Saturday, August 18, 2007



Kobe, on getting the news of his Nobel nomination

I spent last week in Virginia with Jane, and her three charming standard poodles. Who should sit down next to me on the plane back to L.A. but Peter Beinart, an editor of the reactionary New Republic and a major Iraq war booster-- although he told me he opposes it. I may have made a faux pas when I tried to explain to him where Neocons are on the historical spectrum of the political right. Peter was every bit as charming as Kobe, Katie and Lucy-- and far more articulate-- but I would just as soon trust the three of them to make decisions about American foreign policy as him and his friends. Alas, the coming Hillary Clinton Regime will have plenty of room for the Peter Beinarts of the world. It's tailor-made for them-- and it's probably too late to make Americans understand why that's a catastrophe in the making.

Today's Washington Post has a report by Jonathan Finer that doesn't mention Peter, just some of his pals from the Brookings Institution, a think tank where he works. He and I had talked about Bush Regime apologists Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon and their recent propaganda trip to the Greed Zone. Finer points out that "In June, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, fresh from his latest whirlwind tour of the war zone, described in the Wall Street Journal a 'dramatic reversal' in the security situation in restive Anbar province. As Washington anticipates a September report assessing the troop surge, there is good reason to be skeptical of such snapshot accounts."

Yesterday I dealt with turn-coat Democrat Brian Baird, who also made one of these Potempkin Village trips and came back singing "Stay the Course." And a couple of nights ago, one of the earliest and strongest of the Jerry McNerney netroots supporters, Babaloo, led a discussion at Firedoglake about ostensibly anti-occupation McNerney going over to the Greed Zone and coming back spouting Rovian talking points. His contributions at Blue America have ground to a halt and we're waiting to hear back from him before taking further action.
A dizzying number of dignitaries have passed through Baghdad for high-level briefings. The Hill newspaper reported this month that 76 U.S. senators have traveled to Iraq during the war, 38 in the past 12 months. Most never left the Green Zone or other well-protected enclaves. Few, if any, changed the views they held before arriving.

Reporters based in Baghdad rarely pay much attention to these visits, often skipping the news conferences that conclude most visiting delegations' itineraries. Since leaving Iraq last year, I've been surprised by the impact these choreographed tours have had on domestic discourse about the war. First come opinion pieces full of bold pronouncements of "what I saw" at the front. Next, the recent returnees appear on late-night cable programs or the Sunday talk [shows]. Those with opposing views respond, and soon the echo chamber is drowning out whatever's really happening.

This practice ought to have been (finally) discredited by Sen. John McCain's trip to Baghdad in the spring, after which he all but declared that Freedom had marched alongside him as he strolled through a marketplace, chatting with shopkeepers. That McCain had been trailed by an armada of armored vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters was only later reported by "60 Minutes."

The most frustrating such visit during my time in Iraq was that of radio host Laura Ingraham, who rarely, if ever, spent a moment outside the protection of U.S. forces or a night outside a military base. While in Baghdad in February 2006, she wrote on her Web site that the training of the Iraqi army "continues apace" and that "you wouldn't know it by reading the New York Times, but IED attacks are actually down since December." After returning, she continued criticizing Baghdad-based journalists -- almost all of whom operate without military protection -- telling an NBC audience that "to do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military, to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off."

...Last month on "Meet the Press," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a supporter of the war, chided his Democratic colleague James Webb. "Have you been to Iraq?" asked Graham, who has visited seven times.

"I've been a member of the military when the senators come in," replied Webb, who has not visited Iraq but fought in Vietnam during a long military career. "You know, you go see the dog-and-pony shows."

Beinart's Brookings colleagues described themselves as "two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq," although didn't mention that both are Neocons who wholeheartedly support the war and just recognize that Bush and the incompetents around him haven't fought it well enough. I see Pollack on TV all the time propagandizing for the most reactionary policies out there. He and the rest of the discredited Joe Lieberman/Zell Miller Democrats have been consistently wrong in their backing of the Bush Regime's catastrophic policies and agenda in the Middle East. And they will be just as wrong-- and lead us down just as catastrophic a path-- when they infest Hillary's foreign policy shop after the 2008 election.


