We Don’t Read The Same Material?

Over at Jewish Atheist

Unless we are making progress towards an Iraqi government capable of preventing a civil war — and it appears that we are not — then there will be a civil war and probably ethnic cleansing whenever we leave.

It is unquestioned (until recently perhaps) notion mostly on the left that no progress is being made. How do these people interpret Mr Yon’s reports? Do they imagine he must be completely fabricating his accounts? It certainly doesn’t read like fabrication. It reads more like the story that the MSM should be telling but is failing to do.

See for example: part 1, part 2 and part 3 (of 4) on Anbar. Explain the “it appears we are not” in that context.

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12 comments

  1. Mark,

    I’ll admit I haven’t yet read Mr. Yon, but as a rule of thumb I tend not to believe a lone voice when he appears to disagree with the bulk of people I have some confidence in. For example, the GAO, whose raison d’etre is to be impartial, said that we have met 2 of the 7 remaining security benchmarks and 1 of the 8 remaining political ones.

    Comptroller General David Walker, who heads the GAO, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that “the least progress has been made on the political front.” Fifteen of 37 cabinet ministers have “withdrawn support” for the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and serious problems remain in other ministries, Walker said.

    “Given the fact that significant progress has not been made in improving the living conditions of the Iraqis on a day-to-day basis with regard to things that all citizens care about — safe streets, clean water, reliable electricity, a variety of other basic things,” he concluded, “I think you’d have to say it’s dysfunctional — the government is dysfunctional.”

    Why you think some guy, who from a quick google search appears to be a bit out there, to say the least, has more credibility on the big picture in Iraq than, e.g., the U.S. Government Accountability Office is beyond me.

  2. How do you choose which people to believe, anyway? Regarding global warming, you go with a Harvard string theorist and on Iraq you go with some random freelance journalist? Is there any methodology beyond seeking out maverick voices that you want to believe?

    I’m not trying to be snarky here. It’s just frustrating for me that you always have some random guy, way out of the mainstream, that happens to agree with your idiosyncratic take on things. (And by “always,” I admit I mean “at least on these two subjects. 😉 )

  3. Mark says:

    JA,
    How do I come to trust Mr Yon? Well, I’ve been reading him for some years now. Unlike MSM or GAO reports, I’ve come to understand and “get to know” one observer. That is worth more to me, I think. A while back, I got completely disgusted with basically all the MSM coverage because of what seemed to me obvious problems (an obvious example was reporting only US casualties in reports while omitting any sort of contextual details of action). As a result, I’ve quit that as source.

    Yon is a ex-special forces man, now a free-lance embedded journalist supported only via blogging, a medium to which I’m partial. He did a long stint of reporting from Mosul a year or more back. I’d recommend him for your RSS feed or reading list. He doesn’t post on any regular schedule.

    My timeline is different too than yours. Reconstruction is a task which I thought would take 10-15 years from the start. I’m more confused by people who think it should take less.

    And I don’t necessarily “agree” with Lubosh Motl on global warming. He, I think, disbelieves that global warming is right, and has (rightly) poked holes in some of the flimsy claims. My position on global warming is to be skeptical of any degree of certainty. Since the “consensus” is on the “agreement” side, it seems not unnatural that I’d quote the other … and I got my degree in String theory so I’m biased that way as well.

  4. Mark,

    You know as well as I do that we all have biases and mental blindspots. I tell myself that I’m doing a good job avoiding them when what I believe in a field I’m not an expert in coincides with what the majority of experts believe in that field. Why are you so confident in your ability to choose correctly when you choose against the majority of experts in a field (I assume) that you are not expert in yourself?

    My timeline is different too than yours. Reconstruction is a task which I thought would take 10-15 years from the start. I’m more confused by people who think it should take less.

    But your timeline is politically and militarily impossible, assuming a significant number of our troops will be required to stay that long and that we aren’t willing to have a draft. Even if you are right that we could — in theory — get the job done in 10-15 years, don’t we have to take political realities into consideration when we are making decisions today?

  5. One more point, based on this post.

    If you believe that we have to be there for 10-15 years, do you think that the hawks have an obligation to tell this to the American people? Suppose Bush came out and said, “Look, this is going to be a long, hard fight, and we’re going to be there for 10-15 years.” What do you think that would do to the debate?

  6. Mark says:

    JA,
    More than just a few times, Bush has re-iterated over and over, this fight is not going to be short. He has said basically exactly that, “this is going to be a long hard fight” is pretty much quoting Bush exactly.

    I think the political reality is that if the Democrats don’t come up with a strategic alternative that is active and not passive in confronting Islamic fundamentalist terror, they won’t be in power. That’s the political reality as I see it.

    If you are right that we can’t field an army of that size for that length of time … then regardless stay or go, the end is nigh.

  7. More than just a few times, Bush has re-iterated over and over, this fight is not going to be short.

    Referring to Iraq or to the so-called “War on Terror?” Because I remember a lot of things like “greeted as liberators” and “it’ll pay for itself.” To this day, I see Bush’s crowd saying things like, “just wait six more months,” not “have patience — it’s going to be a decade or so.”

    If you are right that we can’t field an army of that size for that length of time … then regardless stay or go, the end is nigh.

    What do you mean “if” I’m right? Everybody agrees with that. We simply don’t have enough soldiers to maintain current levels. Petraeus has acknowledged that.

  8. I think the political reality is that if the Democrats don’t come up with a strategic alternative that is active and not passive in confronting Islamic fundamentalist terror, they won’t be in power. That’s the political reality as I see it.

    Yeah, it’s exactly the fallacy that doing something decisive is always better than doing something smaller or more flexible that gives today’s Republicans the advantage on foreign policy. It’s too bad people can’t learn from recent history. The containment of Iraq, in hindsight, was obviously miles better than the war, but people will continue to have a bias for action when they get afraid.

  9. Mark says:

    JA,
    On the second point, I’m not actually arguing whether or not it’s a fallacy. However, I think it is a political reality. I think that’s the reason the Democratic candidates tip-toe around the “pullout” question for it’s a political third rail for them.

    I don’t think any Bush supporters have said “wait six months” and then we can pull out.

    In terms of modern population and economy, compared to WWII, today we’d field an army of 1.5 million front line troops with an annual budget in the trillions. If we can’t muster two orders of magnitude less for a comparable length of time … then we don’t have the will to defend our own country.

  10. then we don’t have the will to defend our own country.

    BS. If we had to defend our country, we’d have no problem with will. It’s these non-defensive wars we don’t have the will for.

  11. Mark says:

    JA,
    You mean like WWII?

  12. WWII was in large part defensive, or at least much more so than Iraq. Remember that we didn’t enter it until after Pearl Harbor. We were also defending allies, as we did with the first Gulf war, which we had plenty of will for.