Thursday, April 26, 2007

Increase is Decrease

I haven’t written anything “political” for a while. But this time I couldn’t let it go by. I read a story in the KC Star today that is simply astonishing. If it is accurate, the current administration has been intentionally deceptive about a matter of great importance.

The story, written by Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers, is that the Bush administration is reporting a decrease in sectarian violence in Iraq as a result of the recent troop increase. Great news, right? They are citing a decline in the number of unidentified bodies dumped in the streets as evidence of this assertion – but they have apparently not been counting victims of car bombings and suicide bombings, which has skewed their numbers to the positive.

There were 323 bombing victims in March, and 365 in April as of the 24th, according to the story. And April, obviously, isn’t over yet.

The current administration has taken hits from smarter people than I with regard to a culture of deception and dishonesty. I don’t want to laundry list that any more than it already has been done. But this time, it sure seems to me that they are just redefining what success means in order to claim that we are achieving it. It is a bizarre, elementary school, “I meant to do that” approach to leadership that leaves me scratching my head in utter confusion. It is positively Orwellian, to insist that there is a decrease in violence when there is an increase. Failure is success! If we just don’t count the bombings, they never happened! Perfect!

President Bush told Charlie Rose, “If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory.” Which means (I think) that if we count the bombings in our figures, that means we are acknowledging the bombers, and to acknowledge the bombers is to give them power, which we do not want to do. However, I am pretty sure that each of the 688 victims of bombings between May 1 and April 24 and all of their families and friends have acknowledged the bombers, big time. What are we communicating to them when the U.S. conveniently leaves out any mention of their deaths?

I don’t like “stay the course” without knowing that the course is actually getting us somewhere. We could “stay the course” for years and years and end up pretty much right where we are now. Should we “stay the course” even if the course is horrible? Sometimes the response is – “To set a date for pullout is to lose the war.” But there are two gigantic questions that response begs to be asked – 1) What are we doing currently, if not losing the war? and 2) What exactly would winning the war look like? First we thought victory would be deposing Saddam Hussein. Then we thought victory would be finding and destroying WMD. Then we thought victory would be setting up a new government, complete with elections and a constitution. Well, check, N/A, and check, respectively – and yet, no victory.

And no sign of an end to violence any time soon, no matter how we try to make it seem. I know that there is anecdotal evidence of progress in Iraq, which is wonderful. But to paint Iraq with such a rosy glow when the reality is so starkly not rosy is dishonest and deceptive. It is not okay to change the definition of success to match our failure.


kc bob said...

The administration's spin on the Iraq war is very sad. My son, reporting from Baghdad, said that the surge there is justing forcing the insurgants to headquarter in other cities.

We need to admit that we are powerless to win a Shia-Sunni war and get our troops out of there now ... but I am biased on this one.

Seamhead said...

We have always been at war with Oceania.

Anonymous said...

You ask two questions that you think should be answerable with some certainty. However what level of certainty will convince you that pullout would be a losing scenario and that staying is a better scenario. Or are you a priori convinced that it is already lost?

If as you say, and rightfully so, you are concerned about deaths related to our actions, if you could determine with certainty that a pullout would result in thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people losing their lives due to full civil war, on what moral footing do you choose to accept a pullout scenario vs. a continue to stay scenario?

For me no matter what the news says or the numbers say and no matter what happened in the past, it's a terrible moral dilemma that we face regarding the pullout and the glibness with which it is tossed around in the media is almost sickening to me. GW may have made a serious mistake entering war, but how moral is it to make two mistakes? I think the decision deserves a more serious treatment than it receives in the general media.

Willie Deuel said...

There is no way, ever, that the Administration will admit that going to war with Iraq is a mistake. Anyone who publicly dissents is quickly charged with "not supporting the troops" and "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." On the Daily Show, McCain even stated that doing such is telling the troops that they lost the war! (Which would be akin to telling a bunch of chess pieces that they, not the guy behind the board, lost the game).

In the meantime, Osama bin Laden remains a free man. 9/11 was nearly six years ago, folks. There is no talk about how much "aid and comfort" the terrorists get from knowing that this administration has all but abandoned the search for the real criminal of 9/11 in favor of engaging in a war in Iraq.

Also in the meantime the leader of AQ in Iraq has been killed - not by US forces or intelligence but by sectarian violence.

Until there is a level of transparency and honesty from this administration regarding the war, I will remain skeptical about everything they tell us.

TheNotQuiteRightReverend said...

Will Deuel nailed it. We should remain skeptical about everything the administration tells us. Karl Rove and Dick Cheney conceived this war immediately after 9/11 as a means to switch to a "war government" that would rule with what they assumed would be the full support of the patriotic American people. They knew that Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy fought wars with virtually no dissent from the public. Rove and Cheney felt confident that if they could get Americans to rally around their cause then they would be able to trample on the Constitution and our civil rights while "emergency powers" were handed to them with the passage of the Patriot Act. They assumed that they could intimidate dissenters by questioning their patriotism. They thought that they could get away with anything they wanted as long as they could keep the American people living in fear of another attack (Thus the introduction of the Terror Alert Level.) They knew that fear led to absolute power. So they marched a true patriot, Colin Powell up to the United Nations with falsified intelligence to make the case for war. Powell believed the intel that his superiors gave him because he too was taught not to question our government. He has since expressed his regret for placing that blind trust in our leaders, just like the majority of Americans have since done.

Colin Powell was duped by the Administration, just like the rest of us. John McCain probably was too. In Powell's case, he could admit it. It is a shame that a decorated war hero such as McCain is too cowardly to admit it, too. I fear that he has sunk to the level of the administration and is no longer a trustworthy leader. That is an absuloute shame.

Peace on earth...

Anonymous said...

Great non sequiturs, however I have yet to hear or read those who advocate for immediate, delayed, or whatever defined timeline for troop withdrawal address Larry B.'s point. It seems that those that oppose President Bush are consumed with prattling on about how wrong/corrupt/dishonest he and his administration was/is than thinking through the ramifications of the policies that purportedly support. (The adult version of na nana boo boo, I guess)
Again as Larry B. asked: "GW may have made a serious mistake entering war, but how moral is it to make two mistakes"?
The old aphorism "two wrongs make a right" seems to come to mind. Troop withdrawal is not the answer that will solve this dilemma.


Andy B. said...

Here's an analogy, Larry B and Joseph (read this in a letter to the editor today):
I want my friend to stop gambling, because he is losing money. He says, but if I keep playing, I might win. My desire for him to stop gambling is not because I don't want him to perhaps win eventually, but because I want him to stop losing his money right now.

I don't know if either of you will read this kind of old comment thread again, but that metaphor helps me explain my position.