note that the editor wants to keep his or her job, as well.

Another “case in point” could be “sound bites.” Having been quoted in the news before, I can tell you that what was actually said is not what was reported as said, or that the sound bite put on television was only a fraction of what was said on camera. Again, it is called editing. Editors are looking to encapsulate the news item because there are space and time limitations. Sometimes, editors are looking for a particular “effect” of a quotation, and this too often supersedes running the entire quotation or video-taped statement.

Any suggestion that there is “no bias” in the MSM is ludicrous. Of course there is bias. There is bias in everything we do as human beings. It is nearly impossible for any of us to simply set aside our personal bias and write objectively. In the news, there is the journalists’ bias at work, but there is also the editor’s bias. In fact, I write to my biases . . . and I think I do this not to alienate anyone, but to attract people to my writing who share my concerns. A reader who is addicted to reading adventure or mystery novels is not going to saunter into a major book seller and buy a romance story. The point is that readers too harbor biases, and they are likely to scan the newspaper looking for an article that captures their interests (if even for only a few moments), passing by those headlines that are not interesting to them.

The point of the Mudville Gazette is to provide stories that we aren’t getting in the televised and print media – the human story. Seldom do you get in-depth interviews with our military personnel in Iraq published in the Chicago Tribune, and as Tad said – attempts at doing this ultimately publish some greatly watered down version of what was asked, and what was said.

All of the foregoing is, I suppose, a response to Reg who is clamoring over the issue of “real” news. If we didn’t know it before, then it is “news.” For people who thirst for more background information, they are likely to get that in a blog than they are on televised or print media sources. Blogs are not strapped for time or space. Again, in the case of Michael Yon, I read his online magazine because I get “more information” out of it than I do in reading the newspaper or watching televised news. Mr. Yon doesn’t have to make an editor happy and so what he wants to say is more than likely to be published.

Reg: Why are you so angry all the time?

Posted by Mustang at June 25, 2005 08:34 AM

I kinda/sorta don't think that this isn't a newspaper either. However, how many times can you say it isn't "real news" and/or "news" in a short column? It most definately isn't the "real bad news." And we concur that they didn't mean it to be.

Are the author(s) attempting to present something other than bad news? Sure. As you imply, they get up every morning already with an opinion and cant before they've even seen any "real news".

All that said, my own personal interaction with reporters wasn't so much adversarial as it was just how ignorant they were. If you don't really know much about what your are reporting on, then just how accurate is it?

Time and again, I have read things that were inaccurate, and I knew them to be inaccurate as I was on the scene much, much longer than the reporter. Sometimes one knew the reporter was "getting up in the morning with his opinion already formed", but much more often it was just a case of the reporter not knowing what he was looking at. Often the sensational is hiding behind the more blatant sensational.

If many of the MSM were reporting our Revolutionary War, I suspect that we would have thrown in the towel. What do you think?

Posted by tad at June 25, 2005 09:30 AM

There was nothing in that five part series that was written from a soldier's POV. Sorry...but that stuff was neither "real news" nor a first-hand account from a vet. I'm not angry...just find you guys sort of a sorry lot.

Everything I wrote stands. Get a grip.

Also, if you would read my comment, I never stated that there was no "bias" in the media. I said it's crazy to call the mainstream media "leftwing". Or dismiss their reports as more biased than "Mrs. Greyhawk".

I happen to be privy to family emails from a U.S.marine who's doing frontline duty on the Syrian border right now and I can tell you that there's a lot more "nuance" among our troops about these issues than you guys could possibly admit...because you aren't interested in truth, nor do you really care about our troops. You're a bunch of partisan screamers desperate to hold the Bushnik line at any cost.

Posted by reg at June 25, 2005 11:22 AM

Marine is always spelled (correctly) with a capital "M".

"..nor do you really care about our troops." You're going out on a limb here, Sir. My son-in-law is an active duty Marine. In addition to that, as I served 32 years on active duty, including service in Vietnam, very many folks that I know are serving there. I pray nightly for their safety.

