Democrats & Liberals Archives

How To Make A Pony Disappear - The Middle East

There’s an old joke about a person confronted with a room full of horse manure. The punch line is “With this much shit, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.” I am a “news junkie” and it is hard to keep up with the different strategies of reporting; what gets covered and how; what doesn’t get covered; what pops to the top of the news, and what does not. I don’t know if I can make any sense of the insanity that is coming across the wires, but there are nagging discrepancies that deserve mentioning.

Some reports rightly point out that the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict" is Israel's "forgotten war" in the face of Lebanon (such as the destruction in Gaza and elsewhere, as well as the Israeli "arrest" of Palestinian Ministers(8) and lawmakers (21) - the last week of June 2006). While Israeli bombs have shattered Lebanon, the ongoing offensive in Gaza has faded almost to invisibility.

A similar scenario exists with the U.S. "adventure" in Afghanistan. Since the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan has become the U.S.' "forgotten war." One might think that things are going well in Afghanistan after the U.S. "liberated" them from the Taleban. (Oh yeah, purportedly al Qaeda was the target, but never mind.) Things have been going so well there that the Taleban is retaking the country. Gosh, it was just July 31, 2006 when NATO forces took over responsibility for southern Afghanistan. One might read that as "things are improving," and it is part of the effort to remove U.S. forces from the region. However, just a few days later comes the news that the U.S. is sending 11,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan doesn't seem to be a success on the social front either. UNICEF reports "Schools in Afghanistan under growing attack." Estimating that roughly 100,000 students are shut out of the schools due to attacks.

"There were nearly 100 attacks on Afghan schools in the first half of the year, a sixfold rise from the same period in 2005, according to the agency which blamed "unknown insurgents."

The other U.S. "success story" is Iraq of course. While the Bush administration says that the news media focuses on the negative in Iraq, it is difficult to see any success over shadowing the dramatic escalation in violence. Iraq, seems to be sliding down a slippery slope of death. The UK's outgoing ambassador in Iraq communicated to Blair that civil war is more likely than democracy in Iraq (BBC, 8/03/06). A sentiment that is shared by U.S. Generals - Abizaid and Pace (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). However, Rumsfeld's response to that question was essentially, "Well, it depends on how you define civil war."

The Bush administration is moving troops back into Iraq after attempting a troop draw down. However, at least two units - the 172nd Stryker Brigade and the 4th squadron, 14th Cavalry - scheduled to come home have had their tours extended (Army Times, 8/03/06). The military admits that more troops are needed (see also IOL, 7/28/06), which has led to more strategies to expand the forces. One methodology is to relax recruitment standards ... again. The other is to outsource the war - in this case recruiting Filipinos to serve in US facilities in Iraq. Of course there is the other outsourcing of replacing troops (both in the US and Iraq) with private contractors, and security companies. Another strategy has been to raise the age at which people can volunteer to 42 years old. But I digress.

Back to the news.

So Iraq is falling apart. Afghanistan is falling apart. Lebanon is turned to rubble. Gaza is virtually invisible while destruction continues. However, the focus is on Lebanon. While I am not arguing that there should be less coverage of the tragedy in Lebanon, it is striking how much coverage that is getting compared to the coverage of say Iraq - where even more people are being killed on a daily basis. Given the level of violence and bloodshed, I am humbled by the bravery of the people of the region as they rally in large numbers to end the violence between Israel and Hizbullah. Particularly, I am struck by the actions of the people of Iraq. There was a protest march filling 20 blocks in Baghdad.

Imagine this, you are in a city where the death toll from car bombs and attacks exceeds 100 people a day, yet what is likely over 10,000 people march for an end to the violence in Lebanon. (This is not to minimize the people in Lebanon who are marching with bombs dropping around them.) Perhaps the people of Iraq see something that is not being covered. Perhaps they see their lives and fates directly connected to an expansion of conflict across the region. Perhaps they see a threat that challenges the hell they are already in. That is truly a frightening thought.

