Sunday, January 08, 2006

Credibility Chasm

In the apparently casket-free war, here's what has happened during the past few days:

1. Eleven U.S. troops were killed on Thursday, including two in pacified Fallujah.
2. Another five troops were killed over the weekend, including three more in pacified Fallujah.
3. A Blackhawk chopper either crashed or was shot down, killing another twelve troops.
4. A U.S. journalist was kidnapped in Baghdad, and her translator was shot and killed.
5. Hundreds more Iraqi civilians were killed.

Here's the link to the current casualty count, which as of now stands at 2,190 confirmed dead and twenty "pending DoD confirmation." That "pending" number has been staying consistently high.

Lt. Col. Barry Johnson's explanation: "Desperate people are dangerous people." Which leads to the operative question: how much more of their desperation can we take?

The band plays on, though. In addition to the endless stream of captured "trusted lieutenants" and "executive secretaries" to Zarqawi, here's a sample of the news that continues to come out of Centcom during this carnage:


BAGHDAD, Iraq - A local national identified a home in east Baghdad that was being used as a factory to make improvised rocket-launchers.

At about 6:30 p.m. elements of 3rd squadron, 7th Cavalry, raided the home and discovered 15 rocket-launchers were in the process of being built and one 57 millimeter rocket was completed and ready to be fired. No one was present in the home at the time of the raid.

"It is encouraging that the Iraqi citizens are continuing to choose the side of the new government over the terrorists. The Iraqi citizens know that providing information against the terrorists to Coalition or Iraqi Security Forces will help to improve the security situation in their neighborhoods," said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of Coalition Forces in east Baghdad.

All equipment in the home was seized and will be used as evidence against the homeowners when they are caught. Iraqi Security Forces are continuing the search.

Life increasingly imitating art---or in this case, Full Metal Jacket:
LOCKHART: "Not While We're Eating--N.V.A. learn marines on a search and destroy mission don't like to be interrupted while eating chow."Search and destroy. Uh, we have a new directive from M.A.F. on this. In the future, in place of"search and destroy," substitute the phrase "sweep and clear." Got it?

JOKER: Got it. Very catchy.

LOCKHART: And, Joker... where's the weenie?


LOCKHART: The Kill, JOKER. The kill. I mean, all that fire, the grunts must've hit something.

JOKER: Didn't see 'em.

LOCKHART: Joker, I've told you, we run two basic stories here. Grunts who give half their pay to buy gooks toothbrushes and deodorants--Winning of Hearts and Minds--okay? And combat action that results in a kill--Winning the War. Now you must have seen blood trails... drag marks?

JOKER: It was raining, sir.

LOCKHART: Well, that's why God passed the law of probability. Now rewrite it and give it a happy ending--say, uh, one kill. Make it a sapper or an officer. Which?

JOKER: Whichever you say.

LOCKHART: Grunts like reading about dead officers.

JOKER: Okay, an officer. How about a general?

LOCKHART: Joker, maybe you'd like our guys to read the paper and feel bad. I mean, in case you didn't know it, this is not a particularly popular war. Now, it is our job to report the news that these why-are-we-here civilian newsmen ignore.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great movie. And oh so applicable today, as well.

1/09/2006 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now some secrety memo about body armor. Sigh.

1/09/2006 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1/09/2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous howard said...

the bush administration, in its usual breathtaking way, has now created a spin scenario in which all news is good news: when violence drops down, that's a sign that things are going well. when violence ramps up, that's a sign that the enemy is desperate, ergo, things are going well.

we've been here before, and the name of this place is credibility gap....

1/09/2006 2:02 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

TCR, although it is true that the Bush administration would receive more support if he was upfront about the troubles in war. I also think that the cskets should be shown. But the blame for the lack of coverage must be laid at the feet of the American people. The majority of Americans could care less about the day-to-day progress of the war. It is the political junkies on the left and the right that are most concerned.
It seems that you believe that the military should begin admitting defeat when adversity strikes and that any belief that military objectives can be accomplished are lies intended to mislead the American public. If our opposition in Iraq subscribed to your theory then they would have given up long ago.

1/09/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

I think we're running out of "corners" to turn.

1/09/2006 3:10 PM  
Blogger Mark Jones said...

Roy Bettencourt said...

"[CR]...It seems that you believe that the military should begin admitting defeat....."