Posted by tad at June 25, 2005 01:09 PM

Dear Reg,

I happen to be a service member. So I happen to care about the troops, given that I am one and many of my friends are too. I have lost friends in this conflict. I hold onto the line that we must win this conflict lest we open ourselves to more attacks here at home. Unlike the people on the left, you included I assume, cutting and running just isn't an option.

Which makes me glad that there were fewer of your ilk back 60 years ago. Cutting and running after Pearl Harbor, Kasserine Pass, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. All defeats and near defeats. The left today would be calling for negotiations with Japan and Germany in the hopes of preventing a "quagmire" I am sure.

As far as you "really caring about the troops", don't be surprised if I, as a "troop", don't want your version of "caring", which includes bringing me and my brothers-in-arms home from combat before the job is done, only to have to return 5-10 years later to do it all again. I don't want your leftist version of caring if it means comparing us to Nazis or Communists dictators. Thanks but no thanks.

And one last comment about the Mudville Gazette. They have links to military members blogs and stories that they have written. Whereas the MSM depends on AP and Al-Reuters for much of their info. Every now and then the reporters are there to witness after the fact, but like tad said, they havent got a clue what they are seeing. So please, go celebrate the next deaths in this war. I am sure that you and your leftist brethren can soon celebrate the 2000th death here in a few months and dream of 2006 and 2008 and hope that the American public takes your defeatist rhetoric hook line and sinker. Perhaps then you guys can take back the congress and the presidency and put this country back on track to the communist toilet worker's paradise you are dreaming of.

Posted by Duncan Avatar at June 25, 2005 01:27 PM

Duncan Avatar:

Nice use of the whole 81mm Mortar Platoon! I know you have already shifted positions and are mega stealth and camouflaged to the max. Your security and FOs are scanning for new targets.

I was also impressed with your historical battles which didn't go our way. I was lucky to visit one and be stationed at another. Of course, read much on the other two. General Sir John Hackett, as you know, was a Brigadier at Arhnem.

And in case no one has mentioned it lately, thank you for serving your country. Lots of us really, really appreciate it.

Semper Fidelis et Legio Patria Nostra

Posted by tad at June 25, 2005 02:27 PM

Too funny, Duncan Avatar...but boy, are you clueless.

Happen to know Reg pretty damn well from reading his comments over the last few months, so I'll fill you in on a couple of facts. He, like myself, don't see an immediate pull out in Iraq as an option. He clearly does feel we have a responsibility to the people of Iraq.

And guess what...he's got a son who's just joined the military. Geez, that must horrify you, DA. Next thing you know, the kid'll get a couple of promotions under his belt, and we'll have an American version of a commie commissar. The horror!

Negotiating with Germany and Japan? Our version of a communist toilet worker's paradise? CELEBRATING THE NEXT DEATHS IN WAR?

Oh, give it a rest. You're coming across as as big a whackjob as those lovsble folk at A.N.S.W.E.R.

Sorry to speak for you, Reg. Just felt it was beneath you, is all.

Posted by jim hitchcock at June 25, 2005 05:03 PM

So....let me get REG correctly, he is saying that if a soldier writes a positive and optimistic piece he is "nuanced" but if he tells you it sucks and he just wants to come home, he's telling it like it is?

Reg...speaking of pre-formed biases...shoe fits, wear it.

I gotta say, that's exactly the problem with you folks and the MSM, Dear Reg. You still have the "poor soldiers as victims of a terrible plan gone totally wrong" syndrome.
These guys don't fit with your idea so they are all biased.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Posted by kat at June 25, 2005 06:14 PM

It was over the top of me to state "you don't care about the troops", but it isn't over the top of me to believe that some of the most vocal here are driven mostly by a defensiveness about the war council rather than anything even approaching critical analysis of a serious national security strategy and the way the Iraq war was consistently and deliberately oversold by a largely incompetent, self-deluded war council. This is pretty elementary stuff at this point in time, but you guys cling to your own faith-based brand of reality. Ultimately that puts you at odds with anything I would consider responsible thinking about the sacrifices of our troops versus your "Mission accomplished" bullshit.

