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

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Success and Victory - Will it be reported?

Steve Schippert has this excellent post at NRO's The Tank about the shift in American attitudes about the Surge and why he isn't shocked that Americans are surprised to hear that the Surge may be working:

Assisting Misperception On Iraq [Steve Schippert]

Much has been made about the sea change in Americans' general perception of the situation in Iraq since O'Hanlon and Pollack penned their apparently startling observations of tangible and significant security progress in last week's New York Times. [ed - NY Times column here and not surprising rebuttal of the success by the lefty MediaMatters.org is here]

But who could be surprised that an op-ed changes perceptions? To be sure, the 'hard news reporting' from Iraq wasn't going to have much of an effect. After all, in the month of July, most readers will be surprised to know that only twelve journalists were embedded with military units in Diyala province north of Baghdad, where the most significant gains of all have been made as al-Qaeda in Iraq is systematically killed and driven from their post-Ramadi 'capital' perch enforced in Baqouba.

Twelve, ladies and gentlemen. And two of them were bloggers. CNN and the Washington Post combined for a whopping 5 days embedded in Diyala province between them in that period. And for the major networks supporting their nightly evening newscasts? Zero. Zip. Nada.


And we wonder why the American people are surprised at news of a successful surge thus far and significantly increased security wherever we have placed boots?

From CBS (one of the major networks with zero embedded journalists in Diyala Province in July) comes a report on a tour through the Haifa Street markets now safe for business in Baghdad. And the journalist's lack of understanding of the step by step process clear and hold campaigns when he calls the new Haifa Street security misleading. And he ends by characterizing General Petraeus' walk greeting Iraqis as "warming up his campaigning skills here" in preparations for his September report to Congress. See for yourself.



Haifa Street security is misleading? To whom?


Had the journalist been paying attention for the past several months, perhaps he would understand that the Baghdad operations are both ongoing and largely in a neighborhood-by-neighborhood manner, with several difficult areas yet to be suitably secured.

He could have chosen another manner of making the point that, while Haifa Street (and other areas) now enjoy persistent security and safety for the neighborhood citizens, there remain difficult areas. Instead, he chose to characterize the Haifa Street success as "misleading." Words mean things. Particularly to those who use them in their trade as a mechanic does his wrench and the painter his brush.

Again I ask: And we wonder why the American people are surprised at news of a successful surge thus far and significantly increased security?

And had the journalist been paying attention to General Petraeus' previous command deployments in Iraq, he would understand that walking and conversing among the local population is how he has always done things. That his entire approach to counter-insurgency is from the ground up with the locals and decidedly not from the top down. This approach is what landed him in Fort Leavenworth, so displeased were the 'powers that be' at the time in Iraq and the Pentagon at his bucking the trend and local-first approach to nearly every solution. It was also what landed him back in Iraq commanding all of Multi-National Force — Iraq.

And so, instead, his walk and conversations among local Iraqis is not the way he has always done things, ground up. It is, of course, just a man under pressure "warming up his campaigning skills" for Washington, to sell them something that is apparently "misleading."

So what is really "misleading" here, if one understands simple things like the nature of the operations at hand and the most basic traits and styles of the commander, both of which the journalist has assumed responsibility for by reporting on them?

I for one don't wonder why the American people are so surprised at 'revelations' of successes and progress in Iraq under General Petraeus' command.

And I don't blame the American public for that misunderstanding either. With the editorialization of 'straight news reporting' like this serving as a primary source of information, how could you?

There is much work to be done. And it's left to us.

Tire not. Engage.

08/06 05:27 PM

As I've often wondered here on this blog, even if the US military is successful in decreasing sectarian violence in Iraq, would it be reported? Since the entire focus of the media (and the Dems) is on the date which the US military leaves Iraq and the Middle East (without consideration for the ramifications of such a move), they are unwilling to admit that any facts could change that eventuality.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (8)
Stupid Country said...

Fear not. People will get interested in military gains -- provided they're lasting gains and not the kind of illusory ones the Brits seem to have achieved in Basra.

People will get interested just as soon as they see some tangible political gains in Iraq. I won't start holding my breath until September when the Iraqi Parliament comes back from vacation. If there's a parliament for them to come back to.

Without actual political accomplishments, it's going to be really, really hard to be impressed with this crusade, especially if it's going to take a decade.

