A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004 :::

The Litany

A conservative looks at crazy "conservative" beliefs about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror.

Extensive research in secret archives by a lifelong conservative has revealed that a mysterious religious cult has attracted a number of writers and intellectuals who have for years identified themselves as “conservative.” Its members must subscribe to a set of factual assertions that are either not true or highly debatable and to principles that are not in any way conservative. These have been assembled into a Litany. The cult’s members must recite it every night before bed and every morning when they wake up. They quote parts of it when challenged in public, but it is here presented in full for the first time. The lifelong conservative who uncovered the text of this Litany feels that it is his duty to publish it so that the world may know.

Information on The Litany and on reproducing it can be found at the end.

Divisions of the Litany of the GWOT
I: Afghanistan and Pakistan
II: Weapons of Mass Destruction
III: The War in Iraq
IV: Torture
V: American Soldiers
VI: Spreading Democracy
VII: Heroes and Villains--of Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, L. Paul Bremer, and a Cast of Thousands
VIII: Judgment Day--So You Know Who the Good People Are
IX: Things We Just Know Are True--Whatever the Facts May Say

Part I
Afghanistan and Pakistan

AP-1. The Afghanistan war was brilliantly conceived and effortlessly executed, and is a proven model for delivering every country from oppression and transforming it into a stable democracy. You can just forget the entire rest of human experience. In a couple of weeks, we got it all down, and you need to listen to us.

AP-2.The Taliban and al-Qaeda did not adapt themselves to our new way of fighting, so of course neither organizations poses any problem for us anymore. No, wait...

AP-3. If Donald Rumsfeld told Congress in October 2002, that the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan needed to be secured, no one should be bothered that nothing much was done about it until the spring of 2004, when the British went in to clean up our mess.

AP-4. If Donald Rumsfeld told Congress in October 2002, that there were still vital security problems in Afghanistan that needed solving, it does not matter that he simultaneously diverted intelligence resources to Iraq.

AP-5. If the Defense Department planned the war on the basis of new, radical theories of precision warfare and made a big, big deal about it, no one should notice that the first group of soldiers dropped into the mountains of Afghanistan had to ride horses up sheer cliff faces on paths often only 1 meter wide. (1)

AP-6. Certain defense intellectuals make a big, big deal about the theory of “defense transformation,” which emphasizes quick, lightly armed responses. Because of intense publicity, which the intellectuals actively sought, the whole world was watching the first demonstration of their theories in practice. The planners therefore knew about 1m-wide paths up sheer cliff faces and carefully selected fighters who had been trained in mountain warfare under primitive conditions.

AP-7. O.K., so only one guy knew how to ride a horse. It was the first try. What did you expect?

AP-8. That experience has no bearing on whether inter-service and intra-service rivalries will hinder the “transformation” of the Defense Department.

AP-9. Since that time, one of the most persistent problems our troops have faced has been rockets launched from donkeys. This tactic was predicted in the Marine Corps Small Wars Manual produced in 1940, but the tactic and the manual were totally ignored in the planning for the Afghan and Iraq wars. That little oversight is something we should just forget.

AP-10. It was great that John Kerry, in the closing days of his campaign, obsessed about allegations that we let Osama bin-Laden slip through our fingers at Tora Bora. We got to get all huffy and puffy and point out that, at the time, only some intelligence sources thought he might be there, while other intelligence sources said he was elsewhere.

AP-11. And we can all breathe one great big sigh of relief that he never took his current office seriously enough to show up to committee meetings, because then he might have found out that intelligence analysts, picking through the debris in the caves at Tora Bora and interrogating whatever enemy operatives we captured, came to the conclusion that Osama bin-Laden had indeed been there and got away.

AP-13. It was great that John Kerry, in the last days of his campaign, obsessed about Osama bin-Laden, because we got to get all huffy and puffy and point out that capturing bin-Laden is probably not the most important objective in the “Global War on Terror.” It is the al-Qaeda organization, regardless of who is in charge of it, that poses such a great threat.

AP-14. And we can all breathe one great big sigh of relief that he never took his current office seriously enough to show up to committee meetings, because then he might have found out that 1000 or more al-Qaeda operatives marched out of Afghanistan along with Mr. bin-Laden, a large number of whom were skilled at such things as blowing up night clubs.

AP-15. The “Afghan Model” maintains that US technology has advanced so far that we can march in and turn scattered groups of shepherds into a liberation army in no time. That model underwent the acid test at Tora Bora. It was indeed moving to watch groups of “shepherds,” who had spent 10 years of their lives ineffectively fighting each other and foreign oppressors, uniting to happily accept our donations of equipment and money and then to happily stand aside as Mr. bin-Laden marched out with his buddies.

AP-16. Tora Bora was a victory because the enemy stopped shooting at us in that particular spot.

AP-17. Following our victory at Tora Bora, we uncovered tons of fascinating and important evidence regarding al-Qaeda in the caves where they hid until our allies assisted them in escaping. There is some dispute how about extensive the caves are, but we may never know. Donald Rumsfeld diverted intelligence resources to Iraq, leaving many of the caves of Tora Bora unexplored. That is nothing more than a poignant little tale of “what might have been.”

AP-18. Even if some Pakistani military commanders support the Taliban and al-Qaeda, President Pervez Musharaff has them under control.

AP-19. We know that because he ordered his troops up to the border following Tora Bora and intercepted escaping al-Qaeda operatives.

AP-20. O.K., he only caught 300 out of 1000 or more. It’s the thought that counts.

AP-21. Look, we got some Afghani warlords to help us and the Pakistanis caught some escaping al-Qaeda members. If you are worried about “the other” warlords and “the other” al-Qaeda operatives, that just proves you are a defeatist, or stuck in the past. Or something.

AP-22. Pres. Musharaff will survive an infinite number of assassination attempts. In fact, he will be President of Pakistan for the next 50 years.

AP-23. The problem of Pakistani trade in atomic technology has been solved.

