TCS Daily


How Al Qaeda is Winning Even as it is Losing

By J.D. Johannes - July 11, 2007 12:00 AM

In Iraq, the administration has empowered a general and officer corps capable of winning the war on the ground. Now it must develop the media corps that can win the war on the airwaves. June 2007 saw a dramatic turnaround in our military fortunes, with the insurgents in headlong retreat in Anbar, Baghdad, and Diayala. But al Qaeda continued to dominate its chosen battlefield: America's living rooms.

The War on the Ground

In the first month of full implementation - June, 2007 - the "surge" strategy of General David Petraeus resulted in a 32% decline in Iraqi deaths. An anti-al Qaeda alliance of Sunni chiefs, Coalition forces, and the Iraqi Army drove the insurgency out of most of al Anbar, and much of Baghdad.

Over the past three months, I was privileged to observe "surge" operations as a reporter embedded with combat units. I assure my readers: these operations were no mere repetition of the futile "clearing" raids of the past. General David Petraeus has implemented a regimen based on a career-long study of counterinsurgency. The revised tactics include meticulous census taking of persons and vehicles; skilled, persistent diplomacy with tribal leaders; incorporation of local intelligence; constant foot patrols in the residential areas from platoon and squad sized outposts; and persistent perimeter control of areas cleared and held.

4th Generational War

But in the flush of battlefield success, public perception of American military progress continued its calamitous decline. According to Pew Research, the percentage of Americans who opine that America's military operations are "going well" slid from 38% in May '07 to 34% in June; those who believe our military operations are "not going well" increased from 57% of respondents to 61%.

The same Pew poll found that only 30% of the public could identify General David Patraeus and only 27% could identify Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. 59% of respondents were unaware that Shi'ites constitute the majority religious group in Iraq. Precise knowledge of the war's progress is obviously scarce. Yet 95% of respondents have defined opinions on the success of our arms.

What explains the downtick of confidence against a backdrop of success?

Since mid-2005, al Qaeda has aimed not to defeat the Coalition militarily, but to drain American public support politically. The strategy was forced on the insurgents by a string of failures in 2004 and 2005. The Baathist groups and their al Qaeda allies planned first to establish a geographic base of control within Iraq; second, to block Iraqi elections; and third, to prevent the establishment of the Iraqi Security Forces. They failed to achieve any of these goals.

The ensuing strategy was dictated by weakness. Mass killings of Shi'ite civilians - a tactic designed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi over the initial protests of the al Qaeda leadership - replaced military confrontation as the insurgency's operational focus. Civilian atrocity is, by definition, easy to implement, as it targets what is undefended. The strategy does nothing to "win hearts and minds." Support for al Qaeda has dwindled to under 2% among the Sunnis of Iraq; among other groups, it doesn't register at all. Nor can atrocities advance a political agenda, or control real estate.

But the mass killings were a boon to recruitment. The slaughter of Shi'ite civilians provoked retaliatory attacks by Shi'ite militias - attacks that were often as random as the carnage that initiated them. This enabled the insurgency to recruit, albeit from a diminishing population base. In effect, Sunni radicals kept the insurgency alive by sucking the blood out of their own community.

But al Qaeda's largest harvest from "random slaughter" strategy was realized in America. Through acts of indiscriminate violence transmitted by the media, insurgents brought their war to America's living rooms. The atrocity-of-the-day is the principal informational input most Americans receive. This forms their knowledge base. The public does not live in the villages and mahalas of Iraq. Patterns of recovery, of normalcy, are not evident.

This is the essence of 4th Generation Warfare. And al Qaeda is clearly winning it.

The Battle of GRPs

The volume and type of informational inputs received by the voting public can be calculated with Gross Ratings Points.

Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) are a measure of the reach and frequency of a message. GRPs encapsulate how advertisers influence economic decisionmaking. Mathematically, GRPs are described thus:

FxR%=GRP

...where "F" equals frequency of the message in a given market, and "R%" equals the percentage of reach within that market.

Political consultants also deal in GRPs. For a handy reference, Congressional and Senate Campaigns tend to buy 800-1,200 points a week for advertising on TV. A campaign would want at least 800 points behind each message/ad. (When I managed campaigns I liked to run 1,000 GRPs a week in every applicable media market.)

If a message has thousands of GRPs behind it, you will be able to sing the jingle along with the commercial.

In 2005 I made an over-simplified calculation of the number of Gross Ratings Points expended on coverage of the war. Below I have updated and expanded that calculation.

"F" - frequency of news viewing of the Iraq war coverage -- can be approximated using the regular Pew Research Center Surveys of People and the Press. In the most recent Pew survey, 30% of respondents said they followed "news about the current situation and events in Iraq very closely."

Pew does not identify the number of reports that represents the variants of "closely," so I have assigned a number of TV reports viewed to those terms for a rough calculation:

Very Closely=6 TV Reports per week

Fairly Closely=4 TV Reports per week

Not Too Closely=2 TV Reports per week

Not At All Closely=1 TV Report per week

The Pew surveys vary somewhat in sample size, so for the purpose of uniform calculations, I have normalized the sample size at 1,200 respondents.

With those two modifications, Iraq war GRPs can be calculated. Here's an example:

June 2007:

30% Very Closely 360 people viewing 6 reports=2160 Reports

36% Fairly Closely 432 people viewing 4 reports=1728 Reports

18% Not Too Closely 16 people viewing 2 reports=432 Reports

15% Not Closely at All 180 people viewing 1 report=180 Reports

1% Not at all 12 people viewing 0 reports=0 Reports

Applying the GRP formula of FxR%=GRP, we multiply the number of total reports in a week by the percentage that each viewer represents of the audience.

4500x.083=373.5 GRPs per week or 19,422 GRPs a year, June 2006 to June 2007.

Now the process gets trickier. To correlate the impact of this coverage of the war with shifting perceptions of its success, we must separate out "optimistic" and "pessimistic" reports. The largest study on this subject, conducted in 2006 by the Media Research Center, was confined to cable news. So our first assumption is that cable coverage, with FOX News Channel to the right of the mainstream, and CNN and MSNBC to the left, will mirror the optimism and pessimism of broadcast networks overall.

