November 01, 2006

Sullivan's Dim Bulb Flickers Once More

As seems to be his pattern lately, Andrew Sullivan suckles onto one fact and uses it to fatten up a dishonest charge he cannot support:

While the media is obsessed parsing the ad libs of someone on no ballot this fall, something truly ominous has just happened in Iraq. The commander-in-chief has abandoned an American soldier to the tender mercies of a Shiite militia. Yes, there are nuances here, and the NYT fleshes out the story today. But the essential fact is clear.

What Andrew Sullivan obtusely states as "fact" is nothing of the sort.

U.S. forces withdrew from checkpoints around the Sadr City slum at Prime Minster Maliki's request, but it is quite a leap to suggest that by turning over checkpoints to the Iraqi Army, that efforts to secure the release of captured U.S Army translator Ahmed Qusai al-Taei have been abandoned.

Does Sullivan honestly believe, and does he even have the basis to believe, that the cordons around Sadr City were the only measure being taken to secure al-Taei's release? If so, Sullivan betrays a stupefying naiveté. More likely, however, he just abandoned any pretense of honesty in favor of a cheap partisan shot that suits his increasingly fractured and incoherent ideology.

I'll state in advance that I do not know specifically what U.S. and Iraqi military, police and political forces are doing to retrieve al-Taei (nor would I reveal the details if I knew them), but what I can state with a fair degree of certainty is that those who kidnapped him at gunpoint:

  • had planned the kidnapping in advance
  • had a pre-planned and nearby location where they would take al-Taei, in what they consider a safe and sympathetic area from which they are very unlikely to move

It is almost certain that al-Taei was already in this pre-planned containment area before a cordon was ever established. They are now even less likely to move him because of the much greater risk of exposure that any move would entail.

We also know that a passive cordon would only be part of an overall plan to rescue this missing soldier, based upon all-too recent experience.

When Pfcs. Menchacha and Tucker were kidnapped by al Qaeda in June, more than 8,000 soldiers from the U.S. and Iraqi armies participated in the search. We know that forces have actively searched for al-Taei by foot and air, and that there is no sign that the active searches, those that are most likely to be effective at this late stage of the kidnapping, have abated in the least.

Sullivan, of course, does not mention this, perhaps purposefully.

He wouldn’t want to ruin his pre-determined narrative:

The U.S. military does not have a tradition of abandoning its own soldiers to foreign militias, or of taking orders from foreign governments. No commander-in-chief who actually walks the walk, rather than swaggering the swagger, would acquiesce to such a thing. The soldier appears to be of Iraqi descent who is married to an Iraqi woman. Who authorized abandoning him to the enemy? Who is really giving the orders to the U.S. military in Iraq? These are real questions about honor and sacrifice and a war that is now careening out of any control. They are not phony questions drummed up by a partisan media machine to appeal to emotions to maintain power.

Actually, these are "phony questions drummed up by a partisan media machine," and, that machine is an intellectual Trabant at that.

Andrew Sullivan disingenuously misrepresents a small (and increasingly irrelevant) part of the rescue effort as the entire rescue effort, discounting all active military and police searches, intelligence gathering efforts, and back-channel political maneuvering that we know from past experience is certainly taking place.

I don’t expect Sullivan to be nonpartisan or ideologically neutral, but a do expect him to approach the subject with at least a hint of intellectual honesty that he has not thus far shown.

11-02-06 Update: Fox News confirms this morning that the back channel negotiations I mentioned above are indeed occuring. More here.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 1, 2006 03:55 PM | TrackBack

Got to disagree with you on this one. we set up the roadblocks to help us find the guy. if they were being dismantled because they were viewed as ineffective, that would be one thing. but that isn't what happened. they were taken down because the bozo maliki demanded they be dismantled. you can quibble all you want about other steps being taken, but when you take away something that is viewed as critical, it's hard to argue that getting the guy back is our top priority.

Posted by: steve sturm at November 1, 2006 04:32 PM

You are wrong on this one. The checkpoints were removed because al-Sadr demanded it through al-Maliki. Since when does al-Maliki give orders to U.S. forces? Especially forces attempting to find a captured U.S. soldier.

Sullivan is right and you are wrong. You can try to spin it all you want.

Posted by: Pug at November 1, 2006 05:44 PM

Sullivan is still an idiot because while Kerry may not be on the ballot (thanks be to God), his idiot comments are a reminder of the rhetoric and shenanigans of the Democrat Party over the past 5 years. I have plenty of reasons to vote against the GOP but nothing to vote FOR the Democrats. If anything they give me even more reason to vote against them in spite of what makes me angry with the Republicans.

Posted by: John at November 1, 2006 06:25 PM

Andrew Sullivan knows about as much Jean-Francois Kerry does about the military and the people who serve in it.

It is not surprising, thought. Both of these guys think with the wrong head.

Posted by: Nahanni at November 1, 2006 08:00 PM

Steve, i agree with you. The purpose of setting up the checkpoints is what to really look at. I don't like how they were taken down and under whose direction.
However, we can all agree they are still looking for him, so "abandon" is the wrong word. But this does seem to diminish their efforts.

Posted by: runner at November 1, 2006 09:28 PM

My understanding is that the Iraqis are going to be doing the checkpoints themselves. And I also heard that the Iraqis had arrested several people while looking for the soldier. And how do we really know who has the soldier? This is Iraq, someone could be pulling a fast one.

It just might be that there is more to all this than we know. Maliki is trying to look independent while at the same time trying not to run off the coalition. It would help if the US could gaurantee the Iraqis that we would not cut and run, but we can't and so it should not surprise us to see them trying to do more on their own.

Posted by: Terrye at November 1, 2006 11:19 PM

Well, checkpoints and cordons are an incredibly disruptive and labor-intensive way of searching for someone. It's not the sort of thing you just throw up randomly & hope you get lucky - it's only worthwhile if you have real reason to believe the victim is in the immediate vicinity.

We could have the entire 1st Infantry engaged in looking for this guy, but if they're not looking in the town we apparently believe him to be in, it's pretty flippin' pointless. We just got rooked by al-Maliki, and there's no other way to see it.

Posted by: legion at November 2, 2006 10:30 AM

Yeah, well, Bush isn't on the ballot, either, and the Dems haven't shied away from making him an issue in the campaigns of others.

"He believes what Bush believes." ergo: Bad
"He believes what Kerry believes" turnabout is fair play.

We abandoned the checkpoints because we were told to by the soveriegn government of the country to do so.

If we didn't abandon them, we'd be "defying the soveriegn Iraqi government". Since we did we are "abandoning our soldiers to a foreign militia."

If Bush eats ham, he's insulting Muslims and creating more terrorists. If Bush does not eat ham, he doesn't care about American pork farmers. If Bush listens in on Al Queda phone conversations coming into the U.S., he's "Big Brother invading our privacy". If he does not, he is "failing to protect America from what he should have known." If he wipes his nose he's killing trees. If he doesn't he's spreading disease -- engaging in Biological Warfare on his own people!

See a pattern here? Bush Wrong. The Moonbat Prime Directive.

Posted by: philmon at November 2, 2006 03:54 PM