But there is another tragedy playing out in all of this, and that is the simplistic glossing over of what is real. The issues in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq make it seem as if there are clear, hard lines in the populations. There are not. There are Arabs, Muslims and Christians, as well as Jews in Israel. Those same populations are mingled in Palestine - and in Lebanon. In Iraq, there is not a clear delineation between Shia, Sunni, and Kurds. Iraq was a secular country for decades, and the intermingling and family ties cuts across all of those groups. As does the labeled distinctions elsewhere. What this points to are huge numbers of people who are caught in the gray areas between the labeled opponents. This effects the conflicts as well as the proposed solutions.

The three state solution keeps cycling around for Iraq. Just divide Iraq into three states (Kurd, Shia, and Sunni). And what of the large populations in all of those regions who are not simply Kurd, Sunni, and Shia? Or what about the fact that in "destroying Hizbullah," that others (including Jews) just happen to reside under the bombs? Or what about those Arabs, Muslims, and Christians that live inside Israel (or Palestine)? These are the realities of war. The labeling does not necessarily reflect the reality of people's lives or societal realities. Just as the fracturing of Germany into East and West left families on both sides of the wall, and the closing of the border between North and South Korea left families fractured on both sides, and the US civil war pitted "brother against brother," so too do current conflicts and proposed solutions fracture lives.

While not discussing the complexities, and maintaining a line of rhetoric, may be easier to convey, it also is a form of propaganda. This is true on all sides. It serves the purpose of solidifying combatant ideologies, and recruiting support for actions. It creates enemies and monsters all around. It does not bring people to peace or wholeness, and those risking the car bombs in Baghdad to march about US and Israeli actions in Lebanon know this. Real people, real, families, and real communities are destroyed and they are not simply "the enemy." Those wounds run for generations. It also serves to create "enemies," and perhaps the force that the US (and Israel) say they don't want to create. People have a tendency to support those who are not terrorizing and killing them. It creates a unity for survival. Fight or die even if the odds are long against you. So more people die, more children die, and it gives people a vested interest in joining the fight - grief and revenge.

Perhaps one good thing can come out of the broadcasting of the massive destruction of societies and lives. That is a realization on the part of everyone that war is not an answer.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at August 4, 2006 1:29 PM
Comments
Comment #173326

Rowan, you expressed yourself well and I believe you truly love peace over war. The problem is, war is sometimes the only answer as was evidenced in WWII. Every thinking, caring person is against war. And, we also realize that fighting back is sometimes necessary. The difficulty, in my opinion, is knowing when, where and how to fight back. And, the decision will never be unamimous as long as political bickering is involved. War should never be waged for political reasons, but reserved for issues of life and death. In the bible, even God waged war! Jesus taught peace, yet, did respect the right of legimate government to rule over their respective lands.
I believe all humans know right from wrong instinctively. And purposely killing the innocent is wrong in every culture. I don’t believe any Israeli can be accused of wanton killing as their opponents seem to be doing.
Jim

Posted by: Jim at August 4, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #173335

I think you very much touched on an issue that must become the focus of every person on this earth. Government must be questioned. Our system of checks and balances has failed, horribly. It has become, more than at anytime in history, easy for our governments to lie to the population and get away with it. With no control over the political powerhouse, the citizens of every country are becoming nothing more than a war machine. Propaganda tells us we still live in a free, great nation, but reality does not support this. Open your eyes, look around at what we are becoming. It may make you weep, but it needs to be seen.

Posted by: Tracy at August 4, 2006 2:55 PM
Comment #173338

Rowan,
Good article.

A month ago, I would have said the idea of WWIII was just foolish. Now, I am not so sure.

As foolish as it seems, everything points towards an expansion of the current wars into other countries.

The Israeli attack on Lebanon makes no sense if the goal is to destroy Hezbollah. No one, and I mean no one, thinks thinks that will happen.

However, the attack makes perfect sense if the goal is to termporarily degrade their capabilities prior to an attack on Iran.