The Media Research Center defined as "optimistic" coverage that "reported on achievements or victories" for coalition forces. It defined as "pessimistic" reports that emphasized "setbacks, misdeeds or pessimism about [coalition] progress in Iraq."

The MRC report, "The Iraq War on Cable TV," concluded the following:

Ø On Fox, pessimistic coverage outweighed optimistic coverage 3-to-2;

Ø On MSNBC, pessimistic coverage outweighed optimistic coverage 4-to-1; and

Ø On CNN, pessimistic coverage outweighed optimistic coverage 6-to-1.

From this, we can conservatively infer that at least 65% of coverage is pessimistic, compared to 35% (at most) optimistic. Stories of the daily car bombing do not have to be biased. They are inherently pessimistic.

The daily car bombing is the message the insurgents want.

Extending these assumptions mathematically: There have been 12,624 pessimistic ratings points from June 2006 to June 2007, compared to 6,798 optimistic reports.

These gross ratings points form the knowledge base of the viewers and telephone owners who answer polls - and of the voters who elect public officials.

Support for the war peaked out in May 2003 with 74% of respondents saying the invasion was the "right decision." By June of 2006 that was down to 49%. Right now only 40% say it was the "right decision" with 51% saying it was the wrong decision.

Over the measured period, a net 56,556 pessimistic Gross Ratings Points caused a 34 point swing in the polls. But the pessimistic GRPs are earning fewer converts over time -- the largest swing coming in 2003-2004. This indicates that the American 'center' is fluid and easily swayed. Al Qaeda's media war has reached the zenith of its marginal effectiveness at the same time that its ground war is in rapid decline.

I have attempted this rough measure of the effectiveness of al Qaeda's 4th Generation War - and it is admittedly rough! - because of the growing dichotomy between what is happening in Iraq, and what the public thinks is happening. The Coalition and al Qaeda are fighting two different wars. While General Petraeus strangles the insurgent hydra head-by-head, al Qaeda's message of slaughter and despair saps the American public of its will.

The political impact of al Qaeda's media war is all-too-obvious. Not only has the administration lost control of Congress - it has increasingly lost control of its own party.

A congressionally-imposed defeat in Iraq may be averted by a swing in the polls, or more precisely, a swing in the GRPs that move the polls. Given the military's long standing Public Affairs policy of media neutrality, the administration and the Generals will have to earn the GRPs in a hostile media environment. This is difficult, but not impossible, given the substantial American center - Citizens who would prefer victory if given reason to hope.

Alternately, Congress could defy the polls. Al Qaeda is running its war on smoke and mirrors - or, more accurately, on bytes of sound and sight. Congress could act on General Petraeus' reports from the ground, rather than broadcasts generated by insurgents. This requires a simple commitment - one foreign to many in the elective branch: Leadership.

Americas Majority Foundation board member J.D. Johannes is a former Marine, television news producer, and media consultant. He recently returned from his third trip to Iraq filming a follow-up to his 2005 documentary Outside The Wire available at http://www.outsidethewire.com.


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81 Comments

There is no intellectual leadership
The President has access to the media but he is inarticulate and can’t defend his policies. He has intellectually surrendered on every issue except a few where he can only state his position but not explain it.

It is true that the MSM is biased against the troops. (Remember the hysteria about Abu Graib?) And the MSM wants us to lose. Remember that Americans may be against the war but they are against surrender even more. The Democratic Congress has lower ratings in the polls than the President!

The American people are not sympathetic to the goals of the war. Most hawks that I know aren’t interested in nations-building; they have complete contempt for the people we are trying to help. If Bush had slapped-in another dictator in 2003 and brought stability, the war would have been considered a success.

Thinly Veiled Racism
True. We've all heard the mantra. "Those people" are not ready for democracy, with the implicit subtext of "why should we discomfit ourselves on behalf of the wogs?"

In a little while, we will see the usual suspects heap their usual imbecilic bile and venom on Johannes thoughtful analysis. In one sense, I will not be sorry to see them get what they so justly deserve. I just hope I and the ones I care for don't get caught up in the whirlwind.

Same Old Story
While I agree with the author, there really is nothing new here. Al Qaeda is using exactly the same strategy that North Vietnam used against the U.S. and South Vietnam forty years ago.

It is not important for our enemy to achieve any military objectives, merely to inflict casualties on American personnel and allow Western media free access to cover the conflict. At the same time, they engage in operations designed to destablize and delegitimize the government of the country, and intimidate the people through violence.

Just as in Vietnam, we have won every battle in Iraq. But Al Qaeda understands, as the Vietnamese communists did, that this conflict will be won on the television airwaves, and the floor of Congress.

Agree
Agree with the post and with gahrie. The media coverage is about the only way that Iraq is like Vietnam. It is a shame that our enemies know us better than our government.

Also agree strongly with Jason Pappas: The Bush Administration should have learned--from the Clinton Admin., if not from FDR and Reagan--that communication his message is the most important job of the President. This administration has been abysmal in communicating its message. Not just on Iraq, but on just about every issue.

Granted that the media is, in my opinion, shockingly and openly biased to the left (not just in editorials, but in opinion pieces masquerading as news stories)--the administration has or should have the tools to get its message out and to stick to that message. This Administration does neither.

WW2
The difference is clear is you look at the media attitude in WW2 and the attitude today. The MSM today wants, even relishes defeat. They could care less about our troops or the consequences as long as they bring on defeat.

I have to say, I do not understand the mindset. While one can argue that in Vietnam the loss did not bring on further reprocussions this cannot be said now. The MSM ignores the fact that these fanatics will not stop and Americans will die.

If we get hit again they will blame Bush and blame Israel while totally ignoring the real culprits. They cannot phathom that these people will do anything to destroy us and the hatred is not rational, just like MSM thought.

They wash the blood off their hands in a air of moral indignation. My lack of respect for the MSM knows no bounds for they are costing us victory and lives to further their own twisted agenda.

Contempt
The contempt from the right is not racial in nature. The contempt arises from the point that it is pointless to help people who will not step up to the plate.

I am all for helping anyone get a foot up. I am not willing to support ad infinitum those who refuse to step up to the plate.

