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Reviving the Surge

Should ignorance and defeatism be the only victors? What are we doing in Iraq? What have we done? Plus more.

7.17.07

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TIMELY AND DEPRESSING
Re: Jeff Emanuel's A Surge in Ignorance and Defeatism:

Mr. Emanuel's piece on our ignorance is timely and quite depressing. One thing that caught my eye was his assertion that al Qaeda could make the war regional. There's no maybe, there is a certainty. Bin Laden wants Mecca. And if anybody thinks that the Saudi military would have an easier time against al Qaeda than we're having, well, talk about ignorance.
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
Omaha, Nebraska

Mr. Emanuel hits the nail on the head. The Iraq war can be won if we commit to victory and leave partisan politics aside. Conversely, we are guaranteed to lose if we remain divided and focus on departure as our number one objective. This has been the problem all along and will remain so until we leave with al Qaeda at our backs or President Bush starts showing some leadership by getting out and speaking to us about what is needed instead of telling us that is a tough haul, will take time, and he and the troops are "working hard." No, he needs to come out and tell us what is at stake, appeal to our patriotism, explain that we will LOSE if we are not united and that we are fighting Al Qaeda despite what Congress keeps telling the press. He needs to explain that victory can only be accomplished if we pull together and then he needs to ask for support. Explain that Congress voted to pursue this war and that means victory, so that Congress should get behind their Commander-in-Chief and help him win the war. The sooner we win, the sooner we get out. I do not believe that I have heard him ask for support since early in this whole mess. Being united requires a leader. Bush cannot unite us unless he demands it. Over and over again.
-- Patrick Minnis
Yorktown, Virginia

Contrary to Jeff Emanuel's multiple claims about "war on terror," "victory in Iraq," "strategy" and "winning." The truth is much more clear and obvious. Bush and his cronies invaded Iraq to secure the oil resources of that country. Whether you believe the Neocon plan to increase the flow of oil from Iraq to crush OPEC, or the Oil Corp. plan to restrict the flow of oil from Iraq to maintain the artificially high price of oil, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is that they invaded to control the oil resource and the whole "War on Terror"/Al Qaeda/911/WMD's" bull manure is the smoke screen being used to sell it to the American public. Access to the oil is why we haven't left yet and that's why the "oil law" is the most important part of "reconciliation," because in that law are the profit-sharing agreements that allow unfettered, unalterable access to Iraqi oil by Anglo-American oil companies for the next 30 years. So how much more American and Iraqi blood do you want to spill for Oil Corp/Saudi profits?

If you continue to have the author write for you, why don't you ask him to lay off the kool aid and treat your readers like adults.
-- Dr. Erik Thompson

A man brings in his German shepherd to the vet. The dog is listless and fatigued. The doctor runs the standard battery of tests and reports back that the dog is seriously malnourished. The man says that impossible; I put out the most expensive and nutritious dog chow every morning. The doctor inquires does the dog eat it? The man thinks a bit, and answers indirectly that he sometimes feeds the dog food scraps. The doctor asks about the other family members. Yes, they feed the dog too. The doctor patiently explains that the dog does not have the intelligence to choose wisely when presented with a myriad of choices, especially if the food that is damaging is the tastiest choice. The man must be responsible for the dog and feed it only what it needs or grave damage will be done to the dog

While the last thing America needs is censorship, one of the first things she needs is citizens who think before and after they digest the news; in fact, our entire electorate system was created upon the idea of an informed citizenry. We have, thankfully, a plethora of news ranging from the Looney Left to the Up Tight Right and everything in between. Too often people pick news sources, if they have one at all, that are most convenient or entertaining. Few people think about, let alone investigate, the philosophy, ideology, or dogma of their news sources. When it comes to news, Americans are overstuffed and undernourished. It is imperative that we take responsibility for our being informed before grave damage is done.
-- Ira M. Kessel

Honesty compels me to admit being one of the ignorant and defeatist whom Jeff Emanuel scolds. Allow me to explain how I got there, even if it doesn't stop the scolding.

