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Steve Clemons: McChrystal's "Confidence Job" on Carl Levin and Al Franken

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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:56 AM
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Steve Clemons: McChrystal's "Confidence Job" on Carl Levin and Al Franken

Senator Carl Levin, just back from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan which he took with Senator Al Franken, sees significant gains in America's position in Afghanistan.

McChrystal's "Confidence Job" on Carl Levin and Al Franken
Steve Clemons
Publisher of "The Washington Note"
Posted: January 16, 2010 04:02 PM

But how can that be?

The only substantive differences between the highly bleak assessments of the Afghan scene in leaked reports authored by Commanding General Stanley McChrystal and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry on the one hand and Senator Levin's very rosy assessment of progress offered this week are Barack Obama's West Point speech and the deployment of a 1500 person Marine infantry unit and approximately 500 or so other troops from other corners of the DoD.


I respect Senator Levin for sharing his thoughts and for frequently showing great leadership in matters of national security policy, but he must scratch his own head, as I am, wondering if that this is all about confidence building (con game or not?), how could the picture he was presented by the McChrystal-Caldwell-Rodriguez team on this trip be so at odds with the picture they painted during the President's strategic review process?

It can't all be about an Obama-led "confidence multiplier."

If it is, then the question really is why not stick with the oratory and current levels of deployment and forego the 30,000 additional troops and extra $33 billion a year price tag?

Rest of article at:

unhappycamper comment: This reminds me of Westmoreland's Five O'Clock Follies. The only difference is the military has a dog and pony show for congress people rather than the media.


Dealing with the press

From 40 in 1964, the press corps in South Vietnam had grown to 282 by January 1966. By August that number had jumped to 419. Of the 282 at the beginning of the year, only 110 were Americans. 67 were South Vietnamese, 26 Japanese, 24 British, 13 Korean, 11 French, and seven German. Of the Americans present, 72 were more than thirty-one years old, and 60 of them were over the age of thirty-six. The same was true of the 143 non-Americans.<41> Correspondents with valid accreditations had to show their credentials in order to receive a card that gave them access to military transportation and facilities. All other correspondents had to present a letter from their editors stating that they represented a bona-fide newsgathering organization which would take responsibility for their conduct. Freelance correspondents were required to produce a letter from one of their clients affirming that agency's willingness to purchase their work.<42>

The U.S. Mission and MACV also installed an "information czar", the U.S. Mission's Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, Barry Zorthian, to advise Westmoreland on public affairs matters and who had theoretical responsibility under the ambassador for the development of all information policy. He maintained liaison between the embassy, MACV, and the press; publicized information to refute erroneous and misleading news stories; and sought to assist the Saigon correspondents in covering the side of the war most favorable to the policies of the U.S. government.<43> Zorthian possessed both experience with the media and a great deal of patience and tact while maintaining reasonably good relations with the press corps. Media correspondents were invited to attend nightly MACV briefings covering the day's events that became known as the "Five O'Clock Follies". The Saigon bureau chiefs were also often invited to closed sessions at which presentations would be made by a briefing officer, the CIA station chief, or an official from the embassy who would present background or off-the-record information on upcoming military operations or Vietnamese political events.<44>

According to Daniel Hallin, the dramatic structure of the uncensored "living room war" as reported during 1965-1967 remained simple and traditional: "the forces of good were locked in battle once again with the forces of evil. What began to change in 1967...was the conviction that the forces of good would inevitably prevail."<45> During late 1967 MACV had also begun to disregard the decision it had made at the Honolulu Conference that the military should leave the justification of the war to elected officials in Washington. The military found itself drawn progressively into politics, to the point that it had become as involved in "selling" the war to the American public as the political appointees it served.<46> This change would have far-reaching detrimental effects.
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StarfarerBill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 09:43 AM
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1. As I thought: Levin and Franken got a Potemkin tour; everything set up to look fine and dandy.
They apparently never went out to the countryside, where people are fighting and dying.

Just like Viet Nam...
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 10:35 AM
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2. Oh, you can probably bet whatever was done in Vietnam was NOTHING compared to what they are doing
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 10:51 AM by tom_paine

Considering the Big Picture: the Bushist Purges of High Command from 2001-2005 (hell, it may be going on still for all I know, ask Gen. Taguba - LOL), no doubt massive intimidation of everyone and everything else (it IS their preferred mode as well as a doggedness and relentlessness common to zealot, medieval types) one must assume that the games Gen. Westmoreland played have been refined fifty times over using the most advanced techniques that psychology, PR, neurobiology and all the rest the CIA boys use to write their modern equivalent of "Coup D'Etat - A Manual"...

Anyway, my guess is, OUR Potemkin Theater is about 5000X more effective than anything the old Soviets could do, complete with 100% real-looking digitally remastered photos, made possible by new technologies.

In the end it comes back to the old chestnut, skepticism and the eternal imperatives of human interactions (Levin and Franken must make a subconscious or conscious decision to view with a certain level of skepticism, they certainly won't accuse Cheney-McChrystal of lying but internally...)

As we watch our government, most of the important parts STILL controlled by the Bushies' Shadow Government it seems, slide into an increasingly Authoritarian nature including State-Controlled (or in this case coerced with Plausible Deniabilty through Corporate Channels) and having seen Obama powerless to slow or halt it at any meaningful level, nothing can shock or surprise me anymore.

We face the dilemma of the 1970s Russians. Our information stream is so corrupted that it is very difficult to distinguish lies from truth on any topic anymore.

As they say in electronics, biology and probably a lot of other professions, these days, the signal to noise ratio is too low.
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