Just Doing Business The Iraqi Way (Updated And Bump)

The military has come forward to explain its actions in the so-called propaganda scandal that erupted earlier this week, the AP reports in a late-breaking news item on ABC. Army spokesman LTC Barry Johnson told Congressional leaders and later the media that the program described in separate articles in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times had not intended for the articles in question to be offered clandestinely under anyone else’s by-line. Instead, the contractor, Lincoln Group, had been tasked to pay for advertising and editorial space — apparently the practice in the nascent Iraqi press — and offer the articles openly as written by American military personnel to get their stories out to ordinary Iraqis:

Military officials for the first time Friday detailed and broadly defended a Pentagon program that pays to plant stories in the Iraqi media, an effort the top U.S. military commander said was part of an effort to “get the truth out” there.
But facing critics in the United States including lawmakers from both parties the military raised the possibility for the first time of making changes in the program.
“If any part of our process does not have our full confidence, we will examine that activity and take appropriate action,” said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman in Iraq. “If any contractor is failing to perform as we have intended, we will take appropriate action.”

Col. Johnson still isn’t sure that Lincoln did anything else other than that. That should get investigated immediately to determine what exactly Lincoln did, but the program itself certainly sounds reasonable. After all, the enemy has used propaganda for its own purposes, and the American media has done a piss-poor job of representing the military’s point of view to the world, let alone the Iraqi people. As long as the source of the writing gets proper and true attribution and the payment gets disclosed properly in the custom of the Iraqi market, then it shows some good, creative thinking on the part of the military. If Lincoln did anything else, then they should get fired.
So why use Lincoln at all? Why not just have the Pentagon market the stories to the Iraqi newspapers, paying them directly for the advertising space? Apparently, the planners worried that direct payments would cause retaliatory attacks on the publishers if word got out how the articles got space in the paper. However, that explanation lacks some credibility, as properly attributed articles would expose the relationship between the paper and American military personnel as soon as the articles were read. It sounds more like Lincoln, which has an unrelated $100 million contract with Special Operations Command — the same outfit that ran Able Danger — got a sweetheart deal for some extra third-party work.
The explanation seems to take some steam out of the scandal, though. Ted Kennedy still wants a DoD investigation, which appears to agree with the stance taken by the White House and Congress as well. Kennedy says that the program appears to hide the involvement of the American government, and that much does seem to be true. The notion that the Pentagon ran a massive propaganda effort appears to have fallen flat, though.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has more, with a headline that seems a bit misleading (“Military Says It Paid Iraq Papers for News”). The military says it primarily paid for placement of advertising and opinion pieces in accordance with common Iraqi practice for their press. The Post explains the existence of Lincoln as a go-between a bit better, but also reports that Lincoln did have some articles ran under false bylines, apparently against the guidelines of the program:

Officials familiar with the Lincoln Group’s contract said it allows the firm to pay to have articles placed in the Iraqi press. The contract reportedly says nothing about disguising the origin of the articles, but some military officers defended the practice as a necessary security measure, to protect the Iraqi journalists used to deliver the accounts and the Iraqi news organizations that print them.
If it were known that the journalists and the news organizations were carrying information provided by the U.S. military, these officers said, insurgents would surely target them. Indeed, at least two of the Iraqi newspapers cited in initial news reports as having printed the articles in question have since received threats from insurgents, according to military officials.
Proponents of such tactics argue that different standards should be applied to what is permissible in a combat zone such as Iraq than, say, in the United States or other stable democracies. Although the idea of the military using covert methods to get favorable information into print appears unethical at home, the argument goes, there are mitigating circumstances justifying such tactics in Iraq.

