Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Instructions: Answer one of the three questions. E-mail your answer to me at Your exam is due by 3:15pm on Wednesday, March 13.

1. The US Defense budget for fiscal year 2007 stands at $470 billion. Is this enough? Too much? How do we go about assessing this question?
2. Evaluate the following statement: Neoconservatism didn’t fail; it was never properly tried.
3. What’s at stake for the United States in Iraq? What does the United States risk by staying, and what by leaving?

not so much the devil's advocate as the angel's defense attorney

Since the Iraq issue is getting a little stale, and since our final starts in a few minutes, I think it's time to present a few alternative opinions:

If Iraq is truly in a state of civil war, then America is achieving its objectives. We have engaged terrorist groups in open combat, identified the states that assist them, and begun detracting from their broad support base.

The invasion of Iraq did not occur in a vacuum, but rather within the context of the war on terror. Much of this has been lost in the fog of language and politics that has billowed out of Baghdad since March of 2003. The primary objective, as in Afghanistan, was to engage terrorist groups and the states that supported them in open combat where we have the advantage.

We look at Iraq, the growing number of attacks on Iraqii civilians and coalition troops, and we say, "The US occupation is creating more terrorists." This is only partly true. The US invasion of Iraq created more terrorists in the sense that it identified those groups waiting for a chance to attack the United States. Except now, instead of hitting our soft targets, they attacked the troops. Directly engaging the enemy; that was one of our goals, and we achieved it.

I'll be honest. In the deepest, darkest, coldest corner of my heart, I think that civil war in Iraq is a victory. If you have a civil war, you have multiple groups that consider themselves part of the same country - you have national identity. We have focused the world's attention on the sectarian violence in Iraq, which is directed against Sunnis and Shias first. Attacking Americans is of secondary importance. When the Middle Eastern news agencies look at Iraq, regardless of how they narrate it, their audiences see Iraqiis killing Iraqiis and Muslims killing Muslims, and they seem to carry out these killings with Iranian guns, Syrian bombs, Sunni Al-Qaeda training and Shia Hezbollah support.

When the Baker report talks about engaing Iran and Syria, they shouldn't be talking about engaging Mahmoud and Bashar. They should be engaging the Iranian and Syrian people. These people are not angry at Americans for being godless and Christian - they're angry at Americans for not stopping the killing. You don't see Iranians and Iraqis coming out and chanting for Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and teorrism. They want peace, justice and an end to the killing. They're angry at us because they believe we can stop it, and we don't. It's fair to say that Iraq is dispelling the idea that Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah or other terrorist groups can bring peace and justice to the Middle East. A mullah can still start a riot amongst the poorest and disenfranchised, but the days are gone when the Ayatollah can instruct the nation's youth to riot and attack any nearby Americans. We still make it easy for Middle Eastern demagogues to blame America for every social, economic and political ill, but Arabs and Persians are learning to tell the difference. With genocide on the horizon, they know who's going to be doing the killing.

So, we've directly engaged the terrorists, killed many, and captured hundreds for interrogation. We've begun erroding public support for terrorist groups, radical Islamic organizations and fanatical Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda. We may not have accomplished this in the most efficient manner, but we've done it. We have achieved almost all of the goals that can be achieved with military force.

Well, maybe we still need to bunker down with the Kurds in northern Iraq - who actually like us, imagine that. But besides that, more or less done.

Now it is time for the other side of America's power, diplomacy and soft power. Unfortunately, if anyone thinks that our military was poorly equipped to handle 4-G warfare in Iraq, then they should look at how ill-prepared our army of diplomats is to handle the 4-G statecraft nightmare that is the Middle East. America's superior firepower can defeat any body, but it's the mind we have to defeat to achieve our ultimate objectives in Iraq and the Middle East. That's not a job for guns.

To summarize: the US is winning in Iraq. We're killing the enemy, eroding their support and awaking a real democratic conscience in the Middle East from the bottom-up.

There's a long term struggle in play, and a grand game plan that will change form as Congress and the White House change hands along the road. And the test just arrived by email, so good luck everyone.

