Monday, October 17, 2005

BEING CORRECT CAN BE A REAL CURSE

Blogger's note by Advocate 1 The following article by David E. Sanger appeared in the 17 October 2005 online addition of the New York Times and can be accessed at following address for additional links.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/17/politics/17prexy.html?th&emc=th

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 - For most of the 30 months since American-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration has argued that as democracy took hold in Iraq, the insurgency would lose steam because Al Qaeda and the opponents of the country's interim government had nothing to offer Iraqis or the people of the Middle East.

Over time, President Bush told troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., this spring, "the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world."

But inside the administration, that belief provides less solace than it once did. Senior officials say the intelligence reports flowing over their desks in recent months argue that even if democratic institutions take hold, the insurgency may strengthen. And that possibility has created a quandary for an administration that desperately wants to equate democracy-building with winning the war, but so far has not been able to match the two.

That internal struggle was evident this weekend, as Mr. Bush returned to Washington sounding less celebratory about Iraq's constitutional referendum - whose outcome is suspected but still unknown - than he did after Iraq's elections last January. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaking from London on "Fox News Sunday," was somewhat more definitive: "The Sunnis are joining the base of this broad political process," she said. "That will ultimately undo this insurgency. But of course, they can still pull off violent and spectacular attacks."

Mr. Bush's own way of talking about the future, in Iraq and beyond, has undergone a subtle but significant change in recent weeks. In several speeches, he has begun warning that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions.

It is a very different tone than administration officials sounded in the heady days after Saddam Hussein's fall, and then his capture.

After an extensive debate inside the White House, Mr. Bush has begun directly rebutting the arguments laid out in manifestos and missives from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mr. bin Laden's top aide.

He did so again on Saturday, quoting from one of Mr. Zawahiri's purported letters - one whose authenticity is still the subject of some question - which predicted that the Iraq war would end as Vietnam had, and that, in Mr. Bush's words, "America can be made to run again." The president argued anew that the terrorist leader was "gravely mistaken."

"There's always the question of whether we give these guys more credibility by directly addressing their arguments," one of Mr. Bush's most senior aides said recently. "But the president was concerned that we hadn't described Iraq to the American people for what it is - a struggle of ideologies that isn't going to end with one election, or one constitution, or even a string of elections."

For an administration that has recalibrated and re-explained its strategy in Iraq many times in the past 30 months, this latest turn may be a recognition of changed realities.
A year ago, Mr. Bush interpreted his re-election as the nation's embrace of his strategy and its willingness to bear the cost in lives and money to get Iraq on its feet. But now, the pressure is building for a pathway out. The passage of the constitution, some of Mr. Bush's political aides say, would be bound to fuel those calls.


"All fall, we've been hearing the question, 'When does this begin to end?' " one of Mr. Bush's senior strategists said a few weeks ago, insisting on anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue inside the White House. The White House, he added, was trying to head off what some officials fear could be a broader split in the party over the war come spring, as midterm elections approach and Republicans seeking re-election are tempted to join the call for a timetable for drawing down troop levels.

The change is clear in what Mr. Bush is saying - but also in what he and his aides are no longer saying.

In the prelude to the war and in the early days of the occupation, Mr. Bush and top members of his national security team compared the effort to remake Iraq to the American occupations of Japan and Germany. As the insurgency grew - a feature missing from those two successful occupations - they dropped that comparison. Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state under Colin L. Powell, argued in an interview recently published by an Australian magazine, The Diplomat, that it was a flawed way of thinking from the start.

"Those who argued at the time that the acceptance of democracy in Iraq would be easy, and who drew on our experience with Japan and Germany, were wrong," he said. "First of all, Germany and Japan were homogeneous societies. Iraq is not." He added that the German and Japanese populations were "exhausted and deeply shocked by what had happened," but that Iraqis were "un-shocked and un-awed."

Now administration officials are beginning to describe the insurgency as long-lasting, more akin to Communist insurgencies in Malaysia or the Philippines, but with a broader and more deadly base. Even conservatives who supported Mr. Bush's decision to go to war say the change in tone is welcome.

"I think the president has been consistent," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who has written extensively on the nature of civilian command and is sometimes consulted by the administration. "But they've had people, myself among them, beating them up for happy talk and not making an argument" about the nature of the struggle.

