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June 26, 2007

Comments

I don't like it when people start making demands on those who were wrong.

It's not my favorite past-time either, but I do make those demands on politicians and pundits and I won't take them seriously until they have come clear on this issue, like e.g. Johann Hari did. And not in an "oops, my bad, bummer, sorry, mistakes were made, next question" way. I don't hold people who are not concerned with these things in a professional capacity accountable in the same way.

I accepted without many reservations that we could remake the ME with a bold stroke or two.

When I was younger, I accepted without many reservations the notion that complex problems could be solved with a bold stroke or two, and when my watch stopped, I hit it with a sledgehammer. Now, alas, I'm older and wiser . . .

JT, I agree that it's pretty much academic. And that China is getting benefit without doing much. (Indeed, they got us to call some of their Muslim opponents terrorists, and keep them locked up for years, in exchange for letting us into the quagmire.) I don't think, though, that one should trivialize the strategic problem posed to Iran by Saddam. It wasn't weakness that kept him out of Kurdistan, but the USAF. We weren't doing anything about the MEK, for instance, and had played a role in the 80s war. It's a long border, and forever is a long time.

Novakant & Hil: I have no interest in apologies either. Nor have I any demands. It seems to me that people who got it seriously wrong, after looking closely, ought to be examining their reasoning processes -- and if I see someone having done so, then I guess I'm more willing to listen to them again. Depending on the answer I guess: people who honestly say that they thought it would work because the hippies thought it wouldn't aren't going to get my attention until I get the impression that they've really understood that reality just doesn't work that way.

Common Sense: The brief wouldn't be that interesting, I'm afraid. The argument was over whether Pres. Clinton's exercise of waiver authority (over punitive damages claims against state sponsors of terrorism) granted by Congress in a rider to an appropriations bill violated separation of powers. It was fun to research, and fun to write a ringing defense of Executive power (our position was that the waiver was constitutional) but in the actual reading, I think it'd be pretty thin.

Brett: Every great power since the dawn of time has come to the moment when it realized that it couldn't always get foreigners -- especially foreign subjects or quasi-subjects -- to do its bidding. One only loses great power status over this if one can't handle the contradiction. There have been several opportunities to declare victory and 'leave' Iraq over the past 3 years, and I'm still amazed that the government hasn't been willing to take one. They really seem determined to ride the mistake all the way into the ground. To be fair, this is usually what great powers do, before becoming ex-great powers.

I'd respond, but I can't understand what point you're trying to make. Clarify, please.

OK Slarti, I'll spell it out step-by-step:

1. Jes states, "The war has been good for al-Qaeda," a statement which, given what we currently know concerning the state of terrorist recruiting and the frequency of attacks worldwide, is probably true. And given the context of Jes's statement, pretty clearly applied to the terrorist organization headed by bin Laden.

2. You reply -- and it may just have been glibness for the sake of glibness, in which case we can stop at this step -- "The ones that survive will, I'm sure, wax enthusiastic." The implication behind this appears to be that we are currently engaged in a successful campaign of wiping out al Qaeda -- in Iraq? worldwide? somewhere else? you don't bother to say -- which is, um, less than accurate, I think.

3. You then go on to link to Greenwald, stating, "To say that it's about Al Qaeda, though, might earn you a reputation of having an administration-enabling POV." Greenwald's piece concerns how the administration and its enablers have deftly managed the output of news from Iraq so as to make anybody carrying a weapon in Iraq and aiming at Americans into "al Qaeda" whether they really are or not.

4. Jes pretty clearly didn't state that the Iraq war is "about al Qaeda," but that it has been "good for al Qaeda."

5. Moreover, by -- it appears -- attempting to catch Jes in one of her own "gotcha" moments or something ("See? You're no better than the Bush administration in claiming that we're fighting al Qaeda in Iraq!11!1"), you actually prove Greenwald's point for him.