Wow, you better define what the definition of "seems" is. What I think CR is "alluding" to, is that the constant deception and disinformation coming out of the Pentagon/Centcom concerning Iraq, has become a self parody. I mean, let’s face it, whether you are for the war, against it, or indifferent to it, we have to all admit, that the last place anybody would look to for information concerning the war, is the Pentagon/WH. I don't know why they even bother issuing statements. As you point out, a good portion of the general public, could not care less (I assume that when you write "could care less", you mean that they are indifferent, i.e. do not care) about what is going on in Iraq. I agree with this point. But you don't give your opinion as to why this is the case. I think it’s because of the self-parody aspect of both the Pentagon and the White House. Everyone (Procom, indifferent) just assumes everything emanating from them is total bullshit.

1/09/2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

Marc Jones

I agree with you mostly. Listening to the Pentagon or the White House is listening to PR spin. I do not believe that they are maliciously deceiving us, but rather touting military sucesses during press confrences is their job. Speaking openly and honestly about sucesses and failures should be done behind closed doors. This does not suggest that media and the public should not be allowed to debate the failures. I certainly think that is being done. The broadcast and print media adress military and political mis-steps daily. It is the journalists job to report on setbacks and propose doom and gloom scenarios not the Pentagons.
My point is that we should expect Military leaders to put a positive spin during press confrences. HOWEVER (and this is a big however) they should definitely be giving the President and themselves honest assessments when the TV cameras are turned off.

1/09/2006 4:44 PM  
Blogger mjs said...

Bush admitted months ago that he is all about catapulting the progapanda. What more do we need to know? I mean, really, does anyone believe a word that emanates from Scott McClellan's mouth at the press gaggle. Exactly. I do not believe that Bush is at all concerned with the day to day business of the war. He is clueless - he can't be bothered with the details because it is is beneath him. The unfortunate fact is that we lost this "war" two years ago. What we are seeing now is just a sad charade being played out because Bush has defined leaving as "losing". So we will stay there, at least as long as Bush is the President, until someone comes along who is honest enough to call it what it is and get us the hell out of there. As Brzezinski pointed out, we can either "persist but not win" or "desist but not lose" but we will never "win" so long as Bush defines victory as he does. Does anyone really think the insurgents are going to surrender and move on to something more fulfilling? Until then, serve me up another plate of proganda and misinformation.

1/09/2006 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Antonie said...

Dr. Mr. Bettencourt:

You don't give the American people enought credit. Why pay attention when it is hard to know spin from fact and every negative comment is considered unpatriotic. Most people think: "Time will tell."

The blame lies fair and square with the individuals who planned the war, shoved it down our throats, bungled it, and the frame and intimidate the press.

1/09/2006 9:06 PM  
Anonymous J Thomas said...

Good point, Wendyo.

When you turn too many corners too fast you're likely to spin out.

1/09/2006 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Icks! If things aren't crazy enough. Tonight on the news they talked about states creating legislation to create a privacy zone around soldiers' funeral. A radical baptist group from Kansas is protesting at funeral saying Thank God for a dead soldier and worse. They say a dead soldier is God's revenge for homosexuality.

Oh hum..., and this is who the Republican party has teamed up with :-( The crazies! And the corrupt! How wonderful :-(

1/09/2006 11:15 PM  
Blogger CBQ said...

Giys - would you believe it? A British Publishing House has just put out a book of the collected ramlings of Bin Laedn. Read about it here

1/10/2006 4:25 AM  
Anonymous KevinNYC said...

I've been reading The Best and The Brightest. In it David Halberstam talks about when the reality of the war started to sink in 1966-67, Walt Rostrow was appointed to the White House staff, mainly it seems, because he was an optimist and would tell Johnson things he wanted to hear. He would have his staff read all the reports and cull only the good news and put that on the cover page that was sent to the President. He had all these charts that showed we were six months away from winning the war. In 1967 Daniel Ellsberg returned from 2 years in Vietnam depressed about the war. Rostrow showed him a chart that proved we were six months from victory. Ellsberg just turned and walked away from him.

The next year Rostrow heard Paul Vann give a dismal report on war, and then asked, but you agreee that it will all be over in six months right. Vann replied, "No, I think we will be able to hang on longer than that."

The book seems like one long tale of deaj vu. One thing I thought about recently is North Vietnam was a country of 17 million people. At the highest we had about 500,000 troops stationed in Vietnam. Iraq is a country of 25 million people and we have about 140-150,000 troops there. Granted the terrain and technology are different, but it does make you think.

1/11/2006 3:29 AM  
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