Thursday, February 28, 2008


Times Reports Internet Buzz

The NY Times continues in their partisan campaign to find ways to discredit or diminish Sen. John McCain as Presidential Candidate. This time, the always reliably partisan Carl Hulse was tasked to pound out a tendentious cloud of oblivious blather about whether John McCain is eligible to run for President.

Hulse begins with this howler of an assertion:

WASHINGTONThe question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.

Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.

The worlds most quiet nagging, no doubt, and a “debate” so musty that it’s acquired over 200 years of dust since anyone’s seriously made the argument. No settled debate too archaic to escape the probing attention of NYT muckrakers, if a remote possibility exists that any of it will stick to their political opposition.

Blather, speculate, and cite academics who’d love to see the GOP candidate suffer any ill effects -- regular readers of the Times can imagine how the rest goes without needing to read further.

But in fairness, the NYT points to two pieces of legislation that directly clarify what little ambiguity stands in the Constitution:

Quickly recognizing confusion over the evolving nature of citizenship, the First Congress in 1790 passed a measure that did define children of citizens “born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States to be natural born.” But that law is still seen as potentially unconstitutional and was overtaken by subsequent legislation that omitted the “natural-born” phrase.

Mr. McCain’s citizenship was established by statutes covering the offspring of Americans abroad and laws specific to the Canal Zone as Congress realized that Americans would be living and working in the area for extended periods. But whether he qualifies as natural-born has been a topic of Internet buzz for months, with some declaring him ineligible while others assert that he meets all the basic constitutional qualifications — a natural-born citizen at least 35 years of age with 14 years of residence.

Nice touch. In the first case, Hulse notes the very early fix (within scant years from the Constitution’s adoption), but then invokes unseen and unidentified authorities who see the law as “unconstitutional” and “overtaken by subsequent legislation.” None of the  serious Constitutional scholars weighing in today have attested to such views. (And how exactly does that work, where subsequent legislation overtakes, and in some fashion, invalidates what came before, without in any way refuting or rescinding?)

In the second reference, Hulse offsets statutes that held sway over the Panama Canal Zone, by invoking the heady and definitive scholarship of Internet Buzzmakers. Buzz, buzz, those internet bees, the stuff of academic (and journalistic) legend.

Matthew Franck, writing at NRO’s Bench Memos, offers an excellent critique of the NYT, including doubt about whether this issue has “nagged” anyone, mention of the 1790 act of Congress and lots of other Constitutional and other judicial detail.

Franck’s assessment is blunt:

The last line of the Times article, quoting the author of a long-ago law review article, is that "it is certainly not a frivolous issue."  I think that's just what it is, Ptolemaic epicycles of abstruse constitutional reasoning to the contrary notwithstanding. 

(Via Memeorandum)

A child born abroad to a US citizen in the military is automatically granted US citizenship as “natural born.” They are usually given birth certificates with a title, "US Citizen Born Abroad," issued by the US State Department.

My daughter was born in Germany in 1987 while stationed there, she was born in a German hospital (off base), yet the process is well understood by military and even German authorities, who confirmed at the time that my daughter WAS NOR eligible for (dual) German citizenship.

The US State Dept. processed and issued the birth certificate as part of normal consular activities.

Hey, NY Times! Look what I was able to Google: a US State Department information sheet on documentation for US citizens born abroad.

Documentation of United States Citizens Born
Abroad Who Acquire Citizenship At Birth

The birth of a child abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) should be reported as soon as possible to the nearest American consular office for the purpose of establishing an official record of the child’s claim to U.S. citizenship at birth. The official record is in the form of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America. This document, referred to as the Consular Report of Birth or FS-240, is considered a basic United States citizenship document. An original FS-240 is furnished to the parent(s) at the time the registration is approved.

Because, of course, persons born to US Citizens abroad are automatically granted the status of natural born citizens. Much like spurious email chain letters, the NYT (and internet buzz) imaginings that question McCain’s eligibility rests on US citizenship documentation processes for US territories and possessions. Again, from the US State Dept.:

NOTE: Consular Reports of Birth are not available for persons born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal Zone before October 1, 1979, the Philippines before July 4, 1946, American Samoa, Guam, Swains Island, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the former U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands. Birth certificates for those areas, except the Panama Canal Zone, must be obtained from their respective offices of vital statistics. Panama Canal Zone birth certificates should be requested through the Vital Records Section of Passport Services (see address below.) The fees are the same as those for DS-1350.