Probably not, but the delusional and somewhat senile senior senator from Arizona seems to think he, like Beinart, has been a mighty critic of the Bush Regime's policies in Iraq. McCain believes his own malarkey-- and so, of course, does that former Fox "News" host on CNN, right wing propaganda star Kiran Chetry. The proof that McCain is either a conscious liar or insane (or both) is all over the public record, something one must expect propagandists with a job to do, like Chetry, to always ignore. Thankfully, we have Think Progress which doesn't let this kind of rewriting of history pass without mention. Here's some of the public record that McCain and Chetry seem to have overlooked:
“But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” [NBC, 3/20/03]

“It’s clear that the end is very much in sight.” [ABC, 4/9/03]

“There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shi'as. So I think they can probably get along.” [MSNBC, 4/23/03]

This is a mission accomplished. They know how much influence Saddam Hussein had on the Iraqi people, how much more difficult it made to get their cooperation.” [This Week, ABC, 12/14/03]
“I’m confident we’re on the right course.” [ABC News, 3/7/04]

“I think the initial phases of it were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise.” [CBS, 10/31/04]

“I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.

Only someone whose mind has been warped by the likes of Fox, Limbaugh, Coulter, et al, could look at the record and say, "Yes, John McCain-- or for that matter any of the pathetic pygmies™-- just what we need to solve the country's problems."

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At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Montag said...

Laura Ingraham is a flaming nutjob. On her radio program once she went all gushy over Henry V's "St. Crispin's Day Speech" in Shakespeare's play, and how it should inspire us in Iraq. Problem was, the English LOST the Hundred Years War despite winning at Agincourt, because they couldn't occupy France against the wishes of the French people. They eventually couldn't justify the ruinous cost of the war to the Taxpayers. She sure fell for Shakespeare's dog-and-pony-show!

At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Brigham said...

Maybe we need a draft (of non-military journalists and hacks) as everyone who goes there and does the military dog and pony show throws down for the surge upon return.

If we sent around a 100 million on such "tours", then maybe Bush could get his approval in positive ground.

But probably, the non-DC wankers would see through the smoke screen.

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was hoping to read more specifics about what Beinart said.

Otherwise I enjoyed the posting, as always.


At 10:15 PM, Anonymous crazyman in NYC said...

If you want a different view of Iraq, take a look at Michael Totten's blog.
Why read him?

He was actually in the field recently in Iraq. Most recently he went embedded with the military. That is the only way to be an American journalist and survive in central Iraq. Before doing that though, he went by himself (and a friend) to Kurdish iraq where they did sneak in to the regular iraq. Before that he was reporting on Lebanon and Israel from both sides of the border.

When he was embedded he was reporting the fully "good news" in Iraq. Take a look at what he is writing now that he has left. He is painting it in the grays of reality.

According to his sources, some areas the US is really doing much better with the methods of the surge. Some areas not yet. Potentially, we might be able to buy some leaders to be following us which will really change things there.

It sounds like eventually we should be able to win in Iraq. The issue will be though, at what cost.

I am thinking back about Andrew Scott Card, who is currently very much pro Iraq war. I think that he/we really needs something from one of his books.
We need a Speaker for the dead who can tell us the whole truth. The good, the bad, the ugly.

We will need that to get a real solution. Unfortunately, I am not a friend of Iran; I do not wish to see them take over Iraq. That has a good chance at happening if the US leaves. (unless, the US can create a nice dictator to run the country)

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like eventually we should be able to win in Iraq.

There is no "winning" in Iraq. There is only stabilizing the situation enough so that we may withdraw under the most optimal conditions. 20,000 American troops lost their lives during the course of the years long withdrawal from Vietnam under hostile conditions. It is much more difficult to take troops out than most people realize. It's not like packing up the station wagon and driving home from a weekend at the lake. Ground forces are used to take and hold ground. Retreating/withdrawing under hostile conditions is quite dangerous. With people shooting at you, it can take years to pull it off.

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Barry Ragin said...

Retreating/withdrawing under hostile conditions is quite dangerous. With people shooting at you, it can take years to pull it off.

And if you don't, you know, actually start withdrawing, it can take even longer.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(unless, the US can create a nice dictator to run the country)"

Problem with this scenario is such a dictator would need an army/security force in order to run the country. And the people who have anything resembling one aren't "nice".

Iraq will be run by a Shi'ite theocracy. Time to cut our losses.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Max Renn said...

Some nut from NYC writes:

"I am thinking back about Andrew Scott Card, who is currently very much pro Iraq war. I think that he/we really needs something from one of his books.
We need a Speaker for the dead who can tell us the whole truth. The good, the bad, the ugly."

You mean Orson Scott Card.

It's unlikely that a genocidal solution to the problems that you've raised as expressed in Card's peculiar SF mileu will be forthcoming. Michael Totten is certainly not the being to channel it.


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