The US refusal to broker a cease fire, and the US action of actually speeding up deliveries of missiles and bombs, makes no sense if the idea is to create a sustainable peace. Bombing Lebanon infrastructure into rubble will hardly lead to a sustainable peace.

It makes perfect sense if the goal is to prepare an attack on Iran.

Iraq is lost. Afghanistan is going down slowly but surely. Once again the warlords control most of the country, and heroin is a big export.

Bombing Iran would seem crazy, but it serves the Bush administration rather nicely.

First, it would distract everyone from Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, it might even harden the resolve of Republicans to “stay the course.”

Second, from the pespective of the Bush White House, it would protect Israel from Iranian nuclear weapons. By necessity, an attack against Iran would also have to destroy, not only the Iranian weapons program, military, and government, but also the Syrian military and government. In for a penny, in for a pound. There is always the chance they Iranian and Syrian regimes would be replaced by more acceptable governments. Foolish, but this is the Bush White House we are talking about.

Third, the economy is nosing over. WWIII would distract Americans from the impending financial debacle. Better yet, it gives the administration something to blame its failed domestic policies on.

Fourth, an election is coming soon. What better way to rally the citizenry round the flag then WWIII?

Posted by: phx8 at August 4, 2006 3:05 PM
Comment #173346

The strategy of news reporting is simple, what is the newest controversial event? and now it is the Isreali/hezbollah conflict. and, if you notice, the stories mostly are about the effects of the conflict rather than about the conflict itself.

this sells advertising. and from this the readers or listeners suffer because they are not given the information needed to come to an informed decision.

Posted by: The Griper at August 4, 2006 3:35 PM
Comment #173356

If I remember my history correctly, WW II was set in motion by WW I. WW I, about which there seems to be diverse opinions regarding why it started and spread so widely, left Germany in tatters. Hitler was able to build on the anger of the German people who were hamstrung by WWI and by the reparations they were required to pay.

Given the supposed starting point of WWI, my guess is that several nations and states saw an opportunity to either declare sovereignty or to extend their power. I must admit the WWI is not a subject I have ever studied in detail. However, the role it had on putting in motion the events that led to WWII, is less debated than the causes of WWI.

There may indeed be times when war is necessary. But war is a failure and not a success no matter how necessary. It is a failure to resolve differences non-violently. It breeds lies and propaganda to support the fight. Truth flees war because on all sides there is a need for support (and recruits) from the populace. The people rarely win, and devastation persists.

With the current technology, and in the “insurgent” tactics becoming increasingly common, the “collateral” costs (in lives, environmental destruction, and nations) is totally unacceptable. Witness the destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza. Bombing population centers places non-combatants at ground zero. Their homes are the war zone.

I know that someone will likely say that it is the “insurgents” who are causing this because they “hide” among civilians. However, that is what “asymmetric warfare” is all about. Bombing the population to get a hidden enemy creates more enemies. Rounding people up indiscriminately to find the enemy also makes more enemies.

This strategy of “draining the swamp” is a strategy which I believe was initiated by the US in various coups in South America over the decades. The underlying theory, as I understand it, is that if you want to get the fish (the folks you are after) then get rid of the water (the population they are “hiding” in). This is a strategy that has the potential to be genocidal.

The cost is just too high in my opinion. I still hope that the world thinks the cost of war is too high as well. If that happens, then perhaps the media has done some good after all.

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at August 4, 2006 4:48 PM
Comment #173358

The griper-
Does controversy and conflict exist independent of the news media? If so, then there’s no reason to discount the facts on that basis.

The critique of the news media by the right is long on generalities, short on details.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 4, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #173362

Good article, Rowan.
phx8, good response — I agree totally, and unfortunately.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 4, 2006 5:09 PM
Comment #173365

Rowen,

that is a very nice arguement for pacifism. and yes there is a very high cost of war as there is a very high price of peace also. it is what people use as the determinant of costs and price that usually divides people.

Every war has, had and will have the potential of being genocidal. it is not a matter of strategy but the nature of war itself that produces this potential.