The oddity in the case of McCain rests on an anomaly of how the birth of such US citizens was documented for the Panama Canal Zone. Documentation for the birth of US citizens in US territories and possessions were issued by territorial Office of Vital Statistics. And since those offices no longer exist for the Panama Canal Zone, you have to request copies from US State Department Passport Services.

And nowhere in that process was there ever any process required to naturalize little Johnny McCain. No necessity at all, since he was a natural born US citizen.

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Monday, February 25, 2008


Obama Fact Checking

Presidential candidate and Commander in Chief aspirant Sen. Barack Obama apparently stood in a debate last week with competitor Sen. Hillary Clinton. During the debate, Obama used an anecdote provide him by an Army Captain, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, and wanted to share some criticisms of his deployment with Obama.

Here’s what Obama actually said:

“You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon -- supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon," he said. "Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.”

As anyone knowledgeable about the military might surmise, that set off a firestorm of criticism.

Many wondered in the Captain actually exists, or served in Afghanistan as a Platoon Leader.

Yes, he exists, and yes, he served as a Platoon Leader back when he was a Lieutenant, and yes, he and his platoon deployed with 24 out of a possible 39 soldiers. So thus far Obama’s purported source passes the same level of “existence” checks as Scott Beauchamp of TNR Diary fame.

Stephen Spruiell, writing at The Corner, did a good job capturing the other immediate, critical reaction several factual “features” of Obama’s little story. Their objections and calls of BS center on three features of Obama’s tale.

First, Captains don’t lead Rifle platoons. Lieutenants do, and usually 2nd LTs at that. Second, Platoons themselves don’t get split up for different theater assignments Companies are the smallest organizational chunk that ever gets farmed out, and even that’s extremely rare, and rarely in theater level assignments, unless they’re a rare combat service or service support company.

Third, critics savaged the notion that equipment and ammo shortages forced the CPT and his unit to scrounge, salvage or capture enemy equipment to make up the shortfall. Knowledgeable MILBLOGGERS and their readership have been vehement, and unanimous, that this hasn’t not happened in Afghanistan.

For good reason, it turns out. ABC’s Jack Tapper scored an interview, courtesy of the Obama Campaign, with the Army Captain at the source of Obama’s anecdote.

Tapper rather blissfully states that “Obama’s anecdote checks out,” he must be using the same kind of fact checking methodology as TNR in their War Diarist debacle.

To return briefly to what Obama actually said, Obama stated that his Army Captain deployed to Iraq with 24 of the 39 he was authorized, and that as a consequence, “they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees.” He further alleged that those shortfalls necessitated their capture of enemy weapons to make up for their shortfalls, as it was easier to capture what they needed than to get (properly) supplied “by our current commander in chief.”

Here’s what Tapper reports about the “ammo shortages:”

At Fort Drum, in training, "we didn't have access to heavy weapons or the ammunition for the weapons, or humvees to train before we deployed." What ammunition? 40 mm automatic grenade launcher ammunition for the MK-19, and ammunition for the .50 caliber M-2 machine gun ("50 cal.")

As First Sergeant of a National Guard unit which mobilized in 2004 and deployed to Iraq in 2005, I am not surprised that ammo for these two weapons systems might have been in short supply in 2003, given the OPTEMPO. We ourselves had no training shortages, but we didn’t get much more than qualification fire time, either. Though qualifying did take some time, going from a minimum number of qualified soldiers to a very healthy maximum number of those likely to be assigned.

Then, there’s the outrageous notion that soldiers needed to capture what they needed. When interviewed by Tapper, the Army Captain contradicted Obama, rather than “backed him up:”

"The purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons," he said, but on occasion they used Taliban weapons. Sometimes AK-47s, and they also mounted a Soviet-model DShK (or "Dishka") on one of their humvees instead of their 50 cal.