As to where we go from here, at the very least don't ask me to celebrate a situation that's this FUBAR. I'm not into cutting or running...but the fact that that kind of thinking is even taking hold among the populace clearly isn't the fault of any anti-war types or the press. It's the fault of a fundamentally dishonest, strategically delusional war council that's relied on divisive, partisan hype and being stuck in what was clearly an unnecessary war that has weakened our military and strengthened the hand of al Qaeda in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My source on both of those isn't Michael Moore but the CIA and military men like Wesley Clarke and the late David Hackworth. Also the "father" of 4th Generation warfare theory, William Lind. You can argue with that point of view, but don't act like you're in a debate with some left-wing flakes or that the kinds of sources you rely on are more credible. It's not true. End of story.

Also all comparisons between the Second World War and the war of choice in Iraq are pure idiocy. Don't bother to go there because you just look stupid and desperate.

Posted by reg at June 25, 2005 07:05 PM

"So....let me get REG correctly, he is saying that if a soldier writes a positive and optimistic piece he is "nuanced" but if he tells you it sucks and he just wants to come home, he's telling it like it is?"

No...that's not it...I think you are going to be required to think a little harder.

Posted by reg at June 25, 2005 07:41 PM

yes, Reg, I do believe that is it.

Do you believe all of these men have been given some propaganda order and hundreds of military blogs are just that? Soldiers selling a story on orders?

Or, do you think that these same soldiers are simply trying to "protect the folks back home" from bad news, which we see every day and each of them complains about on a regular basis?

Which is it? I'm afraid your current point is simply to "nuanced" for a chic from Missouri and I wouldn't mind if you explained it.

As for "defending the war", why do you feel the need to attack it? Are you a believer in the "we just made it worse" schtick? Do you think we simply supported the war because of the word WMD and Colin Powells nifty sell to the UN? Why did we have to sell it so hard to the UN? You think it was because they were omniscient and knew before we did the WMD was gone from there? Or do you think it had anything to do with back room deals for oil, money and arms? Kind of like Rwanda and Sudan. You ever look up the history on those two places and wonder why certain folks are always blocking votes to intervene? Who is naive here, sir?

So far, your comments boil down to: soldiers don't tell the truth because....fill in the blank

The war was wrong thus anything the soldiers say that says other wise is not the truth.

The war was wrong, thus anything we say is wrong.

You think the war was over sold? I think that it was about 13 years too late in the making, 9/11, terrorists and WMD not withstanding.

Posted by Kat-Missouri at June 25, 2005 08:27 PM

For the sake of attempting to get closer to the "best", we'll say that Bush, Rumsfeld, the JCS, CdrCentCom, and Gen. Casey along with everybody else is gone, but the situation is as it stands today.

What is your plan? While too specific would be way to much to ask for here, please not too many generalities. In other words, what isn't working and how would you make it better.

Bon Chance

Posted by tad at June 26, 2005 08:13 AM

Left wing media? You can't be serious with that canard, name one corporate media organization owned by a leftist. Or one that challenged the WMD lines during the marketing campaign for the war. Or that does much reporting on much else aside from the latest military strategies and results of the strategies, threats from the resistance, etc.
When you have people like John Burns and Judith Miller running the Iraq dept. of the NYT, CNN reporting alone on military developments, FOX providing round the clock happy news, NBC, CBS, and ABC trying to do the same, and Lehrer's news hour with debates between the CSIS and Brookings...uhm sorry, that's hardly 'left-wing' and you surely realize this despite the hyped rhetoric.
Every major news organization in the US is pro-capitalism and pro-globalization, privatization, and empire building strategies that promote those goals. The only differences are along strategy, not substance.