Nothing in Jes's comment suggests that she concedes that our primary enemy in Iraq, or even the bulk of it or any significant component of it, is really "al Qaeda" rather than some opportunistic group or individuals claiming that name. Nor does any evidence presented by the Bush administration or its media apparatus. But your (glib?) statement in #2, above, suggests that you think it is.

So, either you really do think so, or you're willing to pretend that you do in order to trip Jes up ("LOL Bush enabler!!"). If there's a "c," I'm all ears.

I suppose your "c" might be that the surviving, enthusiastic-waxing al Qaeda members to which you refer are independent of whomever we are fighting in Iraq and are located elsewhere; but that makes your second statement, linking to Greenwald, irrelevant, since nobody of any sense maintains that al Qaeda is not a real enemy outside of Iraq, and continuing to fight them has nothing to do with enabling the Bush administration.

LAte to the parade, but a few comments.

OCSteve, I understand your reaction t6o the "anyone should have known" type of statement. It is condescending in the extreme. But many of the comments made did explain why people could have foreseen what has happened, even with a competent invasion/occupation/reconstruction.

Personally, one of the things that led me to believe it was going to be a mess was Cheney, who said that would be the case. Of course he said that in refernce to why we didn't depose Saddam at the end of Gulf War I. Plus I did take the time to look at things, perhaps for the same reason some people didn't.

I wanted justice, I wanted bin Laden, I wanted vengeance. Because of that, and having sufficient knowledge of Iraq and Saddam, I knew that going into Iraq wasn't going to accomplish that and I was upset at the movement away from that goal, which I knew was happening early in 2002, when my son (who was serving in Kuwait with Central coomand) infomred me about the deflection of resources meant for Afghanistan.

But my opposition to the war went beyond that. I felt that invading Iraq was just plain wrong, from a moral and legal view.

As to why so many people felt positive about the war, despite evidence being available that it would be a msitake, I think the answer is twofold. One is the emotional desire for venegeance and the need to take our hurt and rage out somewhere, and this administration's constant subtle connecting of Saddam with 9/11. As was pointed out earlier, 41% still believe there was a connection.

Emotions almost always over-ride reason.

In terms of the whole al Qaeda in Iraq stuff, I agree with Phil that just about anything bad that happens in Iraq is tied either to al Qaeda or the Shiite militias. And mostly to al Qaeda. People forget that we are not in Iraq because of al Qaeda, al Qaeda is in Iraq because of us. Only hatred of us among manyu Sunni groups has even allowed al Qaeda to have a foothold, and I believe that once we leave, the mainstreatm Sunnis (as well as the Shiites) will make short work of the al Qaeda remnants.

I don't ask for ritual self-criticisms from Iraq war supporters, but I do have a hard time taking people's foreign policy opinions seriously if they don't now agree that the war was a mistake.

Major presidential candidates are an exception to this, naturally.

OCSteve and Gary Farber have both disproved my initial theory, that lack of connection to Ground Zero tended to make people over-react on 9/11. I love science.

One thing you guys both talk about is a loss of a sense of invulnerability. I distinctly recall *not* having such a feeling. Two factors may be involved:

1) On both 9/11 itself and during the anthrax attacks (which were even more scary, up close & personal for me than 9/11 -- I live in NJ's Anthrax Zone) I recall starting to feel that I had lost my invulnerability -- as I looked at the contrail-free sky, as I put on latex gloves & a mask to open the mailbox -- but reminding myself of history. Fear of plague and random destruction, cities burning and planes not flying -- these are historically part of the normal human condition. Any sense of invulnerability I had had, I said to myself, was an illusion.

2) I am a woman and you two are men. Women in our society are explicitly brought up to *never* feel personally invulnerable. Not everyone even agrees that I have a *right* to walk around late at night by myself carelessly; everyone agrees that I would be foolish to do so.

So basically, it's probable that I never had as much of a sense of invulnerability to lose as you two did. Another way of putting it: my masculinity was never on the line.