Wars are the product of failed non-violent resolutions of problems. and its purpose is to impose a resolution upon one party to a war. that is what gives war its justification of being an act of last resort.

the big problem is when is it an act of last resort? and that, unfotunately, is a subjective decision rather than an objective decision.

Posted by: The Griper at August 4, 2006 5:33 PM
Comment #173370

Stephan,

I am not discounting the facts in my comment. i was only pointing out where the focus of the media seems to be in their news stories.

as for being for the “right” or “left” i’m hoping that my comments would be seen as an verily unbiased viewpoint though i believe that is an impossibility. i say it is an impossibility because regardless of how the news is reported on a particular issue one side or the other will holler that the media is being biased against them.

Posted by: The Griper at August 4, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #173399

Rowan:
Nice article. I like the way you raised issues in an honest manner and offer solutions to these issues. I do not think that the three state Iraq would work and in fact would cause more problems. First of all, Iraq has an abundance of oil, but that source of revenue is concentrated in two of the three “states”. That leaves one very poor nation surrounded by two rich and more powerful “states”. Lets assume for a minute that a revenue sharing agreement can be reached. That leads us to problem number two. How long do you think that two “states” will share money with a “state” that produces and ownes nothing and is of a different branch of Islam? And for problem number three, Turkey was against the invasion of Iraq in both Gulf Wars due to the fact that they would not allow a seperate Kurd state adjoining a Kurdish area of their own nation. They were promised that no “state”would be formed and surely would invade if one was formed, lest they lose part of their own nation in a movement to unite the Kurds.

As far as asymmetric warfare goes, it is dependent on the premise that the killing of civillians will be condemned by all, but only during retalitory strikes. The perpetrators of this war are not, by definition, able to infilict the amount of dammage to grab the headlines and therefore the condemnation it justifies. It, by nature, does not adhere to the rules of warfare while depending on their enemies to do so. It makes the people they attack decide which is more important, counter attack or civillian casualities. Once the decision is made the counter attack is more important(to prevent a nation’s own population from suffering deaths from a direct attack on civillians) then the media plays a huge role in the battle. How is the story protrayed in the media? What grabs more headlines and therefore more sales for the media:
1. Attack of 150 crude missiles kills 5 innocents.
2. Bombing these same attackers kill 50 innocents.

IMHO the answer is number two, but the real question should be which is more immoral, making an attack on civillians while hiding among civillians for political gains(knowing that counter attack and innocent deaths will result), or attacking positions that are attacking your civillians knowing that innocents will die also?

By definition, asymmetric warefare means that you will NOT follow the rules of warfare. Combine that tactic with a group that publically declares that their objective is to wipe a race off of the face of the Earth. How do you combat it? If you are a member of that RACE to be wiped out, what would you be willing to do to protect yourself? Negotiate a truce? How would you want your struggle protrayed?

IMHO to combat asymmetric warfare you have but two choices, play by your rules or play by theirs. I challenge anyone to play me for all you are, for all you own, for all you will ever be, for your very existence, but play by the rules that I set. Any game, any time, but by my rules.

I do not believe that there is a conspiracy in the media that is Anti-American, but i do believe that most of the media is of liberal mind and is only reporting one side of this story. And they are reporting the wrong side and the wrong prespective.

Posted by: submariner at August 4, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #173408

Iraq is a made up country based on the old Roman province of Mesopotamia, and the Caliphate of Baghdad.

Problem one is that Basra is now too far inland to be a defensible port, the gulf has silted up since Roman times, hence the invasion fo Kuwait.

Problem two, which exists is many countries around the world is that Iraq was really the Republic of Baghdad, although dominated by a group of people from some smaller cities further north, but still mainly a republic only serving the interests of the capital city, like many others around the globe. Baghdad would have eventually developed into something like Mexico City.

