"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Friday, September 07, 2007

Cultural Cluelessness

Everyone has likely had an opportunity to hear the latest from Senator Chuck “the shill” Schumer on the Senate floor the other day about our “success” in Anbar province in Iraq:

“We've heard of success stories every six or eight months. This province, this town, this city. “They're cleared, they're safe.” And then because of the basic facts on the ground, we revert to the old situation. And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge.”

“It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords had to create a temporary peace here on their own. And that is because there was no one else there protecting them.”

This is unfortunately, but not surprisingly an instance of outright dishonesty from one of the senators from New York. It also is an instance where misunderstanding leads us from the overall big picture that is Iraq in the war on terror.

Stanley Kurtz writing in NRO takes Andrew Tilghman, author of “The Myth of AQI” to task for his misunderstanding of the ways of the world in the Middle East. Kurtz begins by pointing out the grain of truth of the naiveté of Conservatives and adds that Liberals suffer from the same problem.

Is Kurtz the end all expert and will you following the reading of his article be one as well? No, but it should help enlighten those of us who are often guilty of oversimplifying issues at times as well. There is nothing simple about Iraq and the greater war on terror except perhaps accepting it, but even that isn’t simple for many; as Kurtz says:

“My own view is that, whether we stay in Iraq or leave, the United States and Europe are destined to return to the Middle East in force, and remain there indefinitely. Our shrinking world, and the pressure of events, will force our hand. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have accepted this unfortunate likelihood, but I do think this is what we are headed for, whatever we do about Iraq. Tilghman’s naive claim that the salience of local tribal and sectarian identities in Iraq somehow means that al Qaeda isn’t present as well shows how much we’ve got to learn. Unfortunately, over time — and whether we want to or not — Americans are destined to become experts how to play the tribal game.”

Cultural Cluelessness

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