Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 48332
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2017/12/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/16   

2007/10/15-18 [Politics/Domestic/President/Bush, Politics/Foreign/MiddleEast/Iraq] UID:48332 Activity:moderate
10/15   Republicans working on the "Stab In The Back Myth"
        for use after our defeat in Iraq:
        http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/06/0081080
        \_ More at:
           http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071015/alterman
        \_ that sounds like traitor talk to me!
        \_ It is funny to watch the Right in full on paranoid melt-down mode.
           Just wait until after Commander-In-Chief Hillary Rodham Clinton
           is inaugurated!
           \_ will the hills be far enough a place to head for?
           \_ Oh boy, utopia, 4-8 more years of corruption, law breaking, lies
              and *-gate scandals along with the troops staying in Iraq past
              2013.  Can't wait.  Sounds like an American success story.
              \_ Fortunately, Bush can't run again, Cheney won't run, and
                 BushCo has made it extraordinarily unlikely that a Repub
                 will win, so the problem is solved!
                 \_ Uh yeah, like I said.  Elect Clinton to get 4-8 more years
                    of corruption, lies, *gate and troops in Iraq past 2013.
                    \_ If Hillary can figure out how to get fellated in the
                       Oval Office, more power to her.
              \_ Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
                 We won't get fooled again!
        \_ Looks like the Sanchez speech was all part of the mythos building:
           http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_disgruntled_general
           \_ No, the article in your link is about "Sanchez was an idiot and
              he's bitter so this is him moaning and griping about his failures
              and blaming everyone but himself".
2017/12/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/16   

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www.harpers.org/archive/2006/06/0081080
September 2006, page 4 First drink, hero, from my horn: I spiced the draught well for you To waken your memory clearly So that the past shall not slip your mind! Above all, these foes must arise from within, for national pride does not admit that a great nation can be defeated by any outside force. That is why, though its origins are elsewhere, the stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies. As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already being perpetuated. To understand just how this strategy is likely to unfold--and why this time it may well fail--we must return to the birth of a legend. Neill Malcolm, head of the British Military Mission in Berlin after the war, who put forward this suggestion merely to politely summarize how Field Marshal Erich von Ludendorff--the force behind Hindenburg--was characterizing the German army's alleged lack of support from its civilian government. "Ludendorff's eyes lit up, and he leapt upon the phrase like a dog on a bone," wrote Hindenburg biographer John Wheeler-Bennett. The word dolchstoss--"dagger thrust"--had been popularized almost fifty years before in Wagner's Gtterdmmerung. After swallowing a potion that causes him to reveal a shocking truth, the invincible Teutonic hero, Siegfried, is fatally stabbed in the back by Hagen, son of the archvillain, Alberich. Wagner had himself lifted his plot device from a medieval German poem, which was inspired in turn by Old Norse folklore, and of course the same story can be found in a slew of ancient mythologies, whether it's the fate of the Greek heroes Achilles and Hercules or the story of Jesus and Judas. The hero cannot be defeated by fair means or outside forces but only by someone close to him, resorting to treachery. The Siegfried legend in particular, though, has nuances that would mesh perfectly with right-wing mythology in the twentieth century, both in Germany and in the United States. At the end of Wagner's Ring Cycle, the downfall of the gods is followed by the rise of the Germanic people. The mythological hero has been transformed into the volk, just as heroic stature is granted to the modern state. Siegfried is killed just after revealing an unwelcome truth--much as the right, when pressed for evidence about its conspiracy theories, will often claim that these are hidden truths their enemies have a vested interest in concealing. Hagen, as a half-breed, an outsider posing as a friend, stands in for something worse yet--the assimilated Jew, able to betray the great warrior of the volk by posing as his boon companion. It was an iconography easily transferable to Germany's new, postwar republic. Hitler himself would claim that while recuperating behind the lines from a leg wound, he found Jewish "slackers" dominating the war-production bureaucracy and that "the Jew robbed the whole nation and pressed it beneath his domination." Hitler was already attuned to the zeitgeist of his adopted country. Even before the war had been decided, a soldier in his company recalled how Corporal Hitler would "leap up and, running about excitedly, say that in spite of our big guns, victory would be denied us, for the invisible foes of the German people were a greater danger than the biggest cannon of the enemy." It didn't matter that Field Marshal Ludendorff had in fact been the virtual dictator of Germany from August of 1916 on, or that the empire's civilian leaders had been stunned by his announcement, in September of 1918, that his last, murderous offensives on the western front had failed, and that they must immediately sue for peace. The suddenness of Germany's defeat only supported the idea that some sort of treason must have been