Is the surge in Iraq working? That is the question that Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will answer for us next month.
I, alas, am not interested in their opinions.
It is not because I don’t hold both men in very high regard. I do. But I’m still not interested in their opinions. I’m only interested in yours. Yes, you – the person reading this column.
Repeat as necessary.
‘Alas’, my ass.
He wants regular folks to have an opinion, and he wants that opinion to be the one that counts the most. And how do virtually all regular folks get the information that their opinions are based upon? From Friedman and the like. The ones who say the general’s opinion doesn’t really matter.
Just listen to what I say, dear reader, watch the news that I show you and digest the analysis that I present to you. Then go off and form your opinion. Report back, so that I know what’s happening.
Vicious cycle, isn’t it? Media to Public to Media. Repeat as necessary.
Call me crazy, but wouldn’t the military be in there somewhere when we’re talking about a war? Shouldn’t someone who’s actually there be allowed into the equation?
Peter Wehner at Commentary magazine notes that Friedman is putting the political outcome above the military outcome:
This is another way of saying what Petraeus and Crocker (and countless others) have said repeatedly: ultimately a decent outcome in Iraq depends on a political solution, not a military one. But the American military must play a key role if political reconciliation is to have any chance of success. To argue that military success has nothing to do with political progress is absurd.
In The Long Global Test of Wills I wrote:
Weak leadership (which includes many Republicans), sensationalist media outlets (which include many Conservative organizations), and clueless couch potatoes (which includes just about everyone) are not the problem, per se. Rather, those are some of America’s most glaring weaknesses. Weaknesses that have been identified and attacked by our enemy…
Every small victory in each of the weaknesses reinforces the victories in the others. The media coverage of bad news from Iraq reinforces low public opinion on Iraq reinforces politicians’ lack of resolve reinforces low public opinion reinforces media coverage of bad news from Iraq…
The military aspect of this war is secondary, in the long run, to the war of ideas. Freedom or tyranny? Twenty-first century or tenth? These are the battles that will decide the war. The firefights with insurgents and terrorists are a holding action against the physical capability for death and destruction that our enemies would use to prevent discussions about ideas like women’s’ rights and the separation of religion and government from even taking place.
The military knows this. The military knows that they cannot simply control the situation with guns and bombs. In fact, much of the trouble we had in 2006 was because the military was pulling back too much, too soon. The insurgents and terrorists were still too strong to start pulling back from the streets and neighborhoods. So the response was finally to “surge” additional troops to help regain control and kill or drive out as many bad guys as possible while at the same time shifting gears back into more of a clear and hold strategy to buy time for the Iraqi government to get its act together.
Friedman’s right that the political outcome is the one that matters. He’s just ignorant (or, rather, he’s just hoping you’re ignorant) of the fact that the military situation directly affects the political situation.
So now he joins Harry Reid in stating that he won’t care about any positive news that is reported in next month’s report. Reid says he already knows that the war is “lost” and Friedman says he only cares what he already thinks, though he wants to launder this opinion through his readers first.
Via Instapundit, who wrote:
It used to be “Listen to the generals”: Now it’s “don’t listen to the generals.”