Yeah -- I think I never had a sense of invulnerability. Maybe it comes of having been bullied in school, plus utterly hopeless at sports, plus much younger than all the other kids, plus generally clueless. Maybe the later attempted rape, and the similar episodes that I don't quite count as attempted rape, but that definitely transcended normal harassment, or the time someone beat me up and stole my bike. Maybe being epileptic, which means that even if you don't really let it get to you, you always know somewhere that complete and total loss of control, with consequent really bad consequences if you happen to be e.g. scuba diving or operating a chainsaw, is a distinct possibility. Maybe travel in dodgy parts of the world, which made me very, very aware of the possibility of terrorism, and somewhat surprised that foreign terrorists hadn't hit us yet in the US (this back in the 80s), and of the somewhat extraordinary nature of our own general security. But for whatever reason, I don't think I ever felt invulnerable.

That didn't stop me from being absolutely flattened by 9/11, of course. I didn't know anyone who lost his or her life, just two people who might have been in the area but mercifully weren't, and whom I found about about really quickly. But I remember just ages of wandering around feeling flattened and empty, and noticing that all my students seemed to have settled on one and only one sort of food (which one varied -- pizza, cookies ...) that they ate exclusively for several weeks.

Byrningman, this will take me back to my Tacitus.org days, but I wasn't exactly leading the band on the invasion. I thought the war justified, but unwise; I thought the arguments in support of it colorable, but weak. If those early posts still exist -- and I think that they may well be lost to the ether -- you would probably have thought that I was against the war from the start, or was a leftist. (Indeed, given the amount of time that I spent battling with Timmy the Wonder Dog and Macallan on the Tacitus boards -- and agreeing with Meteor Blades and Harley -- it's still a bit of a shock to be viewed as a conservative on this site.

I’m a right winger though so I disregard them by nature.

I think you might kidding, but I've always been astonished by the 'academia has a left-wing bias' trope. What this claim actually means, of course, parsed another way, is that being "left-wing" is defined as having a largely disinterested expertise on a given topic. "Smart people have a knowing what their talking about bias! Ignorance is discriminated against in the contest of ideas!"

hilzoy --

By attributing your lack of a sense of invulnerability to individual factors you seem to be dodging or even denying my feminist, structural analysis. Is that what you intend?

Regardless, the feminist analysis is IMHO powerful because it can be used to illuminate so many aspects of the last 6 years.

"If failure is too expensive for us to contemplate, why have none of you ever been willing to raise taxes to pay for this valuable war or to put enough resources into Iraq to succeed?"

Presicely. At this level of commitment from the President, we certainly wouldn't have done as well in Korea or WWII. For all his rhetoric, Bush doesn't really take war seriously.

byrningman: I think you might kidding, but I've always been astonished by the 'academia has a left-wing bias' trope.

Yes, kidding, mostly. That is, I don’t reflexively disregard anyone’s opinion based on their occupation. Usually when I note that I’m a winger it is to emphasize the stereotype: here is something that lefties in general think all rightwingers believe…


Doctor Science and Hilzoy: You raise an interesting point in that women in our society may not have a feeling of invulnerability to lose. Another angle on that is that men for the most part are raised to be the protector of their family and of women and children in general. Then something comes along that is so far beyond what you can protect anyone from… So it is not just vulnerability for your own self, but the induced feeling of helplessness that you can no longer fulfill that role of protector.

Or something like that. ;)

"One thing you guys both talk about is a loss of a sense of invulnerability."

Um, I responded to someone's point about it -- like you just did; I didn't say I felt anything like that myself.

Neither did I support the war at any time: I simply didn't clearly oppose it at first.

So this is mindreading of someone or other, but has absolutely nothing whatever to do with me: "So basically, it's probable that I never had as much of a sense of invulnerability to lose as you two did"

I never had any sense of invulnerability, and I have no idea why you think I did.

"Another way of putting it: my masculinity was never on the line."

You have no idea how much this irritates me. You don't know me, and you apparently clearly know absolutely nothing about me (although I have literally hundreds of thousands of words online from over a decade of writing), and yet you feel entitled to comment on my "masculinity."

Gosh.

