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July 30, 2007

Alert The Media! The Surge Is Working!

Question for the ages: is a statement like this a searing indictment of supposedly 'unbiased' war reporting, or just evidence of Congressional incompetence?

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

Question: why should the authors have been "surprised" if we have been getting accurate and balanced reporting from the mainstream media?

Here's a clue. The public does not get its news from the Bush administration.

We get it from the media. The fact is, the Bush admistration has been telling us the Surge is working; a message which seems to be confirmed by the authors' trip to Iraq. It is the media who have relentlessly worked to undermine and refute that message. And now, two Democrats, one a Clintonite, are saying (after travelling to Iraq to find out for themselves) that the White House is telling the truth.

Does "Questioning The Authority" of the mainstream media make them "propagandists", mere Pentagon surrogates? Will their opinions be dismissed wholesale as scripted by the government, like the dissent of a blogger who wrote a post entitled "Lies my leaders told me", because they dared to stray off the Progressive antiwar ideological reservation?

Goldfarb and Grim both note that after one conference call, David Axe wrote a very critical piece titled “Lies My Leaders Told Me.” And Goldfarb, too, will stick it to the man. He writes:

Not only are we clear about who our sources are, we are not always kind to them–I wrote at the time that Liotta’s rationale for keeping Gitmo open wasn’t “terribly compelling.”

However, when the curious reader consults Goldfarb’s original post, the full quote is as follows:

To be blunt, I don’t find this to be a terribly compelling argument for keeping Gitmo open–though neither is it unreasonable.

Which is not exactly the bold statement I was expecting when I clicked through, and, by the end of the post, Goldfarb appears to come around to Liotta’s point of view, saying that moving prisoners out of Gitmo “seems like a risk not worth taking.” I acknowledge that by Goldfarb’s usual standards this bold outburst was the rhetorical equivalent of him putting on a Che T-shirt and marching at an antiwar demonstration. But ultimately, despite his intentions, he only proves my point: what he sees as spirited criticism is basically agreement with a few caveats. As to the David Axe piece to which he links—it’s an exception that proves the rule. By invoking the rare critic, the Pentagon is able to say, “We’re balanced. This is not just a PR exercise.”

Translation: unless you come to the conclusion I want you to, unless you reject all other points of view except the politically correct one I want to see in print, you are a defacto administration spokesman. It is unacceptable that you might weigh the arguments on your own and come to a reasoned conclusion different than mine.

Note: Silverstein goes on in the balance of his article to outline in great detail the shameful way DoD is attempting to shore up support for the war and [mirabile dictu!] provide positive information about our progress on the war to the voting public! How dare they!

He believes (apparently) that only negative news about the war should be allowed to get out, and then goes on to state what he says is his real objection:

...the problem I have with the whole Pentagon PR project. The government is picking certain people as “surrogates” to the exclusion of many others and feeding them news. These bloggers purport to broadly represent military and national security opinion, but there are plenty of military officials and conservatives who disagree with the administration’s policies in Iraq and elsewhere. With rare exceptions, those people are not invited to the Pentagon’s briefings.

Hmmm. DoD is "feeding" bloggers news unavailable anywhere else, such as, perhaps, the MNF-Iraq web site?

Or DefenseLink?

Or the CENTCOM web site, all of which have reached out to bloggers and all of which are public source?

To test Silverstein's "exclusion" theory, Noah Shachtman of Wired Mag asked the Pentagon to invite two progressive bloggers. The request was approved in under half an hour:

In the last ten days, Harper's Ken Silverstein has written a series of biting stories about the Pentagon's blogger outreach program, calling the online writers involved a "handpicked team to get out [the Defense Department's] message." What's more, Silverstein calls critical pieces which come out of the blogger conference calls -- here's one David Axe recently wrote for DANGER ROOM -- "an exception that proves the rule. By invoking the rare critic, the Pentagon is able to say, 'We’re balanced. This is not just a PR exercise.'"

Could be. But how hard is it, really, to get other critical voices added to the conference call list?

Well, it took exactly 23 minutes to get Jason "Armchair Generalist" Sigger and Matt "Mountain Runner" Armstrong signed up. And neither is what you would call a fan of this administration.

Propaganda indeed.

Go read TigerHawk's analysis of the NYTimes piece. And ask yourself this question:

Between the Democrats' shameless revisionism on events leading up to the war, their transparent lying about the Clinton adminstration's tacit approval of torture long before 9/11, and the media's flagrantly dishonest coverage of the Surge, is it really the Bush adminstration that should be worried about its credibility?

Posted by Cassandra at July 30, 2007 08:33 AM

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When we win, lib acts of betrayal won't make it to the history books - at least not the ones used by the government schools.

The reality of a soiled Jack Murtha slandering our troops on the senate floor will be airbrushed into an image of a persecuted, oppressed war veteran-senator bravely confronting the President of the United States: "Dammit mister president, let's win this!"

You just watch.

Posted by: bulbasaur at July 30, 2007 11:06 AM

That's because no one reads any more - Hollywood will get to tell the story. And we all know how accurately Tinseltown does history :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 30, 2007 01:01 PM

You know the libs hate news like this. It keeps them up at night and causes them to try to accelerate the legislated defeat.

Posted by: jim b at July 30, 2007 01:16 PM

Hmmm ... sounds somewhat familiar. You might check out the similarities with the situation in 2WW Burma: "Defeat into Victory" by Gen Slim.


Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs at July 30, 2007 01:46 PM

Hmmm. DoD is "feeding" bloggers news unavailable anywhere else, such as, perhaps, the MNF-Iraq web site?

