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August 30, 2006

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The AP was perfectly fair in its reporting -- McQ's criticisms are nonsense.

There are words, and there are deeds. All the calls for steely resolve in the world mean nothing when not accompanied by actual real-world successes.

If this President had ever been serious about this Global War on Metaphor, he'd have called for more soldiers and tax increases and war loans.

Donald Rumsfeld is still Secretary of Defense for a reason: the man who hired him wants him there. All the hot air in the world won't change the reality of Rumsfeld's accomplishments. Facts, as they say, are stubborn things.

I wrote this more for the Redstate readers than the ObWi crowd but thought, what the heck, might as well put it here, too. I'm guessing mixed-to-negative reactions at both sites, but for different reasons.

For those of you who don't want to go hunting through Bizarro World (though it's the top post right now), here's the post in the alternate reality.

that QandO piece wasn't really much of an expose' (can't make that accented e).

his point #1 is silly - Rumsfeld did accuse a strawman of wanting to appease a "new type of fascism". does anyone thinks that strawwman isn't a stand-in for Bush' critics ?

his point #2 is only slightly less silly, if only because Rumsfeld's strawman was a little more subtle. nonetheless, Rumsfeld did invoke the specter of those with " moral and intellectual confusion"; and again it's silly to see that strawman as standing in for anyone but Bush critics.

point #3 is really silly. QandO writes: "He never said it should be obvious that confrontation was preferable to appeasement. He instead asked a question for others to answer for themselves."

but Rumsfeld didn't ask a real question, he posed a rhetorical question. in fact, it's yet another strawman: "...can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?"

yes, QandO, we need to puzzle that one out for ourselves. tough stuff. a regular moral dillemma.

point #4 ... QandO quibbles over a paraphrase, poorly.

---

and to do all this, QandO parses, nitpicks, quibbles, plays dumb, pretends that those strawmen aren't there, or that nobody understands who all those strawmen are supposed to represent.

sheesh.

Whom, exactly, is the propaganda war, ahem, sorry, war of ideas aimed at? The Western citizenry? Or the Islamic street? Because those are two very different audiences with very different needs.

I would argue that it's more important to rob extremist movements of recruits and supporters than to convince the home audiences of anything. Unless we're talking about upcoming elections, that is.

VDH: In any case, the administration’s problem is ... simply an American public that so far understandably cannot easily differentiate millions of brave Iraqis and Afghans, who risk their lives daily to hunt terrorists and ensure reform, from the Islamists of the Muslim Street who broadcast their primordial hatred for Israel and the United States incessantly.

hmmm.

And thread is open at TiO (formerly HoCB) It's when we aren't needed that we stand at our readiest...

Charles: I'm not sure I get this. First, QandO's criticisms seem to me to be pretty trivial. Rumsfeld is claiming that an unnamed "some quarters" or "many" think various silly things, such as: that terrorism can be appeased. It seems pretty clear to me that these nameless idiots are meant to be identified with the administration's critics (surely you don't think he's chastising the administration's supporters?) The AP makes this explicit. Similarly, Rumsfeld asks a series of rhetorical questions: questions whose answer is obvious. The AP takes him to be asserting those answers. This is slightly sloppy, but not a big deal.

Second, I don't see that this is evidence of bias. In fact, I think that charges of bias would be stronger if the AP played it absolutely straight. Consider this alternate news story:

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.

Without explicitly citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons." It was not immediately clear to whom Rumsfeld was referring: this reporter has been unable to find a single instance of a prominent politician claiming that terrorists should be appeased. On the only occasion on which the question of confronting terrorists militarily has come to a vote -- the resolution authorizing the invasion of Afghanistan -- the Senate, under Democratic leadership, voted 99-1 in support of the use of force.

Many in the audience were puzzled by one section of Secretary Rumsfeld's speech:

"We need to face the following questions:

* With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?

* Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

* Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply 'law enforcement' problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?

* And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world's trouble?

These are central questions of our time. And we must face them."

One veteran of World War II expressed the views of many legionnaires when he said of this passage: 'Golly, I thought we had already answered most of those questions! If our Secretary of Defense still thinks we have to ask ourselves, in all seriousness, whether the United States is the real source of the world's trouble, then I guess I have to ask myself whether I shouldn't be voting Democratic next time around."

I mean: that really is the alternative.

Third: supposing for the moment that it is bias, what does it have to do with our information war on al Qaeda? Would the AP's glossing Rumsfeld's "some" and "many" as "administration critics" do anything at all to weaken support for his policies in this country, or to strengthen opposition to it in the Middle East? I honestly don't see how this is supposed to work.

