[Blogger and BlogSpot were down for 5 or 6 hours tonight, but they seem to be back up again now.]
Paul Wolfowitz had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, winningly entitled Support Our Troops. A small snippet will suffice to get the flavor of it:
Even before the bombing of the U.N. headquarters, if you'd asked Gen. Mattis and his Marines, there was no question in their minds that the battle they wage--the battle to secure the peace in Iraq--is now the central battle in the war on terrorism. It's the same with the commander of the Army's 1st Armored Division, Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who recently described that second group as "international terrorists or extremists who see this as the Super Bowl." They're going to Iraq, he said, "to take part in something they think will advance their cause." He added, "They're wrong, of course." Among the hundreds of enemy that we have captured in the last months are more than 200 foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis and to do everything they can to prevent a free and successful Iraq from emerging. They must be defeated--and they will be.
You get the idea -- you can read more at the link above if you want.
There are a number of objections one could raise to Wolfowitz' assertions, among them:
One would think that while general officers serving in Iraq might well have ideas or opinions about broad geopolitical matters, their primary concern should certainly be about matters operational, strategic and tactical before them. They surely have information that's vital for us to consider, but that doesn't make their opinions about the bigger issues any more cogent or correct that those of the ordinary well-informed citizen (or the lowliest blogger, for that matter).
The same goes for the opinions of the front-line soldiers. We should all pay close attention to them when they describe the conditions they're working under, the state of the troops, or what they see and hear around them, for these are things important for us to know, but I've got to think that perhaps they're just a little bit busy at the moment, and may not have the time to carefully consider everything that needs to be taken into account when trying to figure out what's going on in Iraq, and what the hell we're going to do about it.
Wolfowitz also rather smoothy, without actually saying it, implies that because (undeniably) radical Islamists are currently fighting in Iraq (having flocked there to answer the call to jihad from Osama bin Laden, among others) this somehow validates the claims made by the Bush Administration in the run-up to the war that there was a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda, which, in part, justified the Bush invasion. There is, of course, no logical reason why this should be true, being a rather egregious case of post hoc ergo propter hoc thinking.
In reality, there still is no compelling evidence (in fact, shockingly little evidence at all) of a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda, or anything that shows any Iraqi involvement in the attacks of 9/11. The Bushies created that supposed connection out of whole cloth, by the use of insinuations and deliberate misstatements, and succeeded beautifully in implanting the idea in the majority of the American public that Saddam=terrorism.
Not only that, but the harsh reality is that it was our invasion, which destroyed the only governmental structure that Iraq has known for decades, that created the very chaos which now allows terrorists to join in the fight, which in turn allows Wolfowitz to lead us to believe that this was the case all along.
Wolfowitz is not a stupid man, and knows all that, just as he know that his article is basically designed to misdirect us and make us believe that Bush and his neocon advisors were correct all along, when, in fact, everything we know about what's happened so far in Iraq has served to show how entirely wrong they were, and how they allowed their ideological preconceptions to blind them to the realities awaiting us there. Aside from that, Wolfowitz attempts to cloak the Administration's actions in the respect and admiration that people hold for those serving on the front lines, utilizing our patriotic feelings to squelch dissent and independent thought.
As always, the last refuge of the scoundrel. Or, as Billmon has it, "the last refuge of the incompetent."
The text is simply another dose of the same bizarre mix of rationalizations we've been hearing from the administration for the last several months, in which Iraq is (simultaneously) both a beacon of peace and democracy in the Middle East and a savage battlefield upon which the American military can finally lay waste to its enemies. A village, needing to be destroyed to be saved. Or saved to be destroyed. Or whatever.
The tone is also the same sacchrine mix of querulousness and self-pity --"Oh, those awful terrorists, they don't fight by the rules! It's not fair!"
That's why they call them terrorists, Paul.
What's missing -- entirely -- is any sense of strategic, or even tactical, direction, any hint of how the administration proposes to get itself (and America) out of the royal mess it has created in Iraq. Apparently, moral posturing and feeble platitudes (accompanied by the usual phalanx of lies) are an adequate substitute for policy, at least in the neocon universe.
And so it finally boils down to what this sort of mindless propaganda usually boils down to: Support the troops. Don't give aid and comfort to the terrorists. Don't be a disloyal American. Don't ask questions. Don't think.
Support the troops.
Well, considering how the neocons hopelessly misjudged the strength of the insurgency, low-balled the forces required to deal with it, saddled the Army with incompetent civilian contractors who can't even deliver enough water (in the middle of the desert, no less), bungled negotiations with the countries that might be able to provide reinforcements, stalled on bringing the U.N. on board, and -- last but hardly least -- repeatedly lied about when the troops now in Iraq might finally be relieved ...
If Wolfowitz took his own advice seriously, he'd resign.
Update (9/5/03): Corrected to fix the double misspelling of "post hoc ergo propter hoc." Thanks to my friend Garman for the catch.
This pathetic appeal to emotion exposes [Wolfowitz] as either dangerously naïve and childlike in his thinking or so ideologically driven that he is willing to say and do anything in service of his goals.
Remember, these guys have always been wrong about everything. It is their special talent. They thought Kissinger was a dangerous appeaser with his weak kneed wussy détente. Even after the fall of the Berlin Wall they were agitating for a stronger military presence in Europe to check an inevitable resurgence of communism. If they’d had their way we would have invaded Russia, for Gawd’s sake.
Typically, now that they have been proved to be both baldly dishonest and dramatically incompetent, they are falling back on their old favorite --- rank sentimentality and gooey patriotic tributes to the troops.
The scoundrels are scurrying to their last refuge much sooner than I would have thought possible. Get out your trowels and shovels because we are about to be buried in patriotic clichés. It's all they've got.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.