AP-24. The War in Iraq was fully justified because it inspired Libya to disarm, which led to the discovery of the “A.Q. Khan” network of trade in nuclear materials, which Pres. Musharaff decisively handled by immediately pardoning Dr. Khan for any crime he had committed.

AP-25. The average Pakistani does not think A.Q. Khan is a hero.

AP-26. Libya also turned out to be involved with a whole host of other countries and terror groups that we had not dreamed of, countries and groups we have not even begun to think about planning to deal with. That should not dim our joy at having effected a major disruption in the Terror Network.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Part Two
Weapons of Mass Destruction

WMD-1. Operation Iraqi Freedom was not about Weapons of Mass Destruction. The war in Iraq was about “real reasons,” you know, the “real reasons” people cite whenever anyone is rude enough to point out that there were no WMD in Iraq.

WMD-2. Any fool would relax about those pesky WMD if they just checked the President’s many public statements about Iraq between August 2002 and the start of the war in March 2003. All but one emphasized the “nexus” between WMD and the Terror Network. So of course he meant we were going to war for “real reasons.”

WMD-3. When a French reporter quoted French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin’s concern that “US policy was slipping toward transformation of the Middle East,” and Colin Powell said, “The war is about disarmament,” that was code for the “real reasons.”

WMD-4. No, wait, that was Colin Powell. He “just doesn’t get it.” If you look at what Donald Rumsfeld said...

WMD-5. No, wait, Donald Rumsfeld is opposed to nation building on principle.

WMD-6. O.K., just trust us: the war was not about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

WMD-7. True, everything anyone wrote advocating the war depended on WMD, but it is of no significance whatsoever that they were nowhere to be found.

WMD-8. You see, we didn’t actually write those things. Noam Chomsky did, using our names.

WMD-9. Just to show you how wrong you are, let’s look closely at the “Iraq Resolution” passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. In the section on reasons for fighting Saddam, fully 53% was about WMD, 16.3 % about terrorism, 9.5% about disobeying the UN in general, 4.8% about issues unresolved following the First Gulf War, and 4.2 % about hostility to the US.

WMD-10. So, as any fool can see, the issues that convinced Congress were democracy in Iraq (3.7%) and democracy in the Middle East (1.8%).

WMD-11. Conservatives were rightly offended when Tim Robbins asserted--in one of his lethally boring, preachy plays--that the late political philosopher Leo Strauss advocated hiding the “real reasons” for government actions from the public. Prof. Strauss is an idol to many of the people described as “neo-conservative,” and Mr. Robbins was clearly trying to taint his followers with the alleged sins of Prof. Strauss. It was a gross distortion of what Prof. Strauss taught, and what “neocons” believe.

WMD-12. So, of course, when we said “WMD,” that was a code word for the “real reasons.”

WMD-13. It’s a lot clearer if you’ve studied numerology.

WMD-14. In his famous “Axis of Evil” speech, the President named three specific countries: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. We took out after the one that did not have an advanced nuclear weapons program, but in no way did that make nuclear weapons more attractive to rogue governments.

WMD-15. Tony Blair has suffered much worse abuse from opponents over the allegedly missing WMD than has George W. Bush. This in no way influenced his decision to get into bed with the French and the Germans as they seek to smooth over the very real problem of the Iranian nuclear weapon program.

WMD-16. The French and the Germans worked to lift sanctions against Saddam’s Iraq because they had a financial stake in trade with Saddam. The missing WMD have in no way provided cover for them as they try to pull the same stunt with Iran.

WMD-17. Colin Powell went against his instincts to support the Administration case against Saddam in a powerful speech to the UN Security Council. Our own investigations have proven that the situation with Saddam’s WMD was not what Gen. Powell said, a fact which has been trumpeted across the globe by many opponents of the US. This has no impact whatsoever on his credibility as he challenges the French, the Germans, and the British over Iran’s nuclear weapon program.

WMD-18. And if it does, it’s Colin Powell’s fault, because he “just doesn’t get it.”

WMD-19. Dr. David Kay didn’t find any WMD because he didn’t looked everywhere.

WMD-20. Dr. Kay did not find WMD because he lost faith and gave up too early.

WMD-21. Nearly everything anyone wrote in support of the war depended in some way on the work of Dr. Kay. That does not mean that we should listen to him now, or even respect him, that turncoat.

WMD-22. When Dr. Kay gave his stunning interim report to Congress in October 2003, making it very clear that the WMD were likely not there, we were under no obligation whatsoever to start explaining why we went to war.

WMD-23. If we had, Jay Leno could not have spent the last year making jokes that the “real reasons” for the war were “oil.” Only a spoilsport stands in the way of a good joke.

WMD-24. A carefully argued piece in the National Interest (circ: 27) carries much more weight with the American public than some joke by Mr. Leno (average audience: 489,273 gazillion. Squared.)

WMD-25. Look, all 27 of us had lunch in the last month, and not one of us could repeat one of Mr. Leno’s jokes about “oil.” Most of us are in bed by ten, and we can’t tell jokes anyway.

WMD-26. O.K, we checked, and it was just 26 of us. There’s that retired Foreign Service Officer who lives in Trinidad. He doesn’t get into town much anymore, but we are pretty sure he doesn’t have a television. Besides, they don’t show the Tonight Show in Trinidad, do they?

WMD-27. Dr. Kay was appointed to head the “Iraq Survey Group” only after it turned out our troops did not trip over WMD as they marched through throngs of happy natives rising up to greet them. He could not begin his work until July 2003.

WMD-28. After three months of work, Dr. Kay recounted that his team frequently entered laboratories and research centers to find files that were still smoldering and running computers that had just been stripped.

WMD-29. Those last two points shed no light whatsoever on how well the war was planned.

WMD-30. In any case, Saddam’s WMD are in Syria or buried in the ground. Or somewhere. They will dramatically appear two days before the election.

