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Am I just missing something here?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 19, 2006

Stumbled upon Juan Cole's blog "Informed Comment" where he blasted the Bush administration for what he calls "falsehoods about American history consistently purveyed':
On Sunday, the most prominent among Bush's spokesmen from the ranks of Fox Cable News anchors, Tony Snow, did it again. He compared our current situation in Iraq to the Battle of the Bulge. This battle began in mid-December, 1944, a little over 3 years after the US entered the war. Snow also suggested that the American public was ready to throw in the towel at that point in the war!

Is the only way this tawdry administration can make itself feel good to defame the Greatest Generation? My late uncle used to tell us stories of how he fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Is Tony Snow saying he was a coward? That the Americans back at the homefront were?
What has Cole's shorts in a wad apparently is an answer Tony Snow gave to a Wolf Blitzer question:
BLITZER: "Let's talk a little bit about troop withdrawal potentials for the U.S. military, about 130,000 U.S. forces in Iraq right now.

In our most recent CNN poll that came out this week, should the U.S. set a timetable to eventually withdraw troops from Iraq, 53 percent said yes; 41 percent said no.

Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today. She's going to be on this show, coming up.

She wrote this: "We have now been in Iraq for more than three years. And we believe that the time has come for that phased redeployment to begin. It is also time for the Bush administration to provide a schedule and timetable for the structured downsizing and redeployment of U.S. forces in Iraq."

"Does that make sense?"

SNOW: "The president understands people's impatience — not impatience but how a war can wear on a nation. He understands that. If somebody had taken a poll in the Battle of the Bulge, I dare say people would have said, wow, my goodness, what are we doing here?

But you cannot conduct a war based on polls.
And you can't conduct this kind of activity. What you have to do — and the president's been clear about this — is take a look at the conditions on the ground. Let's think for a moment of the alternative.

If the United States pulls out — and what's been interesting is that most people realize that simply pulling out would be an absolute, unmitigated disaster, not merely for the people of Iraq but the larger war on terror."
Cole then goes into this dissertation about how Americans at the time of the Battle of the Bulge were hardly fainthearted. And he does so by, get ready, quoting the front page of the NY Times of Dec 20, 1944.

That's right, Prof. Cole - who's irony meter and historical context gauge are apparently not operational - quotes the media of the day. A media which anyone with even a passing interest in that era knows were in the front row of the cheerleaders for the war. And not just the print media either. All forms of media were integrally engaged in helping to win that war. But he somehow forgets to mention that minor point.

So you have to ask a contextual question of Professor Cole who is busy lecturing the administration on context: Has he seen the front page of the NY Times during this war? If so, how does it compare to 1944?

Good grief.

Then there's Snow's point about polls, which seems to me at least, to have obviously been given in the context of how the war is being reported today and comparing that situation to 1944. Given how this war has been covered by the media and given the open and oft reported political dissent, and then assuming that was also existant at the time of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, one can obviously imagine precisely the outcome Snow predicts.

One can also imagine such words as "quagmire" and "illegal war" (after all, Germany didn't attack us, we attacked them) being bandied about by some and reported in the media as well.

Snow's point is solid and Cole's contextless analysis misses by a mile. Snow is also right about the bigger point.

You don't conduct a war based on polls, whether the media is solidly for or against your effort. That doesn't mean the administration should ignore constructive criticism or never change direction, but it does mean that snapshots of public opinion, such as polls, are notoriously fickle. And they should have little significance in decisions concerning the conduct of a war in which a nation is engaged (especially given the bias so many of them are found to have today).

Hard to see how Cole's post constitutes "Informed Comment", but hey, it's his blog and he can call it what he wants.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Juan Cole: Not exactly truth in advertising.......

Not surprising, either.
 
Written By: David R. Block
URL: http://
I’m suprised, he usually finds a way to work neocon-likud-Israel "connections" into his pieces...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Not to mention the vagueness of the poll question: "[S]hould the U.S. set a timetable to eventually withdraw troops from Iraq." Jeez, can they be any more nebulous? Why don’t they simply have a poll that asks, "Should the U.S. ever withdraw troops from Iraq?" Well, duh.
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://gabbleratchet.blogspot.com
All that you need to know about Juan Cole.
Is there a more officious jackass on Earth?…
"** One of the most telling things about Bat Juano Cole’s weblog is that he assiduously screens nearly all criticism of himself, so that the comments are almost all inanely worshipful."
 