"Maybe it comes of having been bullied in school, plus utterly hopeless at sports, plus much younger than all the other kids, plus generally clueless."

Check, check, check, check.

But it turns out that even though you were always the shortest and smallest in your class, that even though you were put into school a year younger, and then skipped another year, and were despised as a constantly-reading nerd, and for being hopeless at sports, and were beaten up all the time ("you faggot!"), and was so alienated as a child that it would take a book to describe, leaving you rather screwy for the rest of your life, you can wait thirty years and still find people passing judgments about your "masculinity" solely on the basis that there's a male pronoun attached to your name.

Solely.

It's like going back to fifth grade.

We've clearly come a long way in dealing with sexist paradigms and assumptions about people.

Oh, wait.

Gary, I think hilzoy was musing about broad-scale psychosexual paradigms, particularly those on the conservative side - where traditional psychosxual paradigms are still very operative - and how that may have generally shaped peoples' response to the attacks.

I don't think she was implying that every single (male) person shares the general sense of invulnerability, nor trying to relate a society-wide paradigm to the each-and-every-individual level. I think she's aware that not everyone is part of the mainstream. That doesn't mean there is no such thing as a mainstream.

Gary: You were responding to CS in your 10:46 PM and discussed “Losing a sense of invulnerability”. In rereading your comment it is clearer that you were discussing it in general rather than as a personal reaction, but I don’t think it is difficult to misread it as discussing a personal reaction.

I expanded on it as a personal reaction, and then you and I got lumped together by several commenters. So to some extend you were tarred with my responses.

"I don't think she was implying that every single (male) person shares the general sense of invulnerability,"

I don't think so, either; I was referring to Dr. Science's specific assertions about me, and my non-existent sense of invulnerability that I never had, and my nearly non-existent sense of masculinity that I pretty much lack, which she claimed to identify and draw conclusions about me from.

For all my soaking heavily in feminism in the Seventies and to various degrees afterwards, I never picked up the idea that leaping to the broadest possible gender stereotype about people, based on sexist assumptions and no other information whatever, was the most incisive and useful form of feminist analysis. I'll have to reread Shulasmith Firestone.

I know it was an innocent error, but it was remarkably presumptuous, as well as completely wrong.

Gary: I didn't comment on your, or anyone's, masculinity. I don't know whether you were confusing me with Dr. S.; I don't think she meant her comment the way you took it, but at least she used the word 'masculinity'.

I do believe the following things: There is a way in which some (not all, not most) guys can react to having their masculinity threatened that has no analog that I know of in women, at least not in this culture. (I think of this as being 'a guy thing only in the sense in which reading romance novels is 'a girl thing': it's not that all guys do it, it's just that the overwhelming majority of people who do it are guys.)

It involves thinking that insults to one's masculinity are deeply threatening and must be countered, and also that one's masculinity has to be continually proved. I am not aware of any widespread analogous way in which women feel the need to prove their femininity, or regard insults to it as nearly existential threats.

I think that this has been at play in political discourse, but, as I said, I don't think anything like: that all guys feel this way, etc. etc. etc.

Dr. Science: no, I didn't mean to be countering your structural argument at all; what I wrote was just what came to mind. I think that structural and individual explanations coexist (there are reasons why traffic flows have certain daily patterns, and also reasons why I in particular decided to drive to the grocery store, and these do not conflict.) I think that the attempted rape and similar events, and probably also the getting beaten up, and some part of the teasing, have a lot to do with structural feminist explanations. They are certainly not at odds with them.

"Gary: I didn't comment on your, or anyone's, masculinity."

Yes, I didn't say that you did. My point was in regard to Dr. Science's condescending personal characterization she chose to offer.

Well, now I'm going to defend my turn of phrase. Anyone who looked at the number of lifeboats on the Titanic could have seen that if the ship sank, the consequences to a vast portion of the passengers would be catastrophic. This is not condescending to the people who (a) did not look at the number of life boats and (b) had no duty to look at the number of lifeboats.