involved. From this point on, all blame would redound upon "the November criminals," the scheming politicians, reds, and above all, Jews. Yet it was necessary, for the purging that the Nazis had in mind, to believe that the national degeneration went even further. Jerry Lembcke, in his brilliant work, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam, writes of how the Nazis fostered the dolchstosslegende in ways that eerily foreshadowed returning veteran mythologies in the United States. Hermann Gring, the most charismatic of the Nazi leaders after Hitler, liked to speak of how "very young boys, degenerate deserters, and prostitutes tore the insignia off our best front line soldiers and spat on their field gray uniforms." As Lembcke points out, any insignia ripping had actually been done by the mutinous soldiers and sailors who would launch a socialist uprising shortly after the war, tearing them off their own shoulders or those of their officers. Gring's instant revisionism both covered up this embarrassing reality and created a whole new class of villains who were--in his barely coded language--homosexuals, sexually threatening women, and other "deviants." All such individuals would be dealt with in the new, Nazi order. Here, the motivating defeat was suffered not by the nation but by a faction. In the years immediately following World War II, the American right was facing oblivion. Domestically, the reforms of the New Deal had been largely embraced by the American people. The Roosevelt and Truman administrations--supported by many liberal Republicans--had led the nation successfully through the worst war in human history, and we had emerged as the most powerful nation on earth. Franklin Roosevelt and his fellow liberal internationalists had sounded the first alarms about Hitler, but conservatives had stubbornly--even suicidally--maintained their isolationism right into the postwar era. Senator Robert Taft, "Mr Republican," and the right's enduring presidential hope, had not only been a prominent member of the leading isolationist organization, America First, and opposed the nation's first peacetime draft in 1940, but also appeared to be as naive about the Soviet Union as he had been about the Axis powers. Like many on the right, he was much more concerned about Chiang Kai-shek's worm-eaten Nationalist regime in China than US allies in Europe. "The whole Atlantic Pact, certainly the arming of Germany, is an incentive for Russia to enter the war before the army is built up," Taft warned. He was against any US military presence in Europe even in 1951. This sort of determined naivet had Taft and his movement teetering on the brink of political irrelevance. They saved themselves by grabbing at an unlikely rope--America's very own dolchstosslegende, the myth of Yalta. No reasonable observer would have predicted in the immediate wake of the Yalta conference that it would become an enduring symbol of Democratic perfidy. Yalta was, in fact, originally considered the apogee of the Roosevelt Administration's accomplishments, ensuring that the hard-won peace at the end of World War II would not soon dissolve into an even worse conflict, just as the botched peace of Versailles had led only to renewed hostilities in the years after World War I The conference, which took place in the Soviet Crimea in February 1945, was the last time "the Big Three" of the war--Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin--would meet face-to-face. The US negotiating team went with specific goals and was widely perceived at the time as having achieved them. Agreements were reached on the occupation of the soon-to-be-defeated German Reich, the liberation of those Eastern European countries occupied by or allied with Germany, the Soviet entrance into the war against Japan, and, most significantly in Roosevelt's eyes, on the structure of a workable, internatio...
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Write to the Magazine Having exposed their country to the ignominy of certain defeat in Iraq, the Bush Administration and its neoconservative allies are seeking to salvage their crumbling reputations by blaming their critics for the catastrophe their policies have wrought. We are witnessing the foundation for a post-Iraq "stab in the back" campaign. The tactic--Dolchstolegende, which means, literally, "dagger stab legend"--is associated with attacks by German anti-Semites on Jews in the aftermath of World War I and is a familiar response for frustrated American right-wingers when reality fails to live up to their ideological fantasies. Following the inevitable collapse of nationalist China, unhinged accusations of a liberal conspiracy inside the US government that purposely "lost" China to the Commies ruled the foreign policy debate. Consider these words from GOP Senator William Jenner of Indiana: "This country today is in the hands of a secret inner coterie which is directed by agents of the Soviet Union.... The China lobby--the AIPAC of its day--tirelessly policed American politics to insure that no one with national aspiration dared recognize the reality of the Communist Chinese victory. CONTINUED BELOW During Vietnam, Ronald Reagan tried to blame protesters for killing troops, charging, "Some American will die tonight because of the activity in our streets." The right created the myth of antiwar protesters spitting on soldiers, although a detailed study by Jerry Lembcke, in his The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam, found not a single verifiable incident of such behavior. And while it is a given among conservatives--and even reporters--that critical media coverage somehow hampered the war effort, Daniel Hallin's The Uncensored War notes that most reports, particularly on television, rarely deviated from patriotic, pro-American assumptions. Indeed, the Army's official history of the media's role in the conflict, published by