Archives: February 2004
Sat Feb 28, 2004
Iraqi Born Usama Alibashi, a rabblerouser from back in the days in Iowa City is back from a trip to Iraq:
You can also check out his writing, along with a bunch of other inspiring people in oral historian Stud Terkel's new book "Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times"
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Wed Feb 25, 2004
How the Republicans have been more successful at framing issues than the Democrats
George Lakoff discusses the process of conceptual framing in politics, and how the Republicans have been more successful at it than the Democrats
ANCHORS: MELISSA BLOCK; MICHELE NORRIS
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
In politics, there's a phrase called 'Name it and frame it.' It refers to the fine art of creating a mental framework for an image that will set the terms of a debate. For instance, when most people hear the word 'winter,' the mind automatically associates it with cold weather and snow. According to George Lakoff, framing issues in politics work much the same way.
Lakoff is a professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and he's somewhat of a rarity in politics these days. He's a self-described liberal who regularly heaps praise on the Republicans for their effective use of language. And he sharply criticizes the Democrats for their failing to use language as an effective tool. Conservatives, he says, are winning the rhetorical war because they literally set the terms for the debate. To prove his point, Lakoff looks to the debate over taxes, specifically the use of the phrase 'tax relief.'
Professor GEORGE LAKOFF (University of California at Berkeley): A linguist looking at this phrase would look at the word 'relief' and say, 'Look, whenever you have the word "relief," there is a conceptual structure, a frame in which there is an inflicted party who has this affliction and a reliever who takes this affliction away. And if anybody else wants to interfere with this hero, the reliever, he's a villain. He's a bad guy.'
If you add 'tax' to 'relief,' that imposes a metaphor that taxation is infliction. Anybody against the so-called 'tax relief plan' would be a villain. All of this is largely unconscious and automatic, but built into the words 'tax relief,' and people start thinking in terms of taxation as an affliction. Pretty soon, the Democrats are even talking about tax relief, that is they've been coopted by the language.
NORRIS: In the course of this electoral season, though, we see that Republicans and Democrats have staked out opposing turf on the debate over taxes, and we can actually hear that. We're going to listen to a couple of cuts of tape. We'll hear first from President Bush speaking recently in South Carolina and, secondly, from Senator John Kerry, who's campaigning for the Democratic nomination. He's speaking on the campaign trail. Let's listen.
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Tue Feb 24, 2004
Those French Just Won't Stop Pointing Out That Our Prez is a Schmuck
The Heart of the Matter
By Edwy Plenel
Friday 20 February 2004
Madness and Mendacity
George W. Bush has his childish side: when he can't lie any more, he tells himself stories. No need to be a great psychologist to remember: one of the poetries of childhood is its inventiveness at fabulation. From a little fib, one makes a huge novel. As adults, we remain orphans of that magic age when we could put off the real at our leisure, along with all its constraints and its ordeals. However, when recently invited to provide an explanation for his Iraq policy and for his evaluation of the immediate danger Saddam Hussein's dictatorship represented, the actual President of the United States responded; "For us, the choice was to believe the word of a madman, or to act to defend America and the world. Given that choice, I will always defend America." Confronted with the obvious non-existence of weapons of mass destruction, the supposed tangible accumulation of which was the argument that justified the war in Iraq, the White House occupant puts forward the excuse of a character from a children's story, brother of the ogre, and cousin of the devil, quite simply a "madman". Certainly, if he hasn't been declared clinically insane, Saddam Hussein has nonetheless demonstrated an undeniable pathology of power. But that's not what's important, because, after all, George Bush means to see this madman tried, condemned, and executed in the name of a political right that is exclusively his own. What makes sense in this fantasy landscape, is the proximity of mendacity and madness, of a madness pigeonholed in the most cartoonish way, as a disorder that must be rooted out, eradicated, done away with, while in confrontation with it, a state lie becomes a venial sin, a wartime ruse, a trifle, mere playful mischief.
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Maybe Ken Starr could use some work....
A NOC at Bush's Door
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 24 February 2004
Her name was Valerie Plame, and she was a NOC.
NOC is a designation within the Central Intelligence Agency which means "non-official cover." It denotes an agent working under such deep cover that said agent cannot be officially associated with the American intelligence community in any way, shape or form. In order to keep covered, a NOC will work for the CIA out of a front company, which provides the illusion that the agent is just an ordinary accountant, lawyer or businessperson.