"I do think they are making more of an effort to explain themselves," he added. "But it took pressure from their friends, and political pressure as well, to overcome a reluctance about what they were really doing."


Others take a harsher view. Kenneth Pollack, a former C.I.A. analyst and now a scholar at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, said Mr. Bush's new tone reflected "the fact that their whole theory about how this is going to work out isn't working, and almost certainly isn't going to work." He added, "The theory that democracy is the antidote to insurgency gets disproven on the ground every day."

The real test may come after parliamentary elections, which, if the constitution is found to have passed this weekend, are scheduled for Dec. 15. After that date, a senior administration official noted with some dread in his voice, "there are no more democratic landmarks for us to point to - that's when we learn whether the Iraqi state can stay together."

END

Blogger's note by Advocate 1 Why does this not surprise any of us? This is what those of us on the left had been predicting during the run up to the war. Sometimes being right (as in correct) can be a real curse.

17 comments:

Rhino-itall said...

First of all, it's always funny to me when reporters say "senior official" and everyone just figures that it must be someone important. But anyway, this writer sees things in the negative, of course it is the ny times, so how else could he see anything in the Bush whitehouse but negative? In fact, some people see the change in rhetoric as a positive, i am among those people, and so is Joseph Farah. http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46864

Check it out.

CJWilliams said...

Good grief--I really didn't think the same comment would serve in tqwo places. JEEEZE!

Some blogs are better than others. You also have a lot of rank amateurs out there who seldom bother to use facts and statistics.

I don't mind an occasional rant--I've been known to rant myself from time to time. But there are times when I'd like to see sources, foot notes, and bibliographies, all of which will be supplied at the end of our Fascism series

On the down side, blogging often produces pieces which are based more on internal impulses than reality--a situation which we see in the Republican Party today. As a rationalist I prefer the reality-based community to the faith-based community, which might influence my judgement in this matter.

Brandon and Advocate 1 might also have added that we should be reading, watching, and listening to a wide range of sources. Not just "consuming" biased pieces which support our own world view.

Today we have large groups of people who will only listen to view points which agree with their own. I guess another way to say it is that conservatives more or less had to create the myth of the liberal media. Indeed, what Brandon should have added is that the "Liberal Media Myth" was created to draw fire away from the corrupt Nixon-Agnew Administration which needed a whipping boy to blame for its declining popularity. It was never true, but since those days, conservatives have devolved to the point where they believe their own disingenuous propaganda. To that I would only add that conservatives not only believe they are entitled to their own opinions, they also believe that they are entitled to their own facts. The former is true. The latter is a product of wishful thinking--or perhaps a lack of critical thought.

On a side note, I for one am getting a little frustrated by people who don't even bother to use caps and proper punctuation. It isn't a prerequisite, but would it hurt people to communicate in readable, American English? To quote one of my team members: "The average human being can communicate on a minimum of 800 words." Now if certain individuals would only strive to meet that very atainable goal.

Rhino-itall said...

Cj the bias of the main stream media is no myth, it is a fact. of course if you agree with it, you don't notice the bias, i however can see it plain as day. The facts are the facts, most people in the media today are liberals, and or democrats, that is a fact that has been established by many polls. You can look it up yourself if you want to check it out. are you telling me that they aren't influenced by their own sense of right and wrong, their own opinions on politics? seems like wishfull thinking to me. I don't even want to get started on the editorial pages of the major papers in this country, because they are opinion pieces, but they are overwhelmingly liberal, and no one can deny that! Sorry about my punctuation/spelling etc. I don't rite too good neither.

CJWilliams said...

RIGHT WING DELUSION: "The facts are the facts, most people in the media today are liberals, and or democrats..."

FACT: This is only true in regards to social issues. Economically, reporters know which side their bread is buttered on, which puts them squarely on the Republican/conservative side of the spectrum. It's called self- interest.

RIGHT WING DELUSION:
"that is a fact that has been established by many polls"

FACT: Same answer as above

RIGHT WING DELUSION: "The facts are the facts"

FACT: Of course it all depends on which ones you choose to use and ignore. The problem with conservatives is that they believe they are entitled to their own facts. In some cases the facts are just made up. As I said before, the individuals who created the myth of the liberal media now admit that they "got away with it," in essence confessing that they made it up in the first place. And, as has been pointed out before, it started with the corruption of Nixon and Agnew when the Republican far right needed to demonize the press which was uncovering Nixon's dirty tricks.