It is not racist.

Thank you, dbt
That's exactly right.

not quite it
the MSM was in full cheerleader mode when Clinton went to war. Ignoring all problems, trumpeting anything that could be characterized as progress.

It's not defeat that they desire, it's defeat of Republican's/conservatives, so that their guys can come back to power.

They fully believe that their guys are so intellectually and morally superior, that any damage done in the process of bringing them back to power will quickly be repaired.

In their eyes, the damage being done to the country is so inconsequential compared to the good that they will be able to do, once back in power, that it isn't even worth talking about.

Please explain
"The MSM today wants, even relishes defeat. They could care less about our troops or the consequences as long as they bring on defeat."

I just don't see how you can say that. If you watch network television or read any newspaper, they have pretty much three kinds of stories on the war.

First, we get official government sources.

Second, we get eyewitness accounts from reporters in country.

Third, we get stories on how popular or unpopular our commitment in Iraq has become-- not only among the public but in Congress.

These are all three legitimate news stories. Are you saying there should be a fourth category-- stories specifically pumping up what a great job our boys are doing over there, and how well the war is going? Because if so, that would be propaganda.

Neither the success or failure of our efforts to quell the fighting nor the progress or lack thereof of the Iraqi government to make any headway should be reported with an ideological thumb on the scale. We need just accurate reports of events good or bad-- so we can see what is actually going on.

If you take an honest look at what's going out on the media, it is pretty much equally official spokesmen who always tell us how great everything is, and other witnesses who often have a different view. Neither voice should, IMO, be squelched.

A good article and accurate
But, I think, the polls are always going to lag behind the action. If July sees fewer americans killed and fewer iraqis and a reduction in terrorist style violence, you will see the polls reflect the action on the ground.

While it is unlikely the MSM will ever "cheerlead" the efforts in iraq, they are reporting the action and the reduction in in Iraqi deaths and the other progress being made. I think this too will show up in the polls.

Aided and abetted by Marines, no less
"SAN DIEGO (AP) - The government's case against a Marine accused of fatally shooting Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha lacks sufficient evidence to go to a court-martial and should be dropped, a hearing officer determined.

The murder charges were brought against Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt for killing three Iraqi brothers in November 2005.

The hearing officer, Lt. Col. Paul Ware, wrote in a report released by the defense Tuesday that those charges were based on unreliable witness accounts, insupportable forensic evidence and questionable legal theories. He also wrote that the case could have dangerous consequences on the battlefield, where soldiers might hesitate during critical moments when facing an enemy"

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8QACP0G1&show_article=1

The damage has already been done to the Marines (by the Marine lawyers(?)).
What ever happened to Esprit de Corps and Semper Fi?

Will the MSM make a big story that the Marines did nothing wrong?

Couldn't disagree more!
Your own slide-rule facts is debunking your conclusion. The more Al Qaeda's message is reported, wether car-bombings or the daily death count from Iraq, the more it becomes diluted. The TV might have lost us the Vietnam War, but the Internet, and its endless analysis of every story over the wire, is slowly but surely destroying Al Qaeda's Media intimdation strategy. Its a new kind of war, Mr Cronkite, and we're winning.

Let your wimpy Senators know
The anti-amnesty message rang loud and clear in Congress. Imagine if the same number of people did that in support of the President's efforts in Iraq?

A poor strategy, poorly expressed
Hi Jason. A couple of comments follow that I hope you don't think are too inflammatory.

1. "The President has access to the media but he is inarticulate and can’t defend his policies."

The President has unlimited access to the tube-- and uses it. He has as much time as he wants to explain the rationale behind policies HE HIMSELF HAS PUT INTO PLACE. If with all that time to explain himself he can't make a decent case for his own policies... can it be that there are basic faults in them?

2. "It is true that the MSM is biased against the troops. (Remember the hysteria about Abu Graib?)

You don't think it's newsworthy that the champions of justice and fairness torture their detainees? This is something I really don't think a free society should be sweeping under the rug, pretending it doesn't happen.

And in any event, don't you recall the NYT gave the military four months to voluntarily release the findings in the Taguba Report, telling them they would hold off until the official version came out? You can't ask for more than that.

The Pentagon was silent. So I think the American people, who after all vote for these jerks who direct our wars, have a right to know these things.

3. "And the MSM wants us to lose."

They do give some of their floor time to people who think we've gotten ourselves into a game that isn't winnable. But admitting it can't be won and wanting us to lose are two very different things.

And in any case, all the pundits combined don't get the total air time the President gets. Is that not so?

4. Now let me ask what I think is an important question. You say "Most hawks that I know aren’t interested in nations-building; they have complete contempt for the people we are trying to help."

What Al Qaeda is offering people is something to believe in. It can only be countered effectively by something else to believe in. Is that not so?

Now when you go into a place with a functioning economy and knock it flat-- then for a period of years do everything you can to prevent the economy from putting itself back together... does that look like a philosophy the people can believe in? What exactly do you think constitutes "winning"?

Is it just exercising lethal power over millions of unwilling subjects? If so, it is (a) not American, and (b) not feasible. We would have to stay there forever, killing everyone who disagreed with us until the end of time.

I'm afraid there is no option but to try to win hearts and minds. Think about it, and get back to me if you think pure violence is sufficient to win them over. Just to "slap in another dictator" would be to hand Al Qaeda the victory.

Then can we go home?
I'm having trouble following the logic in this thread. Can anyone tell me how Al Qaeda is getting its message out to the American public? Their words are never broadcast for our consumption. We really have no idea what they might be up to, or what they stand for. Al-Zawahiri's last speech is a good example. Does anyone know anything he said?

As for their impact on the Iraqi people, everyone hates them. Iraqis are unanimous about few things, except that the foreign fighters don't care about the welfare of Iraq, and so should leave. That includes Al Qaeda.

The one thing they are successful in is fanning the flames. Whenever they commit fresh atrocities they inspire the hotheads on every side to start shooting at each other. So in fact they do play one strategy very effectively. They can continue the killing indefinitely, just by staying in the game.

The other thing is, there aren't very many of them. So our forces, combined with the Sunni tribes, should be able to make short work of them.