Written By: Paul L.
URL: http://kingdomofidiots.blogspot.com/
I venture to say that most of the US population and virtually all of it with PhD’s regardless of party see very little relationship between WWII and the battle of the bulge and our current situation in Iraq.

It’s a little scary that that is the best the administration can do.

BTW. It took 3 years and five months to beat Hitler and pacify Germany, and we were fighting Japan at the same time. Any side bets that we have not pacified Iraq 3 years and five months after "mission accomplished"? Before the battle of the bulge soldiers were predicting that the war might be over in a month. Had Monty been more agressive it would have been a good bet. Anyone want to pick a date and bet something meaningful that Iraq pacified by that date? If the answer is no then perhaps the people are wiser than the politicians.

 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
If somebody had taken a poll in the Battle of the Bulge, I dare say people would have said, wow, my goodness, what are we doing here?
I venture to say that most of the US population and virtually all of it with PhD’s regardless of party see very little relationship between WWII and the battle of the bulge and our current situation in Iraq
He’s not comparing the Battle of the Bulge to Iraq...not to mention the entire post was about the point RE: polling he was making. Good lord, try reading for comprehension next time, m’kay?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
It took 3 years and five months to beat Hitler and pacify Germany, and we were fighting Japan at the same time.
And that took buckets of blood spilled all over the world. Is that what you want?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It took 3 years and five months to beat Hitler and pacify Germany, and we were fighting Japan at the same time.
Indeed, and in that time we used saturation bombing of cities to cripple the German economy and to crush the German people’s will to live. By the time we had to worry about ’pacifying’ Germany, they had been at war for almost six years of hard, continuous fighting. Had we gone into Iraq with a similiar disdain for the welfare of the Iraqi people, I daresay Iraq would be a lot more pacified today as well.

This is not to say we haven’t made mistakes, only that comparing Iraq to World War II is an apples and oranges comparison.
 
Written By: Andrew Olmsted
URL: http://andrewolmsted.com
It took 3 years and five months to beat Hitler and pacify Germany
No...to defeat the German armies yes. To "pacify" not quite, there was an active resistance movement at the time also, I believe they were called the Werewolves.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Well, the one charge you couldn’t begin to make stick about the war against Germany in WW2 is that it was an "illegal war".

After all, Germany declared war on the US on 11 Dec 1941, (foolishly?) honoring its tripartite pact obligations to Japan.

(Though as the German allegations went, a sufficiently desirious person could claim "We drove them to it", but not that there was no declaration of war, nor that the Germans declared war before we did, and before the invasion of Europe by Allied forces.)
 
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
There is also the small point that polls showed the American public was weary of the war by 1943. So maybe Snow knows US history a little better than Cole.
 
Written By: Karl
URL: http://claudepate.com
Well, the one charge you couldn’t begin to make stick about the war against Germany in WW2 is that it was an "illegal war".
My point was pure sarcasm, Sig. And I’d bet, given today’s atmosphere then, someone still would have tried.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
BTW. It took 3 years and five months to beat Hitler and pacify Germany, and we were fighting Japan at the same time. Any side bets that we have not pacified Iraq 3 years and five months after "mission accomplished"?
Actually Cindy, we joined a war in progress, so no, it didn’t just take 3 years and 5 months to beat Hitler.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
There is also the small point that polls showed the American public was weary of the war by 1943. So maybe Snow knows US history a little better than Cole.
Interesting solution the government came up with for addressing the war weary wasn’t it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Americans are losing the victory in Europe"
Life magazine, Jan, 1946
http://www.kultursmog.com/Life-Page01.htm
 
Written By: Anonynous
URL: http://
Whenever I see the name of Cole’s blog, my mind can’t help but read it as "Illformed Cement."

Funny how the mind works.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
And before just as the US was entering the world, most of Europe was down for the count. Britain was being bombed to oblivion and planning for insurgency actions. Canada who entered with Britian in 1939 was losing thousands of men in ship crews in the North Atlantic running convoys to keep Britian alive. As well, as losing men is Monty inspired stupidities like Dieppe.

So Cindyb, I think a little more was going on that what you think. So you really want this war to be fought like that?
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
"BTW. It took 3 years and five months to beat Hitler and pacify Germany, and we were fighting Japan at the same time."