The underlying story behind Obama’s politicized anecdote, minus a few important details and with factual rearrangement, may be thought be some to “check out.” The unit was deployed without soldiers who had been transferred, there were ammo shortages, during training at Fort Drum, and the unit may have had vehicle shortages, as many units did in 2003, when this story takes place.

Obama, however, greatly elaborated on his storyline by: avoiding mention of when this took place and implying a currently existing state of affairs; falsely attributing causality between the shortage of soldiers to a shortage of ammo and equipment; and falsely depicting any relationship between any perceived weapons or equipment shortages and capturing weapons from the Taliban.

To a military reader, that falls far short of “checking out,” hence all the calls of BS and fabrication. But again, note that it was Obama, not the Army Captain whose fair criticisms he badly mischaracterizes, who has created the false fabric upon which the factual details are stitched.

Yes, the CPT's unit was short of ammo -- but only for range fire at Fort Drum in the US during mobilization training. That's a far cry from the intimation that troops were lacking ammo in combat, and thus had to salvage from the Taliban.

Yes, some of the soldiers pulled from the Rifle Platoon were reassigned to units that then were sent to Iraq -- some but not all. Glossing it all over as if the Army robbed Peter to pay Paul is misleading at best. Did the soldiers fill vacancies in units leaving immediately, whereas the Afghan bound Platoon left 6 months later?

Then, the belated acknowledgement that the CPT did his Afghan tour in 2003. With two big deployments just underway, it took 1-2 more years before vehicle shortages caught up. Yet, Obama's anecdote certainly conveyed the impression of negligent under-equipping of our soldiers. Ask any of us whether we had too little, or too much equipment.

And read closely this account of WHY the CPT's soldiers captured or confiscated enemy weapons. He states clearly the reason WAS NOT that they didn't have enough of their own.

Obama's use of this anecdote was rhetorical flourish, to be sure, and such always contains more gas than solid. But in this case, he exaggerates an anecdote from 5 years ago, twists it to fit his political purposes, and conveys all manner of impression not supported by facts.

(Tapper interview via The Corner.)

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


Partisan Times Slimes McCain

While indignant centrist to conservative critics taking on the NY Times for an obvious aged-and-saved hit piece on John McCain, Andy McCarthy offers counterpoint, writing at the The Corner.

No, he hasn’t echoed leftward critics, reliably chomping on the bait and spinning all manner of slurs and innuendo. Rather, McCarthy asserts that the primary reason McCain expressed disappointment in the Times, was that McCain has for years grown accustomed to more favored treatment as quo for quid:

Senator McCain appears to have been smeared by the Times. I'm sorry that happened, but if indignation is the order of the day, count me out. You see, I also feel sorry — really sorry — for the intelligence officers who've been maligned as torturers, for those who want the immigration laws enforced and are libeled as racists, for those who doubt the wisdom of campaign finance reform and are glibly scandalized as promoters of public corruption, and so on. Each of these Gray Lady smears has a common thread: John McCain has been only too happy to help, and to bask in the resulting glow: the Times' very own favorite Republican.

The Senator's reaction says it all: he's "disappointed in the New York Times." Of course, we can only be disappointed by those from whom we expect better. McCain expects better from the Times because he's accustomed to getting it, and he's accustomed to getting it because he's been very good about holding up his end of the bargain — especially when it comes to demagoguing the Right. The Times is a politicized rag and no one should take satisfaction in seeing McCain subjected to its journalistic version of waterboarding. I only wish I were convinced the Senator would learn the right lesson from this experience. I'm not.

If the political Left in America possesses a tragic flaw particularly graver than others, it is this proclivity for shunning genuine debate in favor of rhetorical assault.

Yet somehow, for the ever-aggrieved progressives, reasoned, logical criticism of statements and positions gets labeled political attack, from evil origins, take your pick: racism, misogyny, corruption, militarists, faux-patriotic rogues, and so on.