Between the CIA and the agent, a process is created to construct an identity which obscures completely the reality of the agent's true employment. The training of these NOC agents, along with the creation of the cover stories which are known as "legends" within the agency, requires millions of dollars and delicate work. It is, quite literally, a life and death issue. Little or no protection is given to an exposed NOC agent by the American government, an arrangement that is understood by all parties involved. A blown NOC can wind up dead very easily. Because of this, the cadre of NOC agents is small and elite. More...
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Mon Feb 23, 2004
Thu Feb 19, 2004
A Note of Appreciation from the Rich
Let's be honest: you'll never win the lottery.
On the other hand, the chances are pretty good that you'll slave away at some miserable job the rest of your life. That's because you were in all likelihood born into the wrong social class. Let's face it -- you're a member of the working caste. Sorry!
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Sometimes I want to give Pat Buchanan a big hug.
March 1, 2004 issue
Copyright © 2004 The American Conservative
No End to War
The Frum-Perle prescription would ensnare America in endless conflict.
By Patrick J. Buchanan
On the dust jacket of his book, Richard Perle appends a Washington Post depiction of himself as the “intellectual guru of the hard-line neoconservative movement in foreign policy.”
The guru’s reputation, however, does not survive a reading. Indeed, on putting down Perle’s new book the thought recurs: the neoconservative moment may be over. For they are not only losing their hold on power, they are losing their grip on reality.
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Wed Feb 18, 2004
What's in a Word?
>From Alternet today:
What's in a Word?
By George Lakoff, AlterNet
February 17, 2004
What's in a word? Plenty, if the word is "marriage."
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Fri Feb 13, 2004
This is a 'white paper' from a place that I used to work at called "Applying Semantics to Marketing, A Scientist's Perspective". Creepy!
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peterme.com: Your Tax Dollars Delivering Good Design
while researching brochure designs I came across this recent blog on the National Park Service. I've always liked their brochures. In fact I have a ton of them in my obsessive compulsive map collection.
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Thu Feb 12, 2004
DailyShow: Jon Stewart
President Bush stoops to be interviewed on the most distinguished political show on television:
(you'll need RealPlayer to watch it)
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An Open Letter from Michael Moore to George "I'm a War President!" Bush
February 11, 2004 (67th anniversary of the Great Flint Sit-Down Strike)
Dear Mr. Bush,
Thank you for providing the illegible Xeroxed partial payroll sheets (or whatever they were) yesterday covering a few of your days in the National Guard. Now we know that, not only didn't you complete your tour of duty, you were actually paid for work you never did. Did you cash those checks? Wouldn't that be, um, illegal?
Watching the press aggressively demand the truth from your press secretary -- and refusing to accept the deceit, the dodging, and the cover-up -- was a sight to behold, something we really haven't seen since you took office (to watch or listen to the entire press conference, or to read the full transcript, go here).
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Wed Feb 11, 2004
Interview with President Bush on "Meet the Press"
Meet the Press
Transcript for Feb. 8th
Guest: President George W. Bush
Updated: 4:44 p.m. ET Feb. 09, 2004
Copyright© 2004, National Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
THE OVAL OFFICE, FEBRUARY 7, 2004
BROADCAST ON NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2004
PLEASE CREDIT ANY EXCERPTS TO NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”
Tim Russert: And we are in the Oval Office this morning with the President of the United States. Mr. President, welcome back to “Meet The Press.”
President Bush: Thank you, sir.
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Q So it's your position and it's the President's position that these documents put this issue to rest, period?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I think these documents show that he fulfilled his duties. These documents show that he met his requirements.
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President Sounds Like Retard - Even Neo-Lib Hawks Concede He Might in Fact Be A Retard
By Andrew Sullivan
The New Republic
Monday 09 February 2004
Many conservative commentators greeted the president's "Meet The Press" interview with considerable gloom. President Bush, they argued, seemed tired, bumbling, didn't actually answer the questions asked, and failed to address the most important issues out there in the country. I disagree somewhat. I felt his answers on the war and its general rationale, his willingness to concede errors, and his demeanor were strong and appealing to those who aren't already turned off by this president's character and personality. But it was in the second part of the interview that things, to my mind, unraveled. Bush offered no compelling rationale for reelecting him. He offered excuses on the economy; and, on the critical matter of the country's fiscal health, he seemed scarily out of touch. Here's the most worrying section of the interview, with some of my comments:
RUSSERT: The General Accounting Office [GAO], which are the nation's auditors ...
RUSSERT: ... have done a study of our finances. And this is what your legacy will be to the next generation.
It says that our current fiscal policy is unsustainable. They did a computer simulation that shows that balancing the budget in 2040 could require either cutting total federal spending in half or doubling federal taxes.