My defeatism ought to be easy to understand. I believed we entered Iraq to eliminate the threat posed by a bloodthirsty dictator who vigorously supported terrorism. We had every reason to believe he would supply WMDs to terrorists. Diplomacy, isolation and sanctions had not worked, so we used force. Our redoubtable armed forces won the conventional war in a New York minute, vanquishing Saddam's armies and sending him into hiding. No problem there. But it all went sour starting the day Bush announced "Mission accomplished." The President was either premature or just plain wrong. As there were still areas not subdued, he should have held his tongue until resistance was eradicated. Instead, he left pockets of viable opposition who even today have yet to be taken out. He allowed them sanctuary in this or that mosque. He let collateral damage considerations outweigh victory. Fresh recruits flow across the same Iranian and Syrian borders that the elusive WMDs crossed, although border control has never been one of Bush's strengths (a topic for another letter).

Commanders hamstring our troops with ridiculous rules of engagement which give the enemy an advantage. Example: a terrorist bounds into view and starts spraying submachine gun fire into a squad of Marines, tagging three. He then throws down his weapon and puts his hands up. What instructions did the Pentagon give our boys? If you guessed "Don't return fire, just walk up and accept his surrender hoping there aren't any other snipers hidden nearby," you are very close to what my Marine son was told. According Geneva Convention treatment to terrorists isn't just unnecessary, it's idiotic. Reminiscent of "The Far Side" cartoon about the Wimpodites who fought with pillows being easy prey for other Vikings.

Mr. Emanuel may consider my arguments merely anecdotal, and evidence of an overall ignorance of the true strategy in Iraq. Okay, then, let's address my ignorance. Remind me, in plain English, what we are trying to accomplish. Lay out our strategic objectives, in either a logical or sequential order, using milestones, responsibilities, and estimated timing. Don't use vague phrases like "rallying tribes," "secure the population," or "win back their neighborhoods." If it isn't measurable, it isn't a legitimate milestone. Please don't ask me what the milestones should be; you're the embed, you tell me. Then tell me how much longer it will take, how many more dead we should expect, how much more it will cost. If it will take another 50 years and 10,000 funerals, be up front about it, or else we'll reach our own conclusions.

I suspect that it's the lack of a businesslike approach that has cost this war its public support. Businesses never undertake projects without a clear idea of what the objectives are, and what costs and benefits will accrue. What Mr. Emanuel calls a "fast-food, instant gratification culture" I call a results-oriented culture. Americans will be as patient as we need to be, but we don't enjoy throwing good money after bad, and even more, we don't sacrifice our sons and daughters lightly. We don't know what victory in Iraq even means any more because nobody will tell us what the criteria are. The only data we get are casualty counts and ridiculous stories about Abu Ghraib. We are in the fifth year of this safari, and the only hide we have to show for it is Saddam's. Is it any wonder that we are disenchanted?
-- Jim Bono
Midlothian, Virginia

An excellent piece. Mr. Emanuel's assertion that the American public is ignorant of the factual conditions with respect to Iraq and this state of ignorance leads to widespread defeatism is, I think, correct.

The question is why is the American public ignorant of the factual conditions even in an age of unparalleled access to information? The president has repeatedly enumerated the reasons for the war in Iraq and against Islamic extremism.

The reason for ignorance in the American public has to do with traditional American media. American MSM has consistently reported negative information about Iraq and excluded the good. This finding has been confirmed by several studies completed by media watchdog entities. I think a good follow up piece would be an analysis of why American MSM war reporting has been so biased against the war.

American media bias has caused me to be increasingly skeptical of news reports. I have stopped viewing network news shows entirely. I have stopped reading newspapers entirely. I get my news on the Internet from a select list of news and opinion providers. Some of the best news and opinion available today is generated by amateurs who blog in their spare time. The quality of reporting, independent analysis, and fact-based opinion available on the Internet is clearly superior to anything available from conventional news sources. Of course, much of what is available on the Internet from amateurs is second-generation information. By that I mean it is based on first generation reporting from the conventional media. It is the careful scrutiny and analysis of the first generation reporting that adds so much value and often spotlights the ham-handed bias.
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

Mr. Emanuel asks whether the average American really knows or care what the true facts of the situation in Iraq are. The short answer is that a very large plurality of average Americans do not know and do not want to know. They are much more concerned with who is winning on American Idol or Survivor than in Iraq or Afghanistan. They cannot watch a report on the situation on the ground in Iraq (if the MSM would even show such a program), because the have to watch the ESPYs, or catch the latest update on Paris Hilton's trials and tribulations, the poor dear.