With regard to the people who did look at the lifeboats but then concluded that it didn't matter because the ship was certainly 'unsinkable,' the statement still isn't condescending, because of the opening conditional. Also, I'm unapologetic because (a) it's true and (b) reliance on the unsikability of a ship -- in contradiction to all human experience, isn't reasonable.

Now there's a class of people who can say that they believed the designers of the ship when they claimed it was unsinkable, and had insufficient knowledge/experience -- or exposure to the bases of the designer's conclusions -- and it seems to me that such people get a pass, generally. If they went around insulting people who pointed out that there weren't enough lifeboats, or who pointed out that the design features that made the ship supposedly unsinkable were illusory, well then they ought to be prepared to take a little condescension now. (I do not mean to imply that anyone reading these words fits into this category. There are such people, however).

The ship sank. Hundreds died. Anyone could see that this would happen. This does not mean that 3 year old Mongolian children, who had no knowledge of shipbuilding, Cunard, icebergs, mathematics, England and the rest are not 'anyone.' There's a word for people who respond to the statement that 'anyone could see that this would happen' by saying No, a 3 year old Mongolian child with no knowledge of any of the relevant facts could not have seen it, but I'm not going to use it here.

CC: point taken.

The sense of invulnerability possessed by the majority of Americans before the September 11 attacks didn't IMO differ much between men and women. It's a mainstream idea, rooted in the relative absence of wars fought on the North American continent in our lifetimes, and much encouraged by our culture and media especially since the end of the cold war. It is part and parcel of what's nourished the persistent, strong belief in American exceptionalism.

Those who didn't have such a sense before the attacks got there through a variety of routes: In some cases it was due to personal suffering leading to reflections on and attitudes about vulnerability on a broader level. In many other cases it was having previously identified with and/or shared the experience of those who have been victims of terror, retail or state. Or combinations of the two.

Those who, because of life experience or political leanings, had focused on people who'd been at the receiving end of U.S. power were much less likely to share the additional shock felt by so many that the attacks had come out of nowhere.

given what we currently know concerning the state of terrorist recruiting and the frequency of attacks worldwide, is probably true

I assign no particular probability to its truth, Phil.

You reply -- and it may just have been glibness for the sake of glibness, in which case we can stop at this step

Hooray! C!

Greenwald's piece concerns how the administration and its enablers have deftly managed the output of news from Iraq so as to make anybody carrying a weapon in Iraq and aiming at Americans into "al Qaeda" whether they really are or not.

Greenwald's piece claims to do that, yes, but fails utterly.

On June 23, Glenn says:

All of a sudden, every time one of the top military commanders describes our latest operations or quantifies how many we killed, the enemy is referred to, almost exclusively now, as "Al Qaeda."

Context: a reader at TPM emailed Josh Marshall with a claim that in the last 10-12 days, the enemy was all turning into Al Qaeda, in the press. Loosely speaking.

So, let's go to the horse's mouth: mnf-iraq.com, and look at their press releases starting 12 days prior to Marshall's post, or June 10:

Item 1: explosives production facility destroyed; no mention of Al Qaeda.
Item 2: soldier killed during contact with unspecified enemy; no mention of Al Qaeda.
:Item 3: Al Qaeda suspects taken into captivity.
Item 4: Eight AIF (Anti-Iraqi Forces) insurgents killed, no mention of AQ.
Item 5: Munitions dump discovered; no mention of AQ.
Item 6: Iraqi Army donates computer lab to school; no mention of AQ.
Tired of linking; you can find them yourself. Subsequent articles for June 10 are: unspecified terrorist wearing suicide vests foiled (no mention of AQ), Jaysh al-Mahdi militia commander captured (no AQ), VBIED attack foiled (unspecified insurgent group), Sunni sheikhs discuss how to oppose terrorism (AQ and other groups mentioned), and a report of a soldier dying during combat with unspecified enemy. Anyway, total: 2 mentions of AQ, out of 11 reports. Out of the 11, eight were combat operations, and there was ONE mention of AQ, one mention of a specific militi, one mention of AIF, which seems to be a catch-all, and in the rest, no identity was offered.

