Friday, December 14, 2007

Here Come the Weird Words: Election's Coming Up!

Although I've got well-defined opinions about how, and why, American foreign and domestic policy should be run, "Another War-on-Terror Blog" isn't a political blog.

However, since politicians are the ones who decide whether or not America acts sensibly, there are times when I'll write about politics and politicians.

This is one of those times.

One of the people who want to be president got in the news. Mike Huckabee's "America's Priorities in the War on Terror" was published in the January-February issue of "Foreign Affairs."

And, the Associated Press distributed a news article on Huckabee and his article.

The headline:

"(AP) Huckabee Sees WH 'Bunker Mentality'"

Lead paragraph and quotes:

"Mike Huckabee, who has joked about his lack of foreign policy experience, is criticizing the Bush administration's efforts, denouncing a go-it-alone 'arrogant bunker mentality' and questioning decisions on Iraq."

" 'Much like a top high school student, if [the United States] is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised,' he writes in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs."

"... 'The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States' main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists.' "

Let's take a look at Huckabee's article.

Here's my summary of the main points on the first page - and my comments:
  • The Bush administration should have done more to "explain Islamic jihadism to the American people."
    Fair enough - but think about what would happen to a politician who started talking openly about Islam, Middle Eastern Culture, and unpleasant realities like the burqa and honor killings
  • America should find an alternative to terrorism that Middle Eastern leaders and people will accept.
    A fine goal - although I suspect that attempts to change the sincerely-held beliefs over there would be attacked as cultural imperialism, or something of the sort.
  • If America uses force, this country should use overwhelming force.
    That makes sense to me - but then, I'm one of those people who believe that tyrannical dictators, serial killers, and other people who live by alternative ethical standards, aren't nice, and don't respond well to perceived weakness.
If you're an American, and plan to vote next November, I suggest that you read the rest of his article.

Particularly since "going it alone" doesn't appear anywhere in Huckabee's article.

(It's almost a dead certainty that "going it alone" is going to surface again, before the election's over. I posted a reality check on the "unilateral" actions of America a few months ago. As I recall, America was out of control and "going it alone," because the French government didn't approve of American foreign policy.)

Now that "going it alone" has risen to the surface, much in the manner of a drowned muskrat, it probably won't be long before "quagmire" pops up, too.

What's the point of all this?

For whatever reason, news articles often aren't particularly complete discussions of the events and issues they touch on. And sometimes, they aren't particularly accurate: or use words like "going it alone" or "communist sympathizer" to affect the reader's reactions.

Reading the news is an important part of a citizen's duty in countries where people vote. But it's not enough.

Analyzing what news outlets decide to publish is important, too. That, and going to the original sources of information when possible.

I wrote about more about words, reality, and politics in "Watch for Weird Words: Election's Coming Up!" (August 9, 2007).

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.