Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Week That Was, or Wasn't, in Iraq

The Wall Street Journal has become the house organ for open-borders, free-trade, big-war conservatism. You know the type, they carry on about "social engineering" at the same time that they editorialize in favor of eliminating the border or praise the "remaking" Islamic civilization. Journal editorials have become grist for the pro-war mill. Paul Gigot, a he-man if ever there was one, never saw a war he didn't like.

Therefore, I as amused to see the unvarnished, unedited thoughts of Journal correspondent Farnaz Fassihi, who has the honor of covering the war rather than watching it on CNN while sipping cocktails at tony parties on the Upper West Side or having wine and cheese in Georgetown. Fassihi sent an email to friends which is now making its way over the information superhighway (God Bless the Internet).

In the little note, which you may read in its entirety here, she painted a picture of a strategic disaster:

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler. Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Fassihi also discusses the dangers of trying to cover the war:

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

In a moment of candor, Donald Rumsfeld said that it may not be possible to hold elections in Janary. This bleak assessment was immediately criticized by, among others, Colin Powell, who nonetheless admitted that the insurgency in Iraq is getting worse and that the U.S. occupation there has increased anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries. I don't know about you, but I'm shocked by such a conclusion! Colin Powell is obviously undermining the war effort.

Allawi and Bush recently assured the assembled lackeys and lickspittles in the White House press corps that most of Iraq was under control. Indeed, they assured us, there are only a few provinces where violence is raging. But according to a report from Kroll Security:

Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants.

The sweeping geographical reach of the attacks, from Nineveh and Salahuddin Provinces in the northwest to Babylon and Diyala in the center and Basra in the south, suggests a more widespread resistance than the isolated pockets described by Iraqi government officials.
To counter this flood of bad news, which is obviously just a product created by pinkocommyleftybigmediaelite journalists, the Pentagon has devised a remedy to the problem--censorship and propaganda!

USAID said this week that it will restrict distribution of reports by contractor Kroll Security International showing that the number of daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq has increased. On Monday, a day after The Washington Post published a front-page story saying that "the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence," a USAID official sent an e-mail to congressional aides stating: "This is the last Kroll report to come in. After the WPost story, they shut it down in order to regroup. I'll let you know when it restarts."

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office has sent commanders of U.S. military facilities a five-page memorandum titled "Guidance to Commanders." The Pentagon, the memo says, is sponsoring a group of Iraqi Americans and former officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority to speak at military bases throughout the United States starting Friday to provide "a first-hand account" of events in Iraq. The Iraqi Americans and the CPA officials worked on establishing the interim Iraqi government. The Iraqi Americans "feel strongly that the benefits of the coalition efforts have not been fully reported," the memo says.

The memo says the presentations are "designed to be uplifting accounts with good news messages." Rumsfeld's office, which will pay for the tour, recommends that the installations seek local news coverage, noting that "these events and presentations are positive public relations opportunities."

One ludicrous example of the attempt to suppress dissent is the case of Al Lorentz, an Army Reserve staff sergeant from Texas who recently penned a little essay on Lew Rockwell's website. Lorentz gave away no classified data, but he did proffer the opinion that the situarion in Iraq is unwinnable. Such subversion cannot be tolerated, and Lorentz is facing 20 years in prison for his "crime."

Of course a key element of success was the potential "Iraqization" of the fighting forces. But the BBC--those libs!--tell us that Tony Cordesman (oops, he's not a lib) says that this process is going very slowly and might not be accomplished until 2006.

Have we turned the corner yet?


Blogger Deleted Blog said...

Darrell, your post is reblogged at Polemics. Nice job. I'd be interested in more of your thoughts relative to that first sentence, especially on the notion of "free-trade". Are you opposed to unlimited free-trade? I'm on the fence, because I see the logical end of free trade in one-worldism at the expense of nations, particularly our own.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...


Love your work over at Polemics. Thanks for the plug there.

As to the trade issue, I'm largely ambivalent. In a previous lifetime, so to speak, I had hoped to become an economist, and I was particularly influenced by the Misesian wing of the Austrian School. I was also once a voracious reader of the Wall Street Journal before I came face-to-face with Tom Fleming, Sam Francis, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard and the rest of the crowd writing at Chronicles in the early 1990's.

At the end of the day, however, I am not a methodological individualist. Free trade is the economic component of the liberal ideology. Ultimately, we as Reformed Christians are convenentalists rather than individualists. At the heart of free-trade doctrine is the notion that all things work together for the good of those who eliminate tariffs. Seriously, the apoplexy with which libertarians greeted Pat Buchanan's call for relatively minor tariffs should give you pause about their rationality.

I was once an ideological, rather than a practical, free trader. But during the debate over NAFTA, I saw a debate between Jack Kemp and Pat Buchanan where Kemp asked Buchanan whether he would reciprocate if the Japanese offered to drop all existing tariffs. Buchanan said, quite logically, that one would have to consider all the ramifications to vital American industries before taking such a dramatic step. Kemp was outraged. Apparently, Jack doesn’t believe prudence is a conservative virtue.

I would also say that in terms of tax policy, tariffs (taxes on the consumption of foreign goods) are infinitely preferable to taxes on income, property, or inheritance. If I'm a businessman, why should I pay taxes to pay for the roads to transport my goods, the legal system to enforce my contracts, etc., when a foreign firm can import goods to compete against me and be freed from similar costs. In effect, such policies discriminate against domestic producers. Moreover, it is liberals like Wilson and Roosevelt who were free traders--not exactly small-government types.

At the same time, I think Buchanan, and some protectionist-leaning paleos make the same error in the other direction. Does Pat really think we can reinvigorate American industry by throwing up a tariff wall? I think sometimes he believes that trade-protection is a magic elixir to solve all of our economic problems.

In short, I can support candidates that lean either way, but I prefer folks not blinded by ideology who realize that both protectionism and free trade have costs and benefits which need to be carefully considered.

5:12 PM  

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