Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NPR and the Resistence of Memory

Monday's Morning Edition featured another NPR exclusive on Afghanistan. Mary Louise Kelly was on to explain all about the Two-Clock Theory of War. Opening the report Renee Montagne explains:
"We begin this morning with Afghanistan and a story about two clocks: one ticks in Washington, the other in Kabul. They measure progress in the war. The challenge: they are moving at very different speeds" [notice the bloodless euphemisms - "progress" and "challenge"].
All perspectives in the story are provided by war advocates [Peter Feaver -Bush speech-shaper, warmakers Petraeus, Gates, and Mullen - and Steven Biddle, CFR fellow, who Kelly notes is "part of a team advising General Stanley McChrystal...on his war strategy"].

According to Kelly and all her experts, there are always two clocks in US warmaking: the grown-up, big-boy clock of the presidents, generals, and admirals as they bomb, occupy, kill, and destroy. This serious and mature clock ticks very slowly and takes years to produce progress and - ultimately - victory. Opposed to this is the childish, impatient clock of the American public which whizzes away at double or triple time and leads the uninformed masses to reject the wisdom of the wars that the serious grown-ups are running. Kelly's guest Feaver states that "A longstanding criticism of democracies, but especially the American democracy, is that Americans are impatient. They want to see success sooner than later."

Listening to this report, I realized that there is something grimly comical that Kelly has forgotten to tell us about: The Third Clock.

The third clock is the one that doesn't tick at all. In Kelly's report she notes something I've been hearing a lot about since Obama took over the Afghanistan War: the 12 to 18 month "window of opportunity." In Kelly's report we hear Admiral Mike Mullen state
"I do believe we have to start to turn this thing around from a security standpoint over the next 12 to 18 months."
Kelly reiterates this by noting, "So, progress within the next 12 to 18 months. But is that on the Washington clock or the Kabul clock?"

The date of Kelly's report is September 14, 2009. Let's see how the NPR clock ticks out this magical 12 to 18 month time frame.

THREE MONTHS ago, General McChrystal told Tom Bowman, "So, we see it as very, very important, probably over about the next 12 to 24 months, that we absolutely get a trend where we are clearly winning....I think that the next 18 months are probably a period in which this effort will be decided."

TWO MONTHS ago Robert Siegel talked to Sir Jock Stirrup [not joking], head of the British war staff, who stated, "Well, I think our judgment is probably the same that has been reached here in the United States, which is that over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, we need to be able to demonstrate convincingly to our people that we are making the right degree of progress."

ONE MONTH ago Inskeep chatted with Anthony Cordesman of CSIS about the coming victory in Afghanistan. Speaking on the US war policy in Afghanistan, Cordesman claimed, "If these tactics are to work, we'll know in 12 to 18 months."

Holy smokes! NPR's clock must be an Einsteinian relativity clock that appears to be moving normally to everyone at NPR, but in the real world is virtually standing still. What do you want to wager that next summer NPR will still be dutifully reporting on the need to show progress in Afghanistan within the critical 12 to 18 month time frame? Who knows, by then maybe they'll have dropped this catch phrase about Afghanistan and be explaining how the US has "turned a corner."


WarOnWarOff said...

A Clockwork Orange!

Anonymous said...

General relativity theory predicts that close to a black hole (at something called the event horizon) time actually stops altogether.

"NPR as black hole" is probably not a bad analogy, come to think of it: lots of money goes in but virtually nothing (at least not of any value) comes out, information contrary to the corporate/white house line (eg, contrary to what the Bush Whitehouse said about Iraq, torture (sorry: enhanced interrogation), domestic spying (sorry: terror fighting), etc) gets sucked in never again to see the light of day (or at least appear on the public airwaves).

It's funny, when i was reading this post, I immediately thought of all the prognostications of Tom Friedman that "success in Iraq is just around the corner...just give it six more months". He said that almost every week for two years straight!

Finally, the clock theme brought to mind another clock: the doomsday clock, which in turn, made me think of a recent article by Daniel Ellsberg: A Hundred Holocausts: An Insider’s Window Into U.S. Nuclear Policy

larry, dfh said...

Planet monkey aired this Tues. AM, so naturally there will be complaints. Apparently, the whole reason for the 'economic collapse' was because there was TOO MUCH regulation. I didn't hear a single word about OTC oil futures trading, or commodity speculation, or even using TARP funds to speculate in oil, all under the sleeping dog regulators. Nothing about AIG's re-chartering itself in DE specifically to come under the regulation of an under-staffed agency, so as to avoid scrutiny. No, in davidson's twisted and adolescently contrary world, it was all about too much oversight. Davidson is a fool, a libertoonian moran who really should be dropped by npr, because he offers nothing of substance and completely lacks integrity.

WarOnWarOff said...

"success in Iraq is just around the corner...just give it six more months".

Friedman Units! Teh Awesome!

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

Nice analysis, MM. Is there any doubt that Mary Louise Kelly is a plant? Or is she JUST a propagandist?

Porter Melmoth said...

Yes gang, it's been a pretty grim selection of National Public Radiation leaking out of our speakers lately (so what else is new?)...

NPR is so wearisome and hopeless, I guess that's why I tend to throw my darts at the most trivial balloons.

Speaking of which, our war-seasoned, ready-for-a-newer-Colder-War Annie of Green Zone Garrels is not letting us down as far as spying on those reliably troublesome Russkies. She's one tough broad, baby. Why, this morn she was exposing corruption going on in the restoration of the Bolshoi Theatre in wicked old Moscow. And do you know, there's probably CONTRACTOR CORRUPTION going on! (Sounds like a little time-filler dalliance on our Annie's part; her Special Forces status needs regular covers for her deeper probings into that vast Gulagistan...)

Those Russkies! I KNEW they'd be doing some corrupt stuff again!

OK, let's cut the sarcasm - I ask you, what contractor job ISN'T corrupt, anywhere in the world? Ever hear of the Big Dig, Annie? Of course the Evil Old Empire must be brought back from the dead, especially if you're going to have a back-up waiting when the War of Tare (as Dubya would pronounce it) gets a little thin.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

I also thought of Friedman units and the Doomsday Clock. I did not think of A Clockwork Orange or Event Horizon. Nice metaphors that all seem to, a-hem, fold back upon one another.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

The Planet Monkey/PEW Forum looks like a bust for Planet Monkey U. At what point will NPR stop offering Journoeconomics 101 by Professor Adam Davidson. My prediction is NEVER!

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

NPR was on a Mongolia kick last week, and I was waiting for NPR food blogger turned health policy analyst, April Fulton, to do a multi-part post about Mongolian BBQ -- you know, one that would compare it to:

(a) airline ticket prices,
(b) the bank bailout, or
(c) racism

AND simultaneously talk about the positive and tasty health effects of eating at an all-you-can-eat buffet, as a replacement for ACTUAL health care coverage.

Am I asking for too much from one hapless blogger at one hopeless network?

Porter Melmoth said...

Yes Larry, I happened to hear the monkeyshines from Planet Moneygrub too. I've yakked about it before, but the sheer too-pleased-with-themselves VERBIAGE generated by those two constitutes the whole point of Neocon Public Relations. That is, spew out a whole dumpster-full of intellectual-SOUNDING clutter-talk, with just an edge of clever jubilation thrown in (implying, how stupid this all is, but I'm smarter than 'they' are, and I will condescend to tell y'all about it...), and make it a little hip so that you don't alienate your all-ears audience, and you've got a dandy recipe for shepherding listeners into your slaughterhouse.

Thing is, is Planet Monkey too clever for its own good? Do people really buy what they're saying? I get the feeling that a lot of listeners are getting mighty sick of their precious little sideshow, but that's just a hunch.

Porter Melmoth said...

"Am I asking for too much from one hapless blogger at one hopeless network?"

Well Juan, I, I don't exactly know what to say.

I admit, I dabble a bit in NPR still. Couldn't sleep last night, so what did I do? Reached over and let the dreary jingle theme of ME ruin the peaceful wee hours.

But I don't know, I just did it, probably for the worst reason of all: as background filler. But this is when the human mind is most susceptible to suggestion. You can lie there, in half-conscious holding patterns before the workday begins, and get completely brainwashed by the switch-throwers at EnPeeAAAARGH!!!

Why don't I select music if I need background filler? (A stupid need, really.) Well, because I admit to being a product of this modern age, when we want to be 'plugged in' and all that rot. It's habit. I think that's why I maintain a sharp disgust for NPR. Whether they are a Neocon tool or not, NPR as it is is pretty damn objectionable as an easily-accessed news resource. If it were effective, we'd be objecting to the issues themselves instead of how the issues are presented and 'interpreted'. Having Liarsson and Cokee 'interpret' current events for me is about as value-loaded as Glenn Beck interpreting 'Communist' art at Rockefeller Center. Really, it's that bad - NPR's just cloaking the same things in a more 'intellectual', and thus, respectable - and thus supposedly credible, package.

If NPR is confident in its belief in itself, well then, I'm confident in my disgust of them.

gopey said...

I'm sure PM physicist Kestenbaum would be glad to explain how the tidal forces at the event horizon will stretch your donation dollars into Arne Duncan donuts which NPR will use to give voice to the two-backed beast of Gingrich and Sharpton echoing one another's talking points about how wonderful it is that discipline is a civil right at the charter military academy middle schools that will soon dot the Murkenscape of an inner city near you!

While we're on clocks, check out the US Debt Clock. Staggering.

gopey said...

Mebbe enpeeaaaarrrrggh's Kelly will pose some of the questions found here to McChrystal and Co? Is US security is the only option of Afghans? Enpeeargghhh's Kelly girl is playing a sort of surrogate Quentin Compson's father-figure and telling us that time is just as meaningless as everything else in life and you might just as well commit suicide as give a fig about this very important protection racket that Daddy Warbucks will milk in his own good time.

Anonymous said...

Davidson is a fool, a libertoonian moran who really should be dropped by npr, because he offers nothing of substance and completely lacks integrity."

Davidson is an embarrassment but most of the others at NPR are little better.

These are the folks who never moved beyond their high school infatuation with Ayn Rand.

It is juvenile but davidson will never be fired because he is pretty much the NORM at NPR and if they fired him for being an idiot, they'd also have to fire Inskeep, Norris, Gonyea, Gross, Williams, Roberts, Totenberg and even Vivian Schiller (and of course, the stupidest of all: Alicia Shepard) .

It's kind of funny, really. Ayn Rand seems to appeal to some of the dumbest, most incompetent people in our society.

but I guess that is really not surprising. Like Ayn rand herself, these people enjoy fantasizing that they are the direct descendants of Hank Reardon, John Galt and the rest of Ayn Rand's mythical "movers and shakers" of industry and science.

Anonymous said...

RE: corruption

Can't get much more corrupt than Iraq.

Any idiot with an internet link can learn about that in a matter of about ten seconds or less.

How is it Garrels missed all that while she was in the belly of the beast?

Oh yeh, I forgot. She was in her hotel in the green zone (naked, if we are to take her at her word).

Sorry I left Annie off the "idiot" list above. She may be a close second to Alicia Shepard.

gopey said...

Yes, I was trying to remember about how the Garrels just want to be mean, so I did a bit of googling and wound up...right back on this very blog.

And then again...from almost two years ago.

I like this wikibit about her charming husband:

Garrels is married to J. Vinton Lawrence, one of two CIA paramilitary officers from their famed Special Activities Division stationed in Laos in the early 1960s, working with the Hmong tribesman and the CIA-owned airline Air America.

larry, dfh said...

Ahhh, Air America, that would be bricks of opium and bags of 'Thai Stick', with the guns being run on Southern Air Transport.

Anonymous said...

This morning Renee Montagne asks Juan Williams if all of this 9/12 Joe Wilson brouhaha is a recent phenomenon afflicting new president Obama. What was she in a black hole the last 2 years while McCain/Palin and her flying monkeys held virutal Klan rallies at her appearances?!

WarOnWarOff said...

working with the Hmong tribesman and the CIA-owned airline Air America.

Full Metal Jacket Circle Jerk!

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

Whiskey Oscar Whiskey Oscar.

This is Juliet Echo Tango.

The Charlie Foxtrot that is November Papa Romeo is a fantastic Charlie Juliet. FUBAR. I spell, "Foxtrot Uniform Bravo Alpha Romeo!"