WMD-31. Well, O.K., they didn’t, but the President is waiting to reveal them at the right moment. He’s holding out to test our faith, and our faith in the existence of Saddam’s WMD is unshaken by the cold, hard evidence. Make no mistake about that.

WMD-32. Look, they really are there. In Syria. Or underground. Or somewhere.

WMD-33. Okay, listen up, all you little countries who bravely resisted bullying from France and Germany to support us. That was great, and, yes, our extravagant claims about WMD convinced you to do so over the opposition of your own people. But look, we are under no obligation whatsoever to explain what happened, you little ingrates. You should come up with your own damn reasons for supporting us. We are too busy implementing the “real reasons.” Which we can’t specify.

WMD-34. If someone had no interest whatsoever in nation-building before the war—like, you know, every senior official in the Bush administration—but now he uses nation-building as cover for the fact that there are no WMD, that’s really cool.

WMD-35. Trust us: Syria. When we invade Syria, we’ll find them.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Part Three
The Iraq War

IW-1. The Iraq war was confirmation—as if any were needed—that the fundamental nature of warfare has changed, thanks to American technology and management techniques. This new way of war has been tested and found to be a screaming success.

IW-2. If we ever have to use it against an army that is actually motivated, prepared, and well equipped, it will work just as well as it did against an army that turned and ran like scared little bunny rabbits.

IW-3. O.K., so most of Saddam’s troops melted away. Some units of the storied 101st still faced fierce opposition. Their valiant conduct is especially inspiring when one remembers that they were ordered into battle before all their food supplies had been off-loaded from ships.

IW-4. And let’s not forget the brave men of 2nd Battalion 69th Armor of the Third Infantry Division. 1000 US soldiers, supported by only 30 tanks, faced 3 full brigades totaling at least 5,000 men supported by at least 25 tanks, 75 armored personnel carriers, and artillery. They fought them off successfully after fierce fighting. (2)

IW-5. O.K., so they walked into that battle blind. The high-tech reconnaissance equipment failed completely, and the first time they knew the enemy was even there was first contact, which swiftly turned into a full-scale battle. That just proves how great our boys’ll be when all the equipment works.

IW-6. And it’s not as bad as you are making it out to be. The much vaunted communications network was tested in numerous encounters small and large. Our frontline troops were equipped to receive all the available information collected by a vast array of satellites and other sensors and analyzed by computers, so that they could have “total situational awareness.” A thorough report under preparation by the Rand Corporation (and seen in summary by Technology Review) has concluded that, in nearly every one of those encounters, the system failed completely. No, wait…

IW-7. Anyway, there is no way that the planners who put those men into that mess need to make an apology.

IW-8. Prior to this war, never, ever had a vastly outnumbered army followed a strategy of fading back and letting the stronger army get bogged down. Totally, totally unheard of. Why would we plan for that?

IW-9. When the success of that tactic is plastered all over the front pages, if we just say that it isn’t working, it isn’t.

IW-10. Nearly every conservative writer on the Vietnam War has insisted that the fundamental error of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations was their dependence on the “Best and the Brightest,” a group of policy and defense analysts who believed that, using computers and techniques borrowed from business, they had divined a new way to conduct war. This led to a failure to commit enough troops early on, which enabled the enemy considerable freedom to operate. It is difficult to think of a conservative thinker in the last forty years who has not said the same thing over and over again.

IW-11. Therefore, when a group of people who call themselves conservative decide to give the guys with the pocket protectors another shot at running a war, all the conservative faithful out there in the cheap seats should just forget everything they have ever read and keep quiet.

IW-12. And if anyone dares speak up, you should taunt him with the word “quagmire.”

IW-13. There is no way that the United States can ever suffer a Pyrrhic Victory. None of our generals is named “Pyrrhus,” for one thing. Would we trust a guy named “Pyrrhus” with a whole army? Come on.

IW-14. Wars are over when we say they are, even if some dumb enemy keeps fighting to win. You don’t want them to “set the terms of debate,” now do you?

IW-15. In fact, if the President of the United States flies out to an aircraft carrier and his advance men hand a preprinted banner with the words “mission accomplished” on it to the sailors, and those bonehead enemy soldiers still keep fighting, it only proves that the enemy, too, “just doesn’t get it.”
IW-16. O.K., we liberated Iraq. That’s enough. Our failure to commit enough troops to control Baghdad may have allowed a little looting, but, hey, is that our problem?

IW-17. If everyone on the ground goes, “wow, look at how all those looters are going directly to the most sensitive ministries,” that is so totally not because Saddam had well-placed agents ready to direct the angry mobs in their direction.

IW-18. True, the anger of the people was against certain ministries, and it served the Ba’ath Party’s interests if the records in exactly those ministries were destroyed. And, true, there is nothing easier than directing an angry mob to ransack the building of your choice. Does that have any significance in this situation?

IW-19. You read a lot of Science Fiction, don’t you?

IW-20. O.K., look, it’s like “you just don’t get it.” The fundamental nature of warfare has changed. Nothing that has ever happened in any other war can ever happen again, so we don’t have to worry about it. Now, does that sound like your precious Science Fiction? Huh? Does it?

IW-21. How can anyone criticize planning for the war, given the tremendous success of the storied 101st Airborne under the inspiring leadership of Gen. David Petraeus? As President Bush put it when welcoming them back to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, the 101st “liberated the cities of Najaf, Karbala, and Hilla. You secured southern Baghdad, and sent 1,600 soldiers by helicopter to Mosul, in the longest air assault in military history.”

IW-22. Therefore, the refutation of all criticisms of the war plans is “David Petraeus.”

IW-23. What it all boils down to is this: the plans for the Iraq War were perfect, and should not be criticized.

IW-24. True, three months after the end of “major hostilities,” the Administration recalled Robert Blackwill from the sensitive post of Ambassador to India so that he could co-ordinate Iraq policy. That is so totally not because Iraq policy was in disarray. It was just that Amb. Blackwill had done such a good job in New Delhi, the President wanted to give him an easy job where he could just kick back, enjoy himself, and walk around naked.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Part Four

T-1. Just because one can learn any language in a year does not mean that the Commander in Chief needs to order anyone to learn Arabic.

