Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Over at Pajamas Media, Roger Simon gives Norman Podhoretz's new book (and Bush's foreign policy) a rave review, but with one caveat:

Podhoretz's analysis contains a serious omission. In his understandable zeal to defend Bush and his doctrine from admittedly disingenuous opponents, he overlooks an inadequacy on the part of the President and his administration that is nearly fatal....

I am referring to the extraordinary inability of Bush and those surrounding him to understand and to respond to the paramount importance of public relations in asymmetrical war. Indeed, it can be argued that asymmetrical war is in essence about public relations. You would think, given the recent history of our time, the Tet Offensive, indeed the whole story of Vietnam, the administration would have known that, seen the inevitability that a powerful opposition would coalesce in the media and in the political classes (one that Podhoretz describes so well) and moved to head it off, to co-opt their opponents, but they did the opposite. They told us to go shopping.

What a basic misunderstanding or lack of understanding of human psychology is that! In World War II, all Americans were asked to participate, to come together against a common enemy. No such thing was asked of us. We were told to stand aside and let the military and the government handle things. Result? In World War II, we had Rosie the Riveter; in World War IV, we have Rosie O'Donnell.

Er, didn't we have Rosie the Riveter in World War II because we had so many men actually fighting? More than 16 million U.S. troops fought in World War II, the vast majority of them men; the present-day military has fewer than a million and a half troops, of whom fewer than 200,000 are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan at any time.

The difference between the World War II era and today isn't that people in the earlier era were encouraged to sacrifice -- it was that all of America actually was on a war footing, and shared sacrifice was necessary.

Simon looks back at noncombatants' civic engagement in that era and sees nothing more than public relations -- he thinks the government urged the people to sacrifice only because calls for sacrifice got the public in the proper frame of mind. In fact, during World War II, America was run by grown-ups -- they knew the undertaking they were engaged in was massive and they knew resources had to marshaled accordingly. President Bush thinks he's engaged in a similar massive struggle, but he also thinks he can fight it with an inadequately sized force that's long had less equipment than it needs; he thinks nation-building can be done on the cheap; and he thinks it can all be accompanied by tax cuts, because the little debt fairies who live under his desk will pay for everything, even if we go into a recession.

Simon doesn't get it -- or maybe he does and he doesn't care because he just couldn't pass up the chance to take a cheap shot at Rosie O'Donnell.


UPDATE: Just so you have a sense of who's shopping for the Podhoretz book, here are some customer-provided tags on the book's Amazon page:

liberalism is a mental disorder

hated by liberals for having facts

liberal moonbats exposed

liberals are not open minded

the truth hurts liberals

The real enemy is Osama bin who?

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