Posted by steve at June 26, 2005 09:13 AM

"which is it?"

Sorry but this cat from Missouri (oh yeah!) thinks you're off your (explicative deleted by GM) rocker. The "either/ors" and bizarre attributions of total nonsense to me by your presumptuous self are pure idiocy. My fellow cat from Missouri, Mark Twain , would be chuckling along with me at how foolish some folks can be were he around to read your spew.

Don't sell folks from Missouri short as fools like you. "Show me!" isn't anti-American, it's common sense.

Go down to Arthur Bryants (the one on Brooklyn off 18th), order the burnt ends and short ends combo, sip some iced tea and think about it.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 12:06 PM

I realize, looking back over this, that I'm being asked for a strategy to clean up the mess. I don't owe anybody here that, but first I'll admit I'm not fully capable. But I know for a fact that from nearly day one this administration pursued a strategy that has played into al Qaeda's goals, allowed bin Laden to escape capture, diverted resources from an unfinished mission in Afghanistan and, because of consistently low troop strength and terrible planning that I'd attribute to Rumsfeldian hubris against the better judgment of military commanders and State Departmen experts on Iraq, allowed a situation in occupied Iraq to develop that has cost many American and Iraqi lives. And they've debased our democracy in the process. If you pro-war clowns aren't even willing to admit - or even consider - that or take some responsibility for uncritical support of the Bushniks who've dragged us here, don't come crying to me for a way out of Iraq-and-a-hard-place. Actually I've got thoughts, but neither the time nor inclination to debate them here with a bunch of cheerleaders and sycophants who do little in response other than twist my words to suit their extreme biases and bull.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 12:19 PM

The alternate plan?

Posted by tad at June 26, 2005 12:27 PM

Regarding the specific question about military blogs, aside from the bizarre spin put on my comments, they are what they are. I have no argument with our soldiers. I respect their sacrifices enormously, probably more than you do because I think they've been operating under such poor civilian leadership. And I know that on the front lines, you keep the eye on the ball. I also know from reading emails from soldiers that opinions about the war are mixed. You act as though they aren't. And I'd be shocked if most soldiers in Iraq didn't focus mostly on their mission and the good that can come of it, rather than the questions of whether they should have been sent there in the first place, how badly they've been led (and I reserve this critique primarily for the civilian command and strategists who chose this war) or how it fits into broader strategic issues.

These "are they all lying or fed propaganda" questions are just weird. Hope I've cleared that up without too much "nuance" for you.

That's my last. Arguing with people like you folks makes me crazy. I usually stick to marc cooper's blog, because I like the mix of commenters. Some of them are nuts, but they're not the majority. Here I feel like I'm in some lalaland.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 12:29 PM

Oh...damn...I can't help myself. "Kat"...I actually agree in a sense about "13 years too late", in that I absolutely believe that once we went to war with Saddam the first time we should have at the least provided air cover and support to the Shia and Kurd uprisings and let them kill the bastard, civil war or no civil war. (In a sense, Iraq has long been a civil war waiting to happen, and the Baath regime had, with Saddam, degenerated into little more than a slow-motion civil war against all non-Sunnis). But aside from that issue as regards Iraq itself, which I think is damn near inarguable from a moral standpoint, if you think that taking out Saddam in 1990 would have prevented 9/11 or changed the current problems of nuclear or bio-war materials production and proliferation - which are still very, very serious and have actually gotten more serious since 2003 - you've really got your head in the sand. Proof in my view of how narrowly guaged and wack your views on these issues are.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 12:36 PM

Reg, I appreciate your comming by and commenting, I even appreciate most of your point of view.... but could you try to avoid the verbal (keyboard) diarrhea and cease with all of the ad hominem attacks on people with a different point of view?


Posted by GM Roper at June 26, 2005 12:45 PM

I am just guessing here. An alternate plan is not forthcoming, right?

Posted by tad at June 26, 2005 01:04 PM

"The alternate plan?"

