« "summoned by the king..." | Main | "No Victor but God" »

06 December 2006


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I did not read the book babak cites, but I heard the saying (who coined it, I do not know) 'a person can learn from his/hers mistakes, but a nation never does' -

Chris Bray

I just left the Army and came home from a very dull year in Kuwait, where the only interesting thing about my deployment was that I had a secret clearance and worked next to the guys from our S2 section. And I remember, over and over and over again, being shocked that the things I was reading in the secret-level intel summaries coming out of Iraq were so incredibly much uglier and grimmer than what I was reading in the newspapers. So this "the news media is putting a negative spin on things" horseshit sure looks to me like a calculated political play.

I also saw very frank classified reporting on the number of dead in Baghdad that confirmed in every detail the Washington Post's reporting on morgue figures there, precisely as right-wing (~not~ "conservative") blogs were attacking the Post's Ellen Knickmeyer for that reporting.


I love that term "kinetic". We have a US Army over there that has spent much of its time dashing about the landscape in conveys of armored Humvees while undefended Shi'a were slaughtered.

Having a senior officer tell big fat lies to the public may also be a waste of military resources but is at least cheaper.


IMO it's an abuse of executive power, just like the use of state secrets privilege to cover up violations of the law or screw-ups by gvt entities. This is what comes to my mind:

In the end it's about deception by the elected leaders. For democracy, even in a republic, to work, for checks and ballances to work, an informed populance is essential and indispensable.

But that doesn't fit well with a secretive imperial president or his 'unitary executive brach'. 'The lessons of Vietnam' are for Cheney a convenient excuse to expand executive powers domestically.

So, in the essence, the libertarian adagae 'empire overseas breeds empire at home' has a good point.

still working it out

"Overseas propaganda in support of a military campaign or political goal is a legitimate activity. Domestic propaganda conducted by the US Armed forces to keep the American people "on board" is not. pl"

The line between overseas and domestic propaganda seems a thin one today. CNN goes to pretty much every country in the world. Do you present CNN with two different views of Iraq ? an accurate one for CNN America and a rosy one for CNN International ? How do you do that when they're both done by the same reporter? Do you give a The Daily Star a line saying there are no plans for permanent bases in Iraq and say the opposite the Wash Post? And how do you respond when the Daily Star decides to source the obviously more accurate story straight from the WashPo anyway? Is the AP domestic or international or both? And do give truth or propaganda at a press conference in Iraq when reporters from both Al-Jazeera and Fox News are in attendance?

I can see why it is inappropriate for the military to conduct domestic propaganda, I just can't see a practical way to do it. The media today is completely interlinked. It would be impossible to give two sets of views on what is happening without each fatally undermining the other's credibility.

The only solution I can see is to accept that you have to lie to both and perhaps hand over responsibility for it to the State Dept. Or run military IO operations that are very strict about truth and accuracy to create maximum credibility. Then work on the assumption that the facts and truth are so pro-America that they work as propaganda by themself. This was certainly the case in the Cold War, but perhaps those days have passed.

Andrew Fisher

Interesting that on the British side of the`Atlantic the Army is increasingly speaking up *against* government policy as here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6215296.stm

and (more shockingly, since he is a serving officer) here

But this is surely part of a larger process by which the unwritten conventions which make democracy work in practice are breaking down in both Britain and the US, it isn't just (or even primarily) an Army matter.



You wrote: >>>The intended audience is obviously the American electorate<<<

I disagree. Slightly. The "intended audience" is the second tier 'opinion makers'. Their job is to take this spoonfed nonsense (which, by the way, the nation is paying for of course)and spread it far and wide across the nation. All sentences and speeches of theirs must begin with "Why just the other day I was reading what a US General, a man on the front lines, a tough man, in the know said.....' Fill in the blanks. No, for the most part the families that gather around for Xmas celebrations this year will not have read the WAPO editorial. Come on...how many do? But they will have the 'wisdom' from the article distilled down to them. Sort of like sipping from a punch bowl.

You might say I am splitting hairs. But I think it is a relatively important difference.

