Friday, April 18, 2008

Distorted Antiwar Propaganda

I'm moved to write a second post on today's McClatchy story on the new Iraq research report from the National Institute for Strategic Studies.

In my earlier entry, "
Antiwar Rush to Judgment on Alleged Pentagon Surrender Report," I noted that the left's ejaculatory outbursts of defeat need to be "discredited with reasoned, sober assessments and rebuttals."

With this concluding recommendation in mind, it's noteworthy to cite
the remarks left at the post by a drive-by antiwar commenter:

Excuse me?!

You seem to think that the Miami Herald piece is scandalous and then go on to quote the author himself, Joseph Collins, as saying "The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance. With the best of intentions, the United States toppled a vile, dangerous regime but has been unable to replace it with a stable entity."

That sounds like a good description of a debacle to me. I think you're hoisted on your own petard.
What's so instructive in this comment, offered by "Satchel Topeka," who's most likely pseudonymous, is that in ommitting key segments of the quotation of Joseph Collins from which I draw, "Satchel" is replicating the exact practice to which Collins takes offense: The selective use of quotations and sources in an effort to distort the message of the article for warped political purposes.

Note Collins' initial paragraph from the quote, which is found in its original location at
Small Wars Journal:

The Miami Herald story ("Pentagon Study: War is a 'Debacle' ") distorts the nature of and intent of my personal research project. It was not an NDU study, nor was it a Pentagon study. Indeed, the implication of the Herald story was that this study was mostly about current events. Such is not the case. It was mainly about the period 2002-04. The story also hypes a number of paragraphs, many of which are quoted out of context. The study does not "lay much of the blame" on Secretary Rumsfeld for problems in the conduct of the war, nor does it say that he "bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff." It does not single out "Condoleeza Rice and Stephen Hadley" for criticism.
I often simply ignore - or even delete - such completely inane drive-by comments, but since "Satchel" is so representative of the mindless antiwar nihilism among the Bush-Petraeus bashing hordes, it's worth preserving in this more prominent follow-up entry.

But note as well Karl at Protein Wisdom (via Memeorandum)
, who's got a succinct post up on the antiwar blogosphere's reaction to the McClatchy hatchet job, "Leftosphere Recycles Distorted Antiwar Propaganda from McClatchy":

A McClatchy story about a study of the Iraq conflict by former senior Pentagon official Joseph Collins is blasted by Collins at the Small Wars Journal blog....

Of course, the usual suspects in the Leftosphere ran with the distorted McClatchy story. TPM’s Paul Kiel named it a “must read” — as opposed to the study itself, even though he linked it. Spencer Ackerman did an update post that does not link back to the original. ThinkProgress buries the link in its story, giving no indication that Collins is calling the story a distortion. The Carpetbagger Report simply parroted ThinkProgress. John Cole, to his credit, did a pretty straightforward update, though he might have mentioned that the study is not a NDU study and that most of it covers 2002-04, as opposed to telling his readers to read the study themselves. Curiously, the main post makes clear that Cole read the study, but he did not link to it until the update.

I've noted for the past five years, especially in discussions of the war with students in my classes, that there's nothing wrong with opposing the war on principle as long as those ideas are based on a rigorously and objective analysis of the facts.

Of course, so much of the left's opposition to the war's been based on distortions, lies, and smears that we're likely past the point of no return in reversing the slanderous illogic that paints the war as a "debacle."

Thus it's stories like McClatchy's which serve the vital function of exposing the left for what it is: Elliptical, irrational, and postmodernist in its fundamental hostility to journalistic and political reality.

A friendly thanks goes out to Karl for identifying a number of the irrationalist left's antiwar blogging contingent.