Thursday, June 23, 2005

The General and the Tactician

Note the difference. When a political tactician, for example, Karl Rove, talks about war, he can only frame it in political terms. There is no sense that we need to unify, or that there may be many different strategies to achieving the same goal. There is only one route--a political attack on (political) enemies. Thus, we get this hideous statement by Mr. Rove, which claims that the liberal response to 9/11 was to offer "therapy" to terrorists. Obviously, Rove would rather not talk about the unanimous save one decision to give the President authority to prosecute war in Afghanistan, or the decision of many Democrats to support the war in Iraq, or the aggressive Democratic support for the Department of Homeland Defense and the 9/11 commission (both opposed by Bush). Because to the political tactician, the war on terror comes second to the war on Democrats.

This is unfortunately the state of our terrorism discourse in America--mountains on demonizing political opponents, precious little on defeating terrorism. The latest absurd manifestation of this was Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) argument in favor of the anti-flag burning amendment, which ran like this (link: Balloon Juice):
Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World) Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."

That's funny, because my guess would have been that if we could talk to those now-dead men and women, they'd be more likely to say "stop focusing on stupid sh-- and make our country safer."

On the flip side, while our elected officials can't see past the latest attempt for a smear job, at least our generals still occassionally talk straight. So, contra "Last Throes" Cheney, General John Abizaid testified before Congress and admitted that the Iraq insurgency is not, in fact, weakening. Who to trust, who to trust. Such a toughie, this is.

Of course, Generals don't always give you the straight and narrow. We've seen plenty of bobbing and weaving from the military over torture and Guantanamo, among other things (though that pales in comparison to the spin job our elected officials give it, IE, Rep. Duncan "Chicken or Fish" Hunter (R-CA). But since it is their people who are dying, Generals are far less happy about being forced to toe an inaccurate spin line when the on the ground reality says something different. For the tacticians on the right, every outcome is a winner--if we win the war, they're the hawks who supported the troops, if we lose, Democrats were the traitors who undermined them. Since the outcome doesn't matter, they can gleefully assault liberals as a whole, without any thought to how their claims measure up to reality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Damn straight. As for me,
I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

Whoops, wrong movie.

Um, this is a movie, right?
Please tell me it's just a bad movie...