"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

The War As We Saw It

NY Times has published an editorial by seven non-commissioned officers in Iraq, which is absolutely piercing in its insight:

...it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

If you've been picking up even a fraction of the current yammering going on over the value of the Surge -- which is going to get a renewal sometime after Labor Day, I'd wager -- the contrast set by this piece couldn't be more stark. Not just in terms of opinion, but in specificity and linguistic clarity as well.

In my business, we'd call the likes of Kenneth Pollack and Bill Kristol "hand wavers." Salesman, essentially, as opposed to people who can actually write code. They understand a lot of things in theory, and they have a good jive, managing to sound credible to the uninitiated. But if you pay very close attention and/or know very much about the underlying issues, you can tell when someone is speaking from a place of direct and real experience, and when someone is speaking from a place of theoretical vision. More importantly, you can tell when they're feeding you a line of BS.

There's nothing inherently wrong with theory. The world needs architects as well as carpenters. But if you've got an architect who's built a giant shitpile trying to sell you some new trim as a fix, and you look over at the actual builders and see them shaking their heads, and they can tell you exactly why and how the whole thing is fucked, well, I know how I trust in that situation.

Seriously, read the op-ed, and tell me it doesn't make just about every other damn thing said about this war sound like bullshit hand-waiving.

Out in the realms of opinionation, there's a nascent offensive brewing against the casual imperialism which defines the outlook of "Serious People" in the business of creating foreign policy. The architects. The Hegemon becomes most militarily active in its period of decline, and I really do hope that this pushback is successful. Our militarism and national decline are mutually-reinforcing trends, and I'd rather not see them continue.

Along the lines of the above, one of the most terrible things about this theoretical class is that, perhaps just keeping with the current vogue in DC, there appears to be no accountability in their ranks. They also seem to fit rather seamlessly into what can only be described as a militaristic propaganda operation.

Here's what's touched off the latest row, of which the op-ed I've been talking about is a part:

  • Some "liberal hawks" who vigorously advocated for the initial invasion of Iraq took an eight-day tour "over there."
  • Their itinerary was set by the Pentagon.
  • The Iraqi sources they talked to were selected by the military.
  • Excursions outside the green zone were stage-manged and made with a significant escort.
  • These folks return, and write a number very positive reviews of the situation.
  • They are presented as "Iraq war critics," despite having no such credentials.
  • Regular journalists, who aren't over there on a US Army junket call bullshit, but the show goes on.

I don't know what you can really call that. The people involved seem to have some internal sense that they ain't really doing right; but it seems like they're willfully playing along. They probably think it's for the greater good too, being a militaristic propagandist.

Strange and sad, what war makes people do.


While I get me news via NY Times and other online, I missed this one.

This editorial should be read by every American. Cuts to the case most eloquently.

Thou I agree with most of you points, I would like to tender a little real world perspective to you contention about the scripting of the "hawk tour." Allowing members of the legislative branch out of the "green zone" with out some careful coordination, would be like letting the members of the Miss American pageant wander around the Yard at Pelican Bay. Maybe nothing would happen, I mean hey they both have guards, right?
Let's face it the green zone still gets mortared. The big incentive for the tours' is not "fact finding", but good press and "Combat Tax exclusion." The congressmen involved are no more concerned about learning the "Truth about Iraq" than they are about learning how to make cous cous and lamb. They're politics regarding the war will be decided in Washington (were the money is.)
As to the Op-ed, while I understand where my fellow NCOs' are coming from; they are addressing an issue that doesn't really concern this administration. It is true that Iraq's security is an issue; but it has quickly become the WMD.
All I really want is a reasonable explanation of what "success in Iraq" is. If I knew that I would be able to tell you my opinion on the success or failure of the Surge. Until that day, given the option of staying in and losing more of my friends, and pulling out and losing less of them; I choose the latter. Another thing is true, with any reasonable goal you need to have a time frame, and periodic evaluation of the goal to see if it can be met. What is our time frame?