---

I want to challenge something: The conservative media and blogs have worked hard to portray opposition to the administration and the war as ultra-leftist. That doesn't ring true to me. What is inherently leftist about opposing this war?

Probably strikes you as a really stupid question, but I'd love to know how that characterization is justified. You game?

St Wendeler said...

Fear not. People will get interested in military gains -- provided they're lasting gains and not the kind of illusory ones the Brits seem to have achieved in Basra.

Yes, when the Brits decided to draw down their forces in Basra, our Iraqi allies became fearful of reprisals (and stopped standing up to insurgents), the Iranians saw an oppty to extend their influence, and the insurgents saw weakness that they could exploit.

So, the Brits do the opposite of a Surge and fail, yet a draw down is what your compadres would have us do.

I want to challenge something: The conservative media and blogs have worked hard to portray opposition to the administration and the war as ultra-leftist. That doesn't ring true to me. What is inherently leftist about opposing this war?

Actually, you make a good point here. Being against the Iraq war is not necessarily a Leftist position (although, historically the Left has found few military actions to be worthwhile). There are plenty of those on the right (see co-conspirator MontereyJohn for this perspective), but they also look to the implications of withdrawing without success.

No, the driving force behind the hardcore anti-war movement is not a desire for social programs or some other policy which can be ascribed to lofty, leftist goals. The driving force behind the rabid anti-war opposition is their hatred for Bush. Had Clinton, Gore, or Lyndon Johnson entered this war, support would've lasted much longer thanks to more favorable press coverage. Instead, any claim by the enemy - no matter the source or how far fetched - is given credibility and, when proved to be a lie later, is rarely corrected or does not get similar coverage.

The driving force behind the moderates' opposition to the war is the constant bad news and slanted coverage that we are getting about the war. That and the administrations complete incompetence in explaining the strategic significance of the war in Iraq before, during, and after. While the strategic significance was alluded to, it was not the centerpiece.

And, while you might be able to say that many conservatives would not support this war if Clinton or Gore were in charge, I think this is a difficult prediction post 9/11. From my personal perspective, I wanted H.W. to take out Saddam in '91 and was disappointed when he didn't and let the Shiites & Kurds get crushed. I find that Kennedy's words from his Inaugural address sum up my position pretty well.

Stupid Country said...

...historically the Left has found few military actions to be worthwhile...

Eh. Generally, I appreciate your open-mindedness about my question. It was prompted by my having O'Reilly on in the background when I was online last night -- nobody hammers harder on this myth that the war's opponents are "liberal loonies" than Bill. But it's one I've been asking myself for years.

But I am having a hard time with your blanket statement about the Left's opposition to wars. First, I don't think terms like "liberal" or "left" have a lot of meaning these days, or at least they don't mean what they used to. They're code words designating people as opponents of the conservative philosophy which, whether you agree with it or not, is more coherent. If you met 25 or 30 of them, you'd hear 25 or 30 pretty distinct reasons for opposing the current order and the war.

Having a code word to corral your adversaries in a neat little pen is useful for rallying your own partisans. It's worked for O'Reilly and Bill Kristol and Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter for decades. Can you see why I find it shallow and irritating?

I think you make way too much of "hatred for Bush." I like to think most of us are against what Bush has said and done, but (a) he's only a figurehead, and (b) I read that people find him charming up close, and I have no personal experience that would make me doubt that.

If moderates oppose the war because we're losing it, well...consider the possibility that the setbacks have just given people a longer look, an opportunity to deliberate about and ultimately question the strategy, the motives and the rationale behind the war -- not just the results.

St Wendeler said...

SC - I think you'll find that the conspirators here all love open discussion.

Having a code word to corral your adversaries in a neat little pen is useful for rallying your own partisans. It's worked for O'Reilly and Bill Kristol and Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter for decades. Can you see why I find it shallow and irritating?

Yes, code words are shorthand and not very useful on an individual basis. And it's not something particular to the right (likes of Kristol, Gingrich, or Coulter). I seem to recall the term "neocon" getting pretty regular usage over the past 7 years.

;-)

I think you'll agree that the term conservative is an over-generalization as well, since 25-35 "conservatives" will have differing opinions on a any number of positions (see immigration, drug legalization, faith based initiatives, the War in Iraq, free-market/globalization vs. protectionism, tax policy, environmental policy, support for Israel vs. anti-Israeli, etc, etc). The prominence Giuliani proves the point that the Right certainly isn't a monolith. Certainly there are conservative Dems, but they're not nearly as successful in the party. To be honest, are there really that many differences between the Dem candidates? Is this the main reason they're sniping at each other so vociferously?