T-2. That is especially true if they are interrogating people whose only language is Arabic.

T-3. He can, however, at least think about letting interrogators know he will wink if they commit torture, even though Congress has declared that illegal.

T-4. The fact that the U.S. Constitution reserves solely to Congress the authority to determine how “captures on land or sea” are conducted does not bind the Commander in Chief.

T-5. As a side note, it should be added that Sen. John F. Kerry would have made a terrible President because he might have appointed justices who ignored the clear language of the Constitution.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Part V
American Soldiers

AS-1. All soldiers instinctively vote Republican, and no one should waste time or money finding out what they really believe.

AS-2. Beginning at least with Andrew Jackson and continuing at least to Wesley Clark, the Armed Services have harbored many liberal Democrats. That does not mean there are any liberal Democrats in the Armed Services today.

AS-3. Personally, if my party had Andrew Jackson and Wesley Clark in it, I’d join the other side, but that’s just me.

AS-4. Reporters should only quote soldiers who support the war, think it has been brilliantly led, and love Donald Rumsfeld.

AS-5. Of course we should listen to the complaints of soldiers in the frontlines, if the complaints are valid and not just regular bellyaching.

AS-6. Lack of body armor, training, armored Humvees, and food for a mission whose goals are loosely defined and where the situation on the ground is almost the complete opposite of what was predicted are not valid complaints. It just proves what wimps kids are today.

AS-7. If a bunch of guys we like sit in a room and determine just how many armored Humvees are needed according to scientific principles of war management, that’s how many should be used. Anyone who questions them is “stuck in the past” or “defeatist” or “just doesn’t get it.” Or something.

AS-8. Each war should only get a minimum of armored Humvees, so we can be ready for as many wars as possible.

AS-9. If you think Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t care about the troops, just remember the time he unexpectedly flew to Iraq in May, 2004, and allowed the troops to ask him questions, saying how much more he enjoyed answering questions from the troops than from reporters in Washington.

AS-10. If the second GI asked him why there weren’t enough armored Humvees, that is just one more sign that the pernicious influence of the New York Times is a sickness spreading throughout American society. (3)

AS-11. If we make a big, big noise about how we are sending our young people over to disarm Saddam Hussein, and it turns out that he was already disarmed, the kids should just suck it in and deal with it. We are too busy saving the world.

AS-12. In fact, we are very sensitive people, and this war has been very traumatic for us. Those soldiers don’t have to worry about anything more serious than living in a land with no running water far, far away from their families and loved ones surrounded by people who are trying to kill them.

AS-13. Therefore, soldiers should make us feel good by writing letters home about how “all of my buddies are voting for President George W. Bush.” They should not ask us why we sent them there, or complain in any way. That would be very rude and inconsiderate of them.

AS-14. And look, here’s a letter from that kid from next door, saying exactly how morale is high and all his buddies are voting for “President George W. Bush.”

AS-15. So when the Wall Street Journal finds a company where many of the soldiers were not registered and seemed uninterested in the election, that doesn’t mean anything like they are normal kids who have not yet realized fully that they have a say in who their Commander in Chief is. That kid from next door knows them much better, and he says they’re all voting for “President George W. Bush.”

AS-16. And if the sergeant assigned to make sure everyone is registered tells the Journal he is voting for Ralph Nader, that doesn’t mean anything at all.

AS-17. When a conservative reporter finds a soldier who loudly and enthusiastically supports “President George W. Bush” and claims that everyone in his unit does, too, the reason most of the other soldiers look at their feet and mumble “yeah” is that they agree. It is absolutely not that they consider the other guy a hopeless bootlicker and prefer to keep their own counsel because they haven’t made up their minds yet.

AS-18. You see, soldiers who loudly and enthusiastically support “President George W. Bush” have been given a mystical ability to correctly gauge the feelings of their neighbors, an ability denied nearly every other human being on the planet.

AS-19. If, as seems likely, a majority of our soldiers did indeed vote for President Bush, that is not because they felt uncomfortable electing as Commander in Chief a man who slandered his own comrades while they were still fighting, who could not make up his mind about what to do in Iraq, and who would provide the country with a First Lady who thinks the child victims of a hurricane in Haiti should just revel in the opportunity to “go naked.” Nor were they worried about gay marriage, the Supreme Court, or taxes. What it really shows is that they support every aspect of the war.

AS-20. In fact, it shows that they love Donald Rumsfeld as they do their own fathers.

AS-21. We could freely criticize the abilities of our troops because we were indirectly criticizing Bill Clinton and his lack of concern for defense matters. No one can criticize us directly for bad planning and faulty thinking because that would be criticizing the abilities of our troops, which is unpatriotic, and proves you work in Hollywood.

AS-22. Besides, there was no poor planning, and we think very clearly.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Please see note(3) at end.

Part VI
Spreading Democracy

SD-1. Those who doubt that Iraq or any other country can easily become a democracy are forgetting the examples of Germany and Japan.

SD-2. The fact that we had to level both those countries in order to convince their people that they should behave differently is beside the point.

SD-3. That we took the further precaution of permanently disarming them is even more irrelevant, if that is possible.

SD-4. The people of any country will vote for liberal democracy any time they can, the way the Germans did in 1933.

SD-5. Anyone who doubts that democracy can spring up quickly in cultures without strong democratic roots has forgotten the lessons of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union. Democracy has proven strong and vital throughout the former Soviet Empire. Look how well it’s doing in Russia.

SD-6. You shouldn’t worry that Iraqis would have anything like a “War Between the States.” They don’t have anything like “states,” really.

SD-7. If America fails to prevent widespread looting which destroys what little people have, those people will understand and they will all love America anyway.

