A War on Terrorism
It has been left others to chronicle the amazing story of how
technology has provided a new dimension in foreign policy when
peaceful diplomatic efforts fail.
This chapter is aimed at reviewing the human elements of the
efforts needed to overcome opponents of the effort to bring
peace and a pathway to democracy to parts of the world that
are prone to exporting WMD and terror to rain down upon those
that want freedom and democracy.
On whose side is the media?
by Richard R. Tryon
The following quotation is from the Darcy Doran AP news account of July 27, 2003:
"The death brought to 48 the number of Americans killed in combat in Iraq since May 1. So far 163 U.S. soldiers have died in the war, 16 more than the number of those killed in the 1991 Gulf War.
There had been hope the killings Tuesday of Saddam's sons Odai and Qusai, Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. most-wanted list, might demoralize the resistance. Instead, their deaths appear to have inspired a wave of revenge attacks.
Four U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday, three in a grenade attack outside a children's hospital in Baqouba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, and one in a bomb and rocket-propelled grenade attack just west of the capital near the notorious Abu Ghraib prison."
What is the 'slant' or apparent bias of this story? It is shown very well by its opening words. Clearly it is deemed important to compare the rate of U.S. military deaths to the 1991 conflict and to a moment in time when our president declared the end of the major military activity on May 1. Imagine... already the campaign to free all of Iraq, not just the tiny nation of Kuwait in three days in 1991, has caused more Americans to die than was the case in 1991.
While the accidental death of anyone occurs in the U.S. at the rate of several hundred thousand each year, the loss of even one to military action in defense of our war against terrorism is viewed as an event that deserves daily tabulation against such milestones as the Persian Gulf war of 1991! Why not compare the loss of these fine 163 men and women to our losses say in a similar period of WWII or even Korea or Vietnam, if a more pejorative or invidious notion is to be revived? The answer is simple. Those other U.S. military actions caused tens of thousands to die. While most regrettable, our losses are understood by those trained to sustain them as the price to pay to protect America.
Our current efforts to free us from the anxiety and the chance of more bin Laden type of terrorist attack that took the lives of a few more than the 163- like over 3,000 as we were on the receiving end of the enemy's effort-are as minimal as we can make them.
To the reporters credit, further down in the story, one gets to see that the U.S. military thinks that it is getting closer to finding Saddam Hussein and more remnants of the Baath Party leadership that enjoyed super wealth, power and advantage during its decades of control of the masses of in Iraq.
But, overlooked in this report, the rest of which is included below, is the need to help us answer the question of why we are exposed to the risk of being in Iraq when our only concern is thought by many to be justifiable ONLY if we are there to collect WMD that we do not want to see fall into the hands of terrorists willing to bring their violent actions to our shores.
To such persons, Saddam is perceived as hateful and mean person, but not a terrorist threat to us! Therefore, we should understand that we can't change the attitudes of a people that have always had to live with dictators and no personal freedoms, and leave Iraq and all of the middle east to be perpetually able to enjoy this preference with lack of any fortitude or leadership to try to oppose it.
Prof. Douglass North said in a recent speech in Beulah, MI, that it is nearly impossible to perceive how democracy can gain a foothold in Iraq. It is in a region where the prevailing attitudes, culture, and convictions all auger against finding democracy as an acceptable alternative to 'strong-man' leadership via a dictatorship that is consistent with the history. Knowing this, Saddam almost got enough nay-sayers to stop the war and prove that he is still in command!
Some might have said that about our American forefathers, who were raised to be as loyal as their forbearers, to the King. How was it that their apologetic declaration of independence won the support of the people in a way that let it win the war?
Why is it that the Russian people, with a history of Czars and 70 years of communist domination, have not found the chaos of the last twelve years in Russia to be enough to drive them to elect to surrender to a new communist regime? Somehow the notion of freedom is one that most people come to easily, perhaps in a special way, when they get the chance after long enslavement. That may be hard for Americans, born into excessive freedom, to understand. Ask ordinary Russians, if they prefer the past or working to build under signs of increasing freedom? You know the answer.
Prof. North has devoted a considerable energy in his semi-retirement years to study and try to learn why it is that the 'rational' side of man's thinking is so often overruled by the emotional conditioning of culture, religion, and experience. It is a quest, in my opinion, for his position as an economic historian, to help the so-called science of econmics gain an ability to avoid being cast off as a branch of history of economic activity. He would like to see, as would I, it become able to predict with certainty, our economic future! If we can measure the part that defies measurement, we might think we could know.