J. Peter Freire, writing at American Spectator, explains the media bias back story for the Times piece:

Make no mistake: The Times story is thinly sourced, and heavy on already-reported information. Admittedly the former is necessary to investigative political reporting, and drives campaign teams up the wall (which makes it worth it). But the timing is key. According to Jonathan Martin and Jim Geraghty, this article had been leaked to Drudge in December, when it was to be published among other articles in a series ("The Long Run") about the candidates running in the primaries. At that time, the Times had already published a rather favorable piece about McCain as a father. The editors, apparently, decided to hold this story rather than run it earlier, with the bulk of the series, which places them (and not the reporters) squarely in the center of yet another bias controversy. Those flames were fanned by Matt Drudge's headline: "NOW THAT HE'S SECURED NOMINATION: NYT DOWNLOADS ON MCCAIN."

That would be the favored DNC political attack stratagem: build up and cozy with the candidate you least fear (and perhaps in the case of McCain, feel is easier to manipulate) before the opposition candidate emerges; then, when nomination looks secure, unload with the real ammunition.

In this case, how does the editorial behavior of the NY Times deviate in any way from that wished by media consultants for the Democrats? The NYT might as well be a DNC press release. (Though I’m surely not surprised.)

(Spectator piece via Instapundit, lots more coverage at Memeorandum.)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008


Signs of Progress in Iraq

The US military mission in Iraq achieved several critical milestones recently, with a highly significant one imminent, passed on by Real Clear Politics.

The Washington Post commented today on the military achievements that have prompted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to approve announced military draw down in Iraq from surge highs, with a period of “pause,” to consolidate and evaluate prior to further withdrawals. The WaPo characterizes Secretary Gates’s support for his military commanders as a “change of tack”:

After meeting in Baghdad with U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, Mr. Gates announced a change of tack. He said he agreed with Gen. Petraeus and other U.S. commanders that after the already-announced drawdown to 15 brigades and 130,000 troops by July, there should be "a brief period of consolidation and evaluation" before any further withdrawals are ordered. That means it's unlikely that the U.S. troop level will reach 100,000 by the time the next president takes office. But it also means that Mr. Gates is listening to his commanders and reacting to the actual situation in Iraq rather than insisting on a preconceived policy.

His judgment looks sound. The progress since last summer has been remarkable: In Baghdad, where a sectarian war seemed to be spiraling out of control a year ago, the number of attacks dropped 75 percent from June to last month. U.S. casualties since Oct. 1 are half the average for 2006, and the lowest for any similar period since the war began. But as Gen. Petraeus repeatedly has emphasized, the gains are fragile. It's not certain that the relative peace in and around Baghdad will hold as American troop levels come down. A pause to weigh the situation -- commanders are reportedly thinking of 30 to 90 days -- would help ensure that what now looks like an opportunity to stabilize Iraq would not be squandered, along with the American lives sacrificed for it.

Which then prompts the WaPo editors to ask what’s wrong with Democratic Presidential candidates, and why they aren’t keeping up with facts on the ground?

Thanks to Mr. Gates's readiness to adjust, it's more likely that President Bush's successor will inherit an Iraq that is moving slowly toward stability rather than spiraling into chaos. So it's worth asking why Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton remain so unwilling to alter their outdated and dogmatic views about the war. Both issued statements Monday denouncing Mr. Gates's statement and the proposed pause in withdrawals; both stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that the changed situation in Iraq requires a rethinking of their plans for the rapid withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops. As Mr. Gates has recognized, to mechanically yank U.S. forces from Iraq according to a timetable inspired by American domestic politics, just when the troops appear to be succeeding, would be foolhardy as well as dangerous.

Surely there’s little good explanation for Clinton and Obama so studiously ignoring our stunning, if belated, successes in Iraq. (You’d think they weren’t very happy about these turns of events.)

Things have so stabilized in Iraq, that it’s time to normalize and formalize the status of our military in Iraq, in the same way the US has done for a century, in places like Korea, Germany, Japan, Italy, or even France. In Germany, US forces remain deployed under the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), just as they did when I served in Germany from 1984-87, and in the 1970s, 1960’s, and 1950’s.

Now, Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declare in a Washington Post editorial that it’s time to forge a SOFA in Iraq. That’s what the US does when it deploys military forces in peacekeeping, stabilization, or under the terms of security and protection arrangements. It’s time, and it’s a sign of how dramatically things have changed:

Over the past year, we have seen that Iraqis are committed to affirming their own sovereignty. The Iraqi army and police are taking the lead in providing security over much of the country. Iraq is building relationships with other nations in the Middle East. The Iraqi people want to meet their own needs and control their own destiny. And they desire a more normal relationship with the United States.