Al Qaeda wants us to leave and so do you.
You and most in the MSM want the US to do what our self declared enemy wants us to do.

Mexico wants us to let all Mexican in the USA.

Russia wants us to shut down our missile defense.

DPRK wants us out of ROK.

So we should do what our enemies want us to do?

No Subject
>"Can anyone tell me how Al Qaeda is getting its message out to the American public?"

Video, internet, AP reporters embedded with them in Iraq, etc. They also have this way of blowing up innocent people that seems to make the nightly news far more often than the Coalition efforts to rebuild Iraq ever do.

>"Their words are never broadcast for our consumption. We really have no idea what they might be up to, or what they stand for. Al-Zawahiri's last speech is a good example. Does anyone know anything he said?"

This is so monumentally ignorant. Are you actually saying you have never read at least a transcript of a OBL or al-Zawahri rant? His latest was to call for a jihad against Pakistan for killing that cleric at the Red Mosque.

Really Roy, how obtuse are you? A simple reading of their speeches would have told you that al-Zawahri and Zarqawi(sp?) were activitly trying to incite a civil war, that has not materialized by the way, by killing off Shi'ites and bombing their holy places. It would have also informed you that they are attempting to inflict high casualties in order to get the Democrats, explicity cited, to turn on Bush. They absolutely know that the useful idiots in the Democrat party and the anti-war leftists will do the hard work for them.

Knowing this, which they must, makes me wonder why they still side with such extremists.

The rest of post is as limited in scope as usual.

You sort of miss the point, Roy....
Al Qaeda's audience isn't the Iraqi people or even the Islamic world. It is the American Left. It's message is simple. They will continue to commit mass murder until they gain control of the government. By committing their atrocities, the Islamofacists know that the American Left will do exactly what it is doing, demand the withdrawal of American troops from the "swamp" of Iraq. They don't really give a damn whether they are supported by the Iraqi people,or not. They know that the American Left doesn't have the stomach to stay in Iraq -- at least under a Republican administration -- and will eventually elect a Congress that will force us to leave. Thus, just as the Vietnamese communists did, they will beat the American military even though they never won an outright battle. Once Americans are gone, they can take over the government though the terror and intimidation techniques they're so good at, and achieve their goal of establishing a reactionary Islamic government with no fear of interference from the U.S. or the West.

Rejecting good advice
Al Qaeda and I want us out of Iraq for different reasons. I want us out because it's bankrupting the country-- both morally and financially.

Come to think of it, I don't know of anyone other than folks like you who want us in. Certainly the Iraqis don't. Just the Kurds.

Missile defense? Nuclear disarmament was coming along just fine until Bush rekindled the arms race. Russia is reluctantly going along with the plan. It's a giant setback. But it does award billions to the people who make nukes.

I'm not sure what the DPRK wants. They don't talk with anyone. But the US Army wants out of Korea. And, of course, the Koreans want us out.

But go ahead, let's stay in Iraq another ten years. Let's see what happens.

Siding with extremists?
"Video, internet, AP reporters embedded with them in Iraq, etc."

From all the things you've been claiming in recent months, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that you think we have reporters embedded with Al Qaeda. But you should be aware that the average American doesn't spend a lot of time on Al Qaeda web sites. One thing, we don't speak a lot of Arabic. Another thing, we want news, most of us just turn on the tube.

"Are you actually saying you have never read at least a transcript of a OBL or al-Zawahri rant?"

Transcripts are really hard to find. Yes, on the evening news they'll show a glimpse of Zawahiri and tell us he made another speech today. But you never find out what it was that he said.

Do you think every American goes to the trouble of trying to dig up English transcripts? I don't. No one has any idea what those people are thinking other than what government spokespersons tell us they're thinking.

You can make a much better case for the obvious fact: that television networks do little more than give us the government's view of the war. They add commentators for balance.

And it is legitimate news when someone challenges the government version. Particularly, as we've seen a lot of lately, when they're Republican Congressmen, afraid of losing their seats in 2008.

I can't recall the last time when I saw a prominent Democrat speak out against the war. Oh wait, yes I can. It was after the 2005 elections. But this year, nothing on the nightly news.

"A simple reading of their speeches would have told you that al-Zawahri and Zarqawi(sp?) were activitly trying to incite a civil war, that has not materialized by the way, by killing off Shi'ites and bombing their holy places."

Well yes, that has been their plan all along. But it has been very successful. The first big hit that stirred things up was Hakim's assassination. Then there was the hit on the UN, which sent them scrambling. But it was really the bombing of the mosque in Samarra that set off the Iraqi civil war.

Which has been raging ever since. Where did you hear they weren't having one?

I'll agree the US will become hugely more popular there if we manage to crush AQ in Iraq. Personally, I don't think we can do it. But let's see. Obviously we're going to be there a while longer.

Spear carriers for Al Qaeda
This is about the most utterly bizarre theory I've ever heard. AQ is going to take over the USG by using the left as their stalking horse?

You should be aware that the American left are not big fans of AQ. Maybe you could read some of the things people actually say about them. Which of course you've never done.

Also the left can't even take over the Democratic Party. At crunch time, the Dems always choose a centrist candidate. The left is only around 30% of the American public. And like black voters, we get taken for granted. There is no need for the Democrats to cater to us, as we don't have any viable choices but to vote for them.

That 70 percent of Americans who want us out of Iraq? That's not the left, that's the center.

AQ thrives on chaos. And what the US has created in Iraq is chaos. It's our military that has prepared the ground for them to thrive. Hopefully, once we leave the Iraqis can put their country back together. And when order returns, AQ will be no more there. They enjoy zero popularity among Iraqis. That's the only thing all Iraqis agree on.

It will be just as it was before we got there. You'll recall there was no Al Qaeda in Saddam's Iraq. He'd have hung them all on meat hooks.

Al Qaeda's Message, and Getting It Out
"I'm having trouble following the logic in this thread. Can anyone tell me how Al Qaeda is getting its message out to the American public?" -Roy Bean

I think that the message Al Qaeda sends by stymieing US efforts to bring security is that our work there is futile, and that the effort will either be fruitless or will take too much time and treasure to be worth the effort.

