When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

May 14, 2004

Say What, Again?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Many of you may have stopped to pause and wonder why and how it is that both sides of this war issue seem to have such radically different recollections of the arguments given and promises made leading up to the war. Well, the short answer is that folks were given different answers based on their pre-existing political leanings.

Similar behavior was seen in both the Gulf and Iraq Wars. Political leaders that were in favor of the war, but had reluctant constituencies tended, on whole, to spin their sale of the war, in a bid to bring people on board. For example, in the Gulf, a week or so after the bombing campaign started, a few Arab newspapers expressed concern that the Israelis had won in Six Days, but the vaunted Americans were taking much longer. Sort of similar to the early quagmire talk in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Arab leaders had sold the war, in part, on the notion that it would be a cakewalk, and the fact that the US troops hadn't even crossed the line raised some eyebrows and latent fears that the Americans really were paper tigers, and that the Egyptian, Syrian, and other troops would just be grist for the mill for the feared Iraqi army, as the Americans turned tail and ran.

Similar behavior was seen in the prelude to Iraq. Democratic politicians, who generally have more dovish constituencies, sold the WMD heavily and sold 'imminent threat' heavily. More hawkish constituencies need require as much soft-soaping, and were much more attentive to the ‘long, hard, slog talk.’ Furthermore, in the debates leading up to the war, folks spent a lot of time listening to those who agreed with them, and discounting dissimilar opinions (as folks are often wont to do.)

When comparing the statements of various leaders, one can see a marked difference in the sense of urgency conveyed in the tones. For example, House Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), sold the imminent threat and WMD more heavily, than the President did during the relevant State of the Union Address. This all derives from the fact that Hoyer’s constituency simply was less inclined to support the war reflexively, and therefore required a harder sell.

So if you wonder where either the vast disagreements in who said (or emphasized) what, or where the sense of betrayal some folks have comes from, this might not be a bad direction to look in.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at May 14, 2004 04:03 PM

Retaliatiory Launches

Excellent post. But a lot of this is not just who sold what to whom, but rather, reinforces the point that psychologists have known for ages: memory is selective.

Posted by: R. Shackleford at May 14, 2004 04:31 PM

These are all contributing factors to what I think is one of the greatest phrases of all time: Incestuous Amplification.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at May 14, 2004 04:36 PM

free hit counter