Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Hyper-Sensitivity And Arming The Choir

Blogosphere legend Mick Arran, the force behind Omnium, From The Trenches, LitBlogs, and The Omnium Annex stated in an interview with BiteSoundBite, that one of the greatest benefits the blogosphere offered to the general discourse, in addition to "influencing the discussion in the mainstream media" was a phenomenon termed "arming the choir" (Mick himself was quoting Phaedrus' tag line).

Arming the choir, differentiated from "preaching to the choir," describes the process by which blogs can quickly disseminate information that might otherwise be ignored by the mainstream media, information that is necessary to shoot down spurious and baseless arguments and misinformation promulgated by one political faction or another. So, it is not just that blogs echo the beliefs and sentiments of their readers, but they actually arm their readers with vital information required to navigate the murky waters of mainstream media spin, misinformation, and buried leads.

It is in the interest of arming the choir, that I present to you today an analysis of the latest cheap shot from the habitually foul mouthed Vice President, Dick Cheney. In reaction to comments made by John Kerry that he would fight a "more sensitive" war on terrorism, Cheney deliberately
took the quote out of context and used it to unfairly characterize Kerry as soft on terrorism:

"America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive," Cheney said in Dayton. "President Lincoln and General Grant did not wage sensitive warfare -- nor did President Roosevelt, nor Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur. A 'sensitive war' will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more."
David Sirota and company at the Center for American Progress once again perform a valuable service by compiling a series of quotations extolling the virtues of a sensitive approach to foreign policy and the fighting of wars, in particular the poorly named war on terror, attributed to everyone from Cheney himself, to President Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Generals Franks and Meyers, and others. A quick perusal of some of these quotes exposes the hypocrisy and emptiness of Cheney's critique.

Juan Cole adds his perspective with a historical challenge to Cheney's assertions. Cole describes some of the "sensitive" approaches taken by Roosevelt, Churchill and Eisenhower during World War II (particularly in the North African campaign), and how these nuanced approaches were keys to the success of the campaign, whereas a blunter more dogmatic approach would most likely not have met with such fortunate outcomes. To quote Cole:

And that is the big difference between Cheney and Bush as wartime leaders on the one hand, and on the other Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Cheney and Bush are diplomatically tone deaf, projecting nothing but arrogance and being all too willing to humiliate traditional allies. They have no sensitivity. And it is for that reason that they have the U.S. stuck in Iraq with only one really significant military ally, the U.K. (the Italians only have 3,000 troops there, and most countries just a few hundred, which makes their presence a token one). They have perhaps permanently alienated all the countries that might have lent the U.S. a hand.
There is something you can take into battle.

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