Problem three is the idea that Turkey should be a deciding factor in our policy about Kurdistan. As I have said before, ask an Armenian about Turkey and its borders.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 4, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #173409

Phx8:

I know that this should not be personal, and that I, at times, believe that I could choke you. However, I now think I would like to sit down with you over a case of beer and shoot the shit. Not that I agree with you, but anyone that can push my buttons like you do would be a load of fun over a few cold ones and maybe a game of cards or pool. Anyone that tries as hard as you to invoke thought and emotion is worthy to raise a glass. Belatedly, thank you.

I disagree with you on your post for a couple of reasons. Admittedly, I hated President Clinton, and still do. Mostly it is due to my love for the military(I am a 30% service connected disabled veteran who was over half way to retirement when I was injured) and that I believe that he did more to harm the military in my lifetime that anyone else could. However, I do not and cannot believe that even him could have put American soldiers and sailors in harms way “just” to advance his political agenda.

For all the reasons that I believe that he “loathed” the military, I just cannot assign to him the intentions of sacrificing the men and women of the military just for politics. I just cannot do that because if I lost faith in NCA(National Command Authority), I have lost faith in my country and in what we as a nation stand for. I do not think that that anyone that disagrees with me is unpatriotic, as we all should be vigilant as to our government’s intentions. But I do believe that your level of conjecture used to reach conclusions about President Bush(and conservatives beliefs about Democrats based on the same kind of conjecture) does far more harm than good. And IMHO, at some point, both the left and right has rhetoric that actually does tangible harm to the country just for political gain.

Drink to the foam.

Posted by: submariner at August 4, 2006 8:35 PM
Comment #173412

submariner

Underlying the issue of “insurgents,” “terrorists,” and/or “freedom fighters” is that they must be fought with violence and repressed. There was an excellent book I read from the 1960’s (wish I could remember who wrote it and the title) that talked about successfully dealing with terrorist groups. It was based on case studies. The conclusion was that th=o successfully address these types of uprisings, one needed to address the driving issues that caused people to join up. So for example, if exclusion from political voice or economic opportunity was driving people to join revolutionary groups, you created access. If hunger was driving them you provided food and support and ways for them to produce their own food. If fear was driving them, then you fought the fear. It was a technique, according to the author, which had worked numerous times. It made a lot of sense to me.

As for the “liberal media.” I’m sorry, but this just isn’t so. Regardless of the personal political or social sensibilities of journalists, reporters, etc, they are employees. They (with rare exceptions) do not get to voice their views, or to “spin” stories to their personal beliefs. The mass media is corporately owned. This corporate control (and its interests) are definitely not liberal by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, “personalities” are increasingly being selected to give the “news” - not professional journalists. News has become a product to draw audience, and only secondarily to “inform the public.”

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at August 4, 2006 8:51 PM
Comment #173422

Rowan, your discussion of the possible reasons behind insurgencies, or terrorist activity is quite good. And, I am sure the author of the book was sincere in his beliefs. And, I agree that what you proposed for combatting such groups is valid to a point. What if your opponent is not hungry or access denied, or excluded from political or economic opportunity? What if his driving force is to erase you and your kind from the face of the earth? What then do you do? History tells us that appeasement simply does not work in the case of those who have decided that they are to be the supreme power in a region or the world. How do you stop them?

Posted by: John Back at August 4, 2006 9:50 PM
Comment #173427

John Back-
What he’s talking about isn’t appeasement, at least not all the time. Let us consider it in terms of what Hezbollah and Hamas do: they provide charity help for the people in their areas. What if we were able to do that instead?

In Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Solution, we are told that terrorists who are treated humanely and interrogated with persuasive rather than coercive methods, tend to cooperate much more productively with their captors. One man became a very good source for us after we helped get his mother an operation. They are trained to expect atrocity and torture, not kindness and understanding.

The more we undermine the enemy’s propaganda and their ability to motivate people against us, the better a handle we will get on the situation. Bush likes tactics that make him feel like he’s in control, like action is being taken. Sometimes, though, what’s needed is not action our part, but on our opponent’s part.