Fourth, I am at a loss as to why you think that the problem with our Iraq policy that's most worth dwelling on is a communication failure -- as opposed to things like the absolutely incompetent prosecutions of the war, and the manipulation of intelligence before it. Our problem in Iraq isn't mainly propaganda, it's that we've done an absolutely disastrous job at a war we did not need to fight, one in which our failure will have enormous consequences that it will take decades of very hard work to undo. This isn't about communication, any more than Katrina was. It's about this administration's having been utterly irresponsible, and as a result having absolutely failed to do its job.

Not everything can be spun.

Not everything can be spun.

That seems to be an unproven hypothesis.

lj: Katrina.

Oh, brother. I can't wait it see if QandO is as generous in ignoring the obvious and time-honored tools of rhetoric and implication the next time a Democrat says something concerning Iraq. Something tells me he won't be.

Bloggers can help.

I do try.

I love the idea that the US hasn't already been fighting a very effective propaganda war for years. The post as a whole makes for excellent deadpan satire, though I worry that it's so deadpan that some people might accidentally take it seriously.

Hil,
If you go back to QandO, you'll see that AP changed its content. Burns got busted, and the editors made some changes, without mentioning (not surprisingly) that any changes were made in the first place. If they didn't think they did anything wrong, why the unannounced "adjustments"? Of course it was spun.

On our Iraq policy, I'm saying it's a problem, not the problem. But I was talking more about the war in general, not Iraq specifically.

Sorry, how does the fact that they got mau-mau'ed into editing mean that there was a thing wrong with the initial version?

Re: Katrina

Maybe it's reading too much McManus, but I think the jury is still out on that.

And Steve Poole, I loved your guest stint at Crooked Timber, please forgive me for not moving you to my reading list after that.

No doubt it's just a failure of memory, but at the moment I can't remember a more outlandish post here.

"I can't wait it see if QandO is as generous in ignoring the obvious and time-honored tools of rhetoric and implication the next time a Democrat says something concerning Iraq."

Is that the time-honored tools of rhetoric and implication used by the Associated Press when reporting? :)

Seriously, Sebastian, since when has it been off-limits to paraphrase language based on the meaning it was obviously intended to convey? Since when has it been a reporter's duty to pretend that outrageous rhetoric ceases to be outrageous if you just phrase it as a rhetorical question rather than a declarative sentence?

Charles -

Some questions, if you care to make an answer.

What did Burns make up?

Who is calling for a rapprochement with terrorists, or seeking to appease them?

What terrorist organizations are manipulating Western media outlets? Can you give one example?

Thanks -

Should I pretend you weren't asking a rhetorical question, Sebastian? I mean, I know conservatives have little regard for fancy-schmancy book learnin', but really.

How does our SecDef's stumbling through a series of arrant lies and nonsense help us win the Information War?

Thank you very much, liberal japonicus. Of course you are forgiven. :)

A propos of the remarkable post above and its satirical feat of disturbingly lifelike earnestness, I am reminded of what Rumsfeld said in 2002 after the Office of Strategic Influence was closed down:

"You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have."

I mean, they have media committees, they work the problem, they plan their attacks to get the maximum drama so that they'll get on the front page, they lie and cheat and dummy up photographs and do all kinds of things that are totally unacceptable in our society, and they're never held to account for it.

The irony of these words coming out of Donald Rumsfeld's mouth -- Donald!! Rumsfeld!!! -- just . . . there aren't even words.

Let's start with dummied up photographs. Someone else can take on lying and cheating.

CB: if American interests had not long ago won the information war about our relationship to the Middle East, we would be speaking of the 50 year cold war against Iran, not the threat of worldwide terrorism.

Ask yourself to compare the severity of the impact of American actions against Iran compared to the severity of the actions of militant Islam -- whomever you want to include in that -- against the US.

"Seriously, Sebastian, since when has it been off-limits to paraphrase language based on the meaning it was obviously intended to convey?"

Isn't "obviously intended to convey" the point in contention?

To continue your rhetorical strategy: do you, personally, contend that Rumsfeld's intention was other than that conveyed by thge AP's paraphrase? Would you care to share what, specifically, you think he meant that the AP misrepresented?

Isn't "obviously intended to convey" the point in contention?

No. The point in contention is whether you can get away with denying the obvious.

Isn't "obviously intended to convey" the point in contention?

