25 April 2006

StrategyPage contradicts themselves

Information Warfare
The recent flap over six retired American generals publicly calling for the Secretary of Defense to resign, also brought out opinions, via the Internet, from lower ranking troops (active duty, reservists and retired.) The mass media ran with the six generals, but got shot down by the troops and their blogs, message board postings and emails. It wasn't just a matter of the 'troop media' being more powerful. No, what the troops had going for them was a more convincing reality. Unlike the six generals, many of the Internet troops were in Iraq, or had recently been there. Their opinions were not as eloquent as those of the generals, but they were also more convincing. Added to that was the complaint from many of the troops that, according to the American constitution, it's the civilians (in the person of the Secretary of Defense) that can dismiss soldiers from service, not the other way around. While the six generals were only expressing their opinions (which only active duty troops are restricted from doing, because of the different military legal system they operate under), it rubbed a lot of people (military and civilian) the wrong way because of the constitutional angle.

Lemme get this straight: The troops were more convincing - and presumably pro-Rummy - because they're closer to the action. But the generals were only able to speak out after retirement because "active duty troops are restricted from doing [so]". Could it be that the pro-Rummy opinions coming out of the troops with "a more convincing reality" were in fact the only ones allowed because active duty troops are restricted from speaking out about the civilian leadership?
And of those 6 generals, one was a division commander in the Gulf. One has been an ambassadorial envoy to the Middle East appointed by multiple presidents for his expertise in the region. Another was in charge of the national-level planning that included rotating troops in and out of the gulf. These guys clearly know what they're talking about, even if you don't agree with them.

24 April 2006

Gas vs Terrorism

So some new polls are showing that voters are more concerned with gas prices than terrorism. By some accounts, it's the 3d-biggest issue to voters, behind only Iraq and Immigration. (Though the Bushies would consider Iraq and terrorism to be the same thing. They're wrong, but that's their view.)

Surprised? You shouldn't be.

How many cities in the US are really concerned with terrorism? 10? 12? NY, DC, LA, Miami, Seattle, probably SD (proximity to border), Detroit... a few others. Not Casper, WY. Not Tulsa, not Champaign, not Chattanooga, Omaha, Birmingham, Amarillo, or Las Cruces.

But people in all those cities buy gas.

23 April 2006

More media-bashing from SP...

Information Warfare
Today, the media would have reacted differently

It's pretty clear that although Hutch is preaching to the choir of the assembled StrategyPage anti-media faithful, the truth is he's got no idea how decisions are made in a journalistic setting. His parodies are mildly amusing, but are exactly that: parodies. They play up sterotypes for the purpose of whipping the faithful into a frenzy, but they contribute very little to the overall discourse of the issue.

19 April 2006

Should he stay, or should he go (straight to hell)

David Broder - The Rumsfeld rebellion
But the case the generals are making is as serious as it is passionate. To take but one example, the essay in Time magazine by retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, the former director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lists six separate areas where he saw failure on the part of the civilian leadership of government:
"The distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department."

For years, we've been hearing about problems in the military's command culture. Now that it's infected the civilian leadership, too, you wonder who can fix it, and how.