JF Meyer

Since this misguided venture’s get-go, the Pentagon has sanctioned in-theater press briefs by senior officers to plug its carefully manicured message to the pencil-ready press corps. Intermingled with nuggets of genuine news are subtle strings of Pentagon policy salesmanship. The eager press, despite three years plus in this morass, remain confounded in separating the fly specks from the black pepper.
As noted, this military brief format has a long and checked history. The famous MACV HQ ‘five o’clock follies’ in Saigon were and probably remain the gold standard for the USG effort in trying to float the message. But by mid-68 the press was having little of it. Their own widespread witness on the ground coupled with legions of returning troops eager to counter the official line because of their own experience assisted quickly in shifting the public’s opinion toward withdrawal. Remember, there was little real organized domestic protest in our streets until the summer of 1968—some almost four years after the introduction of US conventional forces in RVN. What today seems to be missing is the hard criticism from returning troops and a skeptical press able and willing to see through the two star daily peeing on their leg but still reporting it’s raining.



We are not Americans so no we don't want Americanism but simply stating that you are not interested in anyone elses ideologies is whats wrong with the Arab world today.
Whats wrong with freedom of speech, human rights and freedom from persecution?

You may argue that these "ideologies" are not practiced 100% but at least they are goals not even aspired too in the Arab world. Just beacause your enemy is your enemy it does not make everything about them bad or wrong. Richard the Lionheart once said that in Europe we talk about chivalry. The Saracens practice it. The people killing 3000 civilians in Iraq every month are no Saracens and their ideology is not mine.

Furthermore, there is a difference between ideology and policy. The greatest irony of US foreign policy is that its enemies are not necessarily the ones that oppose their ideologies. In Lebanon they support a prime minister whome the majority of the public do not, who was barred from entering the US for financing a group linked to Al Qaida and whose biggest supporters in the Sunni community are openly Al Qaida supporters. The reason he gets his support? His opposition is Hizbollah.

Lastly, my friend you should very much care what the American people are told. If you are an Arab, living in the Arab world, what they are told aand how they react to it will mostly affect your life more than it does theirs.


Col. does this article describe results of men who stared at sheep?


Babak Makkinejad


A lot of this secrecy started with Reagan. Reminds me of a story in the "Rose Garden" where the Sassanid Emperor observes to his servants: "At the beginning of the world, the foundation of Injustice was tiny. Each person added to it a little bit till it reached its current size." And that was 2000 years ago.

I recall reading about US circa 1900 - you could walk up the stairs of the State Department, wait in the vestibule of the Secretary of State's office, and take your turn to see him.

Once ushered in, the Secretary of State would welcome you by saying: "Good morning! I am John Hay. What can I do for you?"

By the way, John Hay was Lincoln's secretary.

It was a different world - in many ways far more genteel & civilized and far less angry than the world today.

Got A Watch

An Intelligience Operation is urgently needed in Washington - to inject some small measure of intelligience straight into the empty heads of the Republican/Bushie "Axis of Stupidity". If any of them have an IQ bigger than their shoe size, it has not been evident in any perceptible way.

Now, with total failure in Iraq staring them in the face, and no supine media able to cover this grave situation with postive spin, the truth has become so large and ugly no can ignore it anymore. Deomocracy grinds slowly, like the wheels of justice, but eventually the fear of total electoral defeat for a generation will penetrate even the most dim intellect, forcing them to abandon the "Ostrich Strategy", otherwise known as "Stay the Course" or more accurately "Ignore the Truth Until It Goes Away".

Robert Fisk puts it well: "The Roman Empire is falling. That, in a phrase, is what the Baker report says. The legions cannot impose their rule on Mesopotamia.

Just as Crassus lost his legions' banners in the deserts of Syria-Iraq, so has George W Bush. There is no Mark Antony to retrieve the honour of the empire. The policy "is not working". "Collapse" and "catastrophe" - words heard in the Roman senate many a time - were embedded in the text of the Baker report. Et tu, James?"

The fact that Bush is already moving to distance himself from any meaningful movement in Iraq is only greater folly piled on the Everest of mistakes already made.


Defeat in Vietnam? Was the US defeated in Vietnam?

J.T. Davis

"Defeat in Vietnam? Was the US defeated in Vietnam?"

It all depends on the metric one uses. I quote from page on The Colonel at Wiki:

"His blog Sic Semper Tyrannis has drawn interest during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict due to his insights. He identified the Hizbollah defense not as classic guerilla tactics but as isolated fortified defensive positions. He had previously explored that concept in a paper written during the Cold War. Lang has also applied an analytical criterion to determine who won the conflict:

"A basic lesson of history is that one must win on the battlefield to dictate the peace. A proof of winning on the battlefield has always been possession of that battlefield when the shooting stops. Those who remain on the field are just about always believed to have been victorious. Those who leave the field are believed to be the defeated."

And we left rather hurriedly in deed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad