Scripting News for 12/15/2006

Happy Birthday Betsy the Babe!! 🙂 

Interesting comments on What is Victory, below

I’m watching Scoble’s interview with Mark Lucovsky at Google. I have to admit there was a point where my chin hit the floor. Guess where that is. Beyond that point, well, I don’t really support the idea of a search engine where you can only find one brand of hotel. I believe in modeless software, search should always be search, nothing more nothing less. Perhaps the day of the “professional” developer is over. 

Scoble explains why no hard questions for Bill Gates.  

Remember the press room thing I wanted to do, why don’t we organize one for big tech companies and the same kinds of bloggers that went to Microsoft’s thing, except the bloggers pay their own way and the companies pay us to get 1/2 hour to present and then a few of their people can mingle throughout the day. We buy food, wifi, a big hotel suite (or small ballroom), level the playing field and let the ideas flow without worrying so much about social behavior. I figure we could do a first class job for about $25K for a day. 

Wired reviews MP3 tag editors for Windows, Mac & Linux. 

What is victory? 

On the lunch walk with Lance on Wednesday, we talked about the level of reality the MSM is willing to report, and how it lags behind discernable reality by a matter of weeks or months.

For example, it wasn’t until after the election that they were willing to call the fighting in Iraq a civil war. Now the discussion has moved beyond that, and they’re almost willing to say we’re losing the war in Iraq, and that the President somehow wants a strategy to win the war. (They quote the incoming SecDef, heroically, for admitting that we’re “not winning,” which isn’t exactly the same as losing.)

Going all the way back to the beginning of the war, the MSM didn’t ask the obvious question — given that there’s no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, why are we invading them now? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to focus all our energy at rooting out and destroying the people who organized the attack? It seems we should have been talking about that, not just in hindsight, it seemed that way at the time, too.

But now, in late 2006, we seem to still be at least one step behind where we should be. When talking about winning and losing, how could we know, when we haven’t got a way to measure success or failure? Simple, obvious point — but, again, we’re not looking at what’s necessary and obvious, at our peril, really. It could get a lot worse. I don’t think people are factoring that in. Or so it seems.

In World War II, victory in Europe was clear when Hitler was dead and the Allies occupied Berlin. The Pacific war was over and won when the Japanese surrendered and we occupied Tokyo. Even the Cold War had a clear outcome, amazingly. I suspect most people wouldn’t have thought it would ever end, but it did. We won that war too.

I suppose we could spell out some formula for victory in Iraq, but until the President tells us what his definition is, there’s no point. Whatever the goal, I certainly wouldn’t support sacrificing any more American lives even to turn Iraq into a peaceful country. And from everything I’ve read, it seems this would take 10 or 20 years, if it could happen at all. But I think there’s reason to believe that Iraq can’t get on with finding peace until we leave, as long as the country is occupied, that will be the issue everyone talks about and fights over.

So maybe the MSM could help us by starting to make this the question of the day: What is victory, Mr President, while we’re waiting for you to tell us how you’re going to win?


The People of the World

7 responses to this post.

  1. Dave, I couldn’t agree with you more about *most* of the mainstream coverage of the entire Iraq calamity. But as to your question of the day, the president obligingly provided an answer 13 months ago:

    Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
    * Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
    * Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
    * Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

    You can read more at that link above.

    I guess my question is whether this kind of definition really was a help then, let alone now. Bush’s “National Strategy for Victory” was based on the same sort of fantastic thinking the initial invasion was built upon. One of the lessons of the last four years is that, beyond being far less competent than even the most damning of their critics would have guessed, Bush and the people around him have been utterly unwilling and unable to address the reality they’re dealing with (remember when the insurgency was just a few thousand dead-enders and foreign jihadis?). You’re right that the MSM has been behind on getting to the truth of the situation. I’d say they’re finally getting the message across about the realities of Iraq–I mean, the opinions expressed in these polls ain’t coming from thin air; the reality they have to catch up to now is the incapacity of the people who have our nation in their hands, the people who still think there’s a victory to be won in Iraq.

    End of rant.


  2. Posted by Sam on December 15, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Interesting you mention the Cold War, since to me that’s the closest analogy from recent history to all the messes we (the U.S. for purposes of this comment) are in around the world currently. You just have to substitute Islamic fundamentalism for communism. Did anyone really have a strategy for victory in the Cold War? Admittedly I mostly only lived through the latter part of it, but I don’t really ever remember hearing about one. Somehow, after the fact, we noticed that we “won” it, but I think it would have been pretty hard even 5 years before that date (whichever one you want to pick) to say with any certainty when we were going to win.


  3. Did anyone really have a strategy for victory in the Cold War?

    Yes. George F. Kennan did. He is the diplomat who created the strategy of “containment” that guided US foreign policy for forty years.

    “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” is an article Kennan published anonymously in Foreign Affairs magazine in 1947 to put forward the containment strategy. The article describes the aim of containment as

    to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.

    Before he took the strategy public with that article, he laid it out internally in what has become known as “the Long Telegram“. This was an 8000-word cable sent by Kennan to the State Department upon the conclusion of his term as the head of the American embassy in Moscow.

    Kennan’s ideas were picked up by George Marshall (then Secretary of State) and President Harry Truman, and formed the nucleus of the so-called “Truman Doctrine“, which put containment into action by offering aid to Greece and Turkey, both of which were threatening to fall to Communist insurgencies.

    The State Department has a good overview of Kennan and his role in formulating postwar American strategy on their Web site.


  4. Dave: your idea is very strong and I still believe it is relevant. It is the bloghaus that we are doing at CES except no one is pitching anything. It’s a press room for bloggers, podcasters, and videobloggers. This is inspired by some of your ideas.

    Btw: $25k per day is about the number.


  5. John I should probably go to CES and hang out at your Bloghaus. Got an extra room at the Belagio?? 🙂


  6. Posted by Nicholas Paredes on December 16, 2006 at 9:09 am


    Winning the coldwar was really about economic attrition, something not lost on out terrorist foes. Fundamentalism cuts both ways, and W personally represents a fundamentalism as insidious as those he strives to eliminate. Perhaps the republic will survive intact, and we can thank our terrorist forefathers for their political insight.



  7. Dave: we might have an extra room. You should be there… If I have an extra room do you want it?


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