Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Posturing & Slithering Realpolitik

We mentioned Roger L. Simon's review of Norman Podhoretz' new book, The Trouble With America Is Americans Whose Brains Work Correctly, and hinted we might return to it. Here we are, but it's barely worth the effort. Still, let's at least pretend to make one:

The best part of Podhoretz’s book is a tour d’horizon of all this opposition. He has a nose for the sturm und drang of intellectual conflict, whether it be the posturing of a Sontag or a Mailer, the slithering realpolitik of a Brent Scowcroft or the preening prevarications of a Joseph C. Wilson.

Podhoretz has a nose for all that because when he turned into a crypto-fascist in the '60s he started picking fights (intellectual, of course) w/ all the people who were in his New York literary crowd. And we must mention Roger L.'s nose for alliteration. "Preening prevarication." Here's a bit more preening from Rog. See if you can spot the prevarications.

In his understandable zeal to defend Bush and his doctrine from admittedly disingenuous opponents, he overlooks an inadequacy on the part of the President and his administration that is nearly fatal. I am not referring to the strategic errors that may or may not have been made – whether there were too few troops, etc. Podhoretz makes it clear such errors were probably even worse in WWII. The “fog of war” is a cliché for a reason. Nor am I even referring to the decision to emphasize the pursuit of WMDs over the promotion of democracy as justification for the war. (Podhoretz sees this as an error, as I do, although he soft pedals it.) I am referring to the extraordinary inability of Bush and those surrounding him to understand and to respond to the paramount importance of public relations in asymmetrical war. Indeed, it can be argued that asymmetrical war is in essence about public relations. You would think, given the recent history of our time, the Tet Offensive, indeed the whole story of Vietnam, the administration would have known that, seen the inevitability that a powerful opposition would coalesce in the media and in the political classes (one that Podhoretz describes so well) and moved to head it off, to co-opt their opponents, but they did the opposite. They told us to go shopping.

"Admittedly disingenuous opponents." There is nothing as disingenuous as Dick Cheney insisting Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks, then denying he said it, then saying it again. Those strategic errors were not made in the fog of war; they were planning errors made long before the war was started. That clichéd fog of war is what happens to your plans after the war begins. And if your plans are worthless from the beginning, the fog of war has that much more of an effect on them. Or perhaps the entire administration has been in a fog from its first day in office. Has Mr. Simon ever heard the current president speak? An exhortation to "Shop 'Til You Drop" is the longest sentence you'll get out of him. And as Lyndon Johnson said when he was president, "It's hard to defend an unpopular war." Especially if that war is actually an occupation you were completely unprepared for, & everyone in the "media & the political classes" knows it. One last inanity:
He also knows that few could do what history demanded of George W. Bush. For that reason perhaps he does not emphasize Bush’s failings in World War IV.
Either that or Podhoretz is being, oh, what would you call it? How about "admittedly disingenuous?" Certainly any one who pretends that George W. Bush did what history demanded, when he has yet to do what common sense & national security are demanding, can't be taken seriously. Nor can Academy Award©-nominated screenwriter Simon. And here's a bonus, if you've ten minutes of your life you never want back. See & hear the man who decided his country was perfect, except for all those annoying people who didn't share his predjudices. Listen to a discussion of The Bush Dictrine. (Shorter Bush Doctrine: "I'm running this schoolyard, and if you look at me cross-eyed or call my Mommy a poopy-head I'll push you down & kick you. Now give me your oillunch money.")


Anonymous said...

Not to mention the fact that Roger L. misattributes "keep your enemies closer" to Sun Tzu.

--Fats Durston

M. Bouffant said...

From The Editor:
Yes, Niccolo Machiavelli, wasn't it? Although there're many references on the innertoobz that would indicate Sun Tzu, it appears that Nicky got the first publication. Plenty of Godfather attributions out there too. I suppose it's lucky for shallow Simon the screenwriter that he didn't just go for the Hollywood origin.

P. S.: Are you related to Smotes Durston?