SD-8. If the US calls on people to rebel, and they rebel, but the US does not support them, those people will understand and they will all love America anyway.

SD-9. All cultures, religions, and traditions have the same end, and talking about any perceived differences is racist or defeatist. Or something.

SD-10. People will gladly accept a redefinition of their religion foisted on them by non-believers.

SD-11. Muslim “quietism” is the same as Christian “quietism.”

SD-12. No form of “quietism”—Christian, Muslim, or Zoroastrian--is political.

SD-13. Religious quietism, you see, is kind of like Romanticism, with all those poems about love and living out in the country. Nothing political ever came out of that, now, did it, Sen. McGovern?

SD-14. In the 1930’s, the British worried that the “quietist” Shi’a dreamed of a pan-Shi’ite state combining Iran and most of Iraq, governed along “other worldly lines.” That carries no message for today whatsoever.

SD-15. Average people can never be blinded by their religion to overwhelming strategic realities, which explains Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and why the Emperor of Japan now wears business clothes.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Part Seven
Heroes and Villains

HV-1. Ahmad Chalabi should be recognized as the natural leader of Iraq, even by Iraqis who, after 10 years of listening to him, have no apparent affection for or trust in him whatsoever.

HV-2. The Iraqis would have developed real trust and affection for him if we had just let him lead a 10,000-man-strong battalion of crack troops recruited from all those Iraqi exiles that can be found in any neighborhood just dying to give up their safe and secure lives to fight for a country to which they have only tenuous connections.

HV-3. If the CIA gave up on Mr. Chalabi after years of supporting his efforts, the only explanation is that the CIA “just doesn’t get it.”

HV-4. In fact, anyone who doubts Messrs. Chalabi or Rumsfeld “just doesn’t get it.” You can just stop reading right now and admit how wrong you are.

HV-5. Donald Rumsfeld made sure that every commander under him felt free to tell him if the war plans were wrong, or they needed more troops, armored Humvees, or food. If they had just told him, he would have sent them.

HV-6. Okay, so the chief of each of the armed services personally appealed to the Commander in Chief for more troops, but Donald Rumsfeld and his handpicked CJS opposed it anyway. How were they supposed to know the service chiefs were serious? They’re such kidders.

HV-7. Donald Rumsfeld responded quickly and decisively when it became apparent that the insurgency was organized and widespread in Sunni areas.

HV-8. He was really Johnny-on-the-spot when the Shi’ites perked up.

HV-9. Donald Rumsfeld had a clear concept of how post-war Iraq should be administered. Look, when a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee asked him point blank, he mumbled incoherently for a couple of minutes and finally said, “Ask the State Department.” What more do you want?

HV-10. The Defense Department cooperated fully with the State Department’s Future of Iraq Project. So when the Defense Department’s designated administrator for Iraq, Gen. Jay Garner, appointed the head of the Future of Iraq Project as his principal assistant, Donald Rumsfeld swiftly and decisively fired him.

HV-11. It was entirely appropriate that the Administration, three weeks after we took Baghdad, summarily fired Gen. Garner as well. He clearly had given no thought beforehand to what he was going to do.

HV-12. Okay, look, this is getting tiring. The Defense Department didn’t trust the State Department’s boys because they are slaves to the UN. DOD had its own project on post-war Iraq, which was much more thorough and realistic.

HV-13. Gen. Garner’s statement that he had been shown no plans for post-war administration should therefore be completely ignored. He got fired, didn’t he?

HV-14. O.K., O.K., it’s true: a few months after the end of “major hostilities,” the Defense Department sent former DOD official Anthony Cordesman to survey the situation in Iraq because it seemed to be going badly. And, yes, it was true that every member of the armed forces he met told him that no one had shown them any plans for post-War Iraq. That so totally does not mean Donald Rumsfeld thought such plans were irrelevant.

HV-15. Further investigation has revealed that it was all the fault of the soldiers: they just filled out the wrong requisition order. Form A6907-F83 is for “coffee room supplies.” F84—F-O-U-R—is for “nation building plans.” Stupid grunts.

HV-16. As the Administration was making the case for war against Saddam, the Army Chief of Staff, General Eric K. Shinseki, honestly responded to a question by estimating that the occupation of Iraq would take “hundreds of thousands” of troops and be very expensive. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously humiliated Gen. Shinseki by announcing his retirement a year early, and there are rumors about what Sec. Rumsfeld said to him in front of subordinates and civilian Defense Department officials.

HV-17. This had no impact whatsoever on the willingness of officers further down the chain of command to say they thought things were going badly because we did not have enough troops.

HV-18. The Pentagon’s special investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib recounted that communication up the chain of command had broken down completely. Many of the problems were credited to the “Office of the Secretary of Defense.” This was not a euphemism for Donald Rumsfeld. They meant Wilma Jones, who prepares notepads and coffee for meetings, and Frederick T. Smith, the Deputy Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Computer Keyboards.

HV- 19. When the head of that investigation, former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger, was asked whether Donald Rumsfeld should resign, given all the statements in the report about the “Office of the Secretary of Defense,” he said that “would be a boon to all of America's enemies, and consequently I think that it would be a misfortune if it were to take place.” Former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, who also served on the investigation, strongly endorsed that sentiment.

HV-20. They did not, by that, mean that Sec. Rumsfeld’s resignation would send a signal to our enemies that we back down at the first sign of trouble. They meant that there was absolutely nothing wrong with anything that had been done by the current Secretary of Defense, only by his Office. You really need to lay off poor Mr. Rumsfeld, who has so much on his mind these days. If you are so concerned about those mistakes by the “Office of the Secretary of Defense,” go talk to Fred and Wilma.

HV-21. All of the military investigations and blue-ribbon panels have exonerated Donald Rumsfeld.

HV-22. If any of the investigations and blue-ribbon panels appears to criticize Donald Rumsfeld, you just need to read the reports more closely and see them in their broader context to realize that they exonerate him.

