Sunday, July 09, 2006

Are We in France Yet? Press Coverage When the Theater of Battle is the Media itself, but it's "Classified"

The Cheney administration's Second World War analogy is a bait and switch. It is designed to legitimate fighting guerilla wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NOT fighting a war on al-Quaeda, and cheerleading the guerilla wars of choice AS IF they were conventional wars, but absent any benchmarks that go along with the terms of conventional war. In the GWOT, we are told that the very field of battle itself is classified--but the administration's model of information warfare requires that the media itself is part of that classified field of battle we can't know about.


In the midst of the collision between "The New York Times is traitorous" camp and the "How does a responsible press cover a classified war" camp, I think another important aspect of what's involved in covering a "classified war" is being lost. It is probably implicit in several of Jay Rosen's comments in It's a Classified War, but I haven't seen it spelled out yet.

One of the primary reasons it is ludicrous to compare the issue of secrecy in a conventional war and a "war on terror" (beyond the fact that it begs the very question at issue, there are no comparable privacy concerns in conventional war) is that the obvious benchmarks of a conventional war are not in place.

Roosevelt could lie his ass off throughout most of the Second World War (and surely did quite frequently), but the public was still in a position to know certain facts on the ground:
1. Who controls Africa?
2. Who controls Italy?
3. Who controls France?
4. How far have Allied troops advanced? Are they to Paris yet?

We have none of these benchmarks in the Bush version of the war on terror. The administration's chronic malevolence forces a serious person to wonder, "With authorities this full of it, this militantly opposed to credibility in all its recognizable forms, how would I ever be able to tell the difference between a genuine terrorist threat and a politically convenient photo-op?"

We've had literally dozens of former administration officials go on the record in effect telling us that a substantial percentage of politically convenient warnings, were in fact militarily unmotivated photo-ops.

The Cheney administration's Second World War analogy is a bait and switch. It is designed to legitimate fighting guerilla wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NOT fighting a war on al-Quaeda, and cheerleading the guerilla wars of choice AS IF they were conventional wars, but absent any benchmarks that go along with the terms of conventional war. In the GWOT, the very field of battle itself is classified. We don't know boo that isn't politically or strategically convenient for the administration without violating laws regarding classification. Given the CYA mode in which the Bush administration is run, that includes orders for office supplies.

Where are the unclassified benchmarks?
1. Is there progress in the war against al-Quaeda that Bush has publicly declared doesn't much interest him even as it legitimates everything he does militarily?
bin Laden is still at large and the Bush administration's CIA has closed its bin Laden shop. Did they give up or move that to the Pentagon? Classified.

2. How are the guerilla wars in Afghanistan and Iraq going?
Official administration statements say everything's coming up roses, that all worthwhile and difficult things require perseverance. The US ambassador's own classified correspondence says they fear for the safety of the Iraqi employees necessary to make the US fortress we call an embassy function. The puppet government is tearing itself to pieces in a civil war. The press violated laws regarding classification in bringing us some truth. Which do you prefer?

3. How is the imaginary war on terror going that the administration wishes to talk about in the terms of conventional war, namely the second world war?

Have we take France yet in the global war on terror? Are we in Berlin yet in the global war on terror?

According to the administration's global strategy review, the US goal in the war on terror and security policy more generally is US military and strategic dominance of the world now and into the forseeable future. Such that there are no outstanding threats to US strategic supremacy now or in the forseeable future.

Described in terms taken from W.W. II, that sounds more like Axis designs to take over the world to me, than an Allied attempt to liberate it. When they talk like that and combine it with Axis contempt for international law, I get confused which side of the W.W.II analogy we are supposed to be on.

Again, are we in Paris yet in the GWOT? That's classified. The Bush administration will know when we're there. Just trust them.