the Army Center of Military History, explicitly rejects this line. None of this prevented Norman Podhoretz from reviving the charge in 1982 with a thinly researched book-length essay called Why We Were in Vietnam. the vast majority of Americans surveyed over the past thirty years have said US involvement was a mistake from the start. ") The coming campaign's foundations are already in place. They rest on three building blocks: an attack on the loyalty of those willing to recognize reality; the construction of an alternative reality in which victory is deemed to be imminent; and, finally, a shifting of blame for a supposedly premature withdrawal to those who refuse to play along. Matthew Yglesias, in the Center for American Progress's "Think Again" column, noticed preparations for such a campaign as early as May 2004. Roll Call's Morton Kondracke pretended that "the media and politicians" were "in danger of talking the United States into defeat in Iraq," while Tony Blankley of the Washington Times added, "the president's political and media opposition want the president's defeat more than America's victory." Two years later, when most Americans had turned against the war, Spencer Ackerman, writing in The New Republic, noticed that not a single contributor to a National Review symposium advocated withdrawal. Typical were comments like those of former Bush Pentagon analyst Michael Rubin, who announced, "The US is losing in Iraq because American politicians and the general public have not decided they want or need to win." George W Bush has both feet firmly planted in the "stab" camp, and offered it aid and comfort when he tried to link the "unmistakable legacy of Vietnam"--"boat people," "re-education camps" and "killing fields"--to calls for withdrawal from Iraq. Podhoretz's recent entry into the sweepstakes is, appropriately, a retread of his 1982 attack on his ex-friends and former self. In his clinically delusional book World War IV, Podhoretz paints Bush as a "great president" and professes to see in Iraq "enormous strides that had been made in democratizing and unifying the country under a workable federal system." No less implausibly, he compares war opponents, like former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, to a "domestic insurgency" with a "life-and-death stake" in America's defeat. no less bloody than the one being fought by our troops in the Middle East." Podhoretz's paranoid ravings notwithstanding, it is likely that he has been less effective in laying the groundwork for the post-Iraq stab campaign than second-generation neocon generalissimo William Kristol, who despite mountains of contrary evidence professes to detect an "astoundingly" successful surge and a military situation that is "better than anyone expected." Kristol's Weekly Standard recently ran a cover drawing of an American soldier viewed from behind within the sights of an unseen weapon, beneath the headline Does Washington Have His Back? Another Standard headline reads: They Don't Really Support the Troops. Such visual, visceral propaganda attacks would have fit in perfectly with those employed against Jews by right-wing anti-Semites in the days before Hitler. One might have imagined that American neocons would have pulled back before crossing that line. Eric Alterman Eric Alterman is a Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. com) in Washington, DC, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where he writes and edits the "Think Again" column, a senior fellow (since 1985) at the World Policy Institute at The New School in New York, and a history consultant to HBO Films.
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The Disgruntled General Ricardo Sanchez's mishandling of the Iraq War during his year as ground commander is legend. It should come as no surprise, then, that his recent account of who's to blame for Iraq is so bitter and distorted. Spencer Ackerman | October 16, 2007 | web only The Disgruntled General No one pities retired Lt. blistering indictment of the war's history and its prospects before a military reporters' convention in Arlington. The war is "a nightmare with no end in sight," declared its former commander. President Bush, having failed to accept "the political and economic realities of this war," has adopted the surge in "a desperate attempt" to salvage his political fortunes, but will, at best, "stave off defeat." The press portrayed the speech as the latest in a series of volleys by retired generals furious with the Bush administration. Liberals eager for a cudgel against Bush may suddenly discover Sanchez's previously hidden virtues. Except that Sanchez's speech is very different from the criticisms offered during the so-called "general's revolt" of 2006. Those accounts indicted the strategy of Donald Rumsfeld, the wisdom of commanders like Sanchez, and the opportunism of the administration as a whole. Sanchez's occasionally hysterical speech represents a triumph of embitterment, coupled with a cynical willingness to blame practically every civilian institution -- prowar, antiwar, whatever -- for the war's failures. "Our nation has not focused on the greatest challenge of our lifetime," Sanchez said. "The political and economic elements of power must get beyond the politics to ensure the survival of America." Contrary to its billing, this was no mere attack on the administration. Mark Moyar, holds that sybaritic and feckless civilians recklessly squander the hard-won gains of the military. The current crop of right-wingers is too close to the Iraq war to accept Sanchez's vituperation, since it contains an attack on Bush. But as the war recedes and the need for scapegoating expands -- particularly if conservatives lose the White House next year -- Sanchez's speech reads like a foundational text for an aggrieved conservative worldview that the war was too virtuous for the country that fought