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February 03, 2009

On IPS, Patriotic Dissent, Listening to Generals

“Mr. President, please change course. Listen to your generals. Listen to former generals. Listen to the Iraq Study Group.”

- Joe Biden

Back in January of 2007 the Democrats were wildly promoting the statements of any general willing to undermine the sitting Commander in Chief. And if one of them inconveniently turned out to support the Surge, that didn't prevent patriots like Keith Olbermann from claiming he was agin' it (and durnitall it was dangerous if not downright unAmerican to disregard the military's advice)!

Three generals speak against Iraq surge
Three generals speak against Iraq surge

Now, of course, le worm politique ... she has turned and a different party is in power. So what do the Democrats think about 'listening to the generals' now that the shoe is on the other foot? Are these brave souls still Speaking Truth to Power? Or are they dangerous zealots who must be silenced and overridden for the good of all that's holy?

If the Reality Based Community can be said to have a policy on listening to Generals, it appears to work something like this:

Don't listen to generals who have actual experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their first hand knowledge of the "reality on the ground" dangerously blinds them to the far more pressing political realities we face here in the trenches on Capitol Hill.

Generals who should be listened to? Retirees several years removed from contaminating contact with actual conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their lack of knowledge allows them to form opinions untainted by irrelevant distractions that have tended to dangerously distort the advice of those who must deal with the practical consequences of abstract policy decisions. The notable exception to this policy occurs where they offer opinions inconsistent with the views of the present administration.

Such disloyal and unpatriotic dissent is a sure sign of dangerous mental instability and extreme partisanship. Oh, and though it was not only perfectly legitimate but downright desireable to have retired generals actively undermining the administration THEN, now that there's a Democrat in office, these men must be stopped. They are violating the UCMJ!

Never mind that the UCMJ explicitly excepts disagreement and even criticism of the President:

If not personally contemptuous, adverse criticism of one of the officials or legislatures named in the article in the course of a political discussion, even though emphatically expressed, may not be charged as a violation of the article.

Oddly, though at least one of the retired generals who opposed George Bush violated the terms of the UCMJ, no one in the Reality Based Community called for their prosecution under the UCMJ. They were expressing vibrant and beautiful patriotic dissent, you see.

Alert readers will remember IPS as that uber-respectable source which gleefully passed on unverified gossip as fact to gullible Lefty blogs a while back:

...according to the Inter Press News Service Agency (IPS), that's hardly the worst thing that Petraeus has been called since assuming command of U.S. forces in Iraq. IPS reported yesterday that Admiral Fallon had, earlier this year, called Petraeus "an ass-kissing little chicken-shit"--to his face. Dean Barnett digs into this one:
What? You’ve never heard of this IPS and find yourself curious about who and what it is? IPS describes itself this way on its website: “IPS, civil society's leading news agency, is an independent voice from the South and for development, delving into globalisation for the stories underneath. Another communication is possible.” I don’t know what any of that means either, but I figure I’d share it with you and put it our there for deconstruction.

A couple of things about this IPS “scoop”. IPS reported the alleged exchange on September 12, or yesterday to you and me. The alleged exchange occurred back in March. You also might wonder how IPS got this juicy nugget. Did Admiral Fallon put a call into the news agency renowned for “delving into globalization”? Hardly. IPS got the story from “Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.” Mind you, IPS didn’t just use just anonymous Pentagon source who might have seen the exchange. IPS relied on sources who not only didn’t witness the exchange, but didn’t even talk to people who witnessed the exchange. They were just “familiar with reports of the meeting.” Allegedly.

Here’s the kicker. Both Think Progress and the Daily Kos report IPS’s “scoop” like it’s a fact. Think Progress qualifies its reportage of Fallon’s comment merely by saying, “Inter-Press Service suggests animosity between the two might be one reason for Fallon’s absence” and then hits its readers with the quote. Think Progress does not bother to note the flimsiness of IPS’s reporting, nor does it bother to say exactly who and what IPS is. Maybe IPS is a household name where “delving into globalisation” is de rigueur, but I doubt it.

Oh, the best part, Admiral Fallon apparently morphed into a 12-year-old after the alleged comment, adding "I hate people like that." Or at least that's what IPS's 'sources' say.