HV-23. O.K., if a careful reading of the reports and seeing them in their broader context reveals that they do indeed criticize Donald Rumsfeld, that only proves that all the investigators and panelists “just don’t get it.”

HV-24. Colin Powell is not trustworthy and has not been supportive of this President.

HV-25. Colin Powell does not believe in debloviating the UN, leading with strong stands, promoting a conservative foreign policy, regime change, or pre-emptive action, even though he has made numerous statements supporting just those policies.

HV-26. That’s because he doesn’t believe in doing them all right now, planning is just a sign of weakness, there’s no time to lose, he who hesitates is lost, fire every missile we have right now, what are you waiting for??, we’re all going to die!!!!

HV-27. Colin Powell, you see, “just doesn’t get it.”
HV-28. L. Paul Bremer is an arrogant bully who is the mindless slave of the Foreign Service, the UN, the Trilateral Commission, the Bildeberg Group, the Illuminati, the Triad, certain shady characters from former Iron Curtain countries, and the New York Times. He holds séances to communicate with Willi Brandt.

HV-29. In fact, we can just skip over his bravura performance in service to his country and Iraq while facing insurmountable odds, because L. Paul Bremer also “just doesn’t get it.”
HV-30. Richard Lugar, USS, has accomplished the remarkable: he is the Senate’s most conservative member, its most respected, and its most loyal supporter of George W. Bush, several of whose positions are neither conservative nor popular. He has a detailed knowledge of foreign affairs and has sponsored highly effective legislation dealing with the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Empire. He is a Rhodes Scholar and a painfully decent and fair-minded man who has never reacted quickly or thoughtlessly to anything since he was 15.

HV-31. So when he starts talking about the “incompetence of this Administration,” you should just look the other way and forget you heard anything. That kind of talk can spread.

HV-32. Anyone who thinks we should have used more troops does not realize the brilliance of Donald Rumsfeld’s plan to create thousands of Iraqi police officers through intensive training courses that last a whole two weeks and are taught by people who do not speak Arabic.

HV-33. The fact that this cockamamie plan failed utterly in Najaf and Fallujah is proof that it was actually concocted by L. Paul Bremer and his “friends in the National Security Council.” They just wrote “Donald Rumsfeld” after the funny word “From” that they put at the top of memos.

HV-34. But, you see, we should rest assured about the future of Iraq, because Donald Rumsfeld has this really nifty plan to train local police officers.

HV-35. The fact that insurgents escaping from Fallujah easily overran the new “police forces” in the previously peaceful city of Mosul is just one of those unfortunate things, and has no significance whatsoever.

HV-26. If you can make the last four points not completely conflict with each other or with the cold hard facts, you could get a job writing editorials for a major conservative publication. Apply now.

HV-27. Besides, later reports revealed that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the Mosul police fought with the insurgents.

HV-28. O.k,, o.k., so the police fought “along with” the insurgents. They got confused by all the explosions. All we have to do is get them to turn around.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Judgment Day

JD-1. No preventable mistakes were made in the planning or the prosecution of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

JD-2. No mistakes were made for ideological reasons.

JD-3. No one should be held accountable for preventable or ideologically based mistakes, if there even were such mistakes.

JD-4. See, the war advocates were really sincere, and that makes them nice people.

JD-5. If they refused to listen to those who warned them that they were making some serious mistakes, why, you should just be grateful that such fine people are there protecting us and shut up.

JD-6. No one should investigate to find out if any mistakes were made, nor should there be any attempt to ascertain whether the mistakes were preventable or ideologically based.

JD-7. If any investigation is made, it should be clear that only State Department officials will get punished.

JD-8. If somebody’s warnings about the war turned out to be correct, no one should apologize for having trashed him mercilessly when he made the warnings.

JD-9. People who had doubts about the war should be judged by whether or not they bow when we walk into the room.

JD-10. And they should only straighten up when we tell them to.

JD-11. See, it doesn’t matter what you do. It just matters if you mean well.

JD-12. Only people who agree with us mean well.

It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.

Part IX
Things We Just Know Are True

TWJKAT-1.We are fighting a general war against terrorism, not against a specific group of terrorists who hate us specifically.

TWJKAT-2. Foreign policy and military alliances can be conducted in the same way as any international business, even though markets thrive because they allow corporations to make horrendous mistakes and fail, which happens routinely.

TWJKAT-3. We can win the War on Terror, just as we won the Cold War.

TWJKAT-4. In fact, the War on Terror is just like the Cold War in every way. Now that we have experience, we can pack this one away in a year or two.

TWJKAT-5. Oh, and the fact that everyone likes to say that “Communism fell,” even though it was the Soviet Union which did and Communism is still alive and well around the globe and in American universities—forget that part.

TWJKAT-6. We owe everything to Ronald Wilson Reagan, who proved the “consensus” wrong by forcing the Soviet Union’s back against a wall. He understood the importance of persuasion, and dedicated the vast majority of his time as President to negotiating and “communicating.” He talked incessantly to the American public, toured foreign countries, and was famous for his willingness to pick up the phone and chat with Democratic Party leaders. Mr. Reagan met frequently with members of Congress, in groups or individually, as needed. He made every effort to become close personal friends with Francois Mitterand, a committed Socialist whose every instinct was the opposite of Mr. Reagan’s.

TWJKAT-7. George W. Bush is the Second Coming of Ronald Wilson Reagan. Except in the communicating part. But, hey, what does that matter?

TWJKAT-8. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars proved that modern technology has fundamentally altered the nature of war.

TWJKAT-9. But only in our favor. Technological advances make it easy for us to target and kill our enemies. It never makes it easy for our enemies to target and kill us.

TWJKAT-10. There is an acceptable human cost to right-up-to-the-edge experimentation in “defense transformation,” but that experimentation should never be subject to rigorous analysis.

TWJKAT-11. The US is the only source of justice in this world, and the U.S. is superior to the entire rest of humanity both technologically and militarily. We should therefore take on every enemy and cure every ill that presents itself to our infallible judgment. Prudence is for wimps.

