Thursday, November 30, 2006

Civil War

It is sectarian violence. By any classical definition I can think of for the term "civil war", it does not fit what is going on in Iraq. But even if that rhetorical point were conceded over to the anti-war left- because that's really the whole point of the label: to delegitimize the war, and reinforce the argument of "cut-and-run"- as Michael Medved says, "So what?"

In his blogpost today, Medved points out why the haggling over defining the current state of affairs is a moot point:
In Afghanistan in 2001, we entered a long running civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance and helped the good guys to decisive victory within a matter of weeks. No one looked at the situation and said, “Uh-oh, there’s a bloody civil war that’s been going on in that country for years, so the U.S. can’t possibly send its forces!” As a matter of fact, there’s another “civil war” raging in Afghanistan right now –-- a conflict that fits the classic “civil war” model far better than the situation in Iraq. In Afghanistan, there are two clearly recognizable sides (the Taliban and the Karzai government) warring for control. In Iraq, there’s no organized, recognizable, anti-government leadership of the insurgency, no program or even ruling clique that the terrorists seek to impose, no prominent leaders with whom the U.S. and our allies can negotiate or around whom the opposition can rally. The real struggle is governmental authority vs. bloody chaos—and the fact that bloody chaos is winning at the moment doesn’t mean that it’s a civil war.
He and the editorial in Opinion Journal, yesterday, also point out our involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo. Medved goes further in examples throughout our history of interjecting ourselves in the midst of civil wars.

Democrat defeatists and war critic quagmirists, for quite some time have long wanted to label the insurgency a "civil war" almost from the very beginning. SNAFU at One Soldier's Perspective (who is still in Iraq) doesn't see anything different, other than the media's brazen attempts to willfully create the perception they wish for. Of course no one in the media would ever admit it- even to themselves! What American journalist wants to believe that he is helping our enemies? Even as many journalists want to think of themselves as "above the fray", believing that excellence in their profession requires of them to be journalists first, and Americans second. The truth is, journalists and their editorial board are anything but detached, impartial observers. They are as much victims of their own biases as we are victims of their own biases.

Helping the enemy is exactly what the news media does, not only when they blatantly print and televise enemy propaganda, and call it "showing both sides" and "their (i.e., insurgents') perspective"; but also when, during a time of war, all they are showing is the sensationalism....the latest car bombing...the latest IED explosion...the latest sectarian violence. Mudkitty (a very popular commentor on conservative blogs [/sarcasm]- *waves to Mudkitty*) writes,
The fact that someone opens a melon stand is not “news.”
Under normal conditions, it might not be. But during a time of war when morale is important as is America's will to succeed and not live up to the "paper tiger" misnomer, reporting the good news that is also going on in Iraq- i.e. highlighting it, frontpaging it, underscoring it, etc.- is a good thing and even necessary propaganda. Propaganda doesn't have to be dishonest and a negative. What it does, is it provides a balance and a fuller picture of what's going on. Violence is not the only thing going on in Iraq. When the media has created the perception in people's minds of widespread violence in Iraq, rather than a concentration of violence in just 2 or 3 of the 18 provinces, that is misleading and that is dishonest; that (mis)perception needs to be countered by showing the "ordinary" and the "normal"; the "business as usual" that is free from violence. This is when the "not newsworthy" does indeed become "newsworthy". That is why there is nothing shameful about our military offering to pay Iraqi newspapers to report positive stories- so long as those stories are true. What is shameful is that our military not only has to fight this war on one front; but a second front as well, doing the work our 4th estate won't do. How is it that they (meaning, our military's attempt to sell positive stories) are accused of presenting only one side, when one side is really all that the dinosaur media ever wants to really talk about? Does it ever occur to the 4th estate when they behave as a fifth column? They think their behavior during Vietnam was noble; and they seem hellbent on repeating it in today's war. Have they learned nothing? Apparently, just all the wrong lessons of that other war.

I am still updating the previous post, so check it out. The story, along with Flopping Aces is gaining traction; MSM is going to be forced to address this.


Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Whee! First commenter on my post!

I remember many years ago, hearing that my cousins and relatives in Japan believed that America was a very violent place. Perhaps by Japan's standards; but also because of the influence of media, pushing a perception of drive-by shootings, gang violence, and overall decadence. Ok, maybe that last part isn't too far off base...but you get the idea...

