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December 27, 2004

Supersize Me

Doomsaying seems to be the new favorite pastime of the dainty people. These days they are panty-bunched about this thing called the BRIC.

Today's reactionary reaction was this. Reporters around the globe are praying for Rumsfeld's departure. The reporters who commented on this matter made the point in a rather backhanded way. It was that this war in Iraq is the biggest America has been in since Vietnam, and whether or not the keepers of moral outrage like to think so or not, many Americans are looking at the numbers. I know I am. I think Rumsfeld hasn't killed enough American soldiers yet. He has to hit a Texas-sized number for his failures to resonate with the American public the way they do elsewhere. Not coincidently, I think that the numbers argument holds as well for the tortured prisoners. This occupation and house to house fighting is simply not numbing us with the sheer tonnage that usually gets our blood up. If you ask Americans if they believe that the world has suffered enough for nine-eleven, the answer is no. Forget the cockeyed aim, forget the misdirection, because these are political details. Americans by and large want to be even-handed, and we will pull back and say 'my bad' if our misstep is large enough. What I believe defenders maintain is that we may have misstep, but on the whole, we're still down and we haven't made a big enough mistake to back out.

Aside from the recent delicious detail delivered by Dexter Filkins, there has been a real dearth of reportage that gives us any apolitical perspective about what transpires on the ground. It is my opinion that we are doing ourselves a disservice by trumping up the political volume in calling for Rummy's head. It shows an America unable and unwilling to kill. That's really an important bottom line. You have to ask yourself how we get to the point of asking disingenuously if the Secretary of Defense is sensitive enough to the needs of the soldiers because he uses a machine to sign letters.

Serving the purposes of the not-so-shrill Right, I do nevertheless, feel the pain of America's besmirched reputation on the matter of torture. Yet I reserve my outrage. Outrage is not a particularly useful form of political engagement as far as my ethics are concerned. And I think that is part and parcel of the decorum of conservative ethics as I see them. Conservatives understand that the natural trend is towards entropy, so we are not surprised when the world goes to shit. We are always in one of two modes, putting on armor and backing into a corner or making dollars while the sun shines. The more sophisticated of us master the art of hedging. My view on the matter of torture remains much the same as before. Our monsters are temporary and they are on a shorter leash. I pay no attention to 'international law', and am satisfied that the Liberals among us sustain an adequate amount of outrage to keep that leash strong.

But with that comfort comes the knowledge that it is not my job as a Conservative to show outrage at the excesses of our engagement in the Middle East, rather it is to show the limits of my hawkishness, which is as I said, somewhere around Vietnam sized. By doing the Arab World a great geopolitical favor, we have also made demons of ourselves. The good deed has not gone unpunished. But I am no longer inclined to rate the outrage of Arab states on par with that of Americans. I'm beginning to see some relativity here. Instead, I am disturbed that American Liberals are taking Arab outrage at face value and defaulting to the propaganda of Al-Jazeera. It's bad enough that we don't have an adequate supply of battle-hardened American reporters, but to echo the sentiments that our cause is lost because of a single explosion that kills 60 odd combattants while they eat lunch is singularly retarded. As callous as it sounds, all of this is within the force reduction estimate.

Is it because the sweep through Falluja was a success that the attention of news crews has moved to Mosul? It's difficult for me to see otherwise given the arduous tasks described up close by Filkins. But American soldiers crying, wounded and confused make for the pictures of the year.

Posted by mbowen at December 27, 2004 09:26 AM

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COBB COMMENTARY: Supersize Me from Booker Rising
The moderate-conservative Republican argues that doomsaying is liberals' new favorite pastime, despite the historically low number of U.S. casualties in Iraq: "But with that comfort comes the knowledge that it is not my job as a Conservative to show ... [Read More]

Tracked on December 27, 2004 02:13 PM

All Quiet on the Fallujah Front from Vision Circle
Given the jarring blackout of progress reportage on Fallujah, this supersize me screed at Cobb begged some questions. Didn't take much backchannel searching to come up with fair and balanced coverage in the south asian press Against the most heavily... [Read More]

Tracked on December 27, 2004 10:01 PM


Excellent Post, totally express what I feel on this issue.

Posted by: Scott at December 27, 2004 02:12 PM

I think most of it is that the insurgency leadership that escaped Fallujah is looking to set up Mosul as their next AO, due to Mosul's large Sunni population.

Hopefully, we have anticipated this possibility and are acting accordingly...

Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at December 30, 2004 02:18 PM