This time their "source" is just as sterling: "two [conveniently anonymous] sources who have talked with [other conveniently anonymous] participants in the meeting".

Impressive work, no es verdad? Nearly as impressive as the oh-so-prescient advice on the Surge emanating from those poor, neglected Generals a while back. With the benefit of hindsight, we now have a bit of insight into the accuracy of their dire prognostications of doom:

The final tallies for Saturday's provincial elections aren't in yet. But a few conclusions are warranted. This time, the election seems to have been mostly free of fraud; four years ago, it was beset by fraud. This time, there was almost no violence; four years ago, there were 299 terrorist attacks. This time, 40% of voters in the overwhelmingly Sunni province of Anbar went to the polls; four years ago, turnout was 2%.

In 2005, Iraqis voted their sectarian preferences. Now sectarian parties are out of fashion. "Those candidates who campaigned under the banner of religion should be rejected," Abdul Kareem told Al Jazeera. "They corrupted the name of religion because they are notorious for being thieves. Religion is not politics." Mr. Kareem is a Shiite cleric.

Also out of fashion: Iran, previously thought to be the jolly inheritor of our Iraq misadventure. In 2005, Tehran's political minions in the Iranian-funded Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- itself the funder of the dreaded Badr brigade -- swept the field. Candidates loyal to anti-American fire-breather Moqtada al-Sadr also did well. This time, Sadr didn't even dare to field his own slate, and early reports are that the Supreme Council was trounced.

What's in fashion, electorally speaking, are secular parties, as well as the moderately religious Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This wasn't supposed to happen. The Palestinian parliamentary election of 2006 that put Hamas in power was taken in the West as proof that Arab democracy was destined to yield illiberal results. Saturday's election suggests otherwise, assuming there is a structure that guarantees that Islamists must stand for election more than once.

What about security? A month ago, Gen. Ray Odierno predicted that "al Qaeda will try to exploit the elections because they don't want them to happen. So I think they will attempt to create some violence and uncertainty in the population." But al Qaeda was a no-show on Saturday. Meanwhile, more U.S. soldiers died in accidents (12) than in combat (4) for the month of January. The war is over.

So what are you going to do about the one bright spot on your map -- an Arab country that is genuinely democratic, increasingly secular and secure, anti-Iranian and, all-in-all, on your side? So far, your only idea seems to bid to it good luck and bring most of the troops home in time for Super Bowl Sunday, 2010.

That is the question, isn't it Mr. Obama?

What will you do with this precious legacy of freedom, this fragile flower purchased at the cost of so much Iraqi and American blood and treasure? Will you jeopardize it all to keep an unwise campaign promise (violating part of that promise to do so - the part in which you promised to listen to the commanders on the ground?).

Your past actions don't augur well. After all, you've already lied to NBC and to the American people about this very issue:

...something seemed odd about Barack Obama’s account of his conversation with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshay Zebari. Obama said that Zebari didn’t express any concern about Obama’s immediate withdrawal plans. Well, according to Zebari that is a lie. >...“my message” to Mr. Obama “was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress.” He said he was reassured by the candidate’s response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that “if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field.”

One might believe the Iraqi Foreign Minister "did not express any concern" to Barack Obama ... that is, if this does sort of thing doesn't sound like concern to you:

... “we are just turning the corner in Iraq.” A precipitous withdrawal, he said, “would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others” — enemies of the United States — “would celebrate.”

The world is watching Mr. President. By all means, listen to your commanders, consult with the Iraqis and with members of your own Cabinet. And be assured that whatever you decide the military will carry out your policies as they have always done: faithfully; with professionalism and care.

So choose wisely, keeping in mind the tremendous sacrifices that have brought us to this day.

Posted by Cassandra at February 3, 2009 08:52 AM

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Didn't you know, paying taxes is now patriotic. Well, other people people paying taxes is patriotic. Or, is it worshiping at Obama's feet that is patriotic? Sometimes the LibSpeak gets confusing.

