Just Above Sunset
December 12, 2004 - What We have Done and How We Talk About It

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

The Defense Science Board is a federal advisory committee – a group of academic, think tank and private-sector folks who provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense.  They haven’t been playing nice.  Their new report is here (in PDF format).  It hit the streets last week.


The report pretty much labels the Bush administration as patronizing, lacking in any real leadership at both the national and presidential level – and it pretty much mocks the use of that "they hate our freedoms" crap – and comments on how we blew it (page 47): The information campaign -- or as some still would have it, "the war of ideas," or the struggle for "hearts and minds" -- is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.


No shit.  Now oddly enough this thing had to be approved at multiple levels before it was published.  It was released mid week.  What is going on?


There’s this:


American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.


Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing  support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.


Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World -- but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.


Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in  order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.  


Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack -- to broad public support.  


What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of "terrorist" groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.  


We made things much worse – and more is on Page 43 –


We call it a war on terrorism, but Muslims in contrast see a history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration. This is not simply a religious revival, however, but also a renewal of the Muslim World itself. And it has taken form through many variant movements, both moderate and militant, with many millions of adherents, of which radical fighters are only a small part. Moreover, these movements for restoration also represent, in their variant visions, the reality of multiple identities within Islam.


If there is one overarching goal they share, it is the overthrow of what Islamists call the "apostate" regimes: the tyrannies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Gulf  states. They are the main target of the broader Islamist movement, as well as the actual fighter groups. The United States finds itself in the strategically awkward -- and  potentially dangerous -- situation of being the longstanding prop and alliance partner of  these authoritarian regimes. Without the U.S. these regimes could not survive. Thus the U.S. has strongly taken sides in a desperate struggle that is both broadly cast for all Muslims and country-specific.


This is the larger strategic context, and it is acutely uncomfortable: U.S. policies and actions are increasingly seen by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as a threat to the survival of Islam itself.


Are they allowed to say such things?  The country is going the other way, working hard on believing we’re winning big and doing just the right thing.  Fox News did carry much about this The Defense Science Board report.


And you’ll hear less and less about such reports.  Note an AP item carried in Forbes this week regarding Clear Channel Communications, owned and run by an old friend of the Bush family, and the same radio folks who led the public destruction of all those Dixie Chicks albums in a kind of modern fundamentalist book-burning after the girls said they didn’t much care for the younger Bush


Clear Channel Chooses Fox for News Deal
12.06.2004, 05:18 PM

Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nation's largest radio station operator, has selected Fox News Radio to provide national news for most of its news and talk stations in deal expected to nearly double Fox's radio presence.

No terms of the five-year cash deal were disclosed Monday. But Fox, a unit of News Corp., said if all options in the agreement are exercised, its radio service could have more than 500 affiliates by the middle of next year.

The deal helps Fox News compete with more-established radio news providers, including ABC Radio and CBS Radio. Fox News will air on many of Clear Channel's most prominent news and talk stations, including those in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta and San Diego. …

And see here – 


The country's largest radio station operator, Clear Channel Communications Inc., has (big surprise) chosen right-wing Fox News Radio to provide national news for most of its news and talk stations. Clear Channel, which owns and operates 1,200 radio stations across the United States, reaching more than 100 million people, is owned by the Hicks’ brothers, who have long and convoluted ties to George Walker Bush, Our Leader. The company's founder, R. Steven Hicks, is a Bush Pioneer, having raised more than $100,000 for the president's campaign. His brother, Tom Hicks, "made Bush a millionaire 15 times over" when he bought the Texas Rangers from him in 1999.

Our Leader earned the favor while he was governor of Texas by appointing Tom Hicks chairman of The University of Texas Investment Management Co., which manages the university’s huge permanent fund. During Bush's first term, according to the Dallas Morning News, Hicks' committee was charged with "investing $1.7 billion of public university money in the form of investments in private companies" and almost a third of that $1.7 billion went to funds "run by Hicks' business associates or friends” including five funds run by major Republican political donors.

In crony capitalist circles, you scratch mine and I'll scratch yours is known as moral values. Forget Jesus and abortion and gay people, this is about a bunch of greedy fat cats making each other even more obscenely rich.


Now, now… everyone wants to make good money.


Do you really expect to ever see something like this wire item from Fanatical Apathy?


President Bush Takes Responsibility for Prisoner Abuse

Washington (FA wire) - In the wake of yet another well-photographed Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, President Bush today offered his apologies and took responsibility for the incidents.

"I'm the Commander in Chief," he said in a press conference on the White House lawn. "The conduct of the military is therefore my responsibility. I want to apologize to the Iraqi people and the American people."

"When you look at what happened, you have to conclude that this abuse was a systemic problem," the President went on. "And there's little doubt that the fact that so many soldiers believed the Iraqis were partly to blame for 9/11 had something to do with these atrocities. In retrospect, I regret that I allowed and encouraged this misapprehension for the short-term benefit of securing popular support for the war - it definitely caused our soldiers to view themselves as avengers rather than liberators. That's my fault."

The President went on to concede that U.S. troops believing they were fighting an enemy that had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction might have also fueled their rapacious behavior. "Another big 'oops,' there," he said. "When you consider that that the enemy had no terrible weapons, didn't really fight back, and wasn't even remotely responsible for any terrorism against Americans.... well, letting our soldiers believe that this was the case might not have been the greatest idea. That one's on me. My bad."

Afterwards, Bush sent a letter of apology to France...


Fox might or might not report that.  It will never happen, no matter what the Defense Science Board reports.


As Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta says - "Welcome to Just Above Sunset, where Every Day is Opposite Day!"


But it’s not just me – see Andrew Sullivan


So when John Kerry says his aim is to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq within four years, he is merely aiding and abetting the enemy. But when Donald Rumseld says it, no one notices. And Rumsfeld, so he tells us, has no say over troop levels in Iraq. None whatsoever. The generals decide everything. And prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and in Afghanistan and with the Navy Seals has nothing to do with memos letting people know they could push the envelope. Nah. After all, that's what Rumsfeld is known for - a completely hands-off approach to running the military.


I guess folks enjoy the disconnect.  Is there another explanation?


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....