Not if one is being serious and reading spoken English like 99% of native speakers understand it. If one adds in the track record of the Bush administration in re: these rhetorical tricks, one can suss with near certainty what Rumsfeld's speech was "obviously intended to convey."

"Not if one is being serious and reading spoken English like 99% of native speakers understand it."

I've been spectacularly unsuccessful with that argument on this blog when discussing rather simple words like "target" so I'm not inclined to just give that to you.

See also the wrong yet very-much-accepted idea that "imminent danger" was a key part of the argument in the run-up to the war against Iraq.

"one can suss with near certainty what Rumsfeld's speech was "obviously intended to convey."

And is it the same as what the Associated Press reported? No.

Rumsfeld is talking about the attacks in "New York and Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, Moscow and so many other places". Considering what we know about who perpetrated these attacks that he's mentioning, it's really surprising to me that he would say something like this a few sentences later: "Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?" I take it that the different approach here isn't appeasement (which would be a different approach!), but rather militant antiterrorism. Considering the diversity of the groups who perpetrated the attacks he has mentioned, isn't it batty to think that there are militaristic solutions enough to cover the globe? What militaristic solution is going to solve the problem of Chechnya? What militaristic solution that Russia has not already tried?

And is it the same as what the Associated Press reported? No.

Please describe the inconsistencies as you see them.

"Information War" = "How can we make this festering pig's ear look like a silk purse?"

Another day, another propaganda campaign. Yawn.

I'm off to volleyball, but I would say that McQ is certainly correct about the distortion in

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease "a new type of fascism."

and

"In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral or intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back."

Neither of those are fair characterizations of the speech or portions of the speech.

What terrorist organizations are manipulating Western media outlets? Can you give one example?

One example is the rusty ambulance. Perhaps this was not entirely orchestrated by Hizballah.

Neither of those are fair characterizations of the speech or portions of the speech.

And yet you still don't say who Rumsfeld was referring to as suffering from "moral or intellectual confusion", if not critics of the administration's policies. The Dutch? Scuba divers? Perhaps people who leave bad tips in cabs? Any suggestions as to who you think he was talking about?

I wonder if Rumsfeld felt moral or intellectual confusion back when the Reagan administration was providing diplomatic cover for Iraq to use nerve gas and mustard gas in the Iran-Iraq war.

See also the wrong yet very-much-accepted idea that "imminent danger" was a key part of the argument in the run-up to the war against Iraq.

Sebastian, while a loss in an internet debate shouldn't be taken as a definitive answer, presenting the losing side as 'wrong yet very much accepted' seems a bit much. Or would you say that the acceptance of the notion that "the Bush administration argued in the runup to the war that there was an imminent threat from Iraq" is a victory in the information war for the terrorists?

lj, "presenting the winning side"?

Hmmm, good point, rf.

But to go a bit further, since Sebastian was arguing against the idea that the notion [of imminent threat was a key part of the argument] was a 'complete fabrication' and he lost, it raises the question of what evidence or argument would have him actually abandon that notion. If 3 years additional years of Die Wacht am Iraq doesn't provide enough evidence of someone fooling themselves, I'm not sure what will.

I've been spectacularly unsuccessful with that argument on this blog when discussing rather simple words like "target" so I'm not inclined to just give that to you.

Unsuccessful with whom? Jesurgislac? So what?

See also the wrong yet very-much-accepted idea that "imminent danger" was a key part of the argument in the run-up to the war against Iraq.

Uh, if you think the Bush administration did not "obviously intend to convey" that there was an imminent threat from Iraq, then I can see whence your confusion over the Rumsfeld speech arises.

And is it the same as what the Associated Press reported? No.

Then you'll find it trivial, nay, effortless to tell us all what Rumsfeld did intend to convey, n'est-ce pas?

I would say that McQ is certainly correct about the distortion in...

well, then you're both wrong.

But my opposition does not extend to cheap shots.

Ah, irony.

this War Against Militant Islamism

sometimes, when a software project is starting to crumble, management will change the name of the product, over and over - trying to find just the right words to describe it. and sometimes, that means they simply don't have a clear grasp of just what it is they've told their employees to Go Forth And Produce. as a programmer, that scares me.

What did Burns make up?

I think McQ explained it pretty well, russell. You should read what he had to say.

Who is calling for a rapprochement with terrorists, or seeking to appease them?

Rumsfeld didn't specify. Burns misleadingly did (Bush administration critics), at least until AP made its unannounced changes to the content.

What terrorist organizations are manipulating Western media outlets? Can you give one example?