I've been hoping that Bush and the other allies of the US Constitution would do this, since 2005 I believe. Since at least the Presidential debates when I realized that the media were just stonewalling him, and that he would get better reception amongst the blogosphere. The media prevents the President from talking to the people or hearing the people, meaning us. The President's "advisers" like Tenet, kept critical information from the President, and what useful information is leaked and made politically unusable such as NSA word taps.

I cut off my cable and therefore now only rely upon internet news; I read no newspapers either. I don't hear "Bush" at all around here, which is sort of the problem you know. Bush can't even upload a personal video as President on YouTube like the millions of other regular citizens? Give me a break.

Both the DoD and the White House should be providing bloggers that all important media coveted object, which is exclusives in every subject and as often as feasible. It seems pretty simple. If the press doesn't want to tell people the truth, obviously find someone that will and can.

Nonetheless, the information is available to the regular media jackals, if the jackals weren't lazy and busy eating corpses that is.

In the last ten days, Harper's Ken Silverstein has written a series of biting stories about the Pentagon's blogger outreach program, calling the online writers involved a "handpicked team to get out [the Defense Department's] message."

Like a lot of Leftist criticisms, what they criticize you for doing is what you should be doing more of. When Bush was criticized for being too unilateral when he went to the UN, the actual reality was that he wasn't being unilateral enough when he went to the UN.

They told Bush not to tell terrorists to "bring it on" when the AQ guys tried bringing it on in AL Anbar and it backfired on them. Bush should have done more than say "bring it on", he should have broadcasted it and made it public policy. The President's job (one of) isn't to try to convince White House press boyos, his job is to raise the morale of America at large in war. Can't do that if he is trying to joke with reporters.

Propaganda indeed.

This is what we need. More I say.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 30, 2007 02:01 PM

"White house press boyos" - I like that!

The surge may or may not be working quite as well as we hope, as the original Maliki plan devised last year was nothing but ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis from many of the Bagdad neighborhoods. Petraeus has stepped up where the Anbar Awakening started and helped arm and equip some of the Sunni militias that are now helping MNF-I, and boy, is Maliki ticked off at Petraeus. Anything done this month may get undone in six months. Arabs, and Iraqis in particular are just that perverse.
Let's hope he (Petraeus) survives in the job long enough, and we can stay on station long enough for the Iraqis to go through another election cycle and get a better government than they presently have.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at July 30, 2007 10:51 PM

The thing that worries me is the Democratic Congress just might be getting ready to do what another Democratic Congress did to the South Vietnamese. By the Paris Peace Accords the North Vietnamese were whipped, as they admitted years later. We agonize (rightly so) over less than 60,000 kia? The NVA had 1,200,000 kia. After we pulled the last combat troops out the North invaded the South and, by golly, that Vietnamization thingee actually had worked. The South kicked the NVA back past the DMZ. That was 1973. It took the USSR and Red China two years to rebuild, resupply and train the new NVA military machine, which invaded the South in 1975. We had agreed to supply the South's military as well as provide air support from the carriers off shore. The Democratic Congress would have none of it, passing a bill that cut off all aid to the South. President Ford used his veto pen, and Congress over-turned the veto. The South Vietnamese military was beating the NVA again, until they heard about the cut of their life-line. Then they quit and ran.

Re-education in Vietnam and the killing fields in Cambodia were both caused by the Democratic Congress and resulted in well over 2,000,000 dead, with who knows how many more trying to escape in boats.

We'd better keep a close watch on this Democratic Congress or they'll find some way to do the same to Iraq.


Posted by: Walter M. Clark at July 30, 2007 11:52 PM

I linked to your article from Now if only the New York Times had some Credibility but the Trackback didn't take.

Posted by: bernie at July 31, 2007 01:36 AM

The MSM are the primary vehicle through which the enemy's strategic communications campaign is transmitted to the American target audience, and they are the targets most vulnerable to new media. They must be fisked, debunked, discredited, exposed, relentlessly between now and September, so that when the enemy pulls off their big mass casualty event just in time for General Petraeus' Dog & Pony Show for Congress, we have already done an IO Preparation of the Battlefield and conditioned the target audience to be sceptical of the doom and gloom quagmire schtick.

Tet Comes In September. Get ready.

Posted by: Cannoneer No. 4 at July 31, 2007 02:59 AM

Alert The Media! The Surge Is Working!

Ummm...that's not the sort of thing they want to report. How many civilian casualties have there been? That's more like their style...

Posted by: camojack at July 31, 2007 03:48 AM

long enough for the Iraqis to go through another election cycle and get a better government than they presently have.

Would that it were that easy for us...

Posted by: daveg at July 31, 2007 08:12 AM

"Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

Should be over the entrance to the Capitol Building. :)

"Nobody gets out of here alive."

Should be over Robert Byrd's office door; and Ted Stevens, and the rest of the geriatric corp in Congress that has been re-elected for.....forever! :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at July 31, 2007 08:29 AM

Didn't you forget putting the nobody out alive sign on Kennedy's parking slots?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 31, 2007 12:33 PM

Byrd is like the proto-typical undead lich.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 31, 2007 12:33 PM

Personally, there should be a way to charge Byrd and Kennedy and such for war crimes. But this is what happens when the good side loses the war; they get to write the history books and determine what is or is not a war crime. Since the North Vietnamese communists won, the crimes upon humanity committed by such folks as Jane Fonda and what not were deemed heroic sacrifices.

This is the price of defeat for all those that have known it and will ever know it.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 31, 2007 12:37 PM

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