Wednesday, September 22, 2004

War Blog 22 September 2004

War Blog

By FrontPage September 22, 2004


John Kerry has just delivered his "lengthy, detailed address" on Iraq. This is how the "USA Today" summarizes the Kerry Doctrine on Iraq:

"Kerry said the United States should:

- Get more help from other nations.
- Provide better training for Iraqi security forces.
- Provide benefits to the Iraqi people.
- Ensure that democratic elections can be held next year as promised.

"All nice and worthy sentiments, but:

1) It's hard to get more help from other nations when your own sister is telling allies like Australia that their participation in the war in Iraq has made them more of a terrorist target, with an unspoken conclusion being that the Australians should therefore get out. If the Kerry camp thinks that some other nations would make better helpers in Iraq than the current Coalition members, they should name them. In a somewhat related news, France has announced that it won't be sending troops to Iraq even if John Kerry is elected president. So much for John Kerry's Fraudulent Coalition of the Unwilling.In the speech, Kerry also says:

"Last spring, after too many months of resistance and delay, the president finally went back to the UN which passed Resolution 1546... That resolution calls on UN members to help in Iraq by providing troops, trainers for Iraq's security forces, a special brigade to protect the UN mission, more financial assistance and real debt relief. Three months later, not a single country has answered that call... The president should convene a summit meeting of the world's major powers and Iraq's neighbours, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the UN General Assembly. He should insist that they make good on that UN resolution." From sublime to utterly ridiculous. John Kerry admits there is an UN resolution in place, which is being ignored by everyone concerned, and he's calling on the President to force other countries to comply. This is exactly what the US was trying to do with another UN resolution in the run up to war and it didn't work then either. Talk about persistently pursuing a losing Iraq strategy. Kerry might call it multilateralism, others will call it a diplomatic quagmire.
2) The Coalition is already training considerable numbers of Iraqi police and security forces - see the last few editions of my "Good news from Iraq" (you can start with number 10). See also this article from the Strategy Page (scroll down): despite terrorist attacks, the police recruitment and activity are up throughout Iraq.
3) No one disagrees that reconstruction should be progressing faster; alas Kerry offers little by way of specifics on how to achieve that, except for the call to cut the red tape; always an amusing proposition coming from the Party of Regulation.
4) Maybe the news escaped John Kerry, but both the Bush Administration and the interim Iraqi government are trying their darnest to make sure that the election proceeds as planned in January - may I note, against the chorus of John Kerry's own cheerleaders in the media and the international community who are already arguing that the election won't be legit and therefore shouldn't be held if the security situation throughout Iraq remains precarious. And Kerry's Axis of Absenteeism has now said there's no chance they will be sending any troops to Iraq before the January election, which of course is precisely the time when they would be of most use.

In another highlight of his speech, John Kerry had this to say about George Bush:

"By one count, the president offered 23 different rationales for this war... If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded." This is pretty rich coming from a guy who offered 23 different positions on the war.

Meanwhile, according the latest CBS/New York Times poll:
"Sixty percent of respondents said they did not have confidence in Mr. Kerry to deal wisely with an international crisis; that is a jump from 52 percent in June. By contrast, 48 percent said they were uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to manage a foreign crisis... The percentage of Americans who said Mr. Kerry had exhibited strong leadership qualities dropped eight points since summer to 50 percent; by contrast, 63 percent said Mr. Bush had exhibited strong qualities of leadership."So who's confused and misled?Update: The Republican National Committee has counted 14 flip-flops in John Kerry's Iraq speech. The only consistent thing about Kerry seems to be his inconsistency.


Ali at Iraq the Model rips into Robert Novak's latest piece, in which Novak claims the Bush Administration (if re-elected) is intending to cut and run from Iraq after November. Ali takes a particular offence to Novak's conclusion that the idea of democratising Iraq was just a beautiful American dream, but a dream nevertheless:
"I look at such theory and then I watch TV and it seems convincing. Only I want freedom and democracy and so do most of my friends and relatives, and the vast majority of Iraqis I’ve known all my life. So do hundreds of thousands of IP, ING members, hundreds of political organizations and millions of Iraqis who are defending the American administration’s dream (you know, because we can’t have a dream!), and who wait anxiously for the upcoming elections. Are we not Arabs and Muslims? Or were we brainwashed by the American propaganda to believe that their dream was ours?"NO Mr. Novak, you are WRONG and I’m being very nice here. This is not an adventure and this is not a neo-conservative dream. This is OUR dream. The dream of millions of oppressed Iraqis who saw what dictatorship can do and who were dying to witness a moment of freedom, to live a peaceful life, a life that carries hope and make dreams not that impossible, a life similar to yours, or is it too much to hope for? We had this dream before anyone heard about neo -conservatives."I don’t believe what you say about the American administration Mr. Novak, but even if you were right, you can give up on your dream. We won’t give up on ours, and may God help us."Instapundit and Belgravia Dispatch have more analysis of Novak's piece. Update: And while on this topic, Pacetown has an interesting letter from a Marine Major who tells it like he sees it from his perspective on the ground in Iraq. Tuesday, September 21, 2004

From FoxNews: Bush Blasts Kerry for Iraq Waffling.