This still comes back to building credibility with the Iraqi people. The free press in Iraq is a vitally important part of building the democratic structures necessary to make Iraq into a strong and free ally in the Middle East — an example of how Arabs can lead themselves, without the traditional strong-man rule of dictator or emir. While exploiting newspapers to surreptitiously get out our point of view might seem like a smart tactical move to counter al-Qaeda propaganda, it’s probably a huge mistake strategically in the long run. We’re already teaching the Iraqis that their press is nothing more than paid mouthpieces for hidden Powers That Be, feeding into the common Arab predilection for grand conspiracies.
We have the resources and the werewithal to get our message out openly to the Iraqi people. We could buy air time on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, or simply open our own Arabic news service and buy transponder time on their satellite system. The US could operate Radio Free Iraq from inside the country and add broadcast television service. We could use that money to publish our own newspapers, or use it the way the program intended and just make sure that our essays are clearly identified. Private groups like Spirit Of America have been doing this since the fall of Saddam in April 2003; it shouldn’t be a mystery to the Pentagon.
This incident hardly qualifies as the scandal of the month, but it does need correcting. America stands for ideals, and one of those ideals is honesty in government — and right now, we’re a vital component of the Iraqi governing structure while the Iraqi security forces rebuild. We want to win this war by transferring the ideals of democracy into the hearts of the Iraqi people and make them believe that they can put them into practice and defend them against their enemies. Undermining them as a short-term tactic might be understandable, but it’s unadvisable in the long run. I’d rather focus on the 99% of the Iraqis who aren’t insurgents and tell them the truth, than lie to them all and hope that the 1% of the Iraqis comprising the insurgency reads the newspaper.

The Referendum On Harper

My new Daily Standard column comes out today, titled “Morning In Canada?”, in which I argue that the new elections will stand or fall as a referendum on Stephen Harper. The task for the Tory leader is to go over the heads of the media, a la Ronald Reagan, and deliver a campaign reminiscent of the “Morning In America” effort that won Reagan a landslide:

How likely is a return of Liberal rule after the Gomery disaster? After twelve years of Liberal control, first as a majority and then as the plurality in the Commons, the Tories bear the burden of convincing Canadians to cross the aisle–and Gomery alone may not be enough to break the Liberal hold on power. Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, has to convince voters that Tories offer more than just a gainsay of Liberal policies. Harper needs to deliver a “Morning in Canada” agenda, one that promises a transformation for the nation.

Two G&M reports from their latest polling offer contradicting prospects on Harper’s ability to do that. The first reports that Harper’s negatives still remain high; however, it also shows that the positive message has gotten through to Canadian voters. The second development is a trend among minorities to support Conservatives over the Liberals, in some cases because of the latter’s support for same-sex marriage. The G&M polling still shows a five-point advantage for Liberals, even with Ipsos and others showing the election at a dead heat, something to consider when reviewing the G&M take on the numbers.
Harper just released his plan for a GST cut, which should boost his numbers in the next round of polling. We’ll see if the media reports on those numbers any better than they did with Ipsos.

Celebrity Death Row Spotlights

It doesn’t come up often at CQ, but most long-term readers know that I do not support the death penalty. I respect the enactment of it by the legislatures and feel that the penalties should not be subject to excessive legal and extralegal machinations, however, until such time as the people finally decide to get rid of executions altogether. Up to now, I’ve left the Tookie Williams controversy to those with more passion about carrying out his sentence, but Eugene Robinson wrote an excellent column for today’s Washington Post that sums up my feelings on the subject. Titled “No Special Break For Tookie”, death-penalty opponent Robinson lashes out at the celebritization of a thug and murderer by entertainment elite:

Big-time Hollywood stars, including Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg and Danny Glover, are leading a high-profile campaign to persuade another big-time Hollywood star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to save the life of a convicted murderer on California’s death row named Stanley Tookie Williams. Sorry, but I can’t join the glitterati in showing the love.
Williams’s case is about the power of redemption, his supporters say, but I think it’s more about the power of celebrity. The state shouldn’t execute Williams, but only because the state shouldn’t execute anybody — the death penalty is a barbaric anachronism that should have been eliminated long ago, as far as I’m concerned. But it can’t be right to save Williams just because he’s a famous desperado (or former desperado) with famous friends, and then blithely go back to snuffing out the lives of other criminals who lack his talent for public relations. …
He was convicted of the 1979 murders of four people in two separate robberies — convenience store worker Albert Owens, 26; and motel owners Yen-I Yang, 76; Tsai-Shai Yang, 63; and their daughter Yee-Chen Lin, 43. Williams has been on death row since 1981; that he has consistently maintained his innocence of all four killings hardly makes him unique. There’s no dramatic new DNA evidence or anything like that to cast doubt on his guilt.
What does make him special, according to his supporters, is that he has been so lavishly repentant about the culture of violence he helped create. … Of course, there are hundreds of other men on death row who repent of their crimes and would appreciate a little executive clemency, but they don’t have movie stars pleading their cases. Oh, and also lacking a publicity machine are the four people Williams was convicted of killing.

Robinson has more faith in real redemption on Death Row than I do, but that’s not the basis of my objection to the death penalty anyway. (I don’t believe that the state should deliberately kill anyone who presents no imminent danger to the internal peace of society, and an LWOP sentence in a properly run institution should guarantee that.) Whether or not Tookie sincerely repents of his crime to me is immaterial. He committed the crime, and four people are dead because of it — four murders in two separate crimes, mind you. He did that knowing that the penalty for that action was death and he did it anyway. The people have the right to set that penalty, and it was properly implemented.
I would hope that at some time, the people of California will reject the death penalty. In the meantime, this selection of the Murderer Du Jour to lionize insults those of us who object to its application. I don’t oppose the death sentence because I think Mumia got framed or that Tookie is the next Mohandas Gandhi, a truly repellent notion. Tookie Williams is exactly where he should be — in a maximum-security facility — and he should die there as well, of old age. He killed four people, four non-celebrities who never did anything to Tookie except stand between him and some cash that didn’t belong to him.
(One other point: does anyone else notice that three of four of Tookie’s victims were Asian shopowners? Angelenos know what that entails for the gang culture of LA. These weren’t just gang-banging murders but hate-crime executions, just the same as the dragging death of James Byrd. I notice Danny Glover and Jamie Foxx aren’t clamoring for those murderers to get clemency from the governor of Texas, so why are they arguing for Tookie?)
I don’t support the death penalty. Unlike the clueless Hollywood celebrities who manage to hijack this issue, I don’t view the condemned as victims and moral guideposts, either. The elevation of Tookie to philosopher disgusts and sickens me, and it undermines the efforts to convince people of the uselessness and overreach of the death penalty.

Democrat ‘Unity’ Unravels On Iraq

The supposed unity of the Democrats on Iraq continued to unravel further yesterday, with more Democrats speaking out in favor of the cut-and-run strategy favored by Jack Murtha, while others insisted that none of them supported running away from the fight. The Post gives a pretty good scorecard for the confusion which once more bolsters the national perception of a party unworthy to hold responsibility for national security. Nancy Pelosi’s wholehearted defection from the lawyerly constructions emanating from the Democratic caucus in the Senate has exposed the Democrats’ disarray on an issue which seemed to resonate so well for them until the GOP forced their hand in the House two weeks ago:

For months now, Democratic leaders have grown increasingly aggressive in their critiques of President Bush’s policies in Iraq but have been largely content to keep their own war strategies vague or under wraps. That ended Wednesday when Pelosi (D-Calif.) aggressively endorsed a proposal by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible, leaving only a much smaller rapid-reaction force in the region.
The move caught some in the party by surprise. It threw a wrench into a carefully calibrated Democratic theme emerging in the Senate that called for 2006 to be a “significant year of progress” in Iraq, with Iraqi security forces making measurable progress toward relieving U.S. troops of combat duties. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said last month that “it’s time to take the training wheels off the Iraqi government.”
What’s more, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) issued a statement Wednesday that was in marked contrast to Pelosi’s. “I believe that a precipitous withdrawal of American forces in Iraq could lead to disaster, spawning a civil war, fostering a haven for terrorists and damaging our nation’s security and credibility,” he said.

