Thursday, April 08, 2004

News from the front,

Media reporting here in the US is lousy. Usually it's not the best, being not subject so much to political bias as just outright incompetency and intellectual laziness biases. Others are in the know but just keep quiet so they won't be criticized. However, recently with the outbreak of widespread violence in Iraq it's gotten worse than usual.

An assertion of coverup would be ridiculous given all the outlets, but an accusation of denial seems to be on the mark. Like most Americans our media doesn't seem to want to think of things in Iraq getting that bad.

Some people, like the otherwise very nice and very intelligent Winds of Change blogger Joe Katzman whom I've corresponded with and whom has always been the soul of courtesy to me have been focusing on periphial issues. Maybe Iran is in fact interfering (Oxblog). The point is that they can only do so because we've mismanaged the situation and created a power vacuum. From their perspective with us pressuring them over their weapons grade nuclear power plant, they'd be fools not to take advantage over our pratfall in Iraq.

This is why I've been trying to search out news like that of:

Col Lounsbury who is an ex-pat conservative who works with investors involved in Jordan and Iraq [Hat tip to Akim of Empty days who clued me in to Col first],

and

Ginmar a medic posted in Iraq serving on the frontlines of Iraq. [Hat tip to one of Col's posters] Here's a sample of her writing:

My captain didn’t know I heard him say what he just said. “Honestly, last night, I think every one of us thought that was it, that we weren’t going to make it back. It was that bad.”

and

So we went up to Baghdad for the memorial service, and part of this involved cruising up ‘IED Alley’ before the crews had time to sweep it and clear it of roadside bombs. Let me tell you, those ‘orange alerts ‘feel very different when you can see three-lane wide char marks stretching from the outside edge of the road to the center island---and past. [emphasis added]

Is that powerful, or what?

Besides like me being a fan of the cult hit show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", she clearly is relating personal experience. While some times you need to step back to see the big picture sometimes, clearly the Administration is not synthesizing overall data into a coherent view of the grand scheme of things but doing more of their patented cherry picking of data to fit their preconcieved biases.

This is not Vietnam. But to say that things aren't bad because they aren't Vietnam, yet, is to imply that one should begin planning for a Hurricane evacuation when the sea levels get to your doorstep. At that point, it's too late in order to get away from the disaster.

As weather reports go, what is currently happening in Iraq is troubling. We need to make some drastic changes soon, or there won't be anything to salvage. Even the great liberal hope of John Kerry, whom I must say I dislike more everyday on a purely personal level the more I find out about him (what do you expect? I am a conservative afterall even if a sane one.), is elected in November by then it will probably be too late to salvage to situation in Iraq.

Personally, I have a lot of ideas about how to turn things around in Iraq. I'd post more of them if I wasn't already quite busy working on a work project. However, the question of talent or ideas isn't the major obstacle to progress.

The major stumbling block is the obstinate refusal of this Administration to admit the slightest short-comings and chart a different course. They don't even have to admit they were wrong to satisfy me, just listen to the complaints [Hat tip to one of Delong's posters] and fix things.

Conservatives nowadays aren't the only ones having problems owning up to reality. Thomas Friedman as a liberal hawk gambled his entire reputation (one of his columns noted even his wife objected) on supporting the Iraq venture, and now is spinning his wheels in denial:

***
We are at a perilous juncture in Iraq. Two things are clear, and there's only one question left to be answered. What's clear is that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and there are no Viet Cong in Iraq. The key unanswered question is: Are there any Iraqis in Iraq?

When I say that there are no Viet Cong in Iraq, I mean that the Iraqi "insurgents" opposing the U.S. today cannot plausibly claim to be the authentic expressions of Iraqi nationalism — as the Viet Cong claimed to be in the Vietnam War. The forces killing Americans and Iraqi police are primarily Sunni Muslims who want to restore the rule and privileges of their minority community and Baath Party, or foreign and local Islamists who are trying to undermine any prospect of modernism, pluralism and secularism in Iraq.
[emphasis added]
***

At least Friedman is not in such denial as the Bush Administration, but still Friedman while acknowledging the peril believes that this issue can be kept isolated to a relatively small group of dissenters. The fact is that the entire of Iraq is so disgusted with American administration there that they are standing aside or actively helping the uprising as their way of showing a protest against our refusal to address their concerns and needs.

Bush does not have to admit tha he was wrong, except to himself. To fix this situation, he only needs to appoint and empower with authority the people with the experience and determination to get the job done. His failure to do so is crippling his leadership and on the verge of causing the biggest blowback in foreign policy bungles since the loss of Iran to the uprising against the Shah in the 70's. It may in fact be bigger than that even. The President doesn't have to be a specialist on everything. His judgement in empowering and delegating representatives to carry out and execute his policies well however is a crucial test and metric of his leadership.

Americans are not cowards. That is not the proper inference to be read from the dropping US support in the polls for continued deployment there. It is true though that Americans will refuse to pointlessly sacrifice lives if there is no real plan to turn things around. Why should American boys and girls die on foreign sands because some politician can't get his act together? Frankly, I can find nothing with that sentiment to disagree upon.

We should not abandon Iraq if nothing else to let the world know the taste of American resolve, but the President should be told that it is absolutely clear that past management practices will no longer suffice. They have to put someone in charge over there and give them the resources and leeway to do this right, or else it's all going to go down the drains.

Let us pray, and that is not a rhetorical request, for our Commander and Chief to come to his senses and send someone who knows what they are doing over there to take charge and bring this destructive conflict to an end.

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