President Bush accused his Democratic rival Monday of a pattern of waffling and leaving behind a trail of contradictory of positions on the war in Iraq.

"Today my opponent continued his pattern of twisting in the wind," Bush said at a rally in New Hampshire "He apparently woke up this morning and has now decided, no, we should not have invaded Iraq, after just last month saying he would have voted for force even knowing everything we know today."

John Kerry, a four-term Massachusetts senator, voted to give Bush authority to wage the war; the presidential hopeful said in August he would have voted that way even had he known there were no banned weapons in Iraq.
"Incredibly, he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power and not in prison," Bush said. "He's saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy.
"I couldn't disagree more, and not so long ago, so did my opponent," Bush added, quoting Kerry as saying recently, "Those who believe we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president." Monday, September 20, 2004

The latest ad from the Swift Boat Vets, hot off the press, is here

Like the others, it's nuclear. Only this time the Vets have money. And it makes the Dems' counterattack on President Bush's National Guard service look very small indeed. The KO punch: "Jane Fonda eventually apologized for her actions, but John Kerry never has." Wednesday, September 22, 2004


With six weeks left before the election, what can we expect from here on in? Barring major unexpected external developments or a disaster by one of the candidates in the debate, I think there's a fairly good chance that the race will tighten, but not a very good chance that Kerry will win.

The Kerry campaign and its MSM backers seem finally to have figured out what issue to focus on, and that of course is Iraq. The issue has this virtue: there is "a there, there." The president did take us into the war based on claims about WMD that have not been substantiated by events. We have encountered serious resistance that doesn't seem to diminishing and may be increasing. And, of course, the issue is vitally important. Another virtue is that the MSM can run with the issue. If CBS tells us it has a memo proving that Bush was a disgraceful Guardsman, that claim can be shot down. If it tells us that we're "losing the peace in Iraq," that claim can't be disproved, and it will gain credibility as long as there are explosions and American casualties in Iraq.
Kerry does have a slight problem, though. He has failed to hold to a consistent position on Iraq, so that every time he opens his mouth he contradicts a prior position. Even USA Today has remarked on the problem, and was able to muster only one cheer for Kerry's latest major address on Iraq. Moreover, if Kerry finally settles on a position, it's likely to involve getting French support, etc., and therefore unlikely to resonate.

With Bush so clearly leading, however, I think the spotlight will be on him for a while, so that, regardless of what they think of Kerry, voters may have second thoughts as they re-focus on Iraq in the context of credible reports of deterioration. Thus, the race may well tighten. But if it does, the focus will return to Kerry, and his negatives are so high that he'll likely have major trouble "closing the deal."

In sum, I see at least a 50 percent chance that the race will become close again, but significantly less than a 50 percent chance that, if this does happen, Kerry will prevail.


This is the question being asked on cable news shows, as defenders of the MSM tout the eight (give or take a few) different levels of checks that allegedly take place before an MSM story sees the light of day. Here's one answer.

A story that we run can be checked, in the first instance, against its sources, which we cite and, if possible, link to. Next, it is checked by our readers. They are quick to correct us because they don't want us left hanging out to dry, and we can't thank them enough for this. You can see part of this process at work in the Sixty-first Minute story. Notice, for example, Update 3 in which a reader takes issue with the notion that the documents couldn't have been produced on an electric typewriter available to the military.

The next level of review comes from other conservative blogs. Conservative bloggers perform a great service by gently pointing out possible weaknesses in stories that are making the rounds, or at least warning folks not to get too enthusiastic too soon. For example, this weekend AllahPundit created a time-line under which the Kerry campaign would have had to have had the Burkett information before CBS did. But INDC cautioned that the time-line depended on the complete accuracy of reports from several different newspapers. AllahPundit quickly posted this caveat.

If the conservative side of the blogosphere falls down on the job, there's always the liberal side. We don't spend much time arguing with our liberal counter-parts -- life is too short. But on a story as big as the CBS one, we had to respond to the inevitable liberal counter-attack. Rocket Man did so here in "The Daily Kos Strikes Out."
Finally, on a story like this, the MSM comes into play. In order to remain credible, our version had to stand up to the document examiners and other experts used by the MSM, including CBS. In addition, it had to withstand the scrutiny of their investigative reporters.

It is true, of course, that these levels of review occur after we have already blogged. At CBS, the alleged scrutiny occurs before the story appears. But remember that virtually no one believes a highly controversial story based solely on the fact that it is posted on a blog; to have an impact our work must pass all of the tests listed above. By contrast, until recently at least, millions of people probably would believe such a story just by virtue of its airing by CBS.