RIGHT WING DELUSION: "Are you telling me that they aren't influenced by their own sense of right and wrong, their own opinions on politics?"

FACT: This is classic projection. The dirty little secret here is that the majority of respectable jouranlists, both liberal and conservative, are capable of keeping their own personal biases in check. This, however is a talent which has not been encouraged nor practiced with the propaganda masters at FOX et al, where the reporting (propaganda) reads as if it were written on the inside of a schizophrenic ward for the congenitally incorrect). The fact that certain elements on the far right are so power hungry, ignorant, or unbalanced that they can't control their own prejudices says more about the far right and its own emotional immaturity (some might say "instability") than it does about the mainstream media. That Rush Limbaugh and his many right wing clones on AM Hate Radio and their ditto heads in the blogosphere are still living in an immature state of psychological development is their problem, not ours.

RIGHT WING DELUSION: "I don't even want to get started on the editorial pages of the major papers in this country."

FACT: Oh, please Rhino. Should truth be partial when it could be whole? Of course you do. Most rational individuals can separate the editorial pages from the news coverage: perfect case in point being the Wall Street Journal, where the opinion page is essentially dominated by the most visceral of social darwinsts and money-grubbing thugs, while the legitimate reporting is actually quite fair and balanced. With the occasional exceptions on the left and right, most outlets are actually capable of separating entertainment, opinion, editorial beliefs, and genuine news. Again, another dirty little secret here is that conservatives are so violently opposed to ANY liberal expresion that they assume the occasional, rare example constitutes a liberal media.

RIGHT WING DELUSION: "Sorry about my punctuation/spelling etc. I don't rite too good neither"

FACT: While I disagree with your opinions and distortions, I must say that you write very well. You have an interesting, indeed fluid, style which could be improved upon with a little attention to detail.

Have a good one,

CJ

CJWilliams said...

PS

One of your team members here was a small town journalists for twenty years. He's been writing a book--a murder mystery with elements of the supernatural, to be precise--and concentrating on his art career since leaving the profession. But I think the two of you would have some interesting conversations. He's a former Republican who can tell you about his personal experiences in the news room: specifically, how right wing companies took control of the editorial pages and news room by threatening to pull ads. I don't know if Advocate1 has been keeping up with what we're doing here, but many of us live within a ten minute drive of each other. The next time I see him I shall implore him to get involved on this particular issue.

Happy Days

CJ

Rhino-itall said...

Cj, i don't want to get too involved on the comments page, but here's some research for you:

Evidence of how hard journalists lean to the left was provided by S. Robert Lichter, then with George Washington University, in his groundbreaking 1980 survey of the media elite. Lichter's findings were authoritatively confirmed by the American Association of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in 1988 and 1997 surveys. The most recent ASNE study surveyed 1,037 newspaper reporters found 61 percent identified themselves as/leaning "liberal/Democratic" compared to only 15 percent who identified themselves as/leaning "conservative/Republican."

Maybe these "individuals who got away with it" created it? i can't speak intelligently on the news in the early 70's as hadn't grown my horn yet and couldn't read the papers. I would say that many respectable reporters can keep their biases in check, i just don't think that they do, and i did say of course that the editorials are "opinions" and therefore i did seperate news from opinion. rush and his ditto heads are also opinions, are you not rational enough to realize that? And of course you mention the wall street journal, which along with Investors business daily, is the only daily that is dominated by conservatives on the editorial pages. I read a lot of papers and i can't think of any others. If you know of any, i would appreciate the heads up.

Finally, i appreciate the compliment, and although i'm sure you're just being kind, i am so concieted and arrogant that by nightfall i will have convinced myself that your kind words are actually true.

Rhino-itall said...

ps. regarding the "individuals who got away with it"
The media was not/is not liberal but somehow vietnam, which was started by Kennedy/Johnson administraion became NIXONS(r) WAR even though he was the one who pulled us out! Gee, i guess the not liberal media just missed that one somehow.

CJWilliams said...