Economists are swamped with data to measure every conceivable factor to help show how economic theory can be trusted as a useful tool to predict. But, they are forced to subjectively measure the psychological or emotional factors so as to try to quantify them in a way that makes the equation be useful. I can applaud this quest, but submit that the system of measuring such is destined to fail unless it can adjust to a variable of almost unknown description that defies measurement. It is, of course, a factor that involves both history and leadership.
The history factor is easy enough to recognize but hard to measure. How long have any group of people been subjected to abuse for lack of freedoms? No doubt many economists or political or social scientists can provide many ways to do such measurements and calculations. But, the strength or weakness of the underlying 'ethos' and/or allegiance to ideas and a corresponding willingness to accept change defies easy measurement.
Even worse is the task of trying to determine if any individual(s) or media controllers exist, with any effective means of leadership, to arrive on the scene of potential change in a way that tips the balance of the assessment one way or another.
Today, competing political forces vie for the chance to lead us in one direction or another. Democrats and fellow-travelers are seeking ways to discredit the Bush administration in order to gain an electoral advantage, albeit without any obvious plan to treat the Iraqis to anything more than a willingness to stop the killing by bringing our troops home to let something else happen.
To win an election on such a platform requires that the media help in conditioning the public into believing:
1.That loss of military lives is beyond the norm of the 3 day war in 1991 is therefore unacceptable as long as no WMD are found that might fall into the hands of real terrorists- that is to say- ones that would like to bring them to the U.S., such as the minions of bin Laden; and
2. The effort to bring democracy to the middle east as a way to contain the zealous and deadly forces of the Muslim world can't work and therefore they should be abandoned.
The great irony of all of this is that it is a replay of exactly the kind of thinking that caused Saddam Hussein to conclude that he has been a winner throughout his long career of murder and destruction aimed at making him the anointed leader of Islam. In his mind he won the three day war that gave Kuwait freedom- he only lost his temporary hold over it, but was allowed to destroy, in the early Clinton days of power, the leadership of the North and South of Iraq that wanted to be free of his dictatorship. If he is alive, he still aspires to be the King of the entire Arab-Muslim world, and those who want us out, play into his hands. A return to American isolationism will put him back in power because we would show again, that we lack the courage and drive or leadership to keep him and his kind out of power.
Yes, it will take time and real leadership to overcome the media drive to show nothing but failure for the Bush plan. Every day we will be told again that another one, two or twenty Americans have been killed trying to bring an unwanted democracy to the people of Iraq. That negative campaign to weaken Bush will not be overcome unless his leadership is extraordinary and the media fair.
Can Bush provide that leadership? To me his remarkable contribution would not be possible, if he had not learned a lot more about human nature than he did about conventional wisdoms in many disciplines. His leadership skill is not based upon his ability to know more about all than anyone else, but upon his experience at motivating students first and adults later in life. Contrary to reports of his 'bumbling' style and inability to call people by their given names, he learned to memorize all the names in his Yale fraternity when no other pledge could do more than a few. He is easy to underestimate. His interest in history is real and his wife brought him the need to 'get right with God and her' if he wanted his marriage to work. She is the student that must help a lot along with his access to everyone else.
Can he make a difference in the world's effort to live in peace? Can he provide a pathway to tolerance of all religions but not of those folks who abuse any to call for jihad or class warfare? If he can't, what alternative sounds better and is better?
So far history has not shown me signs of very much success in creating a pathway for human freedom or an avoidance of tyranny and massive killing in the name of whatever. If George W. Bush gets some help, we may be surprised to discover that a lot of those that we have written off as incapable of wanting democracy, actually will work for it. Who knows, some of them may do better at it than we do...and that may not take much.
The rest of the AP news release contained:
"In Tikrit on Thursday, U.S. troops of the 4th Infantry Division captured a group of men believed to include five to 10 of Saddam's bodyguards. After that, soldiers learned that Saddam's new security chief and possibly the dictator himself were staying on one of the farms, Russell said.
``The noose is tightening around these guys,'' said Col. James C. Hickey, a brigade commander. ``They're running out of places to hide, and it's becoming difficult for them to move because we're everywhere. Any day now we're going to knock on their door, or kick in their door, and they know it.''
The army would not name the man they had targeted, but said he was believed to have taken over Saddam's security after the June 17 arrest of Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, Saddam's cousin and presidential secretary.
Mahmud, who was No. 4 on the U.S. most wanted Iraqis list, controlled all access to Saddam. He and Saddam's younger son Qusai were believed to be the only two people trusted with knowledge about Saddam's whereabouts.
Hundreds of soldiers, backed by Bradley fighting vehicles, surrounded the farms as Apache attack helicopters hovered above. No shots were fired. About 25 men were in the houses and emerged peacefully. They were briefly detained and released later Sunday."
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