How many Americans can even name one of the men that have been awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for Iraq. For that matter, how many times has The American Spectator in its on line edition carried a story of the heroism of our military in Iraq or Afghanistan. How many thumbnail sketches or bios have you seen of the seventeen Marines that have won the Navy Cross, or the Navy men that have won it. Men like the Navy SEAL known simply as "The One" or his SEAL Lieutenant who has been recommended for the Medal of Honor posthumously. I guess that we will have to buy his book, Sole Survivor, to learn that story. How many stories have you seen of the Air Force folks that have been awarded the Air Force Cross, or the Army guys that have gotten the Silver Star, etc. I bet there are a couple of gentleladies in Texas that appear in the "Letters" section of this publication that can relate some of the stories, and probably one in San Francisco.

The media has not done their job in prominently reporting on the heroes, or the battlefield successes, or the rebuilding of the country that has and is taking place. On top of that, entirely too many Americans simply do not care, they don't want to know. It would conflict with their hedonistic and narcissistic lives and attitudes. They would rather gripe about gas and fuel oil prices, while attending meetings to plan how to stop the oil companies from drilling more wells or building more refineries, or God help us, actually running a nuclear power plant.

In the long run, we pretty much get the kind of government that we deserve. When JFK said to "Ask not what your country can do for you," we were a very different country with a very different citizenry. When a large enough plurality of American voters actually know and care that we have been fighting the Islamic Jihadists actively since at least 1979, then they will elect Senators and Congressmen that care also. Then and only then will things change.
-- Ken Shreve
An unashamed fan of the American military men and women.

If Mr. Emanuel is so concerned about "ignorance," then why doesn't he inform us about the fact that the real war against al Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that the al Qaeda presence in Iraq was created by the war in Iraq, and that most Iraqis are no more friends of al Qaeda than we are? If we leave Iraq, the consequences are likely to be quite complicated and we should discuss them. But it doesn't serve that discussion to leave out some of the facts, especially when it is an article claiming to removing misconceptions and ignorance on the topic. Just once I'd like to see a conservative tell the whole truth and not just that part that serves their propaganda purposes.
-- Ron Schoenberg
Seattle, Washington

Americans' misconceptions are not just "borne out of ignorance and, ironically, a lack of information." Opinions masquerade as print and televised news. Concerted misinformation campaigns continue. And as the yellers, over-talkers and ad-hominem-attackers prevail, civilized debate disappears.

But the Bush administration's impotence and fear also promoted and promotes misconceptions. When challenged with misinformation, half-truths, distractions or even genuine criticism, the administration has lacked the testicularity and ability to respond, if at all and/or with any clarity and conviction.

Maybe this administration, not its critics, will snatch defeat in Iraq from the jaws of victory? Who gives the victory to al Qaeda and every other potential Islamo-fascist in Iraq, thus the world, is less important as that prospective despicable outcome.

Mr. Emmanuel is right: There is no Plan B for success. But Plan F-for-Failure means retreating to our shores and fighting the terrorists and Islamo-fascists here. That is, if anyone's willing to call the enemy, enemy.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Following Jeff Emanuel's "A Surge in Ignorance and Defeatism," I have two questions: When is Fred Thompson going to create a real legacy and declare his intention to run for the White House 2008? And who's available to sustain him there?
-- G. Constable
Sydney, Australia

REACTION POLARIZATION
Re: Greg Gutfeld's Mother's Day at Pier 1:

Great article! Greg Gutfeld just nailed it. He pegged the whole "culture of rebellion." Again, an excellent piece.
-- Steve Baarda
London, Ontario

This writer is new to me but the article is respectful and loving without being maudlin. "Struggle" without risk seems to be very au courant in much of our nation and the West today. However, the women (and men) who go about their business and are quietly heroic will never be out of date.
-- Lorraine Kenter

Love your website, but... Gutfeld? I find him frantic and dirty-minded. Why are you selling him? His show does him no honor either. Best regards,
-- Allen

CUT TO THE CHASE
Re: Doug Bandow's More Religion, Less Religious Freedom:

I think the article was a little deceiving with the title. It should have said more Islamic Religion and less Religious Freedom.

Thanks
--- Joseph D'Ambrosia

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