Hezbollah did a pretty good job, especially with Reuters.

CB: if American interests had not long ago won the information war about our relationship to the Middle East, we would be speaking of the 50 year cold war against Iran, not the threat of worldwide terrorism.

I really don't understand what you're saying, Ara.

Ask yourself to compare the severity of the impact of American actions against Iran compared to the severity of the actions of militant Islam -- whomever you want to include in that -- against the US.

Do you think our actions against Iran are on the same moral plane as Islamists' actions against the U.S.? If not, why the juxtaposition?

If "imminent danger" wasn't part of the argument, why was it so widely accepted?

Funny how all those people mis-interpreted Bush. One wonders why he (or others in the administration) did not correct such a widespread misconception...

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/05/20030507-7.html

Q Well, we went to war, didn’t we, to find these — because we said that these weapons were a direct and imminent threat to the United States? Isn’t that true?

MR. FLEISCHER: Absolutely. One of the reasons that we went to war was because of their possession of weapons of mass destruction. And nothing has changed on that front at all. We said what we said because we meant it. We had the intelligence to report it. Secretary Powell said it. And I may point out to you, as you may know, there is a news conference at Department of Defense today at 2:00 p.m. to discuss one element in this. And so we have always had confidence, we continue to have confidence that WMD will be found. He’s had a long period of time to hide what he has in a variety of different places, and there is a whole protocol of the search that is underway, that is being conducted in a very methodical fashion.

Now, if they weren't portraying the threat as being imminent, why that "absolutely" in response to a reporter asking what the rationale for the war was, and describing the threat as imminent?

...sometimes, when a software project is starting to crumble, management will change the name of the product, over and over - trying to find just the right words to describe it.

I would agree, cleek, but that has nothing to do with my calling the current conflict the WAMI. I've been using the term for over a year, and I believe it is the best name for this war.

Rumsfeld didn't specify. Burns misleadingly did (Bush administration critics), at least until AP made its unannounced changes to the content.

shamefully disingenuous, or fabulously deluded. it's hard to decide.

Do you think our actions against Iran are on the same moral plane as Islamists' actions against the U.S.? If not, why the juxtaposition?

Jesus Christ, Charles, we backed and funded Iraq in a war against Iran that cost Iran nearly a million casualties. Don't come in here tossing around phrases like "moral plane" as if you have any understanding of what they mean, and as if some warped idea of "good intentions" excuses our actions in the Iran-Iraq war.

Now, if they weren't portraying the threat as being imminent, why that "absolutely" in response to a reporter asking what the rationale for the war was, and describing the threat as imminent?

Congratulations, shinobi, you found the one reference. Because Fleisher said it once (and mistakenly so) in a press gaggle, therefore that single reference must have represented the entire administration's position on imminence, even though Bush and others never used the term. Not that they didn't describe Saddam's Iraq as a threat or a growing threat or a gathering threat, etc.

This post makes me nostalgic for the classic "meaning of 'is'" debates.

matttbastard: no kidding. At least people were getting blowjobs then.

Jesus Christ, Charles, we backed and funded Iraq in a war against Iran that cost Iran nearly a million casualties.

A little perspective, Phil. In the 1980s, we provided a whopping 0.6% of total weaponry to Saddam. Some backing indeed. We slightly favored Iraq because the Khomeini regime had long before stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held your fellow Americans hostage, and the U.S. did not want this fundamentalist mullahocracy to expand beyond its borders. We chose what was thought the lesser evil at the time. You and Ara should save your condemnation for Russia, China and France, which provided 85% of Saddam's arsenal.

Me, too, but likely for different reasons.

I'm beginning to suspect some intellectual speciation at work, here, because this is just as obviously a blatantly incorrect paraphrase in my eyes as it is dead-on in the eyes of some of you.

We chose what was thought the lesser evil at the time.

Cause God knows, it was either support Iraq or support Iran, no other choices available.

Anyone prefer the New York Post's headline ("Appeasers, Beware")?

Slarti,

All I am seeing is the AP reporter filling in the extremely obvious blanks in Rumsfeld's speech. I would love to see anyone claiming this was a distortion explain who Rumsfeld was referring to, if not critics of the war. Or in other words, what cleek said near the top of the thread.

this is just as obviously a blatantly incorrect paraphrase in my eyes as it is dead-on in the eyes of some of you.

Interesting... there's such a wide range of plausible readings of that text, especially without having the benefit of hearing his intonations, that it's probably impossible for any of us to convince the other side.