it. And it makes a lot of sense that it's Sanchez, the most disgraced general of the entire war, who issued this j'accuse. Consider the following line, one which didn't make it into most media accounts of the speech. "While the politicians espouse their rhetoric designed to preserve their reputations and their political power -- our soldiers die!" Sanchez is interested in attacking -- repeatedly -- unnamed "political leaders" whose partisan squabbling has "endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield." Like with all good dishonest myths, this gets causality backward. The war's domestic politics became so acrimonious precisely because the Bush administration not only plunged the country into a disaster but treated all criticism as a mark of disloyalty. As a result, politics is understandably a contest between those who consider the Iraq war a national imperative and those who consider it a national catastrophe. For each side, political power is a national security objective, and against the backdrop of a protracted war, it's not entirely clear why that's wrong. But Sanchez prefers to wipe the blood of 3,800 US troops across the entire political spectrum, rather than presenting a subtle account of who's responsible for the tragedy. Nearly everyone not in uniform is responsible for the horror. The press has strayed from ethical standards -- so far, he says, that a reversal of course is needed so "our democracy does not continue to be threatened." Civilians within the Bush administration, and particularly on the National Security Council, failed US troops by not devising and implementing a strategy for Iraq that involved more than military power. Congress is a particular enemy: it abdicated "focused oversight" in favor of "exhortations, encouragements, investigations, studies and discussions." The "greatest failures" in Iraq are linked to the country's "lack of commitment, priority and moral courage in this war effort." Sanchez's comments might benefit war opponents in the short term, since the press hasn't emphasized this vitriol, but embittered conservatives looking to place blame practically have a catechism to read from. Does Sanchez actually mean to accuse the entire country of lacking "moral courage"? After all, sustained popular admiration for the troops fighting the war has been a hallmark of the country's pro- and anti-war movements since the invasion. Congress can be subjected to any number of critiques, both hawkish and dovish, but the fact remains that Congress has approved every war-funding request Bush has submitted. Sanchez has a good point that civilian agencies in the government don't treat wartime remotely as seriously as the military -- you often hear military commanders in Iraq understandably bemoan the relative lack of diplomats, economists, agronomists, civilian engineers, etc. That is, unless you take into account Sanchez's guilty conscience and his anger over his disgrace. That conscience is made guilty, of course, by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal specifically, and the explosion of the insurgency during his year in command more generally. memorandum authorizing interrogation techniques imported from the Geneva Conventions-exempt Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Among them were the use of dogs, stress positions, sleep management and light, noise and dietary manipulation. Within a month, General John Abizaid, Sanchez's superior at Central Command, revoked the memo, but the techniques bearing Sanchez's imprimatur were on display at Abu Ghraib nevertheless. Senator Jack Reed asked Sanchez on May 19, 2004, if he ever "ordered or approved" the techniques. Abu Ghraib was only one element in Sanchez's manifold failures as a general in Iraq. Lacking clear leadership or central coordination, his division commanders essentially ran their own occupations, resulting in drastically varying results -- from the heavy-handed tactics of Major General Ray Odierno in Anbar to the population-centric approach of Major General David Petraeus. In account after account from Iraq veterans in Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks's definitive book Fiasco, Sanchez is described as a tactician unable to see the bigger picture of the war. told Tim Russert in April 2004, "the forces that we have on the ground are adequate," -- even as both the Sunni and the Shiite insurgencies inflamed the country. Whatever divides civilians and soldiers, it's not respect for Sanchez. And while Sanchez couldn't have won the war, he could have contributed less to its loss. And this is what Sanchez's account never grapples with: The proposition that a war likely to fail shouldn't be fought. After all, if Sanchez really saw the writing on the wall in July 2003 -- the beginning of his command -- he was derelict in his responsibility to either refuse command or to speak out in favor of drastic changes in strategy. Instead, he's emblematic of the general officer described in Lt. essay "A Failure In Generalship": supine to civilian zealotry, hobbled by conventional wisdom, ignorant of counterinsurgency, and deceptive to the public. It should probably come as no surprise that his account of who's to blame for Iraq is as bitter and distorted as it is. AFP, "it's not about blame because there's nobody out there that is intentionally trying to screw things up for our country." The obviously self-pitying Sanchez of October 2007 has clearly amended his views. His new perspective is no sounder, and just as corrosive, than the ones that guided him in Baghdad. Having abetted one catastrophe, Sanchez may do even greater violence to the historical record. I want to receive The American Prospect -- the essential source for progressive ideas. Explore The American Prospect's award-winning investigative journalism and provocative essays in a free trial issue. 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