On the contrary. If I thought you style stunk you would have heard about it. I believe people should be commended for the things they do right as well as criticized for what they do wrong. Its just a form of honesty, or at least speaking what you believe to be the truth.

Peace

CURTIS JEROME WILLIAMS

Eli Blake said...

Rhinoculous:

I have been in the past an amateur but pretty good student of Presidential history.

Hate to tell you, but Vietnam will be forever remembered as LBJ. Not Kennedy. Not Eisenhower (who first got us involved there). And not Nixon (Nixon is remembered in the main course of history for two things: going to China, and Watergate.)

But Vietnam is squarely what LBJ is remembered for. And only that. No one other than Presidential scholars and a few who were directly impacted remember him in the context of the 'Great Society' or the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964.

If the media at the time called it 'Nixon's war' then they were probably discussing his Cambodian excursion (a footnote to the Vietnam war which is now remembered less than it perhaps should be in the context of the destabilizing impact on Cambodia and the subsequent success and holocaust like crimes of the Khmer Rouge.)

And while it is still too early to put an historical spin on the Bush Presidency, it seems certain that his place in history will be at least to a large degree, defined by Iraq.

Rhino-itall said...

eli, you are a student of history, i am also an amateur student of history, not just presidential, but history in general. You and i have read our stuff, we know the deal, most people are not students of history. I haven't done any research on it, but i would bet that a majority of Americans today think it was nixon who got us into vietnam. In fact, In his victory speech after the Iowa caucus triumphant, Kerry spoke of "Richard Nixon's War." This man served during Johnsons administration and he still called it "Nixon's war" whether he was just being disingenuous or not is not really the point, he gets away with it because most people think it's true.

CJWilliams said...

The root casue of the Vietnam War can be traced back to the Eisenhower Administration. Trouble had been brewing for some time in that area, which at the time was known as Indochina. You had nationalists in that part of Indochina that is now known as Vietnam. The area which would later became known as Vietnam was struggling for independence from French Colonialism. The nationalists, or Viet Minh, were led by a Communist named Ho Chi Minh who was receiving military aid from the Soviet Union. When the Viet Minh began to make significant progress towards breaking away from France, the French government turned to the United States for help.

The United States believed that opposition to French colonialism might cause a rift with France and thus endanger the newly formed NATO. The United States had pormised a commitment towards self-determination on the part of the Indochinese (Vietnamese) but president Truman had opted for a compromise solution. He offered support for the French while he encouraged them to grant indpeendence.

But with a growing fear of Communism here at home, the Eisenhower Administration decided to become involved in a more direct manner. Convinced that resistance to French Colonialism was a part of a greater Communist conspiracy, the Eisenhower Administration decided to escalate its support for the French.

By 1954 the United States was flipping the bill for more than three quarters of the French war expenses and actively supplying military equipment.

Even then, the French continued to do badly. In early 1954 French troops were under attack at the fortress of Dien Bien Phu. Again, the French sought intervention from the United States.

Vice President Richard Nixon wanted to go to the "brink of war." Translated into modern English, he wanted to begin air strikes. Worse yet, Dulles wanted to use the Atomic Bomb.


Eisenhower believed that both measures were extreme; he also suspected that there wouldn't be a lot of support for either measure. In May 1954 Dien Bien Phu fell to the rebels.

At this point the French were willing to negotiate. In July 1954 the Viet Minh signed an agreement with the French. The terms were as follows.

1. Indochina would be divided into three separate nations: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

2. Vietnam would be divided into two separate areas, North and South, but only on a temporary basis.

3. Ho Chi Minh would retain control over the northern two thirds of the country while a French backed regime would retain the southern third of Vietnam.

4. Internationally supervised elections would be held in 1956 to reunify the nation under one government.

But the elections never took place. A conservative, Anti-Communist government run by Dgo Dink Diem (Spelling?) came to power in South Vietnam in 1955. He rejected the Geneva agreement for supervised elections and the United States began to provide military support for the new regime and the South Vietnamese army. This, of course, included "military advisors." To make matters even worse. Dgo Dink Diem was a a right wing Catholic who had little to no sympathy for his non-Catholic subjects.

Right up until the final days of the Eisenhower Administration there were were intense arguments at the United Nations about the topic of Vietnam--arguments which, when combined with our military presence in Vitenam, virtually promised an escalation of the war.

