Wednesday, May 14, 2008


[1 Update below]

In wading through one of the transcripts in the Pentagon’s document dump referenced here, I came across an intriguing passage. It’s from an April 18, 2006 briefing with then-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Casey.

The questioner is one of the military analysts connected with a broadcast network, though it’s difficult to tell exactly who it is. Since he’s later referred to as “Tom,” this leads me to believe it’s Retired Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, senior military analyst for Fox News. I am not sure of this but regardless, the quote is priceless:
QUESTION: So the fact is, I don’t think the American people, because the administration hasn’t explained it as well, understand why we’re forward, why we want to be there.

The other day I’m driving in and Chris Coor’s got a vote on do we need to bring the troops back to protect the border, or do we need them over there? I was amazed. People are talking about bringing them back. Two entirely different issues.

Islamic extremism is coming here like they did on 9/11 if we don’t have a forward strategy. It’s been very successful. Almost five years we’ve kept them away.

So I say you’ve got a brilliant strategy but I’m not sure we’ve articulated it in a way that every day it comes up.

Their strategy over there of Islamist extremism, and every day, as you know, it’s open source. Number one, it’s a crusade.

Number two, they want our oil. Number three, they want to humiliate us.
If you stay with this we’ll bring victory and we will not let them humiliate us. Every day on the internet, every day in Al Arabiyah and every day on Al Jazeera they’re seeing that.

OK, pick your jaws up off the floor.

The notion that we are engaged in a “crusade” is inflammatory enough. But “our” oil? How did “our” oil get under “their” land to begin with? Who says it's “our” oil, anyway? And if you read the transcript, no one disputes this viewpoint, not even Gen. Casey.

But the kicker is that whole “humiliation” thing. The idea that we’ve got soldiers dying in Iraq and we’re spending billions of dollars a month just so we won’t be humiliated is nauseating. Again, no one corrects this military analyst for his twisted view of why we are in Iraq. Not Secretary Rumsfeld, or General Casey or any of the other retired generals in that briefing. It's as if they all agree with him.

Look, General Questioner, whomever you may be: we’re already humiliated. We were humiliated the moment the Pentagon hired you Kool-Aid gulping mouthpieces to drag this country into a war of choice. We were humiliated when your colleagues dreamed up modern-day torture chambers like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and the CIA’s extraordinary rendition flights.

Is that really what people are dying for? A bunch of military guys' fragile egos? I'll make you a deal: pop a few Viagra and see if that helps your humiliation problem. Feel better? Now can we bring the troops home?

[By the way, does anyone know who “Chris Coor” or “Chris Coors” is?]

[Update 1]:

Jim in comments writes: "The way I am reading his comments makes the bold remarks in reference to the Islamists' view of the war. I think his point was that we were not effectively countering that view."

This might be the case, at least in part. Remember, the context of this discussion is, how do we sell the war to the American public, not how do we get the Iraqis behind our presence in their country. General Questioner is not saying, how do we counter that view, but how do we do something similar here. The excerpt starts with this: "I don’t think the American people, because the administration hasn’t explained it as well, understand why we’re forward, why we want to be there."

That's what he's explaining. Feel free to read the transcript and share your thoughts with me, though. Forward strategy stuff is on Page 11.