National Security Policy

National Security Policy

Walt / Mearsheimer argue that while United States foreign policy is often directed by an elusive and obscure Israel Lobby when it should be guided by US national interests. They define the Israel Lobby as “the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign poliy in a pro-Israel direction”
The article furthermore puts forth that the Israel Lobby actively labors to silence any discussion of its existence.

I believe that the evidence of pro-Israeli political influence upon US foreign policy are made unambiguous when analyzing the quantified data of US Aid to the “great benefactor” Israel. Receiving over $3 billion in aid each year from the United States, the grand total of US aid in 2003 to Israel since the nation’s rebirth in 1948 is over $140 billion dollars. The sole fact that the United States provides an amount of “aid” to Israel “dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state” should raise some eyebrows.

This unilateral support of Israel totally negates the ability of the United States to negotiate diplomatically as an objective neutral intermediary in regional disputes between Israel and neighboring Arab states. Taking Lebanon for example, Official US Aid to Israel is 10 times more than to Lebanon. One becomes even more suspicious when the amounts of aid are juxtaposed with the Per Capita GDP’s of the two neighboring states, Israel nearly 4 times that of Lebanon. Let’s look at some more states just to get bigger pictures of US Aid to Israel.

GDP PC 2005 est. Direct Official “US Aid”
Iraq $1,800.00 $ 3,969,507,640.00
Israel $25,000.00 $ 240,000,000.00
Lebanon $6,000.00 $ 35,000,000.00
Mexico $10,000.00 $ 27,000,000.00
Zambia $900.00 $ 0.00

Whatever the reason for this support, be it to “aid a fellow democracy”, or to atone for “past crimes” committed against the Hebrew people, the influence of a group or groups is clear. However, in a representational democracy, the influence of organized groups upon policy is a given.

Already labeled by some as anti-Semites, Walt and Mearsheimer have brought an important issue into the arena of public debate. If there are interests other than those of the United States that are leading this nation’s foreign policy it should indeed be discussed. Do most Americans prefer to support Israel than any other state’s interests including our own? So is this then a reflection of representative democracy at work? But dare I ask if perhaps the Israel Lobby was one of the forces that drove this nation to confront and topple Israel’s aggressive neighboring state Iraq? If so, is then the United States paying too high a price in the blood and dollars being pumped into Iraq today in support of Israel? Something to think about.

US Aid by Nation:
GDP PC 2005 Statistics by Nation:

National Security Policy: September 2006

National Security Policy: September 2006

Reposting of a comment made 9/02/2006

fantôme de la bibliothèque said...
Mearsheimer’s “central conclusion is that institutions have minimal influence on state behavior and thus hold little promise for promoting stability in the post-Cold War world. He bases this conclusion on the fact that idealistic view of institutionalism is in direct contradiction to the foundations of realism (Mearsheimer 7). For realists, international institutions are used as tools of powerful states as they “create and shape institutions so that they can maintain their share of world power, or even increase it.” The United Nations is a perfect example of Mearsheimer’s view that institutions “mirror the distribution of power in the system (13).” The public perception that the United Nations as an international democratic institution is a sham. While the U.N. General assembly includes representation from 191 states, Article 24 of the U.N. Charter invests greater authority in the U.N. Security Council. As the most influential organ of the United Nations, the Security Council’s veto-wielding permanent five members (the P5) are not representative of the world populations, economic power, or any democratic ideal, but are simply a clear manifestation of power politics. The P5 members are The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and P.R. China. As if a souvenir of colonialism, four out of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are Caucasian and of European origin when the actual population of the world is everything but. Asia alone is more populated than the entire rest of the world combined, sustaining 62.6% of the earth's population in 2002 yet only represents one-fifth of the P5. (I won’t even begin to discuss the reluctance of the UN P5 to admit the People’s Republic of China replacing the United States’ puppet Republic of China (Taiwan) on the P5 in 1971). Africa, who is not at all represented in the P5, is larger and more populated than the entire continent of Europe. Two of the P5 members represent English speaking nations, and two of the members are also members of the European Union.When the United Nations was founded in 1945, human civilization found itself buried underneath the ashes of the Second World War and the victors carried deep resentment toward both Germany and Japan. The five countries that were awarded permanent representation on the Security Council are representative of the post-war allied power structure that stood triumphant at the end of World War Two. Consequently world powers Japan and Germany are not included in the P5. In 2002, the GNI of Japan was more than triple that of P5 members France or the United Kingdom. Germany's national economy is far greater than France, and yet neither Japan nor Germany are apart of the P5.Even though Mearsheimer states that due to Soviet-American competition, the UN “was never seriously tested as a collective security apparatus during the Cold War” (33), he rightly concludes that such an “optimistic assessment of institutions is not warranted.” I believe that the United Nations is a perfect example of an institution that was created, maintained, and dominated by world power politics. In response to Dr. Duke Nukem’s post, for the UN to have a future as a completely legitimate and influential institutional actor in international relations, its very structure and charter would need to be reformed. However, it is highly unlikely that progress will be made because the UN Charter was not intended to be changed easily. With the exception of the addition of new member states, the Charter has never been changed. An amendment to the Charter would require two thirds support in the General Assembly in addition to the full support of the permanent members of the Security Council. Which veto-wielding state is going to allow itself to be removed from the P5 or allow its power to be diminished by the addition of other states? So to answer your question Displayname… I think the UN as a primary example of an international institution proves Mearsheimer’s conclusion that balance of power is the independent variable affecting war and peace, and that “institutions are merely an intervening variable in the process (13).”Mearsheimer described institutions best in one sentence, and this was made apparent in the American unilateral 2003 invasion of Iraq, “What is most impressive about institutions, in fact, is how little independent effect they seem to have had on state behavior (47).”
12:47 PM

Man cannot survive by military might alone...

Apparently military officials are beginning to be open with their realizations that they don't have all the solutions in Iraq. Posted today on, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former operational commander, has announced that the military is not capable of winning the peace in Iraq.

Instead, he indicated that the US should focus more on the economy and solving sectarian issues. To support his assertion that the US should be more concerned about the Iraqi economy, he noted that citizens must have something to look forward to, so to speak, other than continuing violence. He also argues that the military should be allowed to continue with its mission because it’s important to win this conflict.

To me, at least, these statements seem contradictory. How can we maintain our troop levels and continue to fight this fight and pursue a goal of stimulating the economy at the same time. Don't armed conflicts on the scale of the Iraq war (with approx. 145,000 Americans there at the moment) sort of negate the possibility of any meaningful economic stiumlus?

My personal opinion is that there shouldn't be a reduction of troops, but perhaps a reduction of their duties: a strong incentive for the Iraqi forces that are prepared to pick up the slack. On the other hand, we need some sort of significant economic stimulus. I'm not suggesting something on the scale of the Marshall Plan or anything, but some visible public aid package is a must to win over hearts and minds in a conflict that has so far gone so badly. If we really want Iraqis to accept democratic government, putting things in order economically must be a prerequisite. No question.

That means that Iraqis will have to live with violence for a little longer, yes, but a more stable and legitimate government will eventually be able to crush the insurgency. I wonder, however, if President Bush would be willing to consider such a strong alternative strategy. He's really shown a disinterest in showing any doubt in his original plan. I’ve been convinced of the need for a strong economic component to our Iraq policy since the beginning, but are our leaders prepared to go in that direction?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Soviet Security Apparatus Still Alive and Well

Referencing the New York Times article: Eastern Europe Struggles to Purge Security Services.

Some believe that the Soviet Era Security Services were ended when communism fell in 89, however, judging by recent events, it would seem that it is alive and well. Since, the fall, the security services, intelligence services, and other various forms of government security were supposedly shutdown and reorganized in new forms more conducive to the new political system. However, in the past several months, there have been a number unexplained deaths of people who are, or were against the Russian, and/or soviet governments.