Kennedy contributed to the problem, but to the degree that Johnson and Nixon contributed. Indeed, it was Johnson and Nixon who both escalated the war to new heights.

Johnson was a rabidly, anti-Communist Texan who was so eager to follow in the foot steps of FDR that he viewed Vietnam as his, personal version of World War II. And then you had the Nixon Administratin which talked peace and secret plans--the latter of which was the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos. Ironically the war didn't really end until Nixon had been driven out of office over the Watergate scandal, the final curtain drawing on the Vietnam War during the Ford Administration.

Argue about it all you like, but the truth of the matter is that both parties messed up, and messed it up badly, in Vietnam. Indeed, the only reason the war ended was because public sentiment had been turning against the war since the late 1960s. I believe it had something to do with all the body bags being shown on the evening news while White House rhetoric kept telling us that the war could still be one.

Regarding Johnson's legacy. It will be mixed. He made a huge mess in Vietnam, but despite his quirky, probably anal retenrive personality, he also wanted to use the power of the Federal GOvernment to end racism and poverty, both of which were noble ambitions, despite what you may think of his New Society solutions.

Nixon will be remembered too. Despite the Watergate fiasco, and his escalation of the war, he did present some interesting and even progressive policies before he was forced to resign over the Watergate breakin.

But then again, who ever said life was simple?

Rhino-itall said...

Hey cj thanks for the history lesson, now a question. Why no update on the super successful elections in Iraq? I know you're not "fair and balanced" on this website, but you guys did bring it up. The turnout was greater than the first election, and the violence was less. You guys are starting to remind me of the ny times, "all the negative that's fit to print"

CJWilliams said...

How does it relate to anything? There was a time, during Hitler's rise to poower, when he received approximately 98 or 99 percent of the vote--even from political prisoners in concentration camps who voted overwhelmingly for the Nazi Party and their beloved Fuhrer. This is not an attempt to compare Bush to Hitler, but the margin of the vote here seems a tad dubious, with reports of some individuals filling out multiple ballots. This wouldn't be the first time that phony election results have been touted to further a policy of a determined (some mighht say obsessed president).


Also, will you consider the Bush War to be a success if Iraq or part of Iraq becomes a part of a Greater Iran? It seems to be a point that you are a tad alergic to.

CJWilliams said...

sorry, mighht should read might.

Rhino-itall said...

I will consider the war a success when we win. I mention the vote because it was mentioned in the post. More importantly, it was a huge success and i barely saw any coverage of it in the msm. As for the results, i tend to believe that my president isn't rigging it, since his top advisors are looking at a possible indictment for something that wasn't even a crime, and the ny times is all over him for a "rigged" interview with the troops,(which wasn't rigged) i doubt he could get away with a vote conspiracy that would have to involve hundreds if not thousands of people to get away with it. besides, it's not really the results that are important here, it is the turnout, and the lack of violent opposition. the people are embracing democracy, and if anything will keep us safe from crazy dictators it is freedom. when given the choice people will always choose freedom, it is human nature. we have provided that freedom for those people. I am proud of that.

IRANIAN AYATOLLAHS said...

PRAISE ALLAH!

We would like to agree with Mister Rhino! From our point of view, considering our objectives, the war has already been won! And we have George W. Bush and his infidel suporters to thank for making it possible in our lifetimes!

We wanted infidel, Saddam Hussein out of power! The United States has done this for us!

We wanted the Shite majority in Iraq in control. The United States and President Bush have done this for us.

We wanted more influence over at least the Southern half of Iraq and we have now concluded a $1 billion agreement with Basra to detect land mines and to modernize the Iraqi military, all while becoming politically, culturally, and religiously closer to our beloved Iran.

Why it's enough to make us wonder why we're pursuing nuclear weapons, planning international terrorism, and calling you the Great Satan when your leader, George W. Bush has been so helpful in defeating our dreaded enemy and assisting in our overall objectve of a Greater Iran.

The world has been made safer for Shia Koranic Law!

Praise George W.Bush!
Praise the Prophet!
Praise Allah!

Brandon said...

The above comment was by yours truly. Just taking advantage of a quirk in the blog layout. Brandon