Lots of folks have been rightly indignant that Bill Kristol apparently believes the latest carnage in Iraq demonstrates that the insurgents are getting “worried.” One might only note that this line of thought goes all the way back to the August 2003 bombing that killed Sergio Vieira di Mello and proved to sensible people that the Iraq operation was, in fact, going much, much, much less well than the Bush administration would like you to believe. You can see David Adesnik’s extensive defense of the proposition that these early outbreaks of violence were signs of imminent American success (see also here). For the other perspective on whether massive violence in Iraq was actually a good thing, you can see Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum. I think it’s fairly clear which side the verdict of history came down on.
Kristol, in short, is trying to ply his audience with stale bread here.
Dave Noon catches what might be considered some more novel rhetoric in that same Kristol clip where he suggests that the people responsible for this massive bombing attack that killed well over 100 people were “try[ing] to convey an impression of chaos.” This is, perhaps, the insurgent side of Green Lantern geopolitics. Great powers like the United States achieve our objectives through “unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will” whereas assymetrical adversaries will try to convey an impression of chaos.
This is, obviously, appealing not only to members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, but also to their elders and betters on Fox News. If the problem is chaos, then it’s a problem that’s either unsolvable, or else has to be solved by soldiers doing work on the ground. But if the problem is merely an impression of chaos then the work of our soldiers and Marines is secondary. The real battle is fought on the airwaves, on the op-ed pages, and in the blogs. Who has the courage to stand and stifle this impression of chaos? To replace it with an impression of order? A daunting challenge, to be sure, but Bill Kristol is ready for it.