It may have taken that long after we entered the war, but we also had a little help. The Chinese had been fighting the Japanese since 1932, the Soviets took a bite out of them in 1939 and again in 1945, and there were several other countries on our side. And with all due respect to those who fought in the Pacific, Japan was fighting above its weight class. The Germans, of course, had a large portion of their resources tied up fighting the Soviet Union before we even entered the war, and the few allies it had were probably more hindrance than help, unlike our allies, some of whom had been fighting the Germans for two years before we entered.


"Before the battle of the bulge soldiers were predicting that the war might be over in a month.’

There is always someone who sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

." Had Monty been more agressive it would have been a good bet"

Aside from Monty himself and a few hardcore admirers, I don’t think anyone else would agree.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Cole then goes into this dissertation about how Americans at the time of the Battle of the Bulge were hardly fainthearted. And he does so by, get ready, quoting the front page of the NY Times of Dec 20, 1944.

That’s right, Prof. Cole - who’s irony meter and historical context gauge are apparently not operational - quotes the media of the day. A media which anyone with even a passing interest in that era knows were in the front row of the cheerleaders for the war. And not just the print media either. All forms of media were integrally engaged in helping to win that war. But he somehow forgets to mention that minor point.
Your misunderstanding of the role of a media in a free society has always been profound, but never have you stated your misapprehension so clearly.

Let’s get one thing straight: The role of the media is to report facts, good and bad. It is not the role of the media to cheerlead. Now, I know that war supporters have a hard time grasping that concept. After all, they equate reporting bad facts with treason, and questioning Bush’s actions as traitorous. But you would think that the ability to form complete sentences would carry with it some understanding of the role of the press. I guess not.



 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
It is not the role of the media to cheerlead.
And your trivial argument adds nothing to the discussion.

What their role is or isn’t doesn’t matter. What they actually did does matter. And they were cheerleaders in WWII.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Let’s get one thing straight: The role of the media is to report facts, good and bad. It is not the role of the media to cheerlead.

Um, if you say so.

My merely asking this question will surely get me labeled a winger (thinking outside the box is SO un-PC). What’s so wrong with the media assisting, if but a little, in national defense? I mean, do they not at least have a basic resonsibility to not leak classified material (especially if said leak will harm national security)? I mean, can’t we at least grant that "the role of the media" has some limits wrt the national interest, right?

So I don’t have as big a problem if "the role of the media" has some part in assisting us to victory during war, especially if it saves lives. As long it can continue to maintain its primary goal as watchdog for it’s constituency, that is. I’m not convinced that civic impartiality will necessarily be compromised when it’s in the interest of national security.

"Let’s get one thing straight" heh
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
And your trivial argument adds nothing to the discussion.

What their role is or isn’t doesn’t matter. What they actually did does matter. And they were cheerleaders in WWII.
Trivial? You post concerned defending the most oddball analogy of the man tasked with defending Bush. So far, Tony "Tar Baby" Snow has made Scott McClellan look like a genius.

The idea of comparing the Battle of the Bulge - a 6 week campaign with a clearly defined enemy and a clearly defined objective, waged against a facist dictatorship that had declared a hot war on the Western world - with the over three-year occupation of a Middle Eastern nation made up of a patchwork of various ethnic, tribal and sectarian coalitions with vastly different and conflicting interests, is the most ridiculous comparison ever made. To spend an entire post defending and advocating for it redefines trivial.

And if the War in Iraq was an unquestionably noble cause, if it had not involved cherry-picking of intelligence ahead of time, if sacrifices had been demanded of the American people by the current administration, if the objectives had been clearly defined, if the post-invasion planning had been thoroughly mapped out, if you had an administration that was competent, and if, most importantly, we had a President who was really engaged in the war, in a deeply meaningful way, in a way that showed he had spent countless hours trying to understand the history and culture of the region, and if he didn’t say ridiculous things like "bring ’em on" and stand under posters saying "Mission Acoomplished" when the mission, i.e., the endeavor in which American boys are being killed, hadn’t even begun, and if he seemed like he knew what the hell was talking about, instead of using the war to get re-elected, and questioning the patriotism of anyone who would dare criticize him, well, then, McQ, the Media would be right to be a cheerleader.