Why, as a fiscal conservative, as you like to call yourself, would you allow a $500 billion deficit and this kind of deficit disaster?
BUSH: Sure. The budget I just proposed to the Congress cuts the deficit in half in five years.
Now, I don't know what the assumptions are in the GAO report, but I do know that, if Congress is wise with the people's money, we can cut the deficit in half. And, at that point in time, as a percentage of GDP, the deficit will be relatively low.
One simple, perhaps nit-picky, point: To the question "Why ... would you allow ... this kind of deficit disaster?" the president replies, "Sure." Sure? I think I know what the president means. It's a verbal place-saver, a pause. But it's surely worth pointing out that I know of no one who can reply to an allegation that he is about to deny with an actual affirmative. "Did you kill your wife?" "Sure. I never touched her." Who talks this way?
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Mon Feb 09, 2004
Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name
Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": that is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins. When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused it. And the females aren't interested in them, either.
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Fri Feb 06, 2004
3 cups flour
1 package yeast dissolved in 1cup warm (90-100 deg F) water
2 tbsp (+ a bit more) olive oil
2 tsp salt
mix ingredients with fork, then knead. cover with damp cloth in a lightly floured bowl and put in a dark warm place to rise for a couple of hours.
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Thu Feb 05, 2004
Virginia Snodgrass mixed this up, just to get rid of the fruity bits in the fridge. I don't know proportions - you'll have to drink a few to figure that out.
1 1/2 oz Juices from blood orange, meyer lemon, and a bit of regular lemon.
3/4 oz cointreau
1 1/2 oz silver tequila
shake with ice, serve in a chilled cocktail glass with salted rim.
very classy, very unique
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Tue Feb 03, 2004
played the butler in "The Prisoner" british tv show
played an oompa-loompa in Willy Wonka
played something in Magical Mystery tour
and made an appearance in a version of Alice In Wonderland.
Also,"Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Chumblie" in episode: "Galaxy 4" (episode # 3.1) 11 September 1965. More...
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Mon Feb 02, 2004
Thank You Joe Trippi
By Scott Galindez
truthout | Perspective
Monday 02 February 2004
Democrats should be grateful to Joe Trippi. It was Joe Trippi who designed Howard Dean's grassroots campaign, a campaign that has energized the democratic base. Win or lose, the Dean campaign has benefited the party by bringing so many people back into the process, including many young people.
Dean deserves credit for standing up to Bush, but it was Trippi who built the grassroots campaign. If you told Howard Dean one year ago that he would raise 40 million dollars, finish third in Iowa and (second) in New Hampshire, he would have been ecstatic.
Exit polls in New Hampshire showed that Dean had the most first time voters: now the party's task will be to keep them engaged no matter who the nominee is. If Dean does not get the nomination, Trippi may be the key to keep the Deaniacs engaged.
The organizations that the Dean campaign has built around the country are impressive, and if the Democrats are to beat George Bush these volunteers must support the Democratic nominee with the same passion. It would be wise for the nominee to give the engineer of the Dean grassroots machine a prominent role in his campaign.
On January 31st, 2003, the Dean campaign had 7 national staff members, 432 known supporters and 157,000 dollars in the bank. In the last 12 months, over 500,000 people have signed on and contributed to the Dean campaign. Tens of thousands have attended local meetings and are actively volunteering for the campaign. Over 180,000 people have signed up to attend Dean meetups. The campaign raised over 40 Million dollars, more than other Democrat in History.
None of this would have been possible without Joe Trippi, who designed a campaign that truly empowered Dean supporters to believe that they had the power to change our country. I have heard Joe Trippi say that Howard Dean might be the last chance for us to save our democracy. I disagree; Howard Dean is a vehicle. It is the people who believed in the campaign that Joe Trippi put together who are key to taking our country back. Joe Trippi and the Deaniacs need to force the eventual nominee to become the vehicle for change. Dean supporters: You still have the power, thanks to Joe Trippi.
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A former Clintonian Democrat Turned Prophet of the New Anger, Someone Who Opposed Invading Iraq Unilaterally, It was a nice dream.
David Corn's Dis-Endorsement of Dean... More...
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Sun Feb 01, 2004
Robert McNamara: 'It's just wrong what we're doing'
In an exclusive interview, repentant Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara breaks his silence on Iraq: The United States, he says, is making the same mistakes all over again
By DOUG SAUNDERS
UPDATED AT 1:00 AM EST
Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004
'Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."
With those words, written nine years ago, Robert McNamara began an extraordinary final phase of his career -- devoted to chronicling the errors, delusions and false assumptions that turned him into the chief architect and most prominent promoter of the Vietnam war.