In October, a prominent Russian journalist was killed from gun shot wounds in Moscow, in November a number of people had been killed under mysterious circumstances: Alexander V. Litvinenko, the former K.G.B. agent and Bozhidar Doychev, the man who oversaw Bulgaria’s most sensitive secret service archives. Also, aside from killings, there seems to be an active organization or group that makes verbal threats as well: a friend of Litvinenko had a threat made against his family.

Obviously the organizational apparatus is not dead, so, who is controlling and funding this organization and/or individuals. Might it be the Russian government, or just some officials who use past ties to the former KGB and other security services to threaten and assassinate those individuals who threaten them or there position? This does not seem unlikely, just because the organization was shutdown; the people who it employed are still alive; some with histories that are better left on an undisturbed forgotten file shelf somewhere.

You would not expect some of those Russian officials who have reached a high position of authority and power to relinquish this position by allowing information from their past to crop up. They will act in the most certain of ways to keep their past unknown. Also, employing means against anyone who threatens to disrupt operations or plans that are currently in motion; much like the Russian journalist.

What can be done? In my opinion, there is little that can be done. Those contacts that these officials may have are obviously very secret and have remained a secret for almost two decades. The only thing that could happen, much like the article concludes is to wait for the problem to die off. These former soviet era officials and their connections will soon die, or they will step down from office. After which, their hidden pasts can be revealed with little threat (hopefully), and honest journalism can be practiced with little threat of sever backlash from the government.

For Diplomacy People

An interesting turn of events for diplomacy majors.

Monday, December 11, 2006

buh bye, Kofi...

Kofi Annan, in his farewell address, criticized the Bush administration, warning that America must not sacrifice its Democratic ideals while waging war against terrorism.
“Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity,” Annan’s text said. When the U.S. “appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused,” he said.
I guess "freedom" didn't make the list. Not to take up for Bush's handling of Iraq, but I think the US does an ample job of depending it's own ideal and objectives. How many times does "freedom and "democracy" have to appear in a Bush speak for that to sink in? Didn't Truman fail to finish the Korean War, help start the Vietnam War and lose China to communism? What a great role model for the UN. Human Rights, Kofi? How many genocides, lose of life and human rights catastrophes happened under your watch Kofi? How nice for him that he could give his speech from the safety of the United States, for which he consistently shows nothing but contempt.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unbridled Pessimism

Wow; this op-ed does more to sober me up from last night than the big breakfast I ate at Ramsey's.

I think the writer is basically right. Even if we leave the Middle East tomorrow we will be back -- things are that bad there now. We'll have to do what we can to prevent terrorism havens from forming, we'll have energy interests, and we'll have to worry about Israel's security.

However, we can do a lot to avoid going back if we became energy independent. To me, that seems like the only way to get some type of permanent redeployment.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Time to pull out that Queen greatest hits album again and listen to some Bicycle Races, Fat Bottomed Girls, and oh yeah ...

It looks like we're continuing to have problems with our missile defense technology. Drudge linked a story today about a missile test designed to intercept two missiles fired from the same location today. Although the story also reports that it's only the second try in nine attempts to go awry, it seems that all we hear about are the failures in this technology, but obviously things are going right if they're batting .778 on this type of test. So, lacking the expert knowledge of these issues that I'm sure other members of my class possess, I must ask what are the prospects of our missile technology actually becoming completely operational, and how viable is the Strategic Defense Initiative program? It seems to have dropped off the radar lately.

Oh, and to tie this in with this week's readings (ever so loosely, I guess), is there any perception out there that the US's policy on missile defense and the ABM Treaty has
hurt the US that greatly in world opinion in relation compared to events that have surely had negative impact? Or is this an area that riles other states, but they really don't care too much. Grazie, and have a good one.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Iraq Tea Party

I’m sure you all have read that Mr. Maliki Iraq’s Prime Minister is sending envoys to neighboring states in the region to persuade them to attend a conference regarding regional support to stop the violence. Now, there s much that can come of this both good and bad; but what should be noticed is that Iraq is looking for help from others, rather than from America at this point.