Our troops and diplomats have made untold sacrifices to help put Iraq on the path to self-sufficiency. A crucial phase in this process will unfold in the coming months, when our ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, begins negotiating a basic framework for normalized relations with the Iraqi government -- to include what is known as a "status of forces" agreement. We encourage Congress and the public to support the efforts of our senior diplomats and military officers as they forge ahead with these talks -- which we believe are essential to a successful outcome in Iraq and, by extension, the vital interests and security of the United States.

We don’t form SOFAs when we’re still fighting a war. The US tends to arrange them after we’ve won.

UPDATE: Then there’s this analysis, from the always insightful Wretchard of The Belmont Club:

This measure is vital to institutionalizing the gains won by the Surge. Iraq has long been crippled by the defective, UN-designed "closed-party list" voting system, which created political parties based on sectarian affiliation. A UN website describes why it adopted this system. It had the advantage of being easy ("no census is required") and creating what in the UN view was an appropriate structure of political coalitions. The trouble was the system encouraged the very same fraction that took Iraq to the brink of civil war.

One of the key problems facing strategists of the Surge was to find a way to institutionalize the grassroots movement of the past year. Former insurgents would of course, be retrained and put under the discipline of the Army or Police. But what of the political leaders? The natural path was to encourage the leadership which emerged during the Surge to stand for office, which proved very difficult to do under the closed-party list system. They were dressed up with no place to go.

The impasse in Baghdad is partly the result of a logjam of sectarian interests. There are also a fair number of politicians, who because of the sectarian nature of the coalitions, are stooges of Teheran. A new election law could sweep the logjam away in a flood, with the stooges in the bargain. Electoral reform is supremely important for long term success. It is the linchpin of "reconciliation".

The new law is one of the most sweeping reforms pushed by the Bush administration and signals that Iraq's politicians finally, if grudgingly, may be ready for small steps toward reconciliation.

Passage of several pieces of legislation, along with a reduction in violence, were the primary goals of the U.S. troop increase that President Bush ordered early last year. Still pending and not likely to face positive action soon ...

The more reason to inform the American public of the logic behind electoral reform and why it is so vital. Iraqi and American lives have taken the country back from the brink of civil war and on the approaches to normalcy. But the last steps are the most important. This is where it all pays off.

Lest we ever forget the axiom, left to its own devices, the UN will always make things worse. This most recent Iraqi legislative accomplishment seeks to undo (yet more of) the harm the UN has wrought. (With the best of intentions, of course!)

(Via Instapundit)


Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Tet Revisited

Arthur Herman, writing at Journal Online, offers vivid reminder of an earlier era’s false picture of defeat, which he asserts “gave antiwar activism an unwarranted credibility that persists today in Congress.”

None of what Herman reports is new. Talk at any length with actual Vietnam Veterans, or with experts conversant with the history of US Military involvement in Vietnam, and you would have to conclude much of what many people think they know about the war is based on lies and distortions.

Much of Herman’s narrative corresponds to a slow process of historical “correction” now taking place, where the effluences of Vietnam myth, spewed from Leftist imaginings, are quietly being cleaned out of institutional crevices. (Except for those encrusted at most Liberal Arts college campuses, of course.)

Here’s the briefest of summaries of the real story, courtesy of Herman:

The Tet offensive came at the end of a long string of communist setbacks. By 1967 their insurgent army in the South, the Viet Cong, had proved increasingly ineffective, both as a military and political force. Once American combat troops began arriving in the summer of 1965, the communists were mauled in one battle after another, despite massive Hanoi support for the southern insurgency with soldiers and arms. By 1967 the VC had lost control over areas like the Mekong Delta -- ironically, the very place where reporters David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan had first diagnosed a Vietnam "quagmire" that never existed.