We can look at other days as well:
June 11: 12 suspected AQI captured, checkpoint attacked by unspecified group, Tikrit Dept of Transp building bombed by unspecified group. June 12: 11 suspected AQI captured, weapons cache discovered, another weapons cache destroyed, another VBIED attack, weapons cache and suspected AQI member captured, IA/CF forces attacked by unspecified people while looking for AQ. June 13: suspect and explosives captured, 15 suspected AQI captured, 24 unspecified suspected insurgents captured, minarets at Golden Dome destroyed, Marine killed in combat, AQI sniper captured, 6 insurgents suspected of aiding AQI captured, one soldier killed and two wounded by a roadside bomb, 6 "extremists" killed and 19 arrested, VBIED attack, mortar attack, one "secret cell" terrorist killed and two captured, VBIED foiled, four insurgents and bomb-making equipment captured, prisoner dies after rocket attack on base, Petraeus pins Golden Mosque attack on AQ, 13 suspected AQ captured along with IED-making stuff, senior AQI leader killed.

Now, I don't see any upswing in AQ claims, here. There seem to be a fair amount of engagements with enemy that aren't identified as AQ that could have been...er...lied about.

So far, though, I've done a heap more looking than Greenwald did.

But...y'know...it could be a gradual increase in AQ mentions. Let's look at one week before Marshall posted:

June 15: insurgent force commander killed and six others captured, soldier dies in non-combat accident, roadside bomb injures 7 civilians, one AQI leader killed and 16 suspected AQI detained, four suspects captured along with weapons, RPG attack on Mahmudiyah mosque, weapons and IED cache discovered, soldier attacked and killed in Diyala, insurgent weapons cache destroyed, nine roadside bomb maker suspects captured, three soldiers attacked and killed near Kirkuk, one AIF killed and one captured
near Baqouba, small weapons cache reported and captured, seven suspected AQ captured, one AQ and one Jaysh al-Mujahidin leader captured at an apparent joint meeting.

Still not seeing it, Phil. Maybe Glenn has more data, but not so I could tell. Certainly the assertion that it's now ALL AQ is utter bunk, except for in the case of Arrowhead Ripper, which is an operation directed specifically at AQ. If our troops had managed to corral a whole lot of AQ together in one place, I wouldn't be in the least bit shocked to learn that reports of that action were chock-full of mentions of AQ.

As for Glenn's impression that AQ is absolutely IT these days, I have no doubt that he thinks that. I just wish he wouldn't waste so many pixels on what amounts to uninformed commentary.

4) true, granted, my bad.

5) See above. Glenn's point hasn't been proven by anyone, least of all Glenn.

makes your second statement, linking to Greenwald, irrelevant

Possibly. Or maybe it was just a bit of snark. You certainly can't begrudge me a bit of snark from time to time, Phil, being an occasional user of it yourself.

Wow. (5): Moreover, by -- it appears -- attempting to catch Jes in one of her own "gotcha" moments or something ("See? You're no better than the Bush administration in claiming that we're fighting al Qaeda in Iraq!11!1"), you actually prove Greenwald's point for him.

Well done, Slarti. And I thought it was just random snark.

Slart, sure you don't want to put that up on the front page?

"If you do not have a genuine need to watch the mainstream news channels and read the big papers...then don't. Just don't."

I strongly endorse Bruce B's suggestion here. I only half follow it. I almost never watch the MSM on TV--sometimes Bill Moyers or his former sidekick David B---(forgot spelling). But they're lefty. And sometimes the Newshour, though not much. And occasionally, maybe once every few weeks, about ten minutes of Tucker or Chris Matthews, which is all I can stand of either. That's pure masochism. But nearly all my TV watching is for pure entertainment purposes.

I do read the NYT regularly--some of it is worth reading and some of it strikes me as propagandistic slop. It might be better for me to take Bruce's advice on this.