First the bad, since it is always good to end on a happy note. This could bring about much more sectarian violence. It is no secret that states in the region have interests if certain tribes or groups gain power. Iran for example would love Iraq to be a Shiite state. This might cause certain states to refuse to help quell the violence unless their demands are met. Some may add fuel to the fire raging in Iraq just out of spite. By Iraq becoming closer to the states that are not on America’s top 10 favorite lists, it could eventually cause the new and improved Iraq to be less what the United States wants it to be.

Now the good, this cooperation between the states in the region could reduce the amount of workload on the American military in Iraq. By some of their soldiers coming into Iraq and aiding in training Iraq’s troops and securing the ground, but more likely by them coordinating cease fires amongst the insurgency groups. These states may have the influence needed to stop much of the violence taking place in Iraq. Most importantly, this could bring stability and peace to the region. Individually, these states are major competitors with individual interests, but working together, they become a team with a mutual interest. Sure, they are only working together on one topic, but it is a major topic that affects them all. They will be working and meeting together resolving a major problem that has serious consequences if it fails. This may bring about understanding of their neighbors and possibly a political relationship that could prove to be very strong. By them working to build a stable, successful Iraq, it would be a sign that something good can come from the region if the states work together.

I know this sounds very hopeful and possibly naïve, but you never know what could come of this. If all the states agree to work on the Iraq issue, it could be one step towards quelling the violence in the region and a stability that would change the region as a whole, especially if the major states become involved.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tom Friedman on Green China

Just read Friedman's column today on China's growing embrace of renewable power. Particularly relevant after today's excellent presentation.

He writes about Shi Zhengrong, now the 9th richest man in China ($1.43 billion according to Fortune) who got there by making photovoltaic solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Friedman makes all of his usual points (not that I don't agree with virtually all of them) about how Shi's international success (at least a measure of it) is a glaring result of failure by Washington to impose tougher energy-standards on Detroit (which had it been done ten years ago may have saved the American auto industry) and promote alternative energy in other ways.

More than that, though, I found it interesting because of how it touched upon our discussion. That is, this Shi's fellow seems a product of China's unique set of economic policies. Low wages. Little in the way of labor standards. Heavy government subsidies to open his factories. Tougher energy regulations (though poorly enforced) than America's. Combined with China's energy crunch, Shi's success is likely not to be unique or to wane.

If renewable energy is indeed, as Friedman believes, the "growth industry of the 21st century," America will have to find a way to duplicate it ... either via market forces, government action, or some combination.

Incidentally, shares for Shi's Suntech Power went up 4% on the NYSE today after this column ran. The Friedman bump might just be as big as the Colbert bump

Reaction to Iraq Study Report

Grave, Dire and Deteriorating is the headline on the Iraq Study Group report.
Reach out, not reject countries in the region. The status quo is no longer valid.
Striking is the language expressed in this report, compared to that which the President spoke months and weeks leading up to the midterm elections. The Democrats should be applauding on the hill since the goal of setting benchmarks was clearly outlined. My reaction favorable to the idea of putting pressure on the Maliki government to perform because the US will not be able to lead the efforts much longer. I think this rhetoric is way overdue. Though I'm not convinced that sanctions are the answers. We did, after all, cause this mess. I'd like to see a troop withdraw only have the mode of the the current troop levels are changed from combat to training, then start pulling out. But for crying out loud, equip their soldiers well!

But is this is simply another waste of taxpayer dollars. How much did we spend for the panel to decide what we were doing over there was not working? Seems to me the average guy on the street knew this long ago, for a lot less money. Now, what we have to ask ourselves is - Is the Bush adminstration willing, or able, to admit we've been peeing in the wind all this time. Wasted billions of dollars, lost lives, the cost is far more than 1 Trillion dollars, much more, and in the meantime, these guys sit around scratching themselves wondering if the American public knows more than they do. I think we all know the answer to that question.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You CAN Always Get What You Want - In AMERICA

As the Senate committee unanimously approved Robert Gates today, I think we are on our way to having a terrific example of American public opinion in action. In November, Americans turned their back on Bush’s foreign policy regarding Iraq. The public clearly favored the Democrats’ position (which I would say is really no position at all outside of being not Bush’s position) regarding Iraq instead. Today Gates made clear that the public is shaping America’s position when he declared that he is “open to a wide range of ideas and proposals” and that “all options are on the table.” Et Voila. The “anything but stay the course” foreign policy has made it from the dinner table/evening news to the polling booth to the Congress to the Secretary of Defense’s lips.