Thursday, November 30, 2006 6:45:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

I think one point of calling it a civil war, as Colin Powell and others have done, is to point out the problems inherent in the notion that we can bomb our way to solutions. We toppled a problematic rogue leader, but in doing so, we've replaced his oppression with what may well be a worse oppression.

This is not to argue in support of keeping Saddam in place, but rather in support of remembering the Conservative tenet of Prudence: It is impossible to predict what consequences our actions will have. It therefore behooves us to behave prudently, going to war only in truly last case scenarios. We failed this conservative notion in Iraq and the result is this ongoing, seemingly unstoppable sectarian violence and/or civil war.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 6:51:00 AM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Bravo Wordsmith! I was just about to bust you again for blog slacking and you come back with a tour de force.

I would just add that in addition to the mundane news in Iraq which goes unreported, we also rarely if ever see the extraordinary reported. Whether it's the touching story of US troops rescuing the infant shot by terrorists in the back of the head or the many acts of heroism of our soldiers, these moments never seem to take the same place in the media as the news of tragedy and killing.

P.S. As usual, Trabue defends the status quo. So much for advocating "peace."

Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Excellent, Wordsmith. The MSM does indeed present a very limitted view of what is going on in Iraq, and I'm sure they know it. I can see where the Japanese would believe America to be a very violent place, having only experienced American life through Television, but I found that comment of yours interesting because I've never really thought about that before.

With all of the violent TV programs it's no wonder, and most of the world probably sees us in that same dim light. Television has an awesome affect on people's way of thinking, and the MSM is doing a horrible injustice not only to our military, but to the American people as well.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Word..yes u did come back with a tour de force...and the semantic game is one more they just wont win if we dont let them!

Thursday, November 30, 2006 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In Iraq, there’s no organized, recognizable, anti-government leadership of the insurgency, no program or even ruling clique that the terrorists seek to impose, no prominent leaders with whom the U.S. and our allies can negotiate.

That's what Medved said with your approval. What do you want to bet, the US has already negotiated with elements of the insurgency, and will order Malicki's government to do so , or will stand by and allow such inevtiable negotiation to happen?

Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It is impossible to predict what consequences our actions will have.

Which leads me to believe that even if things don't "work out", it was still a "worthy effort". It was ever a gamble; and a noble one at that, in my opinion. And the anti-war opponents who were never on board have been wanting to draw the curtains shut, every step of the way. I have no doubt that there are many who have invested their egoes into these global stakes; that they cannot bear for things to turn out alright, because victory in Iraq means victory for George W. Bush.

The following quote is lifted from "Don't Tread on Me" by H.W. Crocker III, and reflects my thinking:

In the battle against global Islamist terrorism, centered largely on the Arab world, to oust the government of Saddam Hussein might very well be an alternative to perpetual war. Attacking al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan was necessary, but likely insufficient, to put the wind up Arab and Islamist governments that collaborated with terrorists. It was a mere ratcheting up of tit-for-tat, better and more effective by far than President Clinton's bombing of the odd aspirin factory, but not enough to stop the sponsors of the jihadists.

To win the war against al Qaeda and radical Islam the United States needed to make an object lesson of a hostile Arab regime. Iraq was the obvious choice. Take down Saddam Hussein and make it clear to terror-harboring governments that if they didn't want to be hit by America's big stick they must rapidly clean up their own backyards or be held accountable- that, a statesman might wager, was a strategy for winning the war against terrorism at less ultimate cost in blood, treasure, and risk.

