ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'll have whatever he's drinking...

Read this post/essay from Stephen Green (aka the VodkaPundit):

The Arm of Decision
Posted by Stephen Green · 8 November 2005 · Permalink

Four years into the Terror War, "What's the most important element for victory?" is a question long overdue. It's also a question our national leadership, nearly all of our intellectuals, and none of our mainstream media have yet to answer.

President George W Bush hasn't told us, because he doesn't know. His rivals for the Oval Office never answered the question – either because they also don't know or because they don't like the answer. Our Congress and Senate ought to be debating this issue, the most important of our postmodern era. Instead, they're doling out the pork, posing for the cameras, or busy keeping the campaign dollars flowing in by treating small, partisan differences as matters of life and death. Here we are, with a real life-and-death struggle on our hands, and our leadership fiddles while the barbarians beat us at our own game.

Our public thinkers – pundits, intellectuals, whatever you want to call them – are the people we should most rely on for guidance in times such as these. However, they've come up short even using the pathetic standard by which this blogger measures them. Too many of our intellectuals are caught in the past, real or imagined. Most liberal thinkers think one of two things: That this Terror War can be safely ignored (or treated as a police matter, which is effectively the same thing) or that "America isn't worth dying for." Either path leads to defeat – but at least Cindy Sheehan is cheering openly for the other side. Conservatives fall into three camps. Paleoconservatives, like Pat Buchanan, have joined in the loony left's "blame America first" chorus. If only we'd cut off Israel, buy off the Arabs, retreat behind our borders, and act a lot more like France – then we wouldn't be in this mess. Neoconservatives hold the naïve hope that if we just topple the dictators, democracy will sprout like shiitake mushrooms after a cool rain. Vanilla conservatives might have some reservations about singular campaigns in this war (George Will's reservations about Iraq, for example), but usually get all gung-ho whenever and wherever the troops are involved. But as I discussed in an essay called "Game Plan" last year, this war is about a lot more than combat.

Our mainstream media haven't answered the question, because they know the answer – and they're deathly afraid you'll find out what it is. But we'll get to them in a moment.
Today we face a new global threat. Like the Soviet Union of old, our threat is ideological. Unlike the Soviets, our new threat isn't a nation-state. The enemy has no divisions. It has no tanks, nor fighter jets, nor nuclear missiles. Our threat is repressed young men with the desire to die for Allah, and to take as many infidels with them as they can on their road to Hell.
What I didn't see then - but what I do see today - is what "taking the initiative" really means.

It means, fighting a media war. It means, turning the enemy's one great strength into our own. Broadcast words, sounds, and images are the arm of decision in today's world.

And if that assessment is correct, then we're losing this war and badly.
Today, too many reporters report from the relative safety of Baghdad hotels. Their reports – and the public's understanding of the war – have suffered as a result. And too few of the original embeds remain reporting for duty. When reporters who don't see what going on write stories without context, they fail to steel the public for bad news and to put the good news in perspective.

It's fair to ask if the Iraq Campaign was a necessary component to the Terror War. It isn't fair to compare Iraq to Vietnam, when the two wars have nothing, zero, nada in common. It's fair to ask if our soldier are dying in vain, or because of stupid policy, or because of inferior equipment. It's not fair to run headlines like "Battle Deaths Continue to Mount." No shit, Sherlock? A real story would be, "Battle Deaths Decline as Fallen Soldiers Miraculously Resurrected." It's fair to question Bush's policies. It's not fair to act as a conduit for enemy propaganda. It's fair to ask if Iraq is draining resources from our efforts in Afghanistan. It's not fair to complain that Afghanistan isn't perfect yet. It's fair to complain about indecencies at Abu Ghraib. It's not fair to virtually ignore atrocities committed by the other side everywhere else in Iraq.

But our media, aware of their power but ignorant as to its uses, would rather play "gotcha" than provide critical perspective.

Germany lost WWI because they couldn't match our manpower. They lost again in 1945, because they couldn't match Allied productive might. We could very well lose this war, because our leadership has so far failed to recognize the power of the media. We might also lose because our enemies are oftentimes more media-savvy than we are. We could lose also because our mainstream media seems to find terrorists less unattractive than having a conservative Texan in the White House.

The only thing that I disagree with is that the pullback at the first battle of Fallujah may have had a positive consequence (in a sick and demented way). (Stephen argues that it was a clear defeat of the military by enemy propaganda, which is an honest assessment to some degree.) When the Marines pulled back in April of 2004, they left the hotbed of insurgent desires to the whims of Islamic radicalism. And Zarqawi & Co terrorized the very Sunnis that they claimed to be fighting for... The benefit is that many of the survivors after the second battle for Fallujah now are willing to cooperate with the US Army. Sure, they want us to leave Iraq - as do most Iraqis, who see our presence as the very sign of their impotence. But, they understand that letting a mad-man like Zarqawi and his comrades run their country is a sure path to Hell on Earth.

Whenever the subject of failure in Iraq comes up, I point to this man as one of the main causes for our situation there. It was HIS job to make sure that the 4th ID, the most technologically advanced armored division in the world could smash the Sunni Triangle from the north. Not for nothing did the military planner position the 4th ID on the northern front of Iraq. Powell's failure to secure the cooperation of the Turks meant that the Sunni Triangle was untouched by the might of the US military until AFTER the symbolic fall of Baghdad - after major combat operations had ceased and the rules of engagement had changed. Had the Sunni Triangle been occupied and the symbolic town of Tikrit and Fallujah been subdued in the opening phases of the war, I suspect that many of the young insurgents would have thought twice about taking up arms against the US.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler