Wretchard is frustrated that a proper understanding, in his view, of the reality on the ground in Iraq - i.e. that the US is making sure military advances and that reasons for hope remain - is being undermined by an MSM narrative that seeks to make Iraq fit the mold of the narrative that the left created out of Vietnam. Wretchard writes:
Blackfive says that the results of fighting on the ground are foregone: what remains is the 'battle of the narrative'. But how do you win a 'battle of the narrative' except with words? Ironically the sheer success of the US Armed Forces in keeping the [US] civilian population from a direct experience of war ensures they will only learn about it through vicarious means: network news, the major newspapers and magazines. Movies. And in that department the OPFOR has Blue radically outnumbered. Any rational observer calculating the correlation of words would have to say that in that battle, Blackfive's narrative hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell. The side with the most power over words has determined that Iraq is a defeat. And yet...
The problem with using words to trump reality is that it wagers everything on a monumental bluff. The mesmerist must carry all before him or be humiliated. A King must be obeyed or lose the throne. There is no middle ground. Personally I think the repeated conjury of the master-spell of 'Vietnam' and the endless repetition of "we have been defeated" is a strained attempt to achieve what used to be accomplished effortlessly; almost as a background process. Now the spell is being used altogether too often to be convincing, like a lion-tamer who must repeatedly shout at the mountain of snarling flesh before him to sit down. One of the characteristics of the collapse of an illusion is the suddenness with which it comes. The Soviet Union; the EU superstate; the notion of an advanced, enlightened and progressive France, were like Atlantis separated from glory and oblivion by a single night and day. I would be careful about Vietnam because the '60s, like Vaudeville, may never come again.
In response, "Voltimand" writes:
As a retired and aging literary critic and theorist my inclination is to say war is always "narrative," even in the making. None of which belies the fact that human flesh and humanly-constructed implements of war confront real death, evaded at any given moment, or not.
What any commander does at any given moment must be relayed through a complex series of filters, all of which are composed of words or other encoded signs plus the rules of their placement in texts. How you react to the bomb down the street is determined by the particular "narrative" you place that bomb within so as to give it intelligibility.
One could call this a "post-modern" viewpoint, and go on to say that the MSM has tacitly taken it over, and is in the business of using it to do what it does best--spinning out verbal narratives--as a way of thumbing its nose at the US military, Bush, and Al-Quaeda, all at the same time.
And this would be true. The argument of the present post holds--correctly, of course--to the notion that when the shrapnel hits the flesh, it's a "trans-verbal" injury that occurs.
How you get the inside curve on a narrative you disagree with is with another narrative. And here, I submit that the only force on this planet that can do this or is doing this with success is the blogosphere. At its best it has the intelligence, it has the freedom from constraining threats, and perhaps most important, it has the will to go for the jugular.
The Mapes fiasco shows that the MSM and the liberals fear what the blogs say about them. And frankly, in a world where, as W. has pointed out before, leftist writers enjoy the freedom to write against their defenders only as long as the defenders do what the leftists criticize them for, namely defend them and do is successfully, the real fear is of the written word used sharply, incisively against them.
It is time, I think, for the blogs and their aiders and abettors, among whom I count myself, to move from a defensive posture, and start calculatedly constructing narratives that deliberately challenge world lefistism where it hurts. That means no more complaints about their moral deliquency. What we need is serious attacks on their intelligence and their ignorance.
E. G., it seems to me time to start pointing out that they talk about Vietnam because that's the only war they know anything about, and that knowledge is quite slim. In brief, they are completely--and vulnerably--ignorant of military history. The essence of true ignorance is ignorance of that ignorance, and this fact needs to be iterated with numbing and absolutely destructive purpose and intent.
In the U. S., there is the general grumble among those who, like myself, have voted Democratic all their lives until the 1990s, that Republicans don't know how to slit throats, verbally speaking. That's because Republicans are finally not interested in politics, because they're not interested in government save as something to be controlled.
IOW, they're entirely too nice.
What the people W. cites at the beginning of this post can't possibly stand up to is a direct, elaborated, and detailed attack on their every word.
This is indeed a propaganda war, with the continued existence of western culture at stake. I believe that the blogosphere needs to take a deep breath and recognize that it is only it that is going to reduce the MSM spinmeisters to silence.
For this reason I think we ought (1) ditch Instapundit and its ilk, who as a law professor still thinks we live in a world where polite debate means anything; (2) say "thanks, but no thanks to the type of blog represented by "Little Green Footballs," that specializes in "just one outrage after another," since it doesn't verbalize a serious critique, plus generating a lot of name-calling. No more name-calling.
And we need to get serious political and military thinkers out in front, those who sniff the blood in the wind, and who have a taste for the jugular. In place of name-calling, I envision--I've done it myself personally as the occasion warrants and earned lasting enmity from my victims, which shows that it works--relentless, pulverizing refutation and destruction of every argument, every verbal fast shuffle, every ignorance. It requires work, it requires the bloggers to get out of their pajamas and put their work-clothes on, because this sort of thing requires research--Wretchard is a prime example in a blogosphere where way too many shoot from the hip--and expenditure of time and care.
I can, e.g., imagine a blog which does nothing but go after the New York Times, every day of the week. Better, a series of blogs that sub-divide the task. The result would be a Times staff that knows every time anyone puts a word down that goes to press, they're going to suffer. And the suffering of our enemies in this war is what we should be after.