Ultimately, we must realize that the will to fight is as important as the means to fight, or the hopes to win. If we can make people feel it unnecessary or even evil to fight us, then those who seek our destruction will be thinner on the ground.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 4, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #173433

Stephen, perhaps in some cases this method might work. However, a person who has been indoctrinated from birth to believe that their highest calling is to destroy the infidel and be willing to strap explosives to their bodies and commit murder by suicide probably would not respond to such tactics. As far as being fewer of them, how many is acceptable? At what point does the damage done become unacceptable and action must be taken? Remember the events of WW2 when entire divisions of the Japanese army were willing to commit ritual suicide rather than surrender. How does one reason with a person of that mentality?

Posted by: John Back at August 4, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #173434

Rowan:
I do not dispute what you have read or your sources. I do think that we have a different perspective on how to handle the conflicts in the Middle East. Let us assume, and we both can break down that word(just a joke), that we agree with the premise of the book you read. Let us go as far as to stipulate that the conclusion of the book is correct and to defeat the tactic of terror/insurgency/uprising you had to address the root cause behind movement to totally defeat it.

Now let us assume that we live in a country that is under attack from a nation or group that is determined to use what ever means necessary to kill us all, to drive us into the sea, soley because they we are of a different religion and we own a land that they think is theirs. How do you deal with their movement? On what grounds do you negotiate? If they are firing weapons from population centers against our population centers, to entice us to fire back and kill their civillians along with the legitimate military targets what options do we have? Allow our citizens to die to limit the damage we inflict? Conduct a limited warfare to limit civillian casualities and limit the amout of damage we can do to the people that want to destroy us? Or wage war that totally limits/destroys the war that they can wage on us?

I am all for peace, as a matter of fact, most serevice members/vets/humans are, but for comprosmise you need common ground. Where is that in the current situation? If you can conclude that a reasonable person cannot compromise on his right to exist, what actions are then acceptable?

As far as the media goes, I have read that a vast majority of the media( I want to say around 90%, but let us assume that that number is far less, about 67%. If you have better polling data, please share it) voted for Democrats in each the last three Presidential elections. Quite frankly, it is IMHO that the canidates of the Democratic party were left of center. Is this evil or wrong? Absolutely not. However, I cannot discuss, nor do I expect anyone else can, any subject without interjecting my perspective on the story. If my last statements are correct, then I must conclude that the media is biased left of center. As far as corporations, not individuals, controlling the stories, that lends to market share and target audiences controlling the editing room in the stead of opposing views. IMHO all media caters to their target audience and in fact(IMHO) and then their sucess is tied to how the story is spun.

I would like to ask anyone that ever had to keep any measures to quantify their safety/production/profitibility/goals for their employers or recieve them from employees, do you think that those measures were ever fudged to meet requirements or expectations? I personally know from first hand experience from both labor and management that if a a measure is expected, it WILL be met. I am not disparaging journalists, I am just applying what I have learned from people in various crafts. All corps have goals that include catering to a specific group for profit and IMHO the media is no different. Hopefully this will help you understand a different view.

Steven:
Although there should be no dispute the tangible benefits that Hamaas and Hezbollah have provided to the people in the region, IMHO they should be viewed in a manner that we are accustomed to. Let us try the good old mission statement:
Mission: To destroy Israel and their allies.
Vision: To live in a world that has no nation of Israel.
Values: No life is of value if it stands in our way of achieving the Mission.
Goals: Do whatever it takes to continue supportfor the mission.

I know that this may seem cynical to some, but how else can you view a group that vows to erase a race and a nation?

Posted by: submariner at August 4, 2006 11:04 PM
Comment #173448

Submariner,
Oregon is a particularly excellent state for beer. Maybe it has something to do with the rain. We add the green and gray to the blue states.

Anyhone in the military is obligated to obey a lawful order. That is the beginning and the end of it. Whether the CINC is Reagan or Bush or Clinton is irrelevant.

However, it is a different kettle of squid for civilians. The military is controlled by civilians, and those civilians are subject to criticism.

I do not think the current administration sits around plotting evil, rubbing their hands while laughing maniacally, nor do I think they are stupid.