Iraqi union leaders seek troop withdrawal, solidarity

By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor — June 17, 2005

ST. PAUL — Two Iraqi union leaders Thursday issued a call for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq and pledged solidarity with workers in the United States and around the globe.

More than 300 people packed the Carpenters hall for discussion with Falah Awan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions of Iraq (FWCUI), and Amjad Ali Aljawhry, an Iraqi union leader in exile in Canada and a representative of the FWCUI in North America.

The union leaders are part of a six-member delegation touring the United States at the invitation of U.S. Labor Against the War. In the Twin Cities, their visit was sponsored by the United Steelworkers, several other unions and other organizations.


Posted by steve at June 26, 2005 01:29 PM

GMR - thanks also and point taken. But I think I was, at the very least, also victim of some of same.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 01:51 PM

"I am just guessing here. An alternate plan is not forthcoming, right?"

If you're "just guessing" it's because you can't read...I was crystal clear on this and why two of your posts ago.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 04:20 PM

I would guess that as no alternate plan with specifics is forthcoming, we'll have to rely upon, the JCS, CdrCentCom, and General Casey...not to mention all those other military folk.

Actually, I was quite interested if someone has some specifics as to how we should proceed given the situation as it exists today. We cannot scoop up spilled milk. We can, possibly, learn from past errors, but we need to get on with today and tomorrow.

Given the above, what should we do? I was lead to believe that the "cut and run" option was not popular with anyone. So, if that isn't the plan, then what is? Yelling from the proverbial "back benches" may be satisfying, AND even RIGHT...but without new ideas, then those with any ideas will continue.

Doesn't that sound about right?

Posted by tad at June 26, 2005 05:10 PM

"we'll have to rely upon, the JCS, CdrCentCom, and General Casey...not to mention all those other military folk."

Again, you've completely missed the essence of my comments - partly because of the nature of such a forum, but I think also partly deliberately because my emphasis on having problems with the civilian meta-strategists, not the forces being tasked, was stated clearly. If, in fact, the current strategy is to push both militarily, politically and in terms of reconstruction for the Iraqis to take full responsibility for their country and their own security as quickly as is reasonable, while we make the necessary funding and support available, that's about the only thing any sane person could ask for. I'm not sure that's the strategy and to the degree that it is I'm not sure we have the Bush administration to thank, so much as a very dicey confluence of events and unfortunately a very stressed American military. That's a lot of shorthand, but take it for what it's worth and all it implies (without distortion to fit your stereotypes.)

The problem I'm still left with is that what will be the result of this adventure in terms of the U.S. - not that the result for us is the thing that matters most, because we're talking about Iraq and not our own country. In my view it will be a Shiite-controlled Iraq that is - at least de facto - allied with Iran and probably with very little love for the U.S. since we've essentially thrust their country into chaos and complicated their own centrifugal, sectarian ethnic tendencies by providing a magnet for foreign terrorists hell-bent on keeping things as messy for the U.S. as possible for as long as possible. Of course we helped them get rid of Saddam and the Baathist terror...but it was a pretty long, convuluted, painful process (15 years and counting ?) AFTER we overtly aided him in a period where he was committing war crimes and horrible internal repression. Memories will be longer and more "nuanced" there than here. It will be very complicated and not particularly pretty or an occasion to call out the cheerleading squad.

I'm just going to leave those views stand and don't want to get into a peeing contest over them. It's what I see. And while I have no crystal ball, it's more realistic than most of the predictions we've been treated to by the likes of Wolfowitz, etc. ("There is no history of ethnic strife in Iraq." "The reconstruction will be paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues." and much, much more.)