If CBS really cares about getting things right, it should welcome the post-publication review that the blogosphere provides. But we can't provide that review if we are required to hire bureaucrats to check our stories before we post them. That's known as a barrier to entry. CBS apparently would like such barriers to be erected but, as I hope I've shown, there's no need for them. Ultimately, the blogosphere (along with its individual practitioners) will be be judged by its track record. Right now that record looks pretty good. Tuesday, September 21, 2004



Reuters’ global managing editor has openly acknowledged that Arab intimidation influences his agency’s news coverage. HonestReporting has the story: Reuters Admits Appeasing Terrorists.

As Islamic terror continues to spread worldwide, one major news outlet decided that enough is enough—it’s time to call terrorism by its name. CanWest, owners of Canada’s largest newspaper chain, recently implemented a new editorial policy to use the ‘T-word’ in reports on brutal terrorist acts and groups.

So when CanWest’s National Post published a Reuters report on Sept. 14, they exercised their right to change this Reuters line that whitewashes Palestinian terror:

... the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. (Jeffrey Heller, 9/13 ‘Sharon Faces Netanyahu Challenge’)
to this, more accurate line:

... the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel.

Reuters didn’t like the adjustment, and took the unusual step of officially informing CanWest that if it intended to continue this practice, CanWest should remove Reuters’ name from the byline. Why? The New York Times reported (emphasis added):

“Our editorial policy is that we don’t use emotive words when labeling someone,” said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters’ global managing editor. “Any paper can change copy and do whatever they want. But if a paper wants to change our copy that way, we would be more comfortable if they remove the byline.”

Mr. Schlesinger said he was concerned that changes like those made at CanWest could lead to “confusion” about what Reuters is reporting and possibly endanger its reporters in volatile areas or situations.
“My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity,” he said.

[Schlesinger repeated this statement in a recent radio interview with CBC, when he described the ‘serious consequences’ if certain ‘people in the Mideast’ were to believe Reuters called such men ‘terrorists.’]

This is a stunning admission—Reuters’ top international editor openly acknowledges that one of the main reasons his agency refuses to call terrorists ‘terrorists’ has nothing to do with editorial pursuit of objectivity, but rather is a response to intimidation from thugs and their supporters.


ABC News says that Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer responsible for trying to influence a Presidential election with forged documents, is on thin ice.

John Carlson, a former commentator at KIRO-TV who is host of a conservative radio talk show in Seattle, remembers Mapes as a talented producer with whom he often argued politics in the newsroom.
Mapes was “quite liberal” and disliked the current President Bush’s father, he said.

“She definitely was someone who was motivated by what she cared about and definitely went into journalism to make a difference,” Carlson said. “She’s not the sort of person who went into journalism to report the news and offer an array of commentary.”

Carlson spoke with Mapes about the National Guard story a week ago, and said that he believes she “put so much time into it that she wanted something to come of it.”

“This was a woman with a good reputation,” he said. “The mistakes she made were so obvious. This was a story that was rushed because they clearly believed it was true. They wanted it to be true.”


The family of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian is justifiably angry at CBS: Commander’s family calls for CBS apology for flawed report.

FORT WORTH, Texas - (KRT) - The son of a late commander in the Texas Air National Guard said Monday that CBS owes his family an apology for airing documents - now believed to be false - that purportedly were of his father criticizing President Bush’s service as a young man in the Guard.
“I’m not surprised,” said Gary Killian of Houston. Earlier in the day, CBS issued a statement saying it was a “mistake, which we deeply regret,” to use four memos that allegedly came from Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, a Guard commander over Bush in the early 1970s.

CBS News President Andrew Heyward said in a statement: “Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic ... .”

The network also named Bill Burkett, a rancher who lives near Baird, in West Texas, as their source for the memos.

Neither Burkett, a former commander in the Guard, nor his lawyer, David Van Os of San Antonio, returned repeated phone calls Monday. But Burkett acknowledged in an interview with CBS News anchor Dan Rather on Monday night that he misled the network about the source of the documents; he nevertheless defended the truthfulness of the information.

Gary Killian, a Houston businessman who once served in the Guard with his father, said he initially questioned the validity of parts of the memos, then later became convinced they were all fakes.

Killian said he is angry with both CBS and Burkett.

“Do I take it personally? Yes,” he said, adding: “I think, first of all, CBS and Dan Rather owe my deceased father and my family an apology.”

Jerry Killian died of heart failure in 1984.
The younger Killian said CBS should go further that simply calling its reporting flawed. “I don’t accept that this was an innocent mistake. I think it confirms what a lot of people already think: that there is a hidden agenda among some of the media,” Killian said. Tuesday, September 21, 2004


To finish Wednesday's War Blog, click here.

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