It therefore behooves us to behave prudently, going to war only in truly last case scenarios. We failed this conservative notion in Iraq

Dan, based upon what we knew (or thought we knew) then, the irresponsible course of action for President Bush would to have done nothing (don't forget too, that Vladimir Putin's Russian intelligence was warning us that Iraqis were planning terrorist attacks on the US; and reading post-war Saddam documents being translated have only solidified my belief that the we were right in deposing Saddam- that he was a cancer, better to deal with now than 10 years from now...something Bush Sr. had said during the Gulf War; too bad that wasn't part of the mission back then). President Bush named the Axis of evil, and he was right about them. If Saddam was the weakest of the three, and if we knew it prior to the Iraq War, there is something to be said about going after the weakest of the three, as a matter of strategy (and enforcement of 17 UN Resolutions and the original cease-fire agreement). By any historical estimation, the Iraq War is not a disaster. Any amount of losses are tragic. But your fellows on the left have been making like Chicken Little from the very beginning, magnifying every setback and blowing out of proportion every tragedy, however minor in the grand scheme of things. I remember when the headlines were ready for us to withdraw at 500 deaths. I remember when the "experts" were predicting hundreds of thousands of our soldiers being killed in the land invasion of Iraq. The swift 3 week overthrow of Saddam's regime is an incredible military victory.

Mike, thank you for the compliment and the push. Your previous comment in the previous thread gave me the kick in the pants I needed.

And good point about the lack of heroes. There are many, but they have gone largely unreported by MSM. How is it that the short-attention span media made Jessica Lynch a household name and not Navy SEAL Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts? Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor? The media would rather focus on the death of our soldiers, not as a noble act of sacrifice that means something, but as a senseless loss in a "senseless" war that they refuse to get behind and support.

Gayle, I'm also reminded of a statistic from Freakonomics, about how more children die from home swimming pools than die from handgun accidents. So why aren't there Moms Against Swimming Pools? Another book I have is "The Progress Paradox" about "How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse", by Greg Easterbrook. He has one chapter that opens with this observation:

In his extraordinary book Mapping Human History, the science writer Steve Olson estimates that 80 billion "modern" humans have walked the earth down through the millennia. Supposing this number is correct, the men and women at middle-class standards or above in the United States and the European Union now live better than 99.4 percent of the human beings who have ever existed.

Average Americans live better than more than 99% of all the humans who have ever lived, including most of royalty in history; even if only owing to the invention of antibiotics.

It's an interesting book that makes you look at things with fresh eyes...and with optimism.

The nature of news is tragedy sells. That says something about us; and something about journalism and its effect on our perception of the world and current events. For everything that is deemed newsworthy to report, there are probably millions of things that are also of interest that we will never hear about.

Angel, thank you for that.

Anon, lay your cards on the table.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"the irresponsible course of action for President Bush would to have done nothing"

But I don't know of many who were calling for us to "do nothing." We were advocating, are advocating with Iran and the "war on terror" in general, that we take responsible, prudent actions to attempt to stop them.

Global adventurism of the nature of what we've done in Iraq is a slap in the face of classic conservatism, not to mention counter-productive and just a little lacking in intelligence in every sense of that word.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Skye said...

Dan's reply reveals what has become the left’s conveniently illogical position on Iraq. In fact, one may more readily understand where paleo-conservatives are coming from in opposing democracy in Iraq if at one time they had similarly opposed majority rule in South Africa. For at least they are being consistent in possessing an ultimately pessimistic view of humanity in not believing either people capable of reasonable self-government. A point that both Dan and paleo-cons could easily agree upon.

But what is garden-variety liberals’ excuse? After all, for decades they had raved about how nothing less than true democracy was urgently required in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The cost was often cited as being irrelevant; freedom was, we were bravely told, all that mattered. Recall the often used phrase by the left: "Peace is priceless"

But Afghanistan and Iraq today? Oh hell no! For them the old rules of “democracy now at any cost” somehow have vanished or just don’t apply. According to today’s left, those peoples don’t seem to deserve what Zimbabweans and South Africans once most certainly did.

Sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way. If democracy — with all its failings and violence — is good enough for Zimbabwe and South Africa, then it is good enough for the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq!
We toppled a problematic rogue leader, but in doing so, we've replaced his oppression with what may well be a worse oppression.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 8:57:00 PM  
Blogger Skye said...

Yawn..Tell that to the 18 million Iraqi's who risked their lives to vote for the creation of a legitimate, representative Iraqi government.

Our 'global adventurism' gave these oppressed people this miraculous opportunity.

Thanks for non-support of this mission. Remember NONE of this was done in your name, DAN.

Global adventurism of the nature of what we've done in Iraq is a slap in the face of classic conservatism, not to mention counter-productive and just a little lacking in intelligence in every sense of that word.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Wordsmith: Technical problem? I refreshed your main page and nothing new in the last 24 hours?