The resulting confusion has led to some pretty amusing moments. The Post quotes Democratic strategist Davd Sirota as calling opponents of immediate withdrawal as “insulated elitists … most of whom have never served in uniform” and in the same breath hailing the “courage” of Pelosi and Jack Murtha in calling for a retreat. Did Pelosi serve in combat? I had no idea. Perhaps Sirota can explain how it is that he insists that only those who served in uniform have the necessary skills to assess the situation, but then hold Pelosi as an expert and a courageous military analyst.
Also, Jonathan Weisman quotes an anonymous Democratic pollster who tells him that Murtha and Pelosi have convinced themselves that they have their fingers on a grassroots pulse that will elevate the Democrats to victory through retreat. How do they know this? Murtha got a standing ovation at a Starbuck’s in Dallas last week. Aren’t at least half of the people in a Starbuck’s at any one time standing anyway?
John Kerry, predictably, has blown all over the place since the Murtha demand for immediate withdrawal came up again last month. During his presidential campaign, Kerry flirted with all kinds of strategies for the war before coming up with one in the final days that most closely resembled the plan already in place by George Bush — except that Kerry demanded an increase in American troops. Now, he wants a phased withdrawal, but insists that he isn’t asking for a timeline:

Some Democrats continued yesterday to finesse their position. At a White House appearance after an event honoring civil rights leader Rosa Parks, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said: “If you just continue along the road we’re going now without a more concrete transfer of responsibility — a target schedule by which you begin to turn over provinces, by which you specifically begin to shift the responsibility — I think a lot of people fear that it’s going to be more of the same.”
He added: “I’m not asking even for the specific timetable of withdrawal. I’m asking for a specific timetable of transfer of authority.”

So he’s demanding a specific timetable for transfers of authority, which means that we hand over entire provinces to the Iraqis whether they’re ready or not — but that’s not the same thing as a specific timetable for withdrawal. No, but it’s a great recipe for disaster, especially since the terrorists will simply lay back and gather their strength for the transfer dates rather than continue to get outclassed by the American military. Kerry, as he did so often during the presidential election, talks out of both sides of his mouth and manages to get the worst of both worlds in doing so. Thanks to Pelosi, he will get no credit from the Leftists, and thanks to Joe Lieberman, he still looks like a cut-and-run politician who just knows how to dress it up better than his colleagues.
When did Karl Rove return from his leave of absense, anyway?

Senator Shameless

A former solicitor general lashed out at Chuck Schumer yesterday for his attack on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito based on a memo that should never have been released in the first place. Charles Fried, who represented the Reagan administration during Reagan’s second term in office and who now teaches at Harvard Law School, said that the memo written by Alito not only provided nothing more than casual advice but also qualified as a privileged document that should have remained sealed:

The former U.S. solicitor general who authored a Reagan-era brief against the abortion ruling Roe v. Wade lashed out yesterday at one of the Democratic senators who will be voting on Judge Samuel Alito for saying the Supreme Court nominee should have told senators about work he did on the brief.
Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School and President Reagan’s lead attorney in front of the Supreme Court from 1985 to 1989, told The New York Sun that a 1985 memo in which a 35-year-old Samuel Alito offered him advice in arguing the administration’s case against Roe v. Wade does not qualify as the kind of work a nominee should send to the Judiciary Committee for review. …
“This is a real red herring because the solicitor general’s office is a small one,” Mr. Fried said. “We all helped each other and looked over each other’s work. He had no formal role in writing that brief, and I can’t imagine anything sillier than someone taking credit for a brief where that’s the role they had.” …
Mr. Fried, who supports abortion rights, said that while he does not think memos from the solicitor general’s office should be released, he also thinks Judge Alito was not being furtive in not mentioning his work on the 1985 abortion brief.
“I have never head of anyone who worked in the solicitor general’s office who would list all the cases where they wrote memos,” Mr. Fried said. “There are hundreds of these. It’s just absurd. It’s one of these typical cases, and I’m afraid Senator Schumer is guilty of this, that if you can’t get someone on the merits, you bring up some phony lack of candor argument. He should be ashamed of himself, but he is shameless. And you can quote me on that.”