No historic figure has put so much effort into self-examination: At the age of 87, he has now written three very detailed and analytical books, and starred in one very good movie, devoted to the fundamental mistakes that led the United States into the most politically costly and least successful war in its history.
What, then, does he think about Iraq? Until now, the former secretary of defence has avoided comment on the actions of that job's current occupant, Donald Rumsfeld. The two are often compared to each other in their autocratic leadership styles and in their technocratic, numbers-driven approaches to war. And their wars, of course, are often likened. But Robert McNamara has insisted in staying out of the fray.
He decided to break his silence on Iraq when I called him up the other day at his Washington office. I told him that his carefully enumerated lists of historic lessons from Vietnam were in danger of being ignored. He agreed, and told me that he was deeply frustrated to see history repeating itself.
"We're misusing our influence," he said in a staccato voice that had lost none of its rapid-fire engagement. "It's just wrong what we're doing. It's morally wrong, it's politically wrong, it's economically wrong."
While he did not want to talk on the record about specific military decisions made Mr. Rumsfeld, he said the United States is fighting a war that he believes is totally unnecessary and has managed to destroy important relationships with potential allies. "There have been times in the last year when I was just utterly disgusted by our position, the United States' position vis-à-vis the other nations of the world."
On Monday night, we heard the United States at its very worst with George W. Bush's caustic State of the Union address, in which he declared, over and over, that America is serving God's will directly and does not need "a permission slip" from other nations since "the cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind."
That vision of manifest destiny, stripped of any larger view, has led down some unfortunate roads. The Iraq action, which would have been conducted in some form or another at some point under any imaginable government, would have been far better conceived if its executors had read Mr. McNamara's works instead of the Book of Revelation.
In 1995, in his memoir In Retrospect, Mr. McNamara published a list of the 11 specific mistakes he believed the United States had made in and around the Vietnam war that still had relevance in the very different political and military climate of the 21st century.
I have always been wary of comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. The circumstances are profoundly different, and the scale of conflict and death is nowhere near the same. Vietnam was a small nation engaged in a civil war that Americans misread as a Chinese incursion on all of Asia, while Iraq has been strangled by one of history's worst totalitarian dictators. The American mistake was its belief that the dictator's removal would be sufficient.
But to read Mr. McNamara's 1995 list today (see sidebar) is to read an uncanny analysis of the missteps of the Iraq campaign. He told me that this list has come to haunt him as he watches the Mesopotamian misadventure unfold.
Chief among the discoveries that led him to see Vietnam as a mistake, he said, was his realization that the United States could not, by itself, properly analyze the actions and ground-level conditions necessary to achieve the complex and ambiguous goals of a war -- reversing the influence of communism in Asia, in Vietnam's case, or bringing democracy to the Arab world, in Iraq's.
"And the reason I feel that is that we're not omniscient," he said. "And we've demonstrated that in Iraq, I think." He pointed to Washington's failure to appreciate the complexities of Iraqi culture, and therefore to anticipate the extended guerrilla war it is now engaged in -- a chief mistake of Vietnam. Without the full involvement of other major nations, he said, such mistakes will always be made.
"And if we can't persuade other nations with comparable values and comparable interests of the merit of our course, we should reconsider the course, and very likely change it. And if we'd followed that rule, we wouldn't have been in Vietnam, because there wasn't one single major ally, not France or Britain or Germany or Japan, that agreed with our course or stood beside us there. And we wouldn't be in Iraq."
In his recent book Wilson's Ghost, Mr. McNamara argued that military forces should sometimes be used to oust dictators guilty of grave crimes against humanity. However, he said, this can succeed politically and militarily only if it is done with broad international support under the aegis of a body such as the United Nations (which helped intervene in East Timor) or NATO (which led the charge in the Balkans).
"The United States is today the strongest power in the world, politically, economically and militarily, and I think it will continue to be so for decades ahead, if not for the whole century," he told me. "But I do not believe, with one qualification, that it should ever, ever use that power unilaterally -- the one qualification being the unlikely event we had to use it to defend the continental U.S., Alaska or Hawaii."
Mr. McNamara said it is particularly upsetting to see that the White House administration has ignored or failed to heed key recommendations coming from military officers on the ground in Iraq -- a crucial and oft-repeated mistake in Vietnam. American military officials in Iraq complained early that their forces were ill-equipped for the complex work of nation-building and policing, but the White House has until very recently refused to discuss using UN peacekeeping forces for such work.