You are pi**ed at the media precisely because they will not overlook Bush’s faults - the faults that vastly outnumber Bush’s strengths. FDR was a leader. Bush is not. Indeed, he is the opposite. No vision. No intellect. No capacity to inspire, only to divide.

You are truly a "Stay the (Bush) Course" kind of guy. I have always admired you for that. Sincerely. As for the rest of us, we are sick of an incompetent President running an incompetently run war, a war that has no clear objectives above the ill-defined, rhetorical ones. We are also sick of money being poured down a rathole and, worse, strengthening the hand of Iran and of the jihadi movement more generally.

I truly believe that you completely incomprehend every single argument made by critics of this war. I really do. That’s why it is hard to dislike you. When I read what you write, I feel enlighetned in the sense that I am looking into the heart and soul of a true believer.

Keep up the good work!




 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
And if the War in Iraq was an unquestionably noble cause, if it had not involved cherry-picking ofh intelligence ahead of time, if sacrifices had been demanded of the American people by the current administration, if the objectives had been clearly defined, if the post-invasion planning had been thoroughly mapped out, if you had an administration that was competent, and if, most importantly, we had a President who was really engaged in the war, in a deeply meaningful way, in a way that showed he had spent countless hours trying to understand the history and culture of the region, and if he didn’t say ridiculous things like "bring ’em on" and stand under posters saying "Mission Acoomplished" when the mission, i.e., the endeavor in which American boys are being killed, hadn’t even begun, and if he seemed like he knew what the hell was talking about, instead of using the war to get re-elected, and questioning the patriotism of anyone who would dare criticize him, well, then, McQ, the Media would be right to be a cheerleader.
These kinds of lists seem popular with your type.

I would say that there’s reasonable argument on most of your points. I consider you yourself the one who is a "true believer" and myself the skeptic.

I don’t expect you to understand.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
Karl,

THANK YOU FOR THAT LINK! I have been looking for something about this snipped I remembered from high school history class and you found it for me.

Thanks again.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
No...to defeat the German armies yes. To "pacify" not quite, there was an active resistance movement at the time also, I believe they were called the Werewolves.

Written By: shark
No, hardly an active insurgency. There were only 5 "werewolve" attacks and one death of a US or Free French soldier in the 1st two months.

The supreme mystery of why the Bushies never planned for the postwar, let ammo dumps be looted of the explosives that killed so many of our soldiers and civilians, had no clue of the players behind the slowly building insurgency - and managed to blow 320 billion dollars on a reconstruction that has meant less electricity, less oil, and more crime - will be up to their memoirs. Bush II to explain why Carter, not he, is the most incompetent President of the last 100 years - and neocons like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle and Feith will write exercises in pointing fingers at one another in their version of the grand screw-up.

The spurned Iranian offer of 2003 to end hostilities may be the icing on the cake.

 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Mk,

It always amazes me how you can twist anything to make an argument, no matter how off topic it is. As I have said before, any tool will do. Your last comment had little to do with what the post was arguing. Neither McQ nor Snow was saying the two were the same in all respects. It only had to do with how leaders should respond to polls.

As for your comment on the role of the press, this is a piece of bipartisan idiocy I am really getting tired of hearing. The press has no defined role. That was the purpose of the first amendment, to free the press from any state mandated role. The press gets to be whatever it wants. Of course many journalists and thinkers wish to give newspapers and certain other traditional media outlets a role, it certainly restricts competition and can allow them some legal cover, but the press has no defined role in our society and that is exactly what our founders wanted. Roles can be defined and controlled, a good start in extending tyranny.

On top of that McQ is correct, the major newspapers of the era were cheerleaders for the most part.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
The supreme mystery of why the Bushies never planned for the postwar [snip]
Yeah, it’s almost as mysterious as how the left acts as if the future is this readily knowable thing that one would have to be "incompetent" not to foresee. The administration planned for the post-war, just not the one that happened. You know, just like how the left’s prediction of 50k coalition casualties and millions of dead Iraqis during the invasion didn’t come to pass either. It might be possible to consider taking these types of criticisms from the left seriously if they would apply the same standards to themselves, but I won’t hold my breath.

Instead, you guys remind me of a cat running face-first into a glass door. You pick yourselves up, shake your heads for a second, and then pretend to have known it was there all along.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Peter,

Heh!
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://

 
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