It looks like the Democrats may try to Estradafy Alito, a silly proposition — rather, a sillier proposition this time around than when they succeeded with it on Miguel Estrada and failed with John Roberts. In both of those cases, Democrats argued that they needed access to privileged records because neither candidate had an extensive track record as a jurist. Now those arguments have been exposed as unconconsionable intrusions on attorney-client prvilege in their demands of the same kind of release for Alito. This nominee has many years of experience on federal appellate courts and thousands of written opinions establishing his legitimacy and temperament. This attempt by Schumer and the other Democrats reveal a threadbare attempt to find any hook at all on which to drum up phony issues with which to unify the opposition to anyone named by the Bush administration to the bench.
And what of this memo, which relates to work that Alito never even performed himself? The Bush administration didn’t authorize its release, and yet it found its way into the National Archives. The New York Sun’s Brian Maguire suggests that the release came years ago during the Clinton years as a pre-emptive strike against anyone that a subsequent GOP administration might want to pick for just this position. Alito had been elevated to the federal appellate bench by Bush 41 and was seen as a rising star. Since they had the power to waive privilege at the time, they could easily have done so with a number of documents selectively culled to provide little caches of ammunition for hearings on Alito and others who worked in the White House Counsel or Solicitor General offices.
Schumer has decided once more to go fishing, probably using a map provided by his fellow Senator from New York and her husband to torpedo a well-qualified nominee on the basis of political partisanship. The faux outrage should generate real disgust at Schumer’s tactics, not any serious debate on Alito’s qualifications for the Supreme Court.
Speaking of shameless … has Chuck explained how his staff got Michael Steele’s credit history yet, and whether any other Republican candidate has to worry about other truly illegal acts against them by the Schumer-led DCCC?

The Folly Of Propaganda

Sincerity, filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn once said, was the most important quality for an actor; once one learned to fake it, everything else came easy. Unfortunately, in real life credibility is a commodity that cannot withstand fakery once exposed. The question for the Pentagon in the past day is whether Army and/or Marine Corps brass have paid off Iraqi newspapers to carry articles written by American servicemen under false pretenses as news stories for the Iraqi public, trying to spin the war to American advantage:

As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,” since the effort began this year.
The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group’s Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets.

