Saturday, July 09, 2005

LONDON BOMBINGS--A couple of days ago someone I know--a major in the Air Force--emailed me to ask my opinion on the London bombings. Here's my reply.

"As for London--this is a tough issue. Britain had previously been the
only country majorly involved in Iraq that had not suffered a direct
attack on its citizenry (USA and Spain already have, and the bombings
in Bali, Indonesia, targeted nightclubs that were heavily frequented
by Australians). Now that's not true. Britain will stand strong
through this, true enough, but what is intriguing from my perspective
is the public opinion fallout that will result from this gruesome
attack.

Many conservatives, especially Fox News pundits, have said (publicly!
check out Brit Hume!) that the attack in London is actually a good
thing, because it will remind people of the threat of terrorism and
make people come back around to the "Bush will protect us from
terrorism, no matter what other problems there are" mentality that got
him re-elected, and able to push through other legislation--thus
enabling him to regain some of the "political capital" that he has
squandered on Iraq and social security reform. The fact that this
attack was timed to coincide with the G8 summit, which was focusing on
global warming and aid to Africa, is especially pleasing to them,
because it highlights a conservative strong suit issue at the expense
of other "liberal" issues.

The bad part for conservatives about the bombing in London is the
undoing of what conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan called the
"flypaper strategy" as the main benefit of the Iraq war--namely, that
our invasion of Iraq had created a magnet for terrorists, so they
would attack the coalition forces in Iraq rather than bombing our own
lands (though somehow, if Bush had pushed the invasion of Iraq with
the rationale, "I'm going to create a terrorist haven so our military
can serve as our own personal meatshield!" I don't think too many
people would have supported the war. And then they have the gall to
blame "the liberals" for creating a negative environment that hinders
military recruitment. What a joke.). With that hypothesis disproven,
those of us that lean to the left are hoping that this bombing will
wake up the American public into realizing that Bush's policies are in
fact NOT making us safer, and we should have done the obvious by
finishing the job in Afghanistan. My main talking point has always
been that Bush has been a complete incompetent failure in the war on
terror, but nobody ever seems to listen :-)

Regardless, I don't think that the London bombing will have much
political impact over here in the states. For those that already
believe the Bush doctrine, this will merely serve to reinforce their
ideology. For those that don't, it will just do the same. To me, the
interesting part is that the British armed forces were already on
their way to reducing their presence in Iraq so as to be able to
concentrate more on Afghanistan, which is very quietly slipping back
into anarchy and civil war, with more and more areas being dominated
by a resurgent Taliban. This will do nothing but help to justify that
decision. The problem that the USA has now is that it's too late for
us to do the same thing. We don't have the manpower to take care of
Afghanistan now in the appropriate way without sacrificing the troop
levels in Iraq and turning it into a worse disaster than it already
is.

And this is the predicament that Bush--as well as the future president
of the USA, whoever he/she is--will find themselves in concerning
Iraq. Can't increase troop levels without political fallout, can't
decrease troop levels without disaster, and can't maintain the current
course, which is becoming increasingly unpopular. It's a classic
"no-way-out" situation now."


I hope that's an adequate assessment. It's sad to come to this conclusion, but I don't see it any other way.
JUDITH MILLER/VALERIE PLAME--I understand to some degree the hand-wringing from certain circles about the imprisonment of Judith Miller, and the potential cooling effect it may have on the willingness of reporters to publish information obtained from illegally leaked documents. Some people are saying that the era of journalists' privilege and whistleblowers like W. Mark Felt are over. I have heard many people--liberals--eviscerate Fitzgerald and the judge in the case for pursuing this option. All I can say is that those people don't seem--incomprehensible as it is to me--to understand one fundamental fact: Judith Miller is no Bob Woodward, and Karl Ro--I mean, whoever her source is--is no W. Mark Felt.

W. Mark Felt was a WHISTLEBLOWER. He leaked documents illegally, this is true--but the purpose of his leaks was to expose government corruption concerning Watergate. In this instance, the identity of W. Mark Felt may have been a fascinating mystery to historians, but it was not germane to the investigation of the crimes of Watergate.

Judith Miller and her source is a completely different story. In this case, the main crime being investigated doesn't go beyond the fact that the information was leaked. Judith Miller's source is not a whistleblower. Whoever it is, is a perpetrator who used the expectation that reporters will not reveal confidential sources as a shield for his (or her!) politically-motivated crime. If the source in question is the target of the investigation, and the reporter is the only link to a source who committed the crime that is the main subject of the investigation, with no other whistles having been blown, I completely fail to see how the reporter can expect to not to be held in contempt for failing to cooperate with an investigation into criminal activity. Judith Miller is a stooge for a political criminal--not a whistleblower.

I don't understand how people--liberals, especially--can fail to see the difference between these two.