"I want us out because it's bankrupting the country-- both morally and financially." -Roy Bean

Having read many of your points concerning the Iraq War, I think that you are among the principled 25% of Americans that have remained morally opposed to the War in Iraq since the beginning; you're not fickle or leading an unexamined life.

But, my guess is that Al Qaeda's wants to promote the idea that staying in Iraq will bankrupt the country both morally and financially. They want more Americans to come around to your way of thinking.

In my view, it's exactly the right message to influence policy here, and as others have noted, it's very similar to the messages that have driven failed US policies in the past.

The only question is whether or not it's an accurate view. I certainly hope that it's not. And, I'm cautiously optimistic now that the surge seems to be meeting with some real success. It's a welcome change from the terrible setbacks of 2006. Unfortunately, this puts Al Qaeda into a position where they will need *more* car bombs and *more* dead Iraqi children to promote the idea beyond September.
I pray that our soldiers able to stop them.

"people cried and begged us to stay"
"When the Marines of Coldsteel 2 left Ramadi two weeks ago, people cried and begged us to stay. I felt as though we had made a difference. When I hear people saying that we are losing this war, or that we should never have gone in in the first place, I get disgusted. As one of the most powerful nations in the world, we are obligated to act and not stand idle while people are
oppressed. Democracy is not for everyone, all cultures are different. But all human beings have the right to live without fear. The truth is that the insurgency, or what is left of it, was a monster created by the media and some intel-types in the military who were seeking to label our enemy in order to make it easier to define a mission. Our enemy today is as
intricate as ever, they are mostly disjointed thugs and teenagers who, just like any adolescent boy, are seeking for ways to prove their manliness. Neighboring countries fund and encourage the insurgent movement to keep the area unstable, because it is in their best interest to keep the United States occupied."

http://swacgirl.blogspot.com/2007/07/real-iraq-from-another-marine-who-has.html

Go ask a Marine or soldier what they think about staying in Iraq.

Libya, DPRK, Iran.... all countries pursuing nuclear weapons
Disarmament was going just great!

If Israel hadn't destroyed Iraq's reactor, they would have nuclear weapons.

Yes
I accept your analysis.

Dark days of 1942
In 1942, especially in the Pacific we were out gunned and out manned. We lost the Phillipines and East Asia. Did the media complain? Did the media tell of the atrocities of our troops? Did the media complain how poorly we treated the Japanese despite the Battan Death March? Did they talk of "redeployement"? Did they talk of defeat and how we cannot win?

No, they did not. Sure, times were grim but the talk was of victory and how we can support the troops.

Now the NY Times talks of "cannot win" and atrocities commited by US troops despite being cleared in court (Haditha). They bellyache about the poor terrorist at Gitmo and lawyers line up to defend them agains prosecution. The MSM bitches about how if not for Bush the world would love us and how 9-11 was our fault.

Tell me the MSM is on our side Roy. Tell me how they defend freedom and what is right. Seen the staged Hezbollah photo ops? See how Israel is villified in the MSM why the Islamo-***** are portrayed as poor innocents. Watched Mickey Martyr lately?

The MSM is filled with ideology trapped in the defeatest mindset of Vietnam and guess what? Vietnam is long over.

Unlike the Vietnamese, the Islamic ***** are not going to give up. Solution? Not sure but sitting around complaining about how we should capitulate is not, in my thought, optional.

I am not for squelching anyone. One complaint is the MSM claims objectivity whilst calling for radio to be censored in the name of fairness. The joke is talk radio makes no pretense of being unbiased unlike the lying MSM who claims they only tell the news.

The last straw for me is having news reader tell me that they exist to "help me make sense of the world".

Read me the news and let me make my own decisions thank you very much. I do not need some idiot journalism major telling me how to interpret the news.

losing and winning
They knew they couldn't win by fighting, so they made the correct analysis that the US is already so decadent that it has lost the stomach to really fight, so kill enough and they go away. That has been the US history pretty much since the WW11, so they make use of what they have to work with. They know about propaganda and are good at it, especially when they know they have the fifth column in the west on their side, the liberals. Other than that all they have to do is to force some kids, women, retards, etc. to be suicide bombers and you've got it made. I just hope western liberals won't cry too much when they see the slaughter after US forces quit; that's probably when the real killing will start, kinda like when they didn't finish off Sadam the first time, and he took revenge on shiites and kurds.

Transcripts are really hard to find
How can you say Transcripts are really hard to find? Fox news has them printed every time one of these tapes are seen, all you have to is click on the link normally on the front page of their web sight. I have even seen them on the Washington Post.

Also you say that TV just gives you the government view of the war? UMM I only seem to see bad things on the big three and CNN so are you saying that the government wants us to think it’s all bad there? I have yet to see a positive news story on any of the TV news except for Fox. Why would they show only the bad for a war they want to keep going? Seems to me that if this was true we would see a lot more about the good things that happen.

So I guess Hillary Clinton is not a prominent Democrat, because she was just specking out about pulling troops out the other day. Also there was the little thing about the war appropriations bill when they wanted a firm pullout date set for troop withdrawal. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe telling an enemy that we will only fight until a given date is not speaking out against a war. Umm; I wonder what Hitler would of done if we told him we where only going to fight until 31 December 1945 and then we would quit and go home? No this is not WWII, but even if you plan to pullout you never let your enemy know the time table.

Oh as for the embedded reporters, I believe they have shone a few tapes taken directly by Arab news agencies. (AL Gezra?) Maybe these where embedded or maybe they where invited for the “Show”, but Al Qaeda does have direct feed into the news when ever they seem to want it.

I believe removing Saddam was the right thing to do. I believe the fighting in Iraq to establish a free country was the right thing to do. I also believe that mistakes where made by all parties in this matter. This can be attributed to misinformation, mismanagement and/or misunderstandings, but I don’t think anyone planed it to end up the way it has. The issue is that we are where we are and backing down is not an option.