Posted by: William Teach at February 3, 2009 02:09 PM

I've been informed that I can be a somewhat pugnacious fellow at times (Like, duh. And how do your teeth taste going down?). But those that know me recognized that I am a very cuddly, tender, and caring individual more inclined to to Shakespeare Sonnets, butterflies and taking long walks into the darkest, loneliest part of the deep black forest wearing nothing but smile obscured by a hockey mask. But I digress.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 3, 2009 02:37 PM

But those that know me recognize that I am a very cuddly, tender, and caring individual more inclined to to Shakespeare Sonnets, butterflies and taking long walks into the darkest, loneliest part of the deep black forest wearing nothing but smile obscured by a hockey mask.

Thanks a *lot*, big guy.

How do you expect me to get any work done with *that* mental image playing in the background? :p

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 02:44 PM

How do you expect me to get any work done with *that* mental image playing in the background?

I don't. It's all part of my depthless charm.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 3, 2009 02:47 PM

It's funny.

I thought that story about the military swearing an oath of loyalty to Obama instead of the Constitution was too stupid for words, so I didn't post about it. But when I see the way some people act, it begins to seem some folks think patriotism lies more in personal loyalty to the CIC than in candidly giving their professional advice regardless of whether that will bring them favor?

It's a funny notion of integrity. When we were told some generals were "afraid" to speak candidly during the runup to the war, I lambasted them for not doing their duty. If that was true, they failed their fellow soldiers and Marines and everything they said afterwards ought to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt because when it counted, their pensions counted more with them than doing what was right.

Of course, that's not the prevailing view on the Left. Folks who suddenly get attacks of retroactive courage from the comfy chair are considered perfectly credible... unlike those who speak candidly when it can cost them everything. And all those people who screeched about how the military could never be criticized and how awful it was to question anyone's patriotism are happy to engage in character assassination now against a serving officer on the strength of gossip and unverified rumors.


Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 02:53 PM

I don't. It's all part of my depthless charm.

/SMACK!!!! :)

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 02:54 PM

...my depthless charm.

Ummmm -- did spd just insinuate that he's a *shallow* individual?

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 03:22 PM

He is a sneaky.... err... snarky one :p

In addition to running around the forest in the altogether, that is.

I am still trying not to think about that. And mostly failing.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 03:29 PM

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 04:40 PM

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 04:41 PM

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Just don't imagine him running around the forest in a Saran Wrap™ thong.

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 04:42 PM

Yeah, yeah, soooooooooo dead...

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 04:43 PM

I hate you :)

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 04:46 PM

Saran Wrap gives me a wedgie.

Back to you, Bill T.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 3, 2009 04:56 PM


My brain just exploded.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 05:09 PM

If you wrap your head with Saran wrap, it keeps the brain matter off the keyboard and monitor when your head explodes.

Thanks, don't mention it.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 3, 2009 05:25 PM

Tonight at six an exclusive report on WHOT-I'M-Witless-News: "Sex, Saran-Wrap, Sex, and Long (sex) Walks into the (sex) Dark (sex) Woods Wearing a Sexy Hockey Mask: Does too Much Sexy Saran Wrap (sex) Lead to Sexy Wedgies? Or is One (sex) Sexy (sex) Roll Sufficient 9sex) to Keep Your (sex) Partner Fresh for a Week, or So?" Plus, garden gnomes go postal in pantyhose!

Posted by: spd rdr at February 3, 2009 05:42 PM

I have lost control of my comments section...

Or was that my brain? I'm so confused.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 05:52 PM

You want I should stick to doing sports?

That has possibilities....

Posted by: spd rdr at February 3, 2009 06:01 PM

Mr. rdr,

You might want to consider wearing orange Saran Wrap™. Larry, Daryl and their other brother Daryl have been know to shoot at movement first and id their target later.

Posted by: bthun at February 3, 2009 06:48 PM

WHAT the hell is going on here!?!?! Saran wrap everywhere and not a bottle of mazola oil in sight? (That's how you keep the wedgies out, spd. Got that tip from JHD and Mistress Mandy.)

Sheeesh. Ain't y'all learned nuthin'?
And where is the egg salad?

Oh great, now the icing's melting again......

Posted by: DL Sly at February 3, 2009 08:17 PM