My own initial reaction to McQ's post was that the original AP summary was a bit overstated but not nearly as obviously wrong as McQ was putting it. To me, Rumsfeld's questions are obviously rhetorical and pointed rather than sincere, but I don't know how I could prove it to someone who has a different reading.

All I am seeing is the AP reporter filling in the extremely obvious blanks in Rumsfeld's speech.

Yes, I'm sure they are obvious, to you. That's what reporters do, you know: fill in your blanks.

This is all part and parcel of make-it-up-for-yourself interpretations. I know this may be difficult to grasp, but there is more than one country on this planet that has had to deal with terrorists, and there's more than one way of dealing with them. Imagine!

Possibly actually reading what Rumsfeld said without inviting personal insult might work. I'm in doubt, though, because I mostly can't get some of you to read what I say without reading in a whole lot of what I don't, in the bargain.

So, pretty much, I don't know why I'm bothering, here. Maybe I'm suffering from an excess of optimism today.

Slarti,

If you can't actually respond to what I (or several others) have said, lobbing insults left and right isn't likely to help.

Hey Charles -

I read McQ and found his comments to be a textbook example of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

I'll be straight with you. When you say "Information War", I hear "propaganda". I've had my fill of propaganda. We've had nothing but propaganda for the last five years.

It's time for people who support our current foreign policy to wake up and smell the coffee. Things are going to hell in a handbasket. The reason for that is not because the dreaded MSM is ganging up on you. The reason for that is that the policies themselves are crap. They are the embodiment of folly.

Propaganda, "information war", or however you want to style it, will not change that.

Hey, it could be that Hezbollah staged a photo op with a rusty ambulance that had had its top vent removed. That would get no traction, at all, if Israel had not spent the previous weeks bombing the hell out of the civilian infrastructure of Beirut, and of Lebanon generally.

Get it?

Dig this: the militant Islamic movements that have been popping up around the world over the last 20 years or so are not "the Nazis". Nobody is advocating for "appeasement" with "Islamofascists". People who criticize our current foreign policy for the very, very, very many good reasons that it deserves criticisms are not modern-day Chamberlains. Neither Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, or any of their crowd are modern day Churchills.

The more that advocates of our current foreign policy try to claim otherwise, the more clownish and out of touch with reality they appear.

If you want to win the "information war", you do well to begin by acknowleding reality. It will improve your credibility.

Thanks

If you can't actually respond to what I (or several others) have said, lobbing insults left and right isn't likely to help.

A) I did, and B) now you're starting to get it.

Slarti,

A. No, you didn't. You just lobbed insults at me in lieu thereof.
B. No, I still don't see any other reasonable reading of Rumsfeld speech than an attack on critics of the Administration. If you can suggest who else he was referring to, please do.

If you're suggesting that he's talking about you, I invite you to shoehorn yourself into the description.

Could be ego, I suppose, but everything is NOT in fact about you.

"If you're suggesting that he's talking about you, I invite you to shoehorn yourself into the description."

I have. It fits as well as any suit of straw can, but it was clearly designed for me (and other critics of the Adminsitration).

"everything is NOT in fact about you."

Doubtless true, but when someone quotes me, and then makes silly remarks about reading comprehension, I typically come to the conclusion it is.

Crooks and liars has a decent Olbermann bit on this: here I hope
www.crooksandliars.com/2006/08/30/keith-olbermann-delivers-one-hell-of-a-commentary-on-rumsfeld if the link didn't work.

Thanks Charles, I'm glad we're discussing this, we probably wouldn't without you.

If Olbermann is your best weapon, you're drawing on an empty quiver.

Doubtless true, but when someone quotes me, and then makes silly remarks about reading comprehension, I typically come to the conclusion it is.

Who is "someone"?

Slarti & Charles: in your opinion, to whom was Rumsfeld referring?

If you want to win the "information war", you do well to begin by acknowleding reality. It will improve your credibility.

Amen to that. Look: we can parse the obtuse ramblings of Donald Rumsfeld all we want. They are completely, utterly irrelevant to the facts in Iraq right now.

And those facts have become rather unambiguous: our misbegotten invasion has let loose a nightmare and harmed America's interests. We have 140,000 men and women at the end of a very tenuous supply line, in very hostile country, and our Administration's policies are making that supply line, and their situation, more precarious every day.

Blather about an "information war," in late August, 2006, is utter, complete, irrefutable crap. You can't spin slaughter and confusion. Trying just makes you look insane. And that's what both Charles Bird and Donald Rumsfeld are hamfistedly trying to do. Disgraceful.