TWJKAT-12. The fact that the US only produces 25 to 30 percent of the world’s economic goods should not deter us in any way. One of our dollars is easily worth three of anybody else’s.

TWJKAT-13. Do not even think about the obvious implication of all that—that 100 percent of the US Gross National Product should be converted to military purposes. What are you, some kind of leftist, peace-loving wimp?

TWJKAT-14. There is a universal aspiration to live in a liberal democracy, so we don’t need to know any boring details about any elections we set up in countries we have liberated. You know, boring things like the platforms on which candidates in elections are running.

TWJKAT-15. If we remove monstrous villains from power, everyone that has been subjected to them will dance in the streets and ask America how they should live their lives.

TWJKAT-16. No person or group in a country we liberate will seek to control the county on their own terms.

TWJKAT-17. Everybody loves America, and wants to be American.

TWJKAT-18. You know that thing about how conservatives are supposed to know history and to believe that culture trumps everything? Forget that. We’re going to try that thing about how a few dedicated activists can alter history. And myabe we need a new name, a name whose root is the same as "liberty," because that is what we are spreading. We're thinking of calling ourselves "Liberals."

TWJKAT-19. Only those people who believed in the purest form of “defense transformation,” “Liberation Lite,” “regime change,” and every thing else that anyone at a calls-itself-conservative think-tank came up with should be honored. Everyone else has to prove themselves.

TWJKAT-20. We should just pop open all of South Asia and see what happens.

TWJKAT-21. We must march on. On to Damascus. And to Tehran. And Riyadh.

TWJKAT-22. Yargh.

TWJKAT-22. Any questions mean failure. You need only believe.

TWJKAT-23. And only in us.
It’s true they laughed at the Wright Brothers. They also laughed at the guys who strapped on fake wings and drove their bikes off of cliffs.
For an explanation of the "how" and "why" of The Litany, please scroll ot the end.

I am struck speechless with awe at the courage of our soldiers, the Afghan people, and the Iraqi people. Let no one say that I have uttered a word against them. For a further explanation of The Litany, please see A Mind That Suits. (http://amindthatsuits.blogspot.com/). You may comment on it from there.

(1) The background for AP5-7 is taken from Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy, by Dr. Stephen D. Biddle. (
http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/display.cfm/hurl/PubID=109) ã 2002, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. Carlisle, PA. All rights reserved. Before you comment on this section, please read his paper carefully. However, he had nothing to do with what I wrote, so direct your angry comments to me.

(2) The background for IW4-7 came from an article by David Talbot, “How Tech Failed in Iraq,” in Technology Review, Vol. 107 No. 9, pp. 36-44. ã 2004, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved. Anyone who wants to hold forth on “defense transformation” needs to study this article carefully.

(3) I support our soldiers 100%. I have met veterans of this war who have deep misgivings. I am shocked that no one has sought to find out what they think. During that “town meeting” where the soldier asked Donald Rumsfeld about why there were so few armored Humvees really happened, the soldiers there peppered him with questions about things that were bothering them. (See transcript here:
http://www.dod.gov/speeches/2004/sp20040513-secdef0423.html) Why this didn’t tip off self-styled conservative writers that there was a serious problem is utterly beyond me

The Litany on the GWOT
. Copyright 2004, Kenneth A. Killiany. All rights reserved.

Please pass it on if you feel it is worthy. You may pass it on as a whole, in the “parts” I have designated, or as isolated quotes. You may make your own arrangement of The Litany provided that 1) you present each point in its entirety, 2) you use the numbering from the original, and 3) you include the address for my blog so people can read the whole thing.

You must include the entire copyright notice when you pass it on except when using isolated quotes, which are covered by the “fair use” doctrine. You must, however, identify in some way where you got the quote from.

You may not renumber any item, reword any of The Litany, add your own points with numbers, or present any part of one point as a separate point.

Note for pedants: the primary meaning of “factual” is “pertaining to facts,” and so a “factual assertion” may be either true or false.

“WMD” is probably a plural, although that is still in flux. If you say it out loud, you instinctively say “WeaponS of Mass Destruction.” One particular “weapon of mass destruction” will be a bomb, a vial, a canister, or something else with a name. In The Litany, “WMD” is used as a plural. If usage eventually demands that it be singular, it will, without argument, be changed here.
How did the Litany come to be written?

November 2 promises to be another in a long line of elections decided by those Americans who are the least engaged, least interested in, and least informed about politics.”

So wrote the redoubtable Jonah Goldberg, who transformed National Review Online into the most interesting political site in existence, as even one hopelessly and unapologetically Democratic party website acknowledged. (That would be my hometown rag, the mighty and superb Washington Post. When I say “unapologetically” I do not mean “openly.”)

The in-every-way-wonderful Kate O’Beirne made much the same point here , although she cites polls to back up her point, which is that independents are people who don’t know much about politics.

The fallacy is clearer with Ms. O’Beirne. She automatically correlates those who know nothing about the quotidian details of politics with people who have not decided. Sorry, but I have had conversations recently with liberals who know nothing about the abortion issue and conservatives who know nothing about issues affecting our troops. There is exactly no correlation between not knowing how you are going to vote and what you know about politics.

But long before she wrote that, Mr. Goldberg had his little hissy fit. (Or is that “hissie?” Politically correct MS Word will not allow either. Methinks “hissie.”)

What grated was that his outburst did not describe me, who at that time was undecided. And, when I confessed that, (and my ruminations on casting a protest vote for Ronald Reagan, as I had in 1992) to an esteemed internet friend---one Than Whom It Is Not Possible To Be More Accurately Described As “Neocon”—I received the curt reply to
“not waste your vote.”

The last reply cut because a protest vote would not be a wasted vote, and it implied that the only commitment in politics must be total commitment. I lived in the DC of Marion Berry, and so can never vote Democratic. But what if I felt the current foreign policy of the United States was not conservative, but merely warmed over—or perhaps hotted over—Kennedyism?