The issue is that we are fighting a new kind of war now. We are getting confused by focusing on Iraq. Iraq IS NOT the war, it is a battle. The war is against a force that has no country, borders or even strong ties to area on the map. (Outside of religious sites). This war is also NO against the Muslims, they are being bombed and destroyed more then we are. This war is against a fanatic idea that has hijacked a religion and used it for its own goal. The leaders of this group don’t truly believe in anything except power and domination. Just as the Europeans used Christianity to justify the Crusades these people are using Muslims and their beliefs to fuel their version of the Crusades. The sooner that people understand this, the sooner we can try to figure out how to fight and win this new war.

Only one difference
Back then it was the Japanese who started it. We only went over to finish it.

This time, in Iraq, we started it.

The big difference lies in who is the bad guy.

No one was asking for our help
"As one of the most powerful nations in the world, we are obligated to act and not stand idle while people are
oppressed."

But we've only made things worse. Two million people have fled the country. Another two million are internally displaced. There have been something like a million deaths-- more since we've been there than during the entire 25 years of Saddam's rule.

"Democracy is not for everyone, all cultures are different."

We now know that American rule, where we dictate the terms of their new "democracy" by writing their Constitution for them, is not for them. Knowing that, our job is done.

"The truth is that the insurgency, or what is left of it, was a monster created by the media and some intel-types in the military who were seeking to label our enemy in order to make it easier to define a mission."

Totally false. The generals themselves have commented candidly that the insurgency started the day after the Iraqi armed forces were disbanded. It was a dumb move, and an insurgency had to be expected after such a blunder.

The insurgency is buried under layers of other problems, like the civil war and the Al Qaeda-led destabilization. The chaos our actions have brought about is both deep and complex.

"Go ask a Marine or soldier what they think about staying in Iraq."

Wars are not supposed to be engaged in for their convenience. It may well be that they like to break things and kill people. But it's asocial behavior, and should not be condoned.

A war against Islam
I'm a little confused by this:

"Iraq IS NOT the war, it is a battle. The war is against a force that has no country, borders or even strong ties to area on the map. (Outside of religious sites). This war is also NO against the Muslims, they are being bombed and destroyed more then we are."

But Al Qaeda comprises a vanishingly small number of Muslims, maybe one tenth of a percent at best. Do you mean we have the right to go rampaging through the nations of the Middle East, destabilizing governments and economies right and left, in the hopes that some few of the hundreds of thousands of people being killed happen to belong to Al Qaeda?

Within the US population there is also a relative handful of sociopaths-- serial killers and the like. Would the proper approach then be to start dropping bombs on American cities?

Certainly you can understand that an approach that is wholly negligent of human life leads the typical Muslim to understand that this is in fact a war against Islam.

And by continuing such a war, we recruit more angry individuals to the Al Qaeda side. The more we kill people, the more enemies we have.

Finally, "The leaders of this group don’t truly believe in anything except power and domination."

This is what I'm getting at. Thanks, BTW, for telling me Fox has their transcripts. I'm not a Fox viewer. If you've read their speeches you understand that the motivation behind Al Qaeda is to get the US out of the Middle East.

And while their methods are barbaric, the sentiment is an understandable one. That being the case, you are saying the correct move would be to stay, causing more and more to be recruited to the cause. That sounds to me like our motives are power and domination.

So much for helping your neighbor.
And of course you believe the people in Darfur should take care of themselves.

Darfur
Those same liberals are crying for the US military to stop the killing in Darfur.

The Left Will Never Admit They Were Wrong....
Dietmar, Leftists never concede they are wrong. Once we leave Iraq and the real killing starts, they will -- as Roy is foreshadowing --blame the U.S. military for "creating the chaos" in which the Islamofacists thrive. We saw it in Vietnam. We saw it in Laos. We will see it in Iraq. No matter what, the killing never would have happened had it not been for the evil U.S. We are the root of all the world's troubles, according to the Left. If the U.S. just disappeared, the lambs would lie down with the lions and world peace would reign forever and a day.

Not according to Japanese
We were interfering with their conquest of Asia by trying to deny them access to resources.

It was the fault of the USA that Japan attacked.

If the US disappeared there would be no one to stop the socialists.

Let God sort them out
As you know, I think it was cowardly and callous of the US to ignore the genocide in Bosnia for four years before lifting a finger-- and for ignoring Rwanda totally, even when it was all over the headlines. And I feel the same way about Darfur today.

The plain fact is, Sudan is in the Chinese sphere of influence. We don't criticise them. And Iraq is in the American sphere. The Chinese don't criticise us.

All this public spirited esprit about helping one's neighbor, though, makes me want to gag. Aren't you among the throng here telling us how primitive and violent the Iraqis are? And what an evil religion they follow? And how they hate our freedoms? Doesn't this make you sound a bit hypocritical when you go on about our pure intentions, and how we're just trying to be helpful? Then in the next breath you tell us we should just forget their humanity, and go in and kill everybody.

So. Democracy or death. Good sound bite.

Yep!
>"From all the things you've been claiming in recent months, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that you think we have reporters embedded with Al Qaeda."

Then please take a gander at this from CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/10/19/iraq.sniper.video/index.html

That is a description of the video but CNN actually aired it on their website before people got upset. Here is what the link on CNN looked like:

http://hotair.com/archives/2006/10/19/cnn-posts-video-of-jihadi-sniper-shooting-american-soldier/

Then do a little query on "Jamil Hussein". This was the APs source for many an atrocity that either did not happen or was wildly exaggerated. When Cpt. Hussein was actually looked for he was no where to be found and no record exists of his actual existance.

Then do a little query for Bilal Hussein. He did great work for the AP while embedded with terrorists. Take a look at his stunning photos of the execution of Salvatore Santoro. He was arrested in the company of a AQ leader.

I guess you shouldn't be surprised since you know me for a person who does his homework. I am not surprised that you know nothing of this considering the sources of news you trust.

>"Transcripts are really hard to find. Yes, on the evening news they'll show a glimpse of Zawahiri and tell us he made another speech today. But you never find out what it was that he said."

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/01/30/zawahiri.transcript/index.html

Wow. That WAS really hard to find. This site, CNN.com, is pretty obscure but I was able to find it. I used another obscure site called "google", pretty weird name I know, to find other translations:

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/184817.php - This one is pretty good since it is a perfect imitation of Democrat talking points.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060905-7.html - A good one that has tons of links to other sites that have numerous translations. Apparently the Bush administration is better at web-surfing than you.