What follows is an accurate chronology of United States involvement in the arming of Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war 1980-88. It is a powerful indictment of the president Bush administration attempt to sell war as a component of his war on terrorism. It reveals US ambitions in Iraq to be just another chapter in the attempt to regain a foothold in the Mideast following the fall of the Shah of Iran.

From
Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement


Whatever his complexes, Khomeini had no qualms about sending his followers, including young boys, off to their deaths for his greater glory. This callous disregard for human life was no less characteristic of Saddam Hussein. And, for that matter, it was also no less characteristic of much of the world community, which not only couldn't be bothered by a few hundred thousand Third World corpses, but tried to profit from the conflict.

From:
The United States and Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988

Slarti & Charles: in your opinion, to whom was Rumsfeld referring?

Anarch and...oh, hell, practically everyone else: why do you think he was referring to you? Are you, personally, appeasing terrorists? Or doing any of the other things Rumsfeld says won't work?

the american right-wing is in denial.

the united states is just not trusted, especially in the middle east.

Anarch and...oh, hell, practically everyone else: why do you think he was referring to you? Are you, personally, appeasing terrorists? Or doing any of the other things Rumsfeld says won't work?

And now I can't help but be reminded of past disputes over David Neiwert's theories on so-called pseudo-fascism and the modern American right.

*cough*

Slarti- Actually I think you and Charles are my best weapons here. I know Rumsfeld wasn't refering to me, the trouble comes when I try to think of someone he could be refering to. Not even the dastardly 9-11 widows seem to fit.

"Anarch and...oh, hell, practically everyone else: why do you think he was referring to you? Are you, personally, appeasing terrorists? Or doing any of the other things Rumsfeld says won't work?"

It's OK guys, Rummy was talking about me. I'm appeasing the terrorists. Relax, y'all.

Meanwhile, Slarti, I think you were asked a question which you haven't answered - besides me, who was Rummy talking about?

the trouble comes when I try to think of someone he could be refering to

You know, this is a big country, but it doesn't cover the ENTIRE world.

I'm not sure who Rumsfeld is talking about, either, but I'm reasonably certain he isn't talking about me.

Meanwhile, Slarti, I think you were asked a question which you haven't answered - besides me, who was Rummy talking about?

Ok, he was talking about me, after all. The rest of you can go home.

I haven't seen the unanswered-question gambit in a while. Nicely done!

CB: Probably more significant than the actual nerve gas and mustard gas was the diplomatic cover we provided them. But of course our acts of war against Iran do not begin with our fomenting the Iraq-Iran War, but go at least as far back to 1953.

Probably more significant than the actual nerve gas and mustard gas was the diplomatic cover we provided them.

Don't forget the green light for the invasion itself from Carter. (Haig memo scanned in here.)

That's why this has always been my favorite part of Bush's 2003 SOTU:

Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?

Uh, since Saddam asked for permission to invade Iran?

"But to go a bit further, since Sebastian was arguing against the idea that the notion [of imminent threat was a key part of the argument] was a 'complete fabrication' and he lost, it raises the question of what evidence or argument would have him actually abandon that notion."

Seriously liberal_japonicus, do you read your own links? I lost on complete fabrication because there were two instances of it found in the runup. As I discussed in the posts you linked, Bush specifically argued against an imminent threat standard in the State of the Union Speech.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

The State of the Union address is the most listened to political speech of non-campaigns.

Look, I don't even like Rumsfeld at all. I think he completely screwed up multiple stages of the war and has played all sorts of stupid games that haven't helped us.

But that doesn't mean you get to just make up what he is saying.

But that doesn't mean you get to just make up what he is saying.

That's just crazy talk, Sebastian.

without having the benefit of hearing his intonations
Yes, people, calm down. Rumsfeld was doing his funny sarcastic voice throughout the speech. You don't get that from reading it, but he didn't actually mean a word of it. (And anything he did mean was referring to imaginary people -- people he knows to be imaginary -- so nothing to worry about.)

Whatever, Sebastian. If you think you only lost that debate cause you had 'complete' instead of 'partial', bearing in mind there has been another 3 years of mismanagement and revelations of fixing the intelligence to generate the result, there's not much I can say that is going to change your mind, which is precisely why your asides are viewed (at least by me) with a certain amount of suspicion. My take is that you start out from these overarching positions like 'complete fabrication' and contest every trench so that these discussions are less exchanges of views and more wars of attrition. Why this is, I have no idea, but you are quite sure it is because I don't like you. That says a lot more about you than it does about me, I'm afraid.