The Tet offensive was Hanoi's desperate throw of the dice to seize South Vietnam's northern provinces using conventional armies, while simultaneously triggering a popular uprising in support of the Viet Cong. Both failed. Americans and South Vietnamese soon put down the attacks, which began under cover of a cease-fire to celebrate the Tet lunar new year. By March 2, when U.S. Marines crushed the last North Vietnamese pockets of resistance in the northern city of Hue, the VC had lost 80,000-100,000 killed or wounded without capturing a single province.

Tet was a particularly crushing defeat for the VC. It had not only failed to trigger any uprising but also cost them "our best people," as former Viet Cong doctor Duong Quyunh Hoa later admitted to reporter Stanley Karnow. Yet the very fact of the U.S. military victory -- "The North Vietnamese," noted National Security official William Bundy at the time, "fought to the last Viet Cong" -- was spun otherwise by most of the U.S. press.

That Tet was “spun” by the US press is no exaggeration. However much “Tet as US Defeat” is viewed as common knowledge, certainly by many who opposed the war back in the day, a more detached assessment of actual facts reveals Tet as an unmitigated disaster for the North Vietnamese, their communist sponsors and sympathizers. One can always speculate on why US media and Leftist agitators so stridently insisted on a view contrary to facts, but lots of anecdotal evidence suggests at least one rather banal reason for their personal misperception. As Herman describes:

As the Washington Post's Saigon bureau chief Peter Braestrup documented in his 1977 book, "The Big Story," the desperate fury of the communist attacks including on Saigon, where most reporters lived and worked, caught the press by surprise. (Not the military: It had been expecting an attack and had been on full alert since Jan. 24.) It also put many reporters in physical danger for the first time. Braestrup, a former Marine, calculated that only 40 of 354 print and TV journalists covering the war at the time had seen any real fighting. Their own panic deeply colored their reportage, suggesting that the communist assault had flung Vietnam into chaos.

Their editors at home, like CBS's Walter Cronkite, seized on the distorted reporting to discredit the military's version of events. The Viet Cong insurgency was in its death throes, just as U.S. military officials assured the American people at the time. Yet the press version painted a different picture.

To quote Braestrup, "the media tended to leave the shock and confusion of early February, as then perceived, fixed as the final impression of Tet" and of Vietnam generally. "Drama was perpetuated at the expense of information," and "the negative trend" of media reporting "added to the distortion of the real situation on the ground in Vietnam."

The North Vietnamese were delighted. On the heels of their devastating defeat, Hanoi increasingly shifted its propaganda efforts toward the media and the antiwar movement. Causing American (not South Vietnamese) casualties, even at heavy cost, became a battlefield objective in order to reinforce the American media's narrative of a failing policy in Vietnam.

Yet thanks to the success of Tet, the numbers of Americans dying in Vietnam steadily declined -- from almost 15,000 in 1968 to 9,414 in 1969 and 4,221 in 1970 -- by which time the Viet Cong had ceased to exist as a viable fighting force. One Vietnamese province after another witnessed new peace and stability. By the end of 1969 over 70% of South Vietnam's population was under government control, compared to 42% at the beginning of 1968. In 1970 and 1971, American ambassador Ellsworth Bunker estimated that 90% of Vietnamese lived in zones under government control.

Flash forward 30 some years, and we have a pretty accurate assessment of how it is that the US Military has achieved success in Iraq, despite incessant media defeatism masquerading as objective reporting.

Fortunately, some features of the media landscape today are quite different from the 1970’s. Bloggers, especially MILBLOGS, with allies in other alternative and vibrant conservative media, make it impossible for media distortions to go unchallenged.

The sad part is, I don’t really think most reporters and journalists today are intentionally distorting war reporting, any more than they did then. People’s experiences prejudice their perceptions, and their prejudices influence every aspect of how they describe what they think they perceive, and what they think they understand about what they think they experience. (As an aside, trial lawyers can expound at length about the sworn but false testimony of eye witnesses, who remain adamant about the “facts” of what they’ve witnessed that are, nevertheless, quite untrue.)

And precisely what’s sad about that, is what would be apparent to aging activists, were they to stop and consider a more truthful picture of: 1) what caused our involvement in Vietnam, 2) the true and brutal nature of our enemies, and their intentions towards the people they sought to “liberate,” 3) the conduct of the vast majority of our military; and 4) the true results of US renunciation of our security (and moral) commitment to the South Vietnamese, both for them, and for others in the region.