On one hand, it’s easy to dismiss this as a tempest in a teapot. What we’re talking about with this kind of effort is propaganda, and in a war on terrorism, this could be one of the least lethal battlegrounds we’ll face — but one of the most important. The terrorists certainly understand the way to play this game. They’ve faked news during the war to gain advantage, usually by spreading rumors about the treatment of people under our protection but also in posing as victors in battles that never took place. Once such incident apparently occurred today, when al-Qaeda used staged video to transform a single hit-and-run operation with a single RPG into some type of capture of Ramadi from several thousand American troops.
The problem with propaganda is that it only works for a short time, until it gets discovered. When that happens, the propagandist soon discovers that their ability to tell the truth has been hopelessly compromised. No one will believe them. Any number of examples will suffice, but the one with whom Americans will have the most familiarity is Baghdad Bob, the mouthpiece of Saddam who claimed that Americans were nowhere near Baghdad, that the Iraq Republican Guard was in the process of slaughtering them on the outskirts of the city, and that they would never be able to hold the city once it fell.
In order for our long-term relations with the Iraqi people to remain strong, we must not just be seen as another bull-tosser in a long line of bull-tossers; we need to maintain our credibility. That goes doubly true for the relationship between the administration and the American public, which has the American media as a big enough handicap without adding fake journalism as an additional reason for mistrust. If these charges are true — and it certainly seems that at least it’s partially true — the use of covertly-sourced journalism could do tremendous damage to the trust we need to keep the Iraqis on our side and to build domestic confidence in our prosecution of the war.
The White House has taken the right steps in this issue. They have started an investigation into the allegations, and they should. The Commander in Chief has to answer for the conduct of the troops and the brass, and Bush has to make sure that everyone has learned from the Armstrong Williams debacle. Anyone who participated in an effort such as the Times described in yesterday’s edition should have their career ended. It may not be as egregious as torture, murder, and videotaped beheading, but it destroys our moral authoritiy to lead and govern, and to report the facts. If anyone doubts this, just ask Leni Riefenstahl. Seven decades after shooting films at the behest of her beloved Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, she could never find work again as a documentarian. Credibility rarely survives when truth gets sold as a commodity, Goldwyn’s advice to the contrary.
UPDATE: A couple of notes based on reactions from readers. One comment on the post notes that the Allies often used propaganda to fool Germans on military manuevers, especially D-Day. Actually, the military used elaborate ruses for that purpose, spoofing German spies. I don’t recall American soldiers writing stories under the by-lines of British journalists and the Americans paying off editors of the dailies to run them as legitimate news articles. If someone has that kind of information on WWII, I’d love to see a link. If we did so with the Germans — well, of course they were our enemy, where in Iraq we’re trying to make the Iraqis our allies, a difficult enough proposition without allegedly corrupting their supposedly independent press. (It’s important to remember that these allegations haven’t been corroborated yet outside of the LA Times.)
One other reader takes me to task for my objection, saying that almost all news comes from PR releases that get rewritten by staff writers, and that there is no difference. Actually, there is a huge difference. CENTCOM puts out plenty of press releases, all of which would be available to Iraqi journalists to quote at their will for free. What the accusation here is that American soldiers write articles, and the PR firm then pays off the editors to run the stories under someone else’s by-line without acknowledging the source or the real writer. Imagine if the LA Times had run articles written by Bill Clinton’s staff under the by-line of Ronald Brownstein, or at the Washington Post under Dana Milbank or Walter Pincus. It would have become a huge political meltdown, and rightly so.

The Merry Christmas Project

My good friend Kevin McCullough has a great idea going at his blog. Since the ACLU seems intent on taking Christmas out of the holiday season, he wants to get as many bloggers to promote his idea to teach them what the season really means. His idea? Have as many readers as possible send Christmas cards to the New York office of the ACLU:

We are excited to be launching the opportunity today…between now and Christmas we are asking you to send the ACLU direct “MerryChristmas” cards.
And we aren’t talking about these generic “happy holiday” (meaning nothing) type of cards…
Go get as “Christmas” a Christmas card as you can find… something that says.. “Joy To The World”, “For Unto Us A Child Is Born”, but at least “Merry Christmas”, put some of your own thoughts into it, sign it respectfully and zip it off in the mail to:
“Wishing You Merry Christmas”
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Be nice — we want to show the Grinches why Christmas is a positive event, not leave rude impressions. Just make sure that the card specifically mentions “Christmas”.

New Ipsos Poll Puts Canada In Dead Heat

A new poll by AP-Ipsos, based on a survey done during the debate over the no-confidence motion, shows that the Liberals have dropped into a dead heat with the Conservatives on a national basis. This data has not received wide release — in fact, I had to buy a membership at Ipsos in order to see the data. Based on a sample of 1,000 adults — a sampling type that normally would overreport Liberal support — the results surprisingly mirror those of the private Robbins Research poll taken earlier this month. Both parties get 31% of the national vote, and NDP picks up 18%. BQ gets 14%, all of it from Quebec.
However, the details have to disturb Liberals who hope to return to power in the next Commons. Their support base in Ontario appears to have seriously eroded. Earlier polls show that the Liberals once enjoyed a double-digit lead in their power base. Now that lead has collapsed into a statistical tie with the Conservatives, 37%-35%. The NDP appears to have taken advantage of Liberal slippage, moving up to 21% support in the province. The Tories now outstrip the Liberals in British Columbia, where the Liberals had made inroads in provincial voting last March; the Tories have a 34%-28% advantage on the West Coast province. Liberals only have an outright plurality in the Maritimes; they lead the Tories 24-7