I am sure the Bush White House believe they are doing the right thing.

The problem is one of “garbage in, garbage out.” Start with the wrong beliefs, and the results will probably be bad. It is a pernicious problem. When situations go wrong, analysis must conclude the trouble is that beliefs are being undermined by unbelievers.

Colonel Oliver North is a classic example of this. I am sure he though he was acting in the best interests of the US when he sold arms to Iran, and used the profits to fund the Contras. North thought the unbelieving Democrats were wrong, and that right thing to do was ignore the law, & ignore his oath, in order to support his beliefs.

By the time North and others were stopped, they were in the process of running a “government within a government.” North & John Poindexter & John Negroponte & Elliott Abrams and others thought only their Republican party knew the truth, and only their party knew what was right. In fact, they knew better than any other Americans.

They operated without supervision, restricting information so that only they “knew the truth.”

It is not hard to see how that applies to the current situation.

The Bush administration may truly believe that oil is the lifeblood of the nation, the only possible lifeblood. They are surrounded by the other recipients of wealth generated by energy industries, they receive contributions, and their lives are greatly influenced by the benefits of oil wealth. Religious belief may also play a role.

Anyway, it creates a lens which colors their perceptions. In this light, actions which might seem like bad ideas make perfect sense, if the actions derive from mistaken beliefs.

The stronger their belief in these ideologies, or beliefs, the most committed they are to “stay the course.” And, anyone opposing that course must be, not merely wrong, but treasonous or heretical.

Is that a word?

In a way, all of this is why American government works so well when the parties split control of the branches; it prevents the ideologues from running amok.

Posted by: phx8 at August 5, 2006 1:10 AM
Comment #173495

Afganistan has a long history of thwarting invaders. British,Russian,in fairly modern history. They just wait them out. It would be better to settle for what our original goals were. Make sure that Afganistan cannot be used as a base of attack against us and leave it to the Afganis.

“As you lie dieing on Afganistans plains
And the women come out to carve up what remains
jes roll to your rifle and blow out you brains
and go to your God as a soldier.” R.Kipling

Posted by: BillS at August 5, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #173512

“However, I do not and cannot believe that even him could have put American soldiers and sailors in harms way “just” to advance his political agenda.

For all the reasons that I believe that he “loathed” the military, I just cannot assign to him the intentions of sacrificing the men and women of the military just for politics”


Which was quite evident in the prudence of his use of the military and the results he obtained with minimal casualties.
bush, on the other hand, for mostly political reasons, screwed with the Pentagon planners when it came to his use of the military, resulting in many more casualties than was necessary.
The decision to pretend that the Iraq campaign would be easier than the experts thought WAS politically motivated, resulting in the commitment of too few troops and the failure to secure the country quickly.
You could assign that blame to rummy, but in the end, bush hired him, refuses to fire him, thus is as culpable as he is.
As for your claim that Clinton did so much harm to the military, I see NOTHING to back that claim up, besides your personal biases.

Posted by: Observer at August 5, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #173526

Clinton turned out to be a great CINC.

He made a rough start, by insisting gays be integrated into the military.

He finished by over-ruling his Army commander, and ignoring the advice of people like McCain, to put “boots on the ground” in Yugoslavia. Instead, Clinton relied upon air power to acompolish his aims. US foreign policy goals were achieved without a single US combat casualty. It does not get any better than that.

Personally, I think Bush did all right in Afghanistan. The tragedy was letting that failed state be forgotten. The fine words about rebuilding and democracy drifted into the background. We waved in the general direction of Afghanistan, but diverted our military & resources to Iraq.

It was a disastrous decision, which continues to jeopardize everything else, including the economy and the country of Afghanistan.

Justifying the pre-emptive invasion of another country with lies? Invading with insufficient troops? Proceeding without a plan? Occupying Iraq indefinitely?

When it comes to CINCs, they do not come any worse than Bush. As you say, Observer, Bush left the architects of failed policy in place. For that, Bush takes the blame.

Posted by: phx8 at August 5, 2006 4:02 PM
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