Thursday, November 30, 2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Mike...? You frakker! You got me.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger RoxieAmerica said...

America media does not present news! American media presents sound bytes around which they create talking heads; then, they run the clip over, and over, and over, and over. Sorta like a mind control technique isn't it?

Two ex-Presidents have joined the negative band. Like President Carter has any place discussing terrorism after his complete mis-management of the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 -- out of which came modern Islamic revolutionary terrorism.

To President Carter, I say, "Shut up! Mr. President you have proven that your ideas of how to hande Islamic revolutionary terrorists fertilzed the movement. Your conduct in the media concerning these issues has been both unPresidential and unprofessional!"

Friday, December 01, 2006 6:22:00 AM  
Blogger Old Soldier said...

”Global adventurism of the nature of what we've done in Iraq is a slap in the face of classic conservatism, not to mention counter-productive and just a little lacking in intelligence in every sense of that word.”

Actually what you describe is classic ‘passivism,’ not conservativism. Does Neville Chamberlain still hold a special place in your mind? Is it better that we have deposed a maniacal dictator now, or should we have waited a decade until he could have built a huge army of goose-stepping, brown-shirted, right-arm-extended fanatics? (That’s a reference to the Muslim fanatics as exposed in “Obsession” – not a reference to Adolf’s army.) Perhaps the “prudent” course of action has already occurred and you have failed to recognize it. “Peace at all costs” is a coward’s way of avoiding the difficult task of actually providing for the peace. Remember, America is the land of the free because of the brave; not the other way around.

Excellent post, Wordsmith.

Friday, December 01, 2006 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

Funny you should bring this up, I just wrote every major news outlet even FOX, and asked them why they are not matching a story about a car bomb exploding with "In other news today in Iraq" (Sarcasim) a school opened in the Anbar Province, a Hospital opened today in Bakuba, or a Dr. Learned a new medical technique for brain surgery by one of the American, British, or other coalition forces Dr.'s in the field in Basra!

As for the Civil war part, how can they (NBC) and others claim there is a civil war when the entire Country isnt involved? NONE of this insurgency mess is going on in the Kurdish area. As a matter of fact they have tourism in Kurdistan! I'm quite sure the Kurds would disagree that there is a civil war.

I dont understand for the life of me why the MSM try like heck to tear down our Troops Morale constantly. Do they hate Bush and the Troops that much? It is sad that our troops have to not only fight the insurgents but the MSM at home, one glimmer of hope that I have that our Troops Morale is still in tact is that they made one of the greatest War Time Banners of all when Kerry stuffed his foot down his throat.

I hope the Troops are just thinking "Those wacky people back home"!

Sunday, December 03, 2006 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Indigo Red said...

The press has always been a thorn in the side of the military and government. It's supposed to be. Gen. Sherman wanted to round up the reporters and journalists to shoot them, instead he just banned them from camp.

I think we've moved beyond Neville Chamberlain selling out to Hitler. In the years since the Fall of the Soviet Union, we've wondered if any nation would rise to challenge the surviving Superpower. Most folks thought it would be China. The current leader is Iran.

The civil war in Iraq is pointing to the emergence of the Shia from Iran to challenge not just the West, but the Sunnis as well. Saudi Arabia has publically said they will protect Sunni interests in Iraq if the US withdraws. That will mean factional war on a scale not yet seen in the world. Iran will soon have nuclear weapons and SA is really not that far behind.

Perhaps out of the America's Iraq War will come an internal War of Islam leaving both major sects greatly weakened. Or else, a great Chador Curtain will descend across the Middle East to begin a new Cold War. Current and subsequent negotiations, I believe, will identify new "spheres of influence" that we will have to live with for a very long time.

BTW- Big news! I've opened a melon stand!

Sunday, December 03, 2006 3:19:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

BTW- Big news! I've opened a melon stand!

Dammit! Why didn't CNN cover it?! I'd even settle for the HuffingtonPost! Oh, the outrage! The bias!

Sunday, December 03, 2006 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I remember how shocked I was when I learned that the Tet Offensive was in fact a U.S. victory.

The fog of war is comparable to the fog of the lib media and lib education.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 11:47:00 AM  

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