If those who think they know what Vietnam was all about, what a “disaster it was,” how wrong we were to be fighting there, and how rightfully we retreated, really assessed Vietnam objectively, they would have to confront some very unpleasant truths indeed.

First, most everything they thought they knew about Vietnam was wrong. But more than that, they would have to acknowledge their considerable moral responsibility, for millions of lives, and years and years of misery.

I don’t expect such introspection from many, just as I won’t sit as mute witness to continued media malpractice in misreporting about Iraq. Jews utter the promise, “Never Again!” when speaking of the holocaust, and that slow evolution from wrong to evil to extermination.

In a similar way, those of us who see the valid, media parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, will remain determined to set the record straight, in whatever form, vehicle, or method opportunity and circumstance permit.

(Via Instapundit)

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Vets on the Hill Event, April 8

Vets for Freedom announces another mission for Iraq, Afghanistan and war on terror Vets. They’re paying the entire expense of gathering Vets in Washington on April 8, 2008, to support our military missions abroad:

On April 8, 2008 in Washington, DC, Vets for Freedom will hold America's single largest gathering of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

SIGN UP HERE to be a part of "Vets on the Hill," the culminating event of the Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour.

If you're a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, or another theater of the War on Terror, sign up today to show up on April 8 and tell Congress to support General Petraeus and our fellow troops as they continue to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unlike our anti-war opponents, we will not stage protests, chant slogans, or impede the work of government. We will meet constructively with as many members of Congress as we can to express our first-hand experiences and explain why it is important that the sacrifices of our comrades-in-arms not be in vein.

Vets for Freedom will cover all travel expenses for the trip. So mark your calendar, sign up today, and tell your fellow veterans. For more details about the event, see the "What You Can Do" section of this email.

As many of you will recall, this isn't the first time we've done this. In September of 2007, Vets for Freedom brought 250 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to Capitol Hill to support General Petraeus and urge Congress to provide the troops the resources, manpower, and time necessary to compete their important mission.

At the time, it was the largest single gathering of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to-date on Capitol Hill; and that day, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle heard the on-the-ground truth from soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen who've seen the battle first hand. Soon thereafter, they voted to fund the troops.

On April 8th, 2008 we're going to do it again. And we're going to bring even more veterans to Capitol Hill this time!

And remember, if you're on active duty-you can still participate. Current DOD regulations allow you to participate as long as you are: 1) out of uniform; 2) not speaking on behalf of "the military"; and 3) not protesting. The same goes for National Guard and Reserve troops. Please join us.

What You Can Do!

1. Sign Up. Sign up on our web-portal, and within two weeks your travel will be arranged. Veterans will be flown in to Washington, DC late on Monday, April 7th, will participate in events and meetings on Capitol Hill on April 8th, and will be flown home on the evening of the 8th. Attendance should only require one day off of work.

Ask any of the 250 veterans who joined us on Capitol Hill in September, and they'll tell you what a great trip it was-especially since we helped stop Congress from voting to undercut the troops. Don't miss your chance to do the same on April 8...on an even larger scale.

But we need you to sign up early. By signing up in the next two weeks, Vets for Freedom can schedule meetings for you with your Senator and Representative. In September we had hundreds of meeting, and we'll do so again.

There is no reason not to attend. You have 8 weeks notice, travel will be paid for, and our cause is just. Tell your buddies. Meet them in Washington, DC. And together, tell your representative where you stand.

2. Forward this Email. Send this email to everyone you know. Post it on your blog. Print it out and hand it out to friends. Get the word out, so we can get as many veterans on Capitol Hill as possible. Our goal is hundreds of veterans from all parts of our country.

This will be a must-see event. Don't miss your opportunity to join Vets for Freedom on Capitol Hill and do your part to support our fellow soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Move Out and Draw Fire!

Pete Hegseth
Executive Director
Vets for Freedom

I signed up today. I missed the gathering in September, and I decided I can’t miss another. Given the uncertainties implied by this year’s presidential election, Vets need to make their voices heard – and not just the ones who want a handout!

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