Beware Bushie Boy

Until today, the PM of Iraq has been pretty resistant to asking for region help in deescalating the violance in Iraq. Certainly the Dems have backed this idea as does Baker and his ole' study group. Sounds like this request might have to knock 43 off his tenant of US lead- pro unity government? Now Maiki's calling for a regional conference?

But then Al-Hakim, his rival Shiia cohort is quoted as saying “We believe that the Iraqi issue should be solved by the Iraqis, with the help of friends everywhere, but we reject any attempts to have a regional or international role in solving the Iraqi issue. " So who's Bush going to back and will he rebuff the idea on talking to Syria and Iran? Both Shiia leaders have close ties to Iran, Al-Hakim having lived there for the last 20 years. Look like Iraq acutally better start installing some visable Sunnis if you want a unitary government.

You got the Sunni's in Saudi Arabia and Egypt lobbying Bush not to let Iran get involved - which, if you think about it, seems like all bets are off. Because here you've got Maliki talking to Iran about offering support, which the US clearly doesn't want, nor do Sunnis anywhere. But then you've got White House headlines of Bush's meeting with Al-Hakim, his Shiia rival who wants to partition the country, just the opposite of what Bush and Maliki want. Wouldn't this (1)send a message to Maliki that he really isn't the 'right man for the job', just a week after both leaders met in Jordan and (2) justify leverage for the Iraq government seek support from Tehran, since both have strong relations with them.
Seems to me, NOBODY knows what the hell to do and proves both the Mid East and Washington are cutting further between that "iraq and a hard place" Wonder who Bush is going to listen too?


Monday, December 04, 2006

Civil War Smivil War

The question that is on everyone’s mind, well maybe its only me but I don't think so, is when is current situation in Iraq going to be called a civil war? How many people need to call it this for the President to? A mean for gods sake its Lourer certified?!?! What else do they need? Maybe if the secretary general of the U.N. says it is worse than the civil war that tore apart Lebanon they would believe it then. Ohh wait he has. I'm no doctor but one would assume that to prescribe the right medicine to get better you must first correctly diagnosis the illness. I think the same maybe the case with winning a war. One must know what type of war that they are fighting so that they can use the proper tactics to win it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Calling All Open Source Analysts

Can bloggers help to prevent a terrorist attack?.

This is a good read and very appropriate for all of us. I think the concept of Intellipedia is a great way for the intel agencies to start communicating to one another, and the concept of "mob analysis" is intriguing. Also, I'm don't think any of the complaints are serious.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Colin Powell chimes in again

I wonder what the Bush Administration thinks of Powell's most recent comments, that he forsees no circumstance in which the US would use military force against Iran. Sure, they can dismiss him because he no longer works for them, but there is the problem of the signals that this esteemed former general is sending to the 'enemy.'

Surely Iranian officials understand the fact that Powell does not speak for the administration, but I'm sure it also realizes the importance of his assessment. Could the fact that one of America's preeminent military minds thinks that the US will not under any foreseeable circumstance attack Iran cause Iran to take more brazen action?

On the other hand, is it also possible that the Bush administration could view this as a challenge to its "manhood" and act more aggressively toward Iran given the fact that Powell's comments could give Iran the ability to rest on it's laurels a bit?

I was wondering if anyone else thinks that such comments from influential, but currently powerless, Americans leaders could have either a positive or negative effect on the situation with Iran. Also, does anyone out there actually disagree with Powell's assessment of the situation?

Colin Powell chimes in again

I wonder what the Bush Administration thinks of Powell's most recent comments, that he forsees no circumstance in which the US would use military force against Iran. Sure, they can dismiss him because he no longer works for them, but there is the problem of the signals that this esteemed former general is sending to the 'enemy.'

