Saturday, May 01, 2004

When is it their responsibility?

Right Wing News has an interesting post reviling media coverage of Iraq. It has some good points, like the fact that the media has been too much like chicken-littles crying "Vietnam" over every little setback before hand.

Iraq is not Vietnam. However, it may soon get to the point of being worse. However, it is not there yet though seemingly not for lack of trying. As Zinni said, the first principle of getting out of a hole is to stop digging. But the Administration just seems to keep on shoveling the same dirt.

Still it is not like Vietnam yet, though it is steadily worsening. I do blame press coverage as being inadequate and unbalanced. One of the problems with crying wolf is that you lose credibility. By trying to exaggerate problems before hand, one loses the ability to credibly assert the existence of problems later. Part of the reason why the John and Jane Q public may be so innured to negative press explosions of media exaggerations that they are discounting the news of a gradual but insidiously worsening actual problem in Iraq.

It's like someone saying "I'm gonna die from a heart attack!!!" melodramatically so often that you don't notice them starting to droop and finally knock off from arsenic heavy metal poisoning.

Over a year ago, I said that the reason why the Administrations plans in Iraq would fail is not military but that it would be a political failure. Just like Vietnam was in the end, a political failure. The failure to create a viable native political government by coalition and grassroots support will eventually doom Iraq just as it doomed South Vietnam. People won't fight for a government that doesn't represent them even if the alternative is a bunch of bad guys. Just doesn't happen.

In the end, it says something interesting about human psychology. It's not enough to convince people when their lives are on the line that you're the lesser of two evils. People just don't get thrilled and literally all up in arms about that. You need to win them over that it's the greatest good that is at stake. You can ask them to give up their lives, but never ever ask them to give up their pride and dignity. In the end, there's got to be something in it for them even if it's being spoken of well after they're dead.

What also was true in the case of Vietnam was that Administration after Administration was given extraordinary freedom to pursue the campaign however they chose, but after mulitple years and rising protests at the sheer waste and mendacity of the butcher's bill when people really started protesting somehow it was the press and media's fault for "undermining public support". Bullshit. What undermined public support was the spectre of American Presidencies lurching about cluelessly and denying reality.

While the time frame has been shorter, the American people have again granted extraordinary freedom to this Administration to conduct this military campaign basically however it should see fit.

So when is it the responsibility of the people who've been supporting and apologizing for this situation? They got their war. They got the money, the troops, and the Congressional mandate to win it. They got to handpick the staff and they got to micromanage the nation-building. They did it with an extraordinary level of secrecy and independence from Congressional and judicial oversight. They got a free pass when the pretext for the war turned out to be bogus, and when the world terrorism situation destabilized instead of improving in light of the military invasion and occupation. They got every single thing they asked for. Given that things aren't going well, and the entire venture may sink rapidly when in fact is it their responsibility?

Whatever happens, the failure of this endeavour should not be blamed on a public talked into quitting by the press or an excessively negative media. The media was negative, but insofar as the operational details and administration the pro-war people got every single thing they asked for in an unprecedented cart blanche.

If any war could be defeated by a tiny minority of people without any operational authority talking pessimistically back home then no war would succeed. But they do.

After that extraordinary degree of freedom, I would say that the least my conservative brethern could do was exercise that peculiarly conservative tenet of personal responsibility and own up to the fact that the people we conservatives put in charge turned out to be to put put it frankly losers.

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