So if I have this right, the Secretary of Defense was giving a big ol' stemwinder about four or five of his more timid imaginary friends, and we shouldn't take his rhetoric as having anything to do with anyone who actually has anything to do with U.S. government policy. OK, then. I feel better already.

If Olbermann is your best weapon, you're drawing on an empty quiver.


Just what would you consider an effective rebuttal?

When out of ammo, best to avoid the specific and generalise.

Anarch and...oh, hell, practically everyone else: why do you think he was referring to you? Are you, personally, appeasing terrorists? Or doing any of the other things Rumsfeld says won't work?

Oy vey. Slart, this question only makes sense if you proceed from the assumption that Rumsfeld would never *gasp* misrepresent the position of people who disagree with him. And, not to speak for everyone else here, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that that assumption is not universally shared.

"Whatever, Sebastian. If you think you only lost that debate cause you had 'complete' instead of 'partial', bearing in mind there has been another 3 years of mismanagement and revelations of fixing the intelligence to generate the result, there's not much I can say that is going to change your mind, which is precisely why your asides are viewed (at least by me) with a certain amount of suspicion. My take is that you start out from these overarching positions like 'complete fabrication' and contest every trench so that these discussions are less exchanges of views and more wars of attrition. Why this is, I have no idea, but you are quite sure it is because I don't like you. That says a lot more about you than it does about me, I'm afraid."

How precisely does 3 years of revelations shed light on what the fact that Bush argued against an "imminent threat" standard in the State of the Union address before the invasion?

And the rest is just your typical rudeness, which indeed says plenty about you. But since you argue that such rudeness is a necessary tactic over at www.hocb.net, I suppose I must applaud your ruthlessness.

"Anarch and...oh, hell, practically everyone else: why do you think he was referring to you? Are you, personally, appeasing terrorists? Or doing any of the other things Rumsfeld says won't work?"

Are you joking? By his definition I am absolutely, absolutely doing that. I mention Abu Ghraib more than medal of freedom winners, harp on and on about rendition, constantly criticize "arguably the best run detention center in the history of warfare". He is absolutely referring to me, and a number of other people I know who do the same stuff more effectively.

I mean, please, I am everything they hate. Practically central casting. Unfortunately I can't illustrate without getting too autobiographical.

So. The AP interprets Rumsfeld to be attacking critics of administration policy on Iraq. As do most readers of English.

But to Slartibartfast, Charles, and other right wingers, he's so clearly not doing that that the AP characterization can be treated as shoddy, malicious reporting.

If that's true, then Slarti and Charles ought to be able to give some plausible answer to the question of who Rumsfeld was referring to.

So far, nothing.

At the risk of Godwin, Slarti, when Hitler & co. were railing against "the people controlling the banking industry" (more usually abbreviated as "the bankers") do you think the only people being referring to were the upper echelon financiers?

*referred to, sorry.

And while I'm on the subject: do you think the repeated invocations of "states rights" in the 1950s and '60s was genuinely decrying the abhorrent state of Tenth Amendment law?

Here's an excerpt, by the way:

We need to consider the following questions, I would submit:

With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?
Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?
Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?
And can we really afford to return to the destructive view that America, not the enemy, but America, is the source of the world's troubles?

These are central questions of our time, and we must face them and face them honestly.

We hear every day of new plans, new efforts to murder Americans and other free people. Indeed, the plot that was discovered in London that would have killed hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of innocent men, women and children on aircraft flying from London to the United States should remind us that this enemy is serious, lethal, and relentless.

But this is still not well recognized or fully understood. It seems that in some quarters there's more of a focus on dividing our country than acting with unity against the gathering threats.

It's a strange time:

When a database search of America's leading newspapers turns up literally 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers who has been punished for misconduct -- 10 times more -- than the mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror;
Or when a senior editor at Newsweek disparagingly refers to the brave volunteers in our armed forces -- the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard -- as a "mercenary army;"
When the former head of CNN accuses the American military of deliberately targeting journalists; and the once CNN Baghdad bureau chief finally admits that as bureau chief in Baghdad, he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein's crimes when he was in charge there so that CNN could keep on reporting selective news;
And it's a time when Amnesty International refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay -- which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans and which is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare -- "the gulag of our times." It’s inexcusable. (Applause.)

Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and about our country. America is not what's wrong with the world. (Applause.)

The struggle we are in -- the consequences are too severe -- the struggle too important to have the luxury of returning to that old mentality of “Blame America First.”

