“You’re nothing but a pack of cards.” — Alice in Wonderland
“Have You No Sense of Decency?” – Joseph Welch to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, June 9th 1954
“Our brave American service men and women are sacrificing daily for a policy that has no end in sight. A policy of more of the same is no strategic vision…” — Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
“General Petraeus has been tasked with stalling Congress to keep the troops in the middle of a civil war. General Petraeus has failed to give Congress an independent assessment of the Iraq war…” — Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, 2008 presidential candidate (emphasis added)
“With all due respect to you, I must say, I don’t buy it” – Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif
Sen. Chris Dodd… issued a written statement… “the fact that there are questions about General Petraeus’ report is not surprising given that it was brought to you by this White House.”
One might wonder whether, or to what extent, concern for “Our brave American service men and women…” was active amongst liberals and self-described “moderates” – the above quoted legislators, or in general – when, prior to 9/11, the solid meat of our nation’s military muscle – particularly its vital infrastructure of spare-parts and equipment – was being pared-away a slice at a time in the name of a “peace dividend,” when, in truth, we were not really at peace. When the eyes and ears of America’s security system – military and civilian intelligence agencies alike – were being hand-cuffed in the name of every civil liberty except those related to the right of citizens to go about their lives without good reason to fear death or disability at the hands of bomb welding fanatics. One might wonder also then, how much more body-armour, and well-armoured vehicles, might have been available to protect “Our brave American service men and women…” if the budget for the necessities of their profession had not been preyed upon with such gleeful and light-hearted abandon.
And there was the long sleep of denial in regards to the reality of the one-sided war even then being waged against us, while our self-declared enemies built up their strategic positions, developed their plans and nurtured their strength. Our opportunities – ignored or talked to death.
In essence, in so many areas the pattern of “moderates” and liberals in these matters has been to create difficulties for the men and women responsible for our nations defence and then sit back and point fingers at those attempting to clean each mess that they – the legislators – had themselves created. One might - from observing such repetitious and ongoing episodes – come to suspect that what was happening had something to do with a sort of ingrained reflex that had – somehow – been developed and passed on to persons of those persuasions in each succeeding political generation. On the other hand. it may simply be an “adult” version of pushing-another-child-when-the-teacher-isn’t-looking-and-then-gazing-at-her-with-wide-eyed-innocence when-she-turns-to-see-what’s-going-on.
The aforementioned method – and/or reflex – may well be what has prompted the relentless stream of vitriolic and public accusations – including personal invective and derisive commentary – that has been the staple of Democratic discourse on the war since it became clear that there wasn’t going to be a political price to pay for such displays. I.e. after their allies in the media had prepared the ground in the field of public opinion though distortion, un-contextualized and often illegal disclosures of classified material, and out-right fabrication (1). But, whether – at times – founded on elements of truth or not, such rhetoric has been indulged in to an extent that any slow -witted child should understand to be virtually guaranteed to undermine the willingness of many otherwise sympathetic Iraqis to join with our efforts, as well as to breathe new vigour into the Insurgency regardless of how it was faring otherwise. Fore, in an honour culture, such as that which prevails in Iraq, public bickering and derision of that kind equates to weakness. And weakness is merely an invitation for aggression and abuse.
And, how could charges of malfeasance and stupidity levelled against the administration by American political figures – and broadcast throughout the Near East by outlets such as al-Jazeerah. and assorted Arabic-language websites – fail to be convincing to persons in circumstances such as those faced by most Iraqis? After all, these charges had originally been made by their native Baathists and Islamist-sympathizers – and were now being echoed by actual Americans: journalists, professors and politicians as well as those radicals self-identified as being opposed American traditions and institutions. How very plausible did it become then that the American soldiers had “really” come in order to subjugate them and steal their resources – when previously they – most Iraqis – had thought of them as liberators?
