Pundit Andrew Sullivan, who supported the war in Iraq but has lately begun to notice that he may have been mistaken, is nevertheless clinging to hope that the debacle can be salvaged. Yesterday he posted the following observations, from "a source of mine whom I've learned to trust as an honest observer," about the recent killing of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:
I am impressed with Casey, Khalilzad and the new Iraqi PM. ... As for Zarqawi, they all recognize the essential silliness of portraying him as the embodiment of the opposition, but given the resources the US has poured into this massive psyops, their feeling is: why not get a little boost out of it themselves? Hence the claim that it's the end of al Qaeda in Iraq, and the out-of-perspective presentation of al Qaeda's role in the insurgency. ... So: misleading, but very sound politics.
Sullivan takes this as evidence that "we seem to have turned a little corner, in as much as the administration is now dealing with reality, rather than fantasy."
Actually, it sounds to me like they're simply offering another fantasy. Interesting, isn't it, that Sullivan chooses to "trust as an honest observer" someone who thinks "misleading" is "very sound politics"?
As John and I pointed out in Weapons of Mass Deception and in our new book that's coming out this fall, the mess in Iraq began because some clever propagandists realized that misleading (about alleged weapons of mass destruction, and about fabricated links between Iraq and 9/11) could be "sound politics" for the Republican party. They used war rhetoric in 2002 as an election-year wedge issue to win solid majorities in both houses of Congress. The new "essential silliness" isn't much different from the old silliness, except that it comes at a time when the bloom is off the rose, and even supporters of the war like Sullivan can barely bring themselves to believe it. Instead of accepting it outright, therefore, he argues that the new propaganda demonstrates some sort of newfound sophistication in the war effort.