Surely Iranian officials understand the fact that Powell does not speak for the administration, but I'm sure it also realizes the importance of his assessment. Could the fact that one of America's preeminent military minds thinks that the US will not under any foreseeable circumstance attack Iran cause Iran to take more brazen action?

On the other hand, is it also possible that the Bush administration could view this as a challenge to its "manhood" and act more aggressively toward Iran given the fact that Powell's comments could give Iran the ability to rest on it's laurels a bit?

I was wondering if anyone else thinks that such comments from influential, but currently powerless, Americans leaders could have either a positive or negative effect on the situation with Iran. Also, does anyone out there actually disagree with Powell's assessment of the situation?

what we have here is a failure to excommunicate

It was mentioned in class on Wednesday that there have been some questions as to the authenticity of news coming out of Iraq. Now, this isn't the old "MSM only tells us the bad news" story. This is something more troubling: the MSM if carrying stories designed specifically to misinform the American public.

Situation in this case, is that several news stories - involving kidnappings, murders, US airstrikes killing civilians, and most notoriously the 6 Sunnis dragged out of their mosques and burned alive while coalition troops watch - have come from a fictitious source: one Captain Hussein. The AP has been running stories from this "source" for the past two years, and then yesterday CENTCOM and the MOI issued the following release:

For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name-- maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem.

However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not represent any official. We would like this note to be helpful to you and any statement made by those persons to be ignored.

Problem seems to be, that every time there is a report from this Captain Hussein, noone is able to verify the story. Witnesses at the scenes of these various scenes have been likewise unable to give a straight answer.

More information and analysis of that particular story can be found here, here, here, here and here. And if you're convinced that Malkin or conservative weblogs are tainted, untrustworthy wells of information, there's always The New York Times.

Does this mean that the AP and the MSM are against America? Hell no. What it means is that there is some serious information warfare going on in Iraq - and the enemy is doing a hell of a job. Just as terrorist attacks play on the weaknesses of a democratic, liberal populace by intimidation, this sort of information warfare plays on those same weaknesses by exploiting the strength of freedom of the press in the United States, and a democratic citizens' desire for news and information. It's no crime for the press to have a bias one way or the other - that's inevitable. But it's bad when we don't have the intelligence to counteract these claims.

We have the same situation with the fictitious account of the Holy Quran being flushed down the toilet at Gitmo. The story was retracted by Newsweek. Some now alleged that the incident never really occured. Either way, the story was used to agitate more anti-Western sentiment and grab a few more recruits for the Islamic fundamentalist and Islamist cause.

Even now we have the story of the six imams taken off a Minneapolis flight last week. That's seeming more and more like a staged event, with some suspiciously exagerated praying and activity almost designed to attract air marshall attention: like requesting seatbelt extensions and then pocketing them, moving from seat to seat, etc.

This goes back to the issue of civil war in Iraq. There is a serious effort on the part of the enemy in Iraq to incite as much violence as possible. Even ABC News is picking up the story that Iran is - almost without a doubt - directly supplying weapons to Shiite insurgents, and that Hizbollah has provided training for around 1,000 of al-Sadr's estimated 40,000-strong militia.

It seems to me, that if the CENTCOM needs to cooperate more with the MSM. That doesn't mean using the media as a mouthpiece. That won't fly, thanks to the blogosphere, who fanatically check each story for any crumb of suspicious data. We have a heavy media presence in Iraq, and we need it scrutinizing more than US troops body counts. We need to take advantage of the enemy fascination with our media technology. If they want to be on camera, let them be on camera. Bring the same coverage of terrorist- and insurgent-caused civilian casualties to Arab households. The enemy wants our cameras in Iraq, and right now, they control what gets reported and gets filmed. It doesn't have to be that way.

We may not be able to dominate the enemy in an information war, but we can do a better job than we're doing now. That means holding the AP accountable for checking their sources. If there are reporters who insist on carrying stories about 6 Sunnis being burned alive, when we're not sure if there was even one, sent that reporter home. In the US, even our freedom of the press has limits. There ought to be reprecussion for calling out "Sunni on fire" in a crowded theater of war.