Attempted Murder Of A Theory

I don't think Obama should be our President. And he's turned out even worse than I expected. It was a big mistake to elect him, I can only hope it doesn't end up a fatal mistake. Obama is getting a much needed whipping from Republicans. The President has to wrap his head around the concept of strict liability on terrorism. If they hit us, he's french toast.

But in the rush to punish Obama, Republicans are serving up a fair amount of counter-productive bullshit. I see shallowness and huge logic gaps in their opportunism:

All he managed to blow up was a worldview.

Rich Lowery writes in "Death of a Theory" that the Christmas Day attack violently disproves--i.e., kills--the Obama Doctrine (if that's what it's called) of outreach to the Muslim World as a counter-terrorism strategy. But how can Lowery miss the obvious -- that disrupting the Obama peace initiative was the intended purpose of the attack? It was not the death of the Obama Doctrine, it was the attempted murder of the Obama Doctrine.

Which is standard operating procedure. Lowery's own guy, Bush, had a long-term strategy to transform Radical Islam by spreading democracy, starting with regime change in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi (al-Qaeda in Iraq) attacked Muslims in Iraq to disrupt and destroy Bush's goal of building a stable government. So:

(1) How does Lowery miss the plainly obvious parallel between Zarqawi's attack on Bush's democratic strategy and al-Qaeda in Arab Peninsula's attack on Obama's diplomacy?

(2) How does the Christmas attack disprove Obama's outreach theory any more than it disproves Bush's democracy theory? Neither has miraculously ended the war.

(3) Why is Lowery so eager to dance on al-Qaeda's string by responding to their provocations exactly as they intend?

(4) Why does Lowery grant a single brainwashed suicide bomber the power to destroy an entire worldview?

(5) Lowery confuses "operating theory of terrorism" with Obama's propaganda campaign against al-Qaeda. Why is Lowery so ready to surrender the propaganda war?

(6) How is it even sane to surrender future generations of Muslim hearts and minds to Radical Islam, make no effort to counter their malevolent belief system, and resign ourselves to endless war, or a war that will only end after a genocidal exchange of WMDs?

The biggest problem I see with Obama's initiative is that Obama doesn't have the hawkish record to alleviate domestic fears about his naivete, weakness and his commitment to U.S. national interests. It's the "Only Nixon Could Go To China" paradox. Just check the facts: the biggest peacemakers in recent American history have been uber-hawks: Ike (Korea). Nixon (China, detente, Viet Nam). Reagan (Soviet Union). And obviously, Jimmy Carter was straddled by uber-hawks Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at Camp David.

Labels: , , ,

What Propaganda War?

On the question of whether we are "At War", there are the facts, the propaganda and the policies:

The Facts: Obviously we are at war and obviously the President knows at least that much. He's escalated in Afghanistan, and I'm pretty sure he knows they're not playing pattycake over there.

The Propaganda: What we call it, what we call them, is really just propaganda. Republicans confuse American propaganda with an "operating theory of terrorism." I don't know how effective Obama's anti-Radical propaganda is in the Muslim world. But I do think the target of American propaganda should be future generations of Muslims, not American emotions. But Charles Krauthammer calls for a World War II-style propaganda campaign aimed at the American public: "We Are At War!" I don't see the big need for that. We're not asking Americans en masse to make huge wartime sacrifices. We're at war, but there's no draft, no rationing, no war tax (only war deficits). Women aren't manning our factories to replace men who are all in the army. Why should the priority be to propagandize the American public with war rhetoric--as opposed to propagandizing Islam with peace rhetoric to counter al-Qaida's ideology?

The Policies: I guess the tough question is whether the 'soft' propaganda aimed at bolstering diplomacy in the Muslim world lulls the national security team. Krauthammer says:

But a government that refuses to admit that we are at war ... turns laxity into a governing philosophy.

I'm not convinced by that. I don't think you can attribute Napolitano's incompetence to a law enforcement mentality (as opposed to a wartime mentality). Laxity does not describe NYPD or our police commissioner Ray Kelly. You can make a line item critique of Obama's propaganda campaign without dumping the whole Obama Doctrine. For example,

Mirandizing the Christmas Day Bomber: This is bizarre and moronic. So bizarre as to make Obama look like an Isaac Asimov space alien with strange outlier thinking. It's reverse-Kafka: not an individual, but our national security trapped at the mercy of a bureaucracy that has no link to human thought or feeling.

And I don't see the propaganda win here. What's the idea, that Muslims are going to identify with Khalid Sheik Mohammed and judge our attitudes towards lawful Islam by the way we treat Muslims who commit mass murder? I'd be insulted by that if I were a Muslim. That's treating KSM like a Muslim ambassador.

So the broad strokes of Obama's propaganda will work better combined with some action--but not this action. These show trials for enemy combatants are terrible ideas.

War and Terrorism: Terrorism is the by-product of victory in war. Suicide bombings started in the Arab-Israeli conflict only after decisive Jewish victories in the Six Days and Yom Kippur Wars. With no real military power, terrorists try to create the illusion of power through high profile tragedies. No matter how painful the tragedies, we can't fall for that illusion of power. Until the day they acquire WMD's, terrorists can't actually force events through their small explosions. So Krauthammer is extremely wrong--dangerously wrong--when he equates the Christmas bomber with the air power of Imperial Japan!

More jarring still were Obama's references to the terrorist as a "suspect" who "allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device." You can hear the echo of FDR: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- Japanese naval and air force suspects allegedly bombed Pearl Harbor."

That's precisely the illusion of full-scale military power that terrorists try to create, and that Obama resists. Both Lowery and Krauthammer magnify the power of terrorists. It's the same as negotiating with terrorists or recognizing them.

So exactly who is aiding the terrorists? I won't go that far, but Krauthammer's not helping when he demands (1) that we squander propaganda resources on the American public rather than on the Muslim world and (2) that we fall for the terrorists' illusion that small explosions equal military power.

Labels: , ,