And of course I believe memri.org has the full collection of terrorist rants. Here is a sample:

http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP95005

>"Do you think every American goes to the trouble of trying to dig up English transcripts?"

A good many do.

>"I don't."

That is why you are so ill-informed, if not downright ignorant, of the alignment of the terrorist's message with the Democrat talking points.

It is no wonder that you buy into the idea that these lunatics will leave us alone if we leave Iraq. You have absolutely no idea what they are saying.

It is also of little wonder that these messages are not broadcast loudly by the MSM. Considering their liberal slant why would they air them? They are trying to portray Bush as seeing terrorists that are not there. If the public were exposed to these videos and recordings they would understand the nature of the problem lies not in Bush but within Islamofascist ideology.

>"No one has any idea what those people are thinking other than what government spokespersons tell us they're thinking."

That is your fault, not the government's. And the government spokeperson's are telling you like it is. Your distrust is one thing, your lack of intellectual curiousity is quite another.

>"You can make a much better case for the obvious fact: that television networks do little more than give us the government's view of the war."

I'm sorry. I had to wipe the tears of laughter out of eyes after reading this. Are you actually saying that the MSM is, at this moment, parroting the views of the White House on Iraq?

>"I can't recall the last time when I saw a prominent Democrat speak out against the war. Oh wait, yes I can. It was after the 2005 elections. But this year, nothing on the nightly news."

More like 2003 and every day after. How about "the war is lost" by Harry Reid? How about Murtha? Pelosi? Biden? You truly must be living in the same cave system as OBL except without the satellite hook-up.

>"Well yes, that has been their plan all along. But it has been very successful. The first big hit that stirred things up was Hakim's assassination. Then there was the hit on the UN, which sent them scrambling. But it was really the bombing of the mosque in Samarra that set off the Iraqi civil war."

What civil war? You seem to have a very loose definition of it. The reactions to Samarra and Hakim's assassination were moderated by the various factions very well. There is no large scale unrest according to the people actually on the ground.

But hey, just keep repeating it. It might come true. Especially if we pull out like you wish.

>"I'll agree the US will become hugely more popular there if we manage to crush AQ in Iraq. Personally, I don't think we can do it. But let's see. Obviously we're going to be there a while longer."

Not if the Democrats have anything to say about it. Like I said, they are invested in defeat and will bring one about if one is not forthcoming.

How do you know?
>"This is what I'm getting at. Thanks, BTW, for telling me Fox has their transcripts. I'm not a Fox viewer. If you've read their speeches you understand that the motivation behind Al Qaeda is to get the US out of the Middle East."

For someone who is quite proud of never having actually read the words of a jihadist or AQ leader, how do you know that this is their motivation.

If you had read the transcripts and other ramblings they post then you would know that nothing short of world domination is their goal.

Will they succeed? I truly don't think so. But that does not mean they won't try and in trying they will take a great many lives with them.

>"Within the US population there is also a relative handful of sociopaths-- serial killers and the like. Would the proper approach then be to start dropping bombs on American cities?"

How utterly stupid Roy. Are the serial killers formed into bands of people that have the moral support of high ranking members of a religion and who have the material/financial support of wealthy, despotic states?

Yeah, what a comparison. You seem to have lost all recourse to logic and proportion.

Rooting for defeat
Thanks for doing a monumental amopunt of homework for me. I hadn't really taken the time to go into it at this depth.

Your first ref says "The graphic video of 10 sniper attacks was obtained by CNN -- through intermediaries -- from the Islamic Army of Iraq." Now correct me if I'm wrong, that's not quite the same as having reporters "embedded" within Al Qaeda. Is it?

Next, the scandal of Jamil Hussein, which appears to be a typical piece of right wing flapdoodle. An Iraqi cop described to an AP source an attack in Hurriyah where four mosques got bombed. It later turned out that the MNF could only confirm that one got bombed.

http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7540&Itemid=21

Desks that get reports from only one source have a decision to make: whether to report it then, or to get independent confirmation before running the story. In the fog of war, differing accounts of murky events can change. Am I surprised the original story needed correction? No.

Am I appalled? No. The AP did print a correction, did they not?

Re the mass of material you've provided debunking my supposed claim that we have no record of the content of any Al Qaeda speeches, thank you. But I never contended anything like that. Instead, this is what I said:

"Can anyone tell me how Al Qaeda is getting its message out to the American public? Their words are never broadcast for our consumption. We really have no idea what they might be up to, or what they stand for. Al-Zawahiri's last speech is a good example. Does anyone know anything he said?"

In fact the dreaded MSM does not make it a point to ever tell us what Zawahiri is saying currently. It may be that his speeches are broadcast on FoxNews, but I don't follow that station, and can't even get it on my set.

What I'm saying is that the Big 3 broadcast networks don't tell us a word of what he's saying. Although for the past two years they have interrupted regularly scheduled program an average of an hour each week, just to give us the President's press conferences... which amount to being an hour long bully pulpit for the guy. How's that for access?

So I will have to disagree that they never present the government's side of the story. The gov has overwhelming access to our ears, if you watch CBS, NBC and ABC. In fact the shows are not even press conferences. The questions are put through a delay, and anything the Prez doesn't want to address is omitted. 95% of the running time is just his nonstop harangue on the events of the day.

One thing I enjoyed about today's press conference. He repeated the sound bite of the week, that Al Qaeda has rebuilt now, so they are as strong as they were back in 2001.

But shouldn't we recall that in 2001, estimates of AQ's strength were all in the neighborhood of 8-15,000 members? Does he want us to believe that's the total number of folks we're fighting against now? That's nothing.

I know you have the free time to look this one up. Can you straighten me out on this troubling discrepancy too?

Al Qaida's message
Al Qaida wants to send the message that (a) Iraq is very unstable and (b) the war is costing the U.S. a lot.

The media begin every newscast with "A bomb went off in _____today and ______ Iraqis were killed" and end every newscast with "___ U.S. Soldiers were killed in _______ today. The U.S. has lost _________ soldiers killed since the war began in 2003." That is Al Qaida's message and that is what media reports.