And, predictably enough, the signals of weakness and malfeasance so engendered – when combined with the widespread and persistent propaganda produced by outlets explicitly operating in support of the Insurgency – became crystal clear to our enemies and theretofore friends alike. In addition, many of our own information warfare and other, covert, operations were laid bare through exposure by the main-stream media in America and Europe. Thereby, said operations were rendered useless as counterweights to those of the enemy – whose efforts in these same covert areas the abovementioned media outlets – most of which being staffed by journalists in sympathy, or outright alliance, with the Democratic Party here in America – did not, somehow, deem to be as newsworthy. Said exposures of American covert operations – particularly when juxtaposed with comparative delicacy in regards to those of the enemy, also – predictably – “succeeded” in provoking periodic cycles of intensified anger and suspicion against the Coalition forces amongst Iraqis and others in the region.
The aforesaid American and European main-stream media outlets – most of whose practitioners being sympathetic to the Democratic Party – also saw fit to give far more substantial and widespread coverage to incidents of indiscipline and criminality engaged in by a bare handful of American and Coalition personnel then allocated to the – much wider-spread and generally more brutal - atrocities committed by the Insurgents and perpetrated by them largely as a matter of official policy. Policy geared towards undermining the legitimacy of the Coalition and its mission whilst intimidating its Iraqi allies and sympathizers, and doing so through attacks intentionally contrived to cause the maximum number of casualties amongst non-combatants – Iraqi and foreign alike (2).
In combination, the factors mentioned above – widespread support and confirmation provided by American politicians, American and European journalists, other media professionals and academics – for the perception that – malfeasance, criminality, imperialistic intent, and stupidity, were endemic in members of the administration and amongst the American military – perceptions explicitly promoted and disseminated throughout the region by native propagandists aligned with the Islamist and Baathist factions of the Insurgency – were sufficient to, finally. tip the balance of Iraqi public opinion against the Coalition, its mission, and the “brave American service men and women” who comprise most of its military forces and their supports. And, in so doing, to intensify the insurgency. The resulting and also predictable increase in casualties amongst the “brave American service men and women” liberal and moderate legislators now claim to care so much about, were then – naturally – blamed once again on the administration rather than those who – through unbridled partisanship, fear for their further electability, tunnel-vision, and/or simple distaste for traditional American values – were led to undermine the war effort whenever they felt politically safe in doing so. I.e. The same “play” was run once again.
And that is not to mention the effect that the campaign for a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq prior to achieving a basic level of stability there has had on the wellbeing of the troops whom our legislators now claim to be so concerned for. Such promptings, for that is what that campaign does amount to when seen through the eyes of our nations enemies, can have little effect but to encourage greater aggressiveness on the part of their fighters – leading without doubt to a corresponding increase in the numbers of casualties inflicted on the “brave American service men and women…” whose welfare Rep. Van Hollen claims to have at the centre of his concern. Fore the insurgents know that their aggressiveness is what – if anything – will bring success to those advocating premature withdrawal, and that our premature withdrawal is the only hope they – the Insurgents – have of avoiding defeat. As for the effects of such a policy on the wellbeing of our “brave American service men and women” in the aftermath of a premature withdrawal, does Rep Van Hollen, and those who agree with him, actually believe that conflicts of the kind now being waged in Iraq will – somehow – cease once we withdraw from there – particularly if we do so in a way that clearly signals to the entire world the very lack of stamina and faithfulness bin Ladin and his disciples have been claiming of us for the last two decades or more? How then has he come to believe that doing so will spare our service men and women? Just who is it who he thinks will be doing fighting in those new theatres of conflict – himself and his Congressional colleagues?