As for Mr. Goldberg, his comments not merely grated but irritated, as in fact I knew far more about the Iraq War or the GWOT (the inaptly named “Global War on Terrorism”) than the diligent reader of the National Review ever would. Make that, more than would the diligent reader of the National Review, the Weekly Standard, or the mighty editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

Why? Because long before the Weekly Standard woke up—which was in September, 2003—I had despaired of commentary in the conservative press, on which I had depended all my life. I had resorted to reading government documents, congressional testimony, and think tank reports (the best coming from the Strategic Studies Institute at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvannia.)

I had come to the conclusion, you see, that the gatekeepers of the debate among conservative intellectuals—the editors—had failed mightily in the main job of intellectuals, which is to seek the truth, which can only come from criticism. “Boosterism” is what most editors had committed from August 2002 to September 2003, which is when the Weekly Standard jumped ship. They realized, apparently, that “defense transformation” and what I was the first to describe as ‘Liberation Lite” cannot square with “nation building.” (A little late guys. Better late than never, but let’s work on that “ahead of the curve” thing for next time.) This conservative has his doubts about “nation building” as a goal, though he agrees with the notion that democratic world is better for the US. The space between those two is where there needs to be a real debate.

The Litany began as the end of a reply to Mr. Goldberg. The educated person can, I felt, vote for Mr. Bush is it is certain that he no longer trusts people who say certain things, after which I started a list. And then it grew. And grew.

Whom the Litany is NOT directed against?
W. He has his faults—undisguised in THE LITANY—but frankly what has upset me most is that he was obviously playing “true believers” as fools. He was worried about WMD and terrorism. The only pre-war speech he gave on “nation building” was to the American Enterprise Institute, and that speech is full of conditional modal auxiliary verbs such as “would” and “could.” In other words, he did not—and probably does not-- believe in nation building. Neither does Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, or—most importantly—Donald Rumsfeld. The distance between that reality and the rhetoric of certain conservatives is another place where there needs to be debate.

All conservative intellectuals. “Neither paleo- nor neo-, just con“ is how I describe myself, and that is how one would describe Bob Novak, George Will, and—above all—William F. Buckley, Jr,, the founder of National Review and the Indispensable Man in the creation of an American alternative to what the French call “statism.” All had reservations about the war; all have been morally committed to rational criticism of its prosecution.

But what to make of Eliot Cohen?

Prof. Cohen, of the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies (known here in DC simply as “SAIS,” pronounced “sice,” as in “slice.”), was the object of much furious debate shortly before the war because of a book he wrote entitled Supreme Command , which W read as he contemplated war with Iraq. His views were dubbed radical by the foreign policy establishment, and he has been lumped in with the dreaded “neocons” since he became a public issue.

Given his reputation, it surprised me somewhat that Prof. Cohen was almost first out the box with a criticism of the war from a conservative perspective. (The redoubtable Stanly Kurtz at NRO may have been the first.) In fact, I cannot recall anything of Prof. Cohen’s that I have disagreed with.

His most recent column occasioned the thought that perhaps it was time for me to learn more about Prof. Cohen. In all the riches of the Internet, I could find precious little that I disagreed with. Indeed, he wrote an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, from the painfully establishment Council on Foreign Relations, in which he dilated on the realities of empire. For a whole host of reasons, thinkers both left and right dodge the word “empire,” even though every single large country in history has been a “multi-ethnic empire,” defined as a political entity cobbled together by one particular ethnic group with a large enough army to beat up on related neighbors. That definition applies to modern day England (without even going into the “United Kingdom”) France, Germany, Italy, and—most obviously—Spain. Everyone else, take a ticket and stand in line. I first noticed that reality running through the footnotes to the magisterial Open Society And Its Enemies, by my intellectual idol Karl Popper. Clear vision on that point dispenses with loads of nonsense both left and right. (Peter Brimelow, call your office.)

And it turns out that the thesis which some found so dangerous was that the executive arm of government must take a strong stand as against the military leadership. Oh, how villainously Madisonian of him. The best review I found stressed that he emphasized that a full debate must be allowed, but that the executive must be unapologetic in exercising its prerogatives.

But Prof. Cohen is listed as a “neocon,” and I am “neither paleo- nor neo-, just con.”

The resolution of that little problem is that there is probably no real difference between “neo” and just “con.” The Weekly Standard, the hometown rag for neocons, has—a little late, guys—led the healthy criticism of our foreign policy, whereas Paul Gigot—whose intellectual roots are with the Wall Street Journal editorial page he now leads, and so is just “con”--has wagged his finger at W. that if he does not take military action against Iran—with what army, he does not specify—the President will be betraying that 51% of the electorate that returned him to office.

Let us note that Prof. Cohen apparently believes the executive should take charge after a full debate, whereas certain boosterish thinkers seem to feel that any debate is in itself treason. There is another space where there needs to be real debate.

The answer to Ms. O’Beirne comes from the first presidential debate. Quoth the President: “Let me -I'm not exactly sure what you mean, passes the global test.” That little dash there conveys a look of genuine bewilderment on the part of the President. He started to give a stock answer, and then went with his gut. I am not the first to say that the gut, the instincts, are what counts in a candidate, but here is well-illustrated a point by the chief advocate of rational criticism, Karl Popper. Thank God, he is once reported to have said, for people who cannot explain why they believe what they believe.

And why did I vote for W? Because according to one report by Fred Barnes, he was positively Machiavellian in arranging the selection of Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi. And because he blurted out that we cannot win the war on terrorism. Prof. Cohen, if memory serves, said that a war on terrorism is the equivalent of FDR’s declaring a war against bombers after Pearl Harbor. I have put it more bluntly: a War on Terror makes as much sense as a War on Toothpicks. Terror is a device, a tool—an evil one, to be sure. But the problem is the terrorists.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 2:37 PM



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