I'll add here another provocation, in anticipation of the argument that we've magically triggered a democratic revolution throughout the Middle East - the evidence mostly being the anti-Syrian demos following the assassination in Lebanon and fairly positive election results. (Most of the other stuff cited is either trivial or clearly not connected to Iraq.) Bin Laden doesn't fear the spread of democratic reforms in most of the least democratic Middle Eastern countries. The reason...most of the least democratic regimes in the Middle East have as a primary goal of their repression keeping populist Islamic extremist sects at bay. Populist Islamic extremists tend to to quite well in these countries because the establishments are so corrupt and self-serving. Whatever else one might say about the Islamists, they have an image of being more honest, more idealistic and speaking more for the people at the bottom. I said "image", although the image has a valid basis if you're willing to contemplate turning your country over to fundamentalist fanatics. Some people obviously are. Even here. (Joke...sort of.) So, for example, elections in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - if they are really open - could well provide the al Qaeda types or factions sympathetic to them with some political openings that are currently difficult for them to gain. I'm not dead set against democratic reforms in these countries soley on that basis, but I don't see this as inevitably helpful to us in dealing with the people who want to kill us and want to push the U.S. out of any role in the Middle East. Food for thought.

I'm really tapped out on this thread. It's zig-zagged into an area I don't have the energy or time to dig deeper into with you. I didn't start this discussion by trashing that website incidentally, just asking you to put it in perspective. Hopefully some of the above will be taken in the same spirit.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 07:04 PM

OK. I was formerly just a dumb grunt and now maybe just dumb. However, I have lived around the world a bit and been shot at a bit and studied quite much both formally and informally. While I am suspicious of politicians and diplomats, I am some less suspicious of our own military.


I am one who wants to know how others see the problem and how they think it ought be handled in pretty specific terms. Sadly, my observation of "experts" is that mostly they're not. I have seen, what I call "The American Solution", that throwing millions around often doesn't work.

We need be gentle and such at times and we need to be very, very tough at times...the trick in knowing the difference. Often other peoples of the world are completely dumbfounded by our actions.

It is my belief that force is really valuable when others believe that you will use it if tarried with. It must be applied with some precision, but people around the world know that bad things happen....hell, that is the stuff of about 70% of the world on a daily basis.

If we come in we can do good things, however, we have to have lots of moxie. Good deeds must never be mistaken for weakness. The world that I have seen is very hard, very mean, and very awful. We are not the saviours of the world, but we can make it much better while we are engaged in making it safer for our own.

So, exiting this longish line, I would conjure up the scene in which our spokesmen speaking in polite words and tones, but there is always just a hint of an edge. All should see, if only in their mind's eye, the faces of our hard-faced lads with their bayonets gleaming. All should know that we are "forward leaning" and wanting to get at enemies when they are less ready, not more. Colonel Boyd's OODA Loop applies. We must be Lee at Fredricksburg and not at Gettysburg.

Maybe someone ought give a seminar to the those who might think awful thoughts that we have things like SSBNs and exactly what their capability is. International Defense Review ought to be present from the USA to every tin-pot dictator and nitwit in the world. The total price would be low compared with the POSSIBLE salutary effects.

Semper Fidelis et Legion Patria Nostra

Posted by tad at June 26, 2005 09:04 PM

I want to clarify one thing about my comments above, having looked at them a second time. When I say that bin Laden doesn't necessarily fear democratic reforms in repressive countries, it's not because he has any love for democracy...only that the Islamists can use things like elections effectively for their own political ends and we're fooling ourselves if we deny that prospect. Also, I'm not actually predicting a wave of democratic reforms...just saying that even if it does happen it isn't inconsistent with populist demagogic Islamist goals on the level of short-term strategy and tactics. Remember the unadulterated political victory that was celebrated when a popular uprising in Afghanistan threw out the Soviets ???

Okay...now I've really overstayed my welcome...but "tad" kept asking for it.

Posted by reg at June 26, 2005 09:46 PM

Tad, interesting that you ignored this:


Posted by steve at June 28, 2005 09:24 PM

Steve, ignored what? Please tell me vice me chasing after web articles. No offense, but I do far too much already. Give me your comments, and I will attempt to respond.

Posted by tad at June 29, 2005 12:17 PM

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