I've yet to see a headline that said "Big U.S. and Iraqi Army offensive in Baquba kills scores of Al Qaida."

If we stay in Iraq long enought to win, we will know we have won when the media stops reporting about Iraq.

Your socialism stops at the border?
You keep crying about how awful is the US because it doesn't do enough to redistribute income to help all our poor neighbors.

Your socialism stops at the border?

What about Germany?
Germany never attacked us. Why the distinction?

Any way you cut it we are there and to leave now would be a disaster. Apparently the American left feels political gain offers more to them than any victory would?

Are we stopping them?
Or are we becoming them?

Last best hope
That's the USA.

Al Qaeda is to get the US out of the Middle East.
That is only part of their goal. They want us dead. They do not want any of our ideas to be seen or presented in any way to the Middle East, Asia or even Europe. That includes our political ideas, our economic ideas and even are products. Basicaly, they want us wiped from their minds and view. The only way I know of doing this is to kill us all, or subvert us under their rule.

As for Iraq being a battle. I mean just what I said. As long as we keep fighting this like any other war, we have very little chance of winning. Al Qaeda crosses national borders without hindrance; they exist outside of normal national boarders. But they also have the support; directly or indirectly, of some nations. That is my point, we must figure out a new way of fighting them without the direct attacks on all the nations of the Middle East. I wish I could tell you how to do this, but I can’t. It would involve having a force that had the authority to cross international borders. This would also require the cooperation of all the nations, or the ability to force them in the case of supporters. Not a hopeful idea. The other way would be to do it the way the MOSAD did with the ***** during the 60’ and 70’s. Also an idea with problems.

The distinction
"Germany never attacked us. Why the distinction?"

My comment went to who started it. Germany rolled across the Polish border in 1939. And the United States rolled across the Iraqi border in 2003.

The Iraqis didn't roll across our border. And you can be assured that if they had, I would be just as dead set against the Iraq invasion as I am today against the American invasion.

Here's another example:

"On December 20, 1989 US president George Bush launched " Operation Just Cause ", and 27,000 US troops invaded Panamá. They quickly overcame the minimal organized resistance offered by the PDF. Bombers, helicopter gunships and even untested stealth aircraft were used against an enemy with no air defences, and over four hundred explosions were recorded in the first fourteen hours. The poor Panamá City barrio of El Chorillo was heavily bombed and burned to the ground, leaving some 15,000 homeless."

And this:

"Estimates of the number of Panamanians killed during the invasion vary enormously - from several hundred to as many as 7000 - largely because little care was taken in counting the dead, and many were quickly buried in mass graves."

http://www.travelotica.com/travelguide/104/panama/noriega-and-the-us-invasion-19210.htm

The most accurate estimates are between 2,000 and 4,000 civilian deaths-- or about the same number the Al Qaeda terrorists kiled on 9/11. But the exact number is not easily established because some of the mass graves are on US military bases, and cannot be exhumed.

Terrorist acts are crimes against humanity, no matter who commits them.

The chances of a return to the Caliphate
"For someone who is quite proud of never having actually read the words of a jihadist or AQ leader, how do you know that this is their motivation."

Don't put false words in my mouth. I never said anything like that. Go back and read what I read.

"If you had read the transcripts and other ramblings they post then you would know that nothing short of world domination is their goal."

Yes, from time to time someone will rant about restoring the Caliphate. But this is just a pipe dream. They have no operational capability to even light a pipe bomb within the United States. The various AQ franchises are all very marginal groups. To believe they have the capability to take over the world is ludicrous.

It's a marginal group. Even if you believe the President, who this week is trying to convince the crowd they have regrouped and are now as strong as they were on 9/11, that means they would only have 10-15,000 cadre. Right?

In fact they now have many times that. But not enough to take over much more real estate than Waziristan.

License to kill
So what are the chances AQ is likely to take over the world? They haven't been able to set off so much as a pipe bomb in this country for the past six years. And the only real estate they control on earth? Waziristan. Give me a break.

This was the tiniest of marginal groups before we started pumping them up. In 2001 best estimates of their strength were around 10-15,000 men, worldwide. Since then we've done our best to brutalize and demonize the Islamic world in spectacular fashion, hoping to increase their number. And to some extent, I think we've been successful. There are obviously many more AQ than that now.

I think the point of all this is to justify the amount of money we're spending on arms. After all, that's where the push is coming from.

It's like the old Drug War. They've conflated a fairly minor problem and transformed it into some huge beast, out to destroy American values. And you've bought the story.

The force you're talking about is an international assassination team, made up of Spec Fours with a license to kill at the sole discretion of their shadowy superiors. For obvious reasons, their names, methods, locations and targets must all be state secrets.

This is the very definition of terrorism. In endorsing such an evil plan, one becomes the enemy.

The plot to deceive us
"Al Qaida wants to send the message that (a) Iraq is very unstable and (b) the war is costing the U.S. a lot."

Document this assertion. Give is quotes.

The war is costing us a lot-- in money, in lives and in good will. Any fool can look this up, it's blatantly obvious.

Iraq is also very unstable. Does this seem unproven to you in any way? Am I missing any stories on how it's really a beacon of stability?

Much of the news about how Iraq is falling apart comes from our general staff. Do you mean our own generals are now in the pay of Al Qaeda? Things must be worse than I thought.

"I've yet to see a headline that said "Big U.S. and Iraqi Army offensive in Baquba kills scores of Al Qaida."

You know what? You don't even read the papers. You have no idea what you're talking about.

Nearly every paper in the US compiles a daily boxed report on Iraq, one that derives mostly from official sources. It gives the scores of how many people (all considered to be enemies of some sort) we've killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how many civilians have been blown up by terrorists.

When we blow up civilians, these events are also fathfully reported. But as the newspapers are corporately owned entities, they generally use weasel words like "alleged" civilian deaths. That's their way of appearing fair and balanced.

For the past couple of months, to be specific, we've seen any number of stories on the current push in Afghanistan, all of which describe the number of Taliban being killed by coalition forces. Your allegation is full of holes.

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