Thursday, December 18, 2008

Robert Parry Details Poet-President-Elect Obama's Perils of Mythic Proportions

Speaking of the power of the spoken word and narratives to shape society and our shared future, Robert Parry has what looks to me like the answering article to questions I've been asking of him and McGovern for months now.

Obama v. Washington Mythmaking

By Robert Parry
December 18, 2008

Over the years, Washington has evolved into a city of deceptions where semantics cloud reality and where a hazy mix of lies, half-truths and mythology can combine to unleash the devastating military might of the United States for no good reason.

The “successful surge” myth is built around the widely accepted conventional wisdom that the increase in U.S. troop levels in 2007 brought Iraqi violence under control and carried the United States to the verge of “victory” in Iraq.

Yet, the myth of the “successful surge” has proved extraordinarily powerful.

During the campaign, Obama faced hectoring from media interviewers, such as CBS News’ Katie Couric and ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, demanding that he admit he was wrong to oppose the “surge.”

For weeks, Obama held firm, insisting that the issue was more complicated than his interviewers wanted to admit. He argued that there were many factors behind Iraq’s changed security environment. But ultimately he caved in while being interrogated on Sept. 4 by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

"I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated," Obama confessed to O'Reilly. "It's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

Obama may have judged that continued resistance was futile. But his surrender on the “successful surge” myth may have other long-term consequences.

Sizing Up Obama

In other words, the top U.S. commanders for Iraq have taken the measure of the President-elect and decided that they can openly flout his central campaign promise – that he would give them new orders on his first day in office to begin a monthly withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq, culminating after 16 months with only a modest residual force left behind.

Now on Day One, Obama can expect to face clear opposition to his withdrawal plan from the lead generals in the region and from Defense Secretary Gates, who also has spoken out against Obama’s timetable. If he presses ahead on a pullout, Obama can expect strong institutional resistance and leaks critical of his leadership.

However, if he reneges on his campaign promise and succumbs to the power play by these Bush holdovers, Obama will be sending another troubling signal – that he can be “handled” – a message that will resonate across Washington and around the world.

Rehabilitating Bush

Besides undercutting Obama, the myth of the “successful surge” has fueled a new narrative favorable to George W. Bush, that his decision to liberate Iraq may have suffered from many problems of execution but he bravely stuck with it until he came upon a winning strategy.

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