...

And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

Our enemies know this well. They frequently invoke the names of Beirut or Somalia -- places they see as examples of American retreat and American weakness. And as we've seen -- even this month -- in Lebanon, they design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion. They doctor photographs of casualties. They use civilians as human shields. And then they try to provoke an outcry when civilians are killed in their midst, which of course was their intent.

Who do you think is responsible for the "moral and intellectual confusion" that strengthens our enemies? He is talking about administration critics on the war. He is especially talking about journalists, their sources, human rights organizations, lawyers, law school and college professors. Do you honestly not understand why I think he's talking about me?

Do you honestly not understand why I think he's talking about me?

See #3: Be Deliberately Obtuse

"And as we've seen -- even this month -- in Lebanon, they design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion. They doctor photographs of casualties. They use civilians as human shields. And then they try to provoke an outcry when civilians are killed in their midst, which of course was their intent."

Do you believe this to be false?

I hadn't actually read Rumsfeld's speech. Judging from Katherine's excerpt, it's obvious he's referring to the people Katherine mentions.

So I suggest we close this thread down and move on to something where there might be a legitimate difference of opinion.

No, of course I don't believe it's false. But in the context of this speech, it is clearly an attempt to say that those who participate in the outcry when civilians are killed are appeasing terrorists.

Terrorists absolutely have a media strategy to inspire overreaction and brutality and civilian deaths. But to think that the way to counter that is for American liberals to just shut up about brutality and civilian deaths is utterly delusional, and a personal attack on American liberals.

Charley has said it before: they're much too worried about the near enemy--people like me--to be effective against the far enemy. Their public diplomacy is directed at swing Congressional districts. They couldn't care less about how it plays in Brooklyn, let alone Europe, let alone Muslim countries.

And when people attack people I know and like, even if it's just rhetorically attacking and I don't actually know them all that well, my response is not to pretend it's not happening and attacking the Associated Press for making glaringly obvious inferences.

ok, way past bedtime.

Uh, since Saddam asked for permission to invade Iran?

...not to mention, he then asked Bush I to approve his invasion of Kuwait. Surprisingly realpolitikal, surprisingly predictable for a tyrannical dictator, that Saddam.

Sebastian, in light of your defense of Rummy's straw men, I would think you would pay closer attention to Bush's.

In that State of the Union speech, the entire paragraph in question is couched as a response to a straw man critic who argues that the threat isn't imminent.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.

It says absolutely nothing about whether Bush himself contends that the threat is imminent or not. Your use of this paragraph is therefore specious.

Gregory Djerejian has an excellent post up about this, Unity, Then and Now

The point here isn't that Rumsfeld is some Hitler redux, of course. But Rumsfeld's rhetorical tactics of late, it should be noted, are not infrequently rather similar to the Fuhrer's, and this bears noting, I'd think. Especially for someone who tries to wear the mantle of Churchill and who throws the word fascism around quite liberally, Rumsfeld might instead take a good, strong look in the mirror, as the relevant historical analogue(s) might not be quite as flattering as he'd wish. Regardless, and analyses of political leader's rhetorical tactics aside, what is quite clear is that as election season kicks into gear, Bush has instructed his two old attack dogs (Rumsfeld and Cheney) to go out, dish some dirt, and play hardball. But this is not devilishly effective Lee Atwater style fare, delivered with calculated punch and resulting in tangible electoral advantage. Rather, it smells like damaged goods, smacks of desperation, and is nakedly divisive despite masquerading as a call for unity.
Makes all you wanna be Rumsfeld apologists look like wet nappies.

Used wet nappies.

I don't doubt that photographs were doctored, that in some cases Hezbollah used people as human shields, and I also don't doubt that Israel was guilty of major war crimes in Lebanon.

The NYT had a story on Friday August 25 by Hassan Fattah about a Sunni village where the people complained of Hezbollah using them as human shields. It's convincing. The story also tells what happened to civilians who finally left town. One car broke down, an Israeli gunboat shelled them and then Israeli helicopters fired on it with rockets and machine guns, killing 23 people. Hezbollah doesn't play any role in this final part of the story and the person who tells it was a woman who condemned Hezbollah for moving into their village. She also lost her father, brother and several other family members to the Israeli attack.

You know, if people would like to move beyond this notion of "information warfare" and just tell the d*** truth instead, it would be a nice change. Rumsfeld isn't telling the whole truth--he's a propagandist trying to cover up the crimes of one side by reciting the crimes of the other.

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