Monday, September 03, 2007

Why Did You Say That?

It's high time our media accepted some responsibility for the nonsense they all too often relay from our politicians.

Hey, Press Gallery - the pols already have their own spin machines. You're supposed to be working for US, not THEM. It's your job to be a bit adversarial when these guys start overloading your carts with fresh, steamy bullshit. They're not just lying to you, they're lying to us and, by repeating this nonsense, you're willingly lying to us too.

Whatever happened to critical thinking, old fashioned analysis? Take a look at what's being said, compare that to the facts and if they don't match up, say so.

I have yet to hear a Canadian or American reporter come out and say that a nation that goes into a counterinsurgency war without nearly enough troops has already lost. Here's something else I haven't heard from these people - if you go to war with incompetent political leadership you're bound to lose.

How 'bout this for critical thinking. You can't win a war by deploying only a third of the troops you need to win. Oh sure, you can fight it for a long time - just as long as you're willing to continue the farce, to feed the mayhem machine - but you can't win and here's the kicker, when you're not the home team and you're woefully understrength, you will eventually leave in failure.

It doesn't take a latter day Clausewitz to understand this stuff. The histories of these nasty little wars have been written for centuries and you can pretty much take your pick because the basic principles have been repeated with great consistency, over and over again. Go back as far as Julius Caesar or as recently as T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia"), Giap, even the current Iraq commander Petraeus (FM 3-24). Take your pick, it's all there.

Read this stuff and you'll discover something: that our Born Again miscreants - Bush, Blair and Harper - and their minions and generals - haven't. They still believe they can defy gravity and levitate their way out of this, even after years of repeatedly falling on their asses with a thud. This is what you call incompetent leadership, the type that wages wars of failure.

Terrorism is a threat of generational duration but it's not existential in dimension. It is, as Robert Taber wrote, the "war of the flea." If you're getting flea bites on your ankles you don't take a chain saw to your legs. If you do, sooner or later you'll run out of legs. Then where will you be? No, you take a calm, measured approach. Maybe the whole place will need to be fumigated but just maybe a little flea powder and vacuuming will solve the problem.

Tanks and artillery are lousy for fighting insurgents (who are not necessarily terrorists). That's because they can only fight the insurgents when the insurgents chose to let them and, all too often, wind up inadvertently butchering the local population which then swells the ranks of the insurgents. After a while you get a blinding headache and you still haven't put a dent in the wall.

We need journalists who have at least read the core literature on guerrilla warfare so that they have some basic ability to make sense of events on the ground. Instead our top newspapers give us wilfully blind cheerleaders like Blatchford and Martin who do no good service to the military, their country or their readers.

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