Thursday, September 15, 2005

Jewels of Denial

Last throes...

The terrorists are losing, that's why they keep fighting...

That’s how wars go; things get worse before they get better...

We're problem solvers...


Our government's utter denial about the status of its Global War on Terror--particularly the Iraq piece--has reached critical mass.

From today's New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Thursday, Sept. 15 - Insurgents staged at least a dozen suicide bombings that ripped through Baghdad in rapid succession on Wednesday, killing almost 150 people and wounding more than 500 in a coordinated assault that left much of the capital paralyzed.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia claimed responsibility for the assault, which inflicted the biggest death toll in Baghdad since the American-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein more than two years ago.

The violence appeared to be retaliation for the weeklong siege of the insurgent stronghold of Tal Afar and included a bombing in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad that used a new tactic: luring scores of day laborers to a minivan with promises of work, and then blowing it up. At least 112 died in that blast alone, the second highest death toll from any single terrorist bombing in Iraq since the invasion.

What do the good guys in charge have to say about it?
Senior American commanders say they are pursuing militants, including [Jordanian terrorist leader] Mr. Zarqawi, who have been driven out of cities in central and north-central Iraq, including Baghdad.

The militants have been driven out of Baghdad? If that's the case, how did they just manage to blow the living beans out of it?

The head good guy likes what he sees:
"The insurgency is much more pushed to the west in Iraq this year than it was in the previous years," Gen. John P. Abizaid, the leader of the military's Central Command, said in an interview on Tuesday. "I actually regard that as a sign that the insurgency is having a hard time getting established elsewhere."

Actually, General? Do you regard that as a good sign? It looks to the rest of us that however "pushed to the west" the insurgency is, it can still hit you in the breadbasket whenever it wants. And is the insurgency having a "hard time getting established elsewhere" or is it not bothering to get established elsewhere because it's established just fine where it is?

Even the Iraqi cabinet is in on the act, releasing a statement saying the attacks revealed the insurgents'...
"...desperation and cowardice in the face of the setbacks they have suffered in Tal Afar and elsewhere at the hands of Iraq's security forces... The fact that the terrorists are claiming to be responding specifically to Operation Restoring Rights [the military offensive in Tal Afar] shows the serious blow that operation has dealt them."

So the insurgents have suffered at the hands of Iraq's security forces? Where were Iraq's security forces when the insurgents attacked their capital city? And if the insurgents hadn't attacked Baghdad in response to the Tal Afar offensive, would that mean they hadn't been dealt a serious blow?

My favorite jewel of denial came from a senior officer on the Central Command Staff:
"[Zarqawi] marshals his resources in order to have days like today to get himself in the news."

Holy sound of one jaw dropping. The insurgency mounts its most successful attack ever and one of Abizaid's colonels dismisses it as a photo opportunity.


An otherwise darn good article by Newsweek's Michael Hirsh contains this Rovewellian talking point:
"I do think there's been progress in some areas," says Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the State Department's head of policy planning in Bush's first term. "In the last four years, for example, I think the world has become a tougher place for terrorists to operate in."

I read this and dashed off an e-mail to a friend who works around the five-sided echo chamber and asked him how this gasbag Haass can say the world is a "tougher place for terrorists to operate" when the administration's own bean counters admit that global terrorism is on the increase?

My friend wrote back and accused me of "cherry picking."


There is no more accurate or relevant "metric" of a Global War on Terrorism than whether terrorism is waning or on the rise. The administration and the Pentagon can spin all the fairy tales it wants about how well things are going, but this war of theirs is an utter disaster.


There are three basic principles about lying in warfare.

Lying to the enemy is normally a good thing. In military lingo we call that "deception," something that should be part of any war plan.

Lying to your population about a war tends to get you in trouble (as we've clearly seen with this Iraq fiasco).

When wartime leadership lies to itself, it's doing the same thing as that guy who sat in his bunker and issued orders to army divisions that no longer existed.

That guy had already lost.


  1. Jeff, what happened to the military leadership that we both admired? These clowns wouldn't make a pimple on the ass of a good Lt. Let alone a mediocre WO1..

    Scary, beyond my wildest nightmares!

  2. "What luck for rulers that men do not think."- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

    scary huh?

    Seems to be a problem in this country too...

    "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)


    1. A refusal to comply with or satisfy a request.
    1. A refusal to grant the truth of a statement or allegation; a contradiction.
    2. Law. The opposing by a defendant of an allegation of the plaintiff.
    1. A refusal to accept or believe something, such as a doctrine or belief.
    2. Psychology. An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.
    4. The act of disowning or disavowing; repudiation.
    5. Abstinence; self-denial.

    how's that?

  3. btw-- the formatting didnt stay when i posted that definition...sorry for the confusing look of it.


  4. Amen and preach it, brother!

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

    My 20-year high school reunion was in Oct. 2001. One classmate was at the Pentagon 9/11, and that was the given reason he couldn't attend.

    Don't know how much he could or would tell me, but -- oh, to just sit and talk with him for an hour about everything that's happened since then.

  5. Cherry picking?

    Hell, I guess you'd have to start cleaning up all these damn cherries some time.

  6. Thanks for the great input, folks.


    We've hit a point where our politicians run our wars and our generals play politics.


    What luck indeed. What bad luck.

    Of the definitions you listed, I think this one applies most:

    "An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings."


    Yep. The map is not the territory, perception is not reality, truth is not the talking point.


    Just don't feed any of those cherries to the gay and lesbian penguins, okay? ;-)

    Best to all,