It also might be asked of those now claiming to be moved by concern for our “brave American service men and women,” what, if anything, those legislators and their allies in the media have done to prevent the honour of those soldiers from being defamed by what seems to be an endless cycle of loosely-supported and/or largely fabricated stories implicating them in acts of criminal brutality perpetrated against – purportedly – innocent Iraqi non-combatants. The case of Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp , and the ongoing ordeal inflicted on the Marines accused in connection with the alleged incident in Haditha - see: Haditha Video Doctored by Investigators being only the latest of . all-too-many such episodes. Or, one might ask as to just what said legislators and their allies might have done to insure that the vast majority of the “brave American service men and women” deployed in Iraq and elsewhere are not held to be complicit in the misdeeds of the inevitable handful of wrong-doers and misfits amongst them. Or, did they instead join with Nancy Pelosi of California, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, in doing everything possible to bring maximum public exposure to incidents such as those which occurred at Abu Ghraib prison, and do so in spite of the fact that – any 10-year-old of average intelligence could have - accurately as it turned out - predicted that such actions would cause an irruption of outrage among Iraqis, seriously undermine their support for the Coalition efforts, intensify the Insurgency, and – naturally enough – also lead to a very significant increase in casualties inflicted on the same “brave American service men and women…” on whose behalf they are now claming to be acting as guardians and defenders.
Or, might it be just plausible then, that – at least some of these legislators and their allies – in their heart of hearts and their private moments regard the “…brave American service men and women” fighting in Iraq in terms similar to those expressed by the progressive-liberal-Democratic-leaning journalist Seymour Hersh, when he commented that – “If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans…” –
Face of the Enemy? And, as such, that they – our soldiers – are fully deserving of defeat, demoralization, and the inevitable increase in casualties that would result from those factors in the other counter-insurgency campaigns they – our “brave American service men and women” – would inevitably find themselves immersed in elsewhere around the world – against many of the same enemies they are now fighting in Iraq – though much invigorated and re-enforced as a result of our defeat there?
In regards to those who are sincerely motivated by a concern for the welfare of our troops in particular, and our nation in general, it is hard to imagine what they believe will be accomplished towards those ends through a withdrawal or diminution of our efforts in Iraq prior to obtaining a basic level of stability there. Fore, it must be clear enough by now that – the kind of conflict we are fighting in Iraq is very much the kind which we can expect to be engaged in for as long as the General War Against Islamist Aggression lasts. That in such struggles – counter-insurgency – all else being equal – it is the shear stubborn determination not to be defeated, that makes the difference in success or failure for the counter-insurgents. And, that it is that very quality – not our cleverness, technical know-how or lack thereof – that is most in question in Iraq in particular and the War Against Islamist Aggression in general. Bin Ladin chose to attack us because he believed us to be weak in spirit, not because he thought we are stupid.
As noted in a previous posting:
Whether we do it elegantly or with the grace of a drunken seal lion, we must prevail. The committed Islamists and – the much greater number of – their sympathizers still “on the fence” are circling like a hungry pack to see if we can. And it is not our cleverness or lack thereof which is of question in their minds at all.
Clever slaves can be useful.
If we don’t prevail in the fights we are already in – the same process will simply be replayed elsewhere over and again – against greater odds – until we toughen, surrender or die. –
Ultimately – more America’s service men and woman are likely to die if we defeat ourselves in Iraq by withdrawing prematurely, than if we stay and keep fighting until we prevail.
“This is my testimony, although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress until it was just handed out…”
“As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met…Iraqi elements have been standing and fighting and sustaining tough losses, and they have been taking the lead in operations in many areas…”
Petraeus told a packed committee room that the tribal rejection of Al Qaeda in Anbar province has spread to other areas of the country, and while competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources continues, the issue is whether “competition takes place more or less violently” —
1. See: For the Record, for a brief and nowhere-near-inclusive-or-up-to-date listing of examples of these kinds of “journalistic” practices.
2. This distinction – between the nature of crimes committed by Coalition forces on the one hand, and Insurgent fighters on the other - being additionally emphasized by the fact that – in contrast to the response of the Insurgents to such actions undertaken by their own members, under the direction of their own leadership – crimes suspected of Coalition personnel were – indeed – investigated as such, and – when substantiated – were adjudicated by the controlling Coalition military authorities under the terms of the military codes of the nation whose soldiers were suspected of having authored them. And for which occurrences – in virtually all case that have come to light so far – punishment has been meted out by the same said military authorities to those found to be responsible.
(C) David Aronin 2006