However, in general, there are common themes & principles that animate the left and right.

I've found the Political Compass to be rather useful in illustrating the various possibilities in political thought. Personally, I don't see the political spectrum as a straight line or even a 2D 4-square graph (like the political compass does). I see it more as a round sphere where people at the extremes often have similar beliefs.

I think you make way too much of "hatred for Bush."

Perhaps... but, you should realize that this blog is named Another Rovian Conspiracy, a parody of the fact that people on the Left and even within the media establishment often find Karl behind every GOP success or Dem failure. And the hatred for Bush is real, although it's probably does not include more than the hard-core of the progressive left.

One of the reasons that we started this blog was because we were starting to see crazy statements on DemocraticUnderground, Dkos, etc, etc that reminded us of the whacko, black-helicopter stuff we saw on FreeRepublic back during the '90s. And while the hatred of Clinton existed in the '90s, I don't think it approached the venom that is now on display about Bush (pick anything on offer from Eric Blumrich, the 911Truthers (MIHOP or LIHOP, who knows?), the Rude Pundit, etc, etc.

And what's really concerning is that many supposedly intelligent people think they are being sophisticated when they parrot this garbage.

Stupid Country said...

OK, fine, stereotyping is not solely a conservative habit, no matter what “conservative” means. On the other hand, “neocon”…I use that term to refer to a specific ideologically motivated clique who borrow a lot from Leo Strauss and have really represented the core of Republican thinking for at least the last decade. By core, I mean the center of power within the party; certainly, Gingrich was inspired by this flavor of neoconservatism. The policies of the Bush Administration were built from a Straussian ideological base, with people like Perle, Wolfowitz and their allies at the center. The political core for this administration came out of the Republican Party of Texas, which gave us Bush, Rove, Miers and a lot of other insiders. Most of their platform has been neoconservative.

So I’m convinced it’s fairer to stereotype the particular kind of conservatism that’s associated with this administration, and with its strongest proponents, a lot of whom like the neocon label, that it is to stereotype the Democrats’ base. Again – I don’t speak for the Democrats. I’m just an observer. But there is no comparable Democratic philosophical core. Who’s the left’s Strauss?

The Republicans desperately want to paint the Dems as dominated by their radical left fringe elements. If we could agree on what “radical left” means these days, I’d probably have to agree that the Dems have such a fringe. But I can’t see any reasonable argument that the party is under its thumb. Regardless of how Fox wants to paint her, The Anointed One is basically a Centrist, as was her husband, and she’s got roughly 50% support now in the pre-primary polls. This loony left nonsense is just marketing fluff. It’s really not very convincing.

I do use “neocon” in a way that looks like stereotyping, but I do mean it to describe public figures who have flourished during the Bush years. Most of them are fading to irrelevance now. (Kristol just looks really sad these days, defending the old truisms; Perle’s recent PBS defense of the War went from infuriating to laughable to pathetic. Coulter’s pretty much done now, thankfully, although I suppose pissing people off still generates a pretty good income.)

St Wendeler said...

I don't think Eric Blumrich, the 911 Truthers, Rosie (who borrows from the Truthers, apparently), or Markos "Screw 'Em" Zunigas can be described as centrists.

And while the Kossacks are still a minor player in the big picture of Democratic politics, their YearlyKos rally in the Windy City certainly brought in the establishment. And, no... I don't find much of what is on display at DailyKos to be "centrist."

HRC certainly is closer to the center than some of the other candidates, but the question will always remain where her true nature lies - does she morph her positions to grasp power? Or does she truly have an ideological goal based on her fondness for Saul Alinsky?

I don't think you could characterize Hillary as a centrist, given her position on healthcare, taxes, and other leftist / anti-capitalist rhetoric. As first lady, did she pull BJC to the Left? It's unlikely that Bill was the ideologue of the couple, given his propensity for school uniform legislation, no-brainer crime reforms, etc, etc.

Stupid Country said...

*shrug* I guess this is important to you, but you're citing people and sources I don't read.

Military progress is starting to get MSM coverage. Me, I'll get interested when the political progress catches up.

Rogue said...

Great post