Last week, the United States indicated that it is seeking the UN's assistance in the nation-building effort, a move that Mr. McNamara said is vital if the war is ever to be brought to an end, and civil life restored in Iraq.
"Many people, myself among them, thought the United Nations should have played a much greater role in connection with Iraq than it has, and I'm personally very pleased to see that the administration is thinking today of increasing the role of the UN. . . . I hope the UN will accept."
To appreciate the staggering scale of the lessons Mr. McNamara has learned, everyone ought to see the new feature documentary about him, The Fog of War. Its director, Errol Morris, is certainly the best non-fiction filmmaker alive (his Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is the most action-packed movie ever made about the philosophy of being). This film, focused tightly on the bombings of Japan in the Second World War and Vietnam in the 1960s, offers a profound fourth volume to Mr. McNamara's continuing mea culpa.
In it, he suggests repeatedly that his faith in superior military technology and the scientific potential of data processing (he was known to his 1960s critics as "an IBM machine with legs") led him to underestimate the difficulties and complexities of the cultures in which he was fighting.
The same fundamental fallacy, he said, is present today. Even though computerized and laser-guided weapons allow campaigns to be waged with only a few dozen American deaths and hundreds of foreign deaths (as opposed to the tens of thousands of American deaths and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese deaths in the 1960s and 1970s), it has become no easier to achieve society-transforming military goals, or to extricate yourself from an invaded nation.
"The new circumstances and new technology didn't help us in Iraq, and the issue there was allegedly the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons. You can't get anything more fundamental than that. The case for this was certainly made forcefully -- I think erroneously, but it was very well made. . . . And now we've just got to repair these fissures, these breaks in our relationship with many, many important powers in the world, and many important institutions."
He said many lives have been unnecessarily lost around the world because the United States has refused to support the International Criminal Court, an institution he believes could have provided an alternative to war in Iraq.
"Let's think about that in human terms -- you have to reduce the risk of killing and catastrophe," he said. "We've got to do that, and we're not paying nearly enough attention to it. And one illustration is, we don't support things that would have that as their goal . . . for example, this international court. The U.S. is totally opposed to it. I think they're absolutely wrong. We've not only refused to support it, we try to buy off countries that are supporting it."
Mr. McNamara broadly declined to discuss specific decisions made by Mr. Bush -- "I don't want to get in an argument with Bush and the administration. I don't think that advances my interests at all," he said. But he didn't mind adding that he was dismayed that members of the Republican administration have likened their position after Sept. 11, 2001, to that of John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which had been Mr. McNamara's moment of truth. Mr. Bush, he said, wouldn't have been up to it. And Mr. Kennedy would have handled Iraq differently.
Just over a year ago, Mr. McNamara travelled to Cuba and learned just how perilous that moment had been: Cuba, Fidel Castro admitted, had been home to a nuclear arsenal, and he had been willing to sacrifice his own island nation in order to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. The world really did come within moments of ending.
More than anything else, this revelation has led Mr. McNamara to argue that the Kennedy approach to the world ought to be emulated. Mr. McNamara was the first to argue, based on his own diary, that had he lived, JFK would have ended the Vietnam war in 1965.
I take that claim with a grain of salt, since I believe that Mr. Kennedy's record of endlessly reversing himself and caving in to the authority of his military commanders would have trumped his better convictions.
Nevertheless, recently declassified documents have lent the notion credence. And I do believe Mr. McNamara when he says that the Kennedy taste for international co-operation would have served the world better than the White House's current with-us-or-against-us approach.
"I don't believe that Kennedy would be reacting the way Bush is. For one thing, Kennedy reached out. A critic in those early days of the administration was John Kenneth Galbraith [the Canadian economist, who believed Vietnam was a bad idea]. And Kennedy reached out, and appointed him to a high-level position, and he talked to him about Vietnam. You don't see that today."
McNamara's 11 lessons
In 1995, former U.S. secretary of defence Robert McNamara published In Retrospect, the first of his three books dissecting the errors, myths and miscalculations that led to the Vietnam War, which he now believes was a serious mistake. Nine years later, most of these lessons seem uncannily relevant to the Iraq war in its current nation-building, guerrilla-warfare phase.
We misjudged then -- and we have since -- the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries . . . and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.
We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience. . . . We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.
We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.
Our judgments of friend and foe alike reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.
We failed then -- and have since -- to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces and doctrine. . . . We failed as well to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.
We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement . . . before we initiated the action.
After the action got under way and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course . . . we did not fully explain what was happening and why we were doing what we did.
We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.
We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action . . . should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.
We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions. . . . At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.
Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.
© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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