Thursday, July 24, 2008
Slicing Through 'Surge' Propaganda: Haven't We Heard It All Before?
Full disclosure: I have no military background. I do have 30 years of experience as a professional journalist, and have known enough U.S. history, for long enough, that at 17, I earned 6 hours of college credit in that subject just by taking a test. Take those for whatever they're worth.
My perhaps-risky thesis: The "surge" in Iraq, now being touted as some kind of unequivocal success, is yet another deception in a military campaign that will be remembered as the war that keeps on costing.
Granted, al Qaeda in Iraq has apparently been dealt some crushing blows (for now), and U.S. military casualties are sharply down. These things are being widely reported as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is on his overseas trip, which included a stop in Iraq.
But, the latter point, about the decline in U.S. casualties, reflects the ethnocentrism with which Americans tend to look at foreign conflicts. Juan Cole, writing on Informed Comment, points out:
Despite all the talk about Iraq being "calm," I'd like to point out that the month just before the last visit Barack Obama made to Iraq (he went in January, 2006), there were 537 civilian and ISF Iraqi casualties. In June of this year, 2008, there were 554 according to AP. These are official statistics gathered passively that probably only capture about 10 percent of the true toll.
That is, the Iraqi death toll is actually still worse now than the last time Obama was in Iraq! (See the bombings and shootings listed below for Sunday). The hype around last year's troop escalation obscures a simple fact: that Obama formed his views about the need for the US to leave Iraq at a time when its security situation was very similar to what it is now! Why a return to the bad situation in late 05 and early 06 should be greeted by the GOP as the veritable coming of the Messiah is beyond me. You have people like Joe Lieberman saying silly things like if it weren't for the troop escalation, Obama wouldn't be able to visit Iraq. Uh, he visited it before the troop escalation, just fine.
To read the entire Cole article, click here.
What we seem to be hearing is that when fewer Americans are being killed and maimed as a result of the "surge," that makes it an unequivocal success. When the furrenurs is gettin' whacked a little faster than they wuz two and a half years ago, well, that's their tough luck. It's an A-Murkan world.
And, we've heard all this before, at other times and in other places. And it hasn't been so long since we've heard it. I seem to recall that "we" (in the editorial sense) were supposed to have pretty much routed the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies in Afghanistan. Been reading or hearing any news from there lately? It ain't over till it's over. And that one, the war "we" actually have reasonable justification for, is far from over.
I also seem to recall a day in 2003 when, just weeks after the invasion of Iraq, Il Doofus staged a landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier and declared major military operations in Iraq to be over.
The MSM mouthpieces remain very much on the Pentagon bandwagon (not to mention the Straitjacket Express), with a mantra of "Obama was dead wrong" on the outcome of the "surge."
True, Obama didn't call it right in predicting that the "surge" would bring an increase in violence.
But, given the continued toll on Iraqi civilians, reports of success seem greatly exaggerated. I think the "surge" could be pronounced a success on the day that there are no unusual civilian deaths in Iraq, that the millions of refugees can return home safely, and that a stable Iraqi government can be elected without being propped up by a U.S. military presence. Perhaps in 100 years?
I'll venture a possibly risky prediction, but one firmly based on recent U.S. history.
In January 1973, the Nixon administration finally reached that elusive "peace with honor" deal with North Vietnam. The "peace" lasted a while. Then, a couple of years later, communist troops were overrunning South Vietnam. The American people were so sick of that bottomless pit of lives and money that they said a loud and resounding "NO" when the Ford administration had the nerve to propose that "we" go back in there.
The bottom line is that the U.S. is an occupier in a land generally hostile to the occupation. And, it should come as no surprise that the resistance will hide and play possum with every "surge" that our taxpayers can be conned into bankrolling. That's the name of the game in guerrilla warfare.
I'll gamble, and predict an outcome similar to the previously cited ones. For Americans, this will be the war that keeps on costing.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
GOP Dusting Off Lee Atwater Playbook To Go After Obama In 2008
If you thought the Republicans reached a new low in dirty campaign tricks in the 2004 election, you ain't seen nothing yet.
You can take it to the bank that if Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination, the GOP will slime him in a manner that makes the Swiftboating of John Kerry seem like a Sunday walk in the park.
And in sliming Obama, the GOP can be counted upon to make maximum use of the biggest wedge issue in the Republicans' arsenal of dirty tricks. It's a wedge issue that Republicans have shamefully used in election after election, ever since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Of course, I'm talking about race: the Mother of All Wedge Issues for the GOP.
For Republicans, it's the gift that keeps on giving, especially when used as a tool to rally the Angry White Males that make up a sizable chunk of the GOP's base.
And if you want to use race issues to rally the troops, then the standard GOP playbook to consult is that of the late Republican political consultant and strategist Lee Atwater.
For younger readers who may not recall him, Atwater was the notorious mastermind of the infamous "Willie Horton" attack ad in the 1988 campaign that helped George H. W. Bush overcome Michael Dukakis's early 17-point lead in the polls.
It's a playbook that the GOP is certain to dust off and use in full force as they gear up to attack Obama in the 2008 campaign. In short, it's going to get increasingly ugly over the next few months.
These days, most Americans believe that we're become an enlightened, color-blind society. But we're about to get a rude shock over how deep divisive racial issues still simmer below the surface of U.S. society.
We've already seen a preview of how the GOP and its allies have shameless used race to rally the troops in recent years.
Just ask the African-American Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr.
Ford, as you may recall, was targeted in 2006 by the infamous "Bimbo" attack ad that portrayed a skimpily dressed white woman sexily purring to Ford, inviting him to "Call me."
The NAACP attacked the ad as "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women."
It's clear that the Republicans and their allies will summon up the spirit of Atwater and race-baiting politics as they prepare to slime Obama in the months ahead. We're already seeing early evidence of this (such as Rush Limbaugh playing the racist "Barack The Magic Negro" on his program).
And it's just the beginning. The GOP can be counted upon to exploit this issue as much as they shamelessly exploited the tragedy of 9/11 during the 2004 campaign.
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