Nell wrote--

"Those who, because of life experience or political leanings, had focused on people who'd been at the receiving end of U.S. power were much less likely to share the additional shock felt by so many that the attacks had come out of nowhere."

Yep, though it was still a shock for me. And btw, though I agree completely, if you had said anything like this in public within a year or so after 9/11 you'd have been tarred and feathered as saying that the victims had it coming. Or that's my sense of how things were. The country was completely nuts and one of the things that really disappointed me was that much of the so-called left went along with it for awhile. (Not just Hitchens).

This may not get Glenn Greenwald off the hook for exaggeration, but here's an example of excessive AQ reference which is rather serious--

BBC

On rereading Greenwald's piece, I think it's worth someone's time (not mine right now -- go to go recruit Democrats for the booth at the July 4th balloon rally) to gather evidence about the three levels at which this increasing emphasis on al Qaeda might be occurring:
- military commanders' own statements (which is largely Slarti's database, though additional statements quoted in the media need to be looked at)
- media coverage of Iraq
- administration statements about Iraq.

Greenwald's post is uncharacteristically light on substantiating links.

My impression is that the administration's statements have taken a sharp turn toward the alQ emphasis, particularly Bush's own speeches; someone's posted on this in the last two weeks.

Assessing the frequency of the phenomenon in media coverage is a tedious job, but doable within a restricted time period. Perhaps the MediaMatters people could be persuaded to help.

I should probably go back and reread G's actual post, but I had the impression it concerned admin. statements and press coverage more than statements by the actual military. I am completely prepared to be wrong, though.

Was my BBC link old news, perhaps covered already in this thread or the Greenwald post? I thought it was very interesting--the US claims to have killed al Qaeda and the local Iraqis say, no, you killed the wrong guys.

Makes you wonder how often this kind of thing happens, since the press can't usually investigate every reported military action (or so I assume).

Slart, sure you don't want to put that up on the front page?

Absolutely. The scholarship is entirely too shoddy to front-page.

And I don't have time to improve on it before I go on vacation in Nova Scotia, which I'm beginning all too early tomorrow AM. Alarm is set for 4.

And, you know, it just might be entirely the MSM that's, according to Greenwald, swung around to explaining everything with AQ. If they are, the press-coverage front is dreadfully inconsistent. Not saying that's NOT the case, but as evidence of press manipulation by the administration, I'd call it at least marginally successful. The least they could do is coordinate their press releases with those of MNF-Iraq, even if they have to leave some subtle amount of disconnect to keep it real.

And this, last: if, for whatever reason, AQ is seen as a force that must be reckoned with first, it'd be completely unsurprising that AQ-suspect arrests would dominate the news. Again, too, MNF maintains that it is battling mainly AQ forces in and around Baqubah, so it's completely unshocking that news since June 19 might contain a higher than average number of references to AQ kills and captures.

I'd call it at least marginally successful.

Um...missing un. Adjust accordingly.

Jeez. Supposed to be on a plane to Portland, Maine right now. Delta airlines is absolutely a mess today, so our arrival in Portland about noon today has turned into an arrival in Boston at abou 9PM, which in turn has moved our 500 mile drive today out to tomorrow, where we'd planned a fairly leisurely 250 mile drive, and turned the whole mess into an 800+ mile epic.

Hopefully, the scenery will be nice. I'm on vacation, so I'm taking it all stoically, and wondering if it's way too early to have a beer.

And I didn't bring a computer this trip, so, it being Canada and all, I probably won't be dropping any comments here for ten days or so. Anyone know if there's indoor plumbing in Canada?

wondering if it's way too early to have a beer.

nope

No, Donald, that's not old news at all. Since you posted, Atrios has linked it. Since Slarti's on his way, we'll miss engaging on the question of just how much we know about who's fighting who in Diyala province and Baquba. But at a minimum, we ought not to accept uncritically the military commanders' characterizations -- much less those characterizations second-hand from reporters not on the scene, much less administration statements.

Slarti, have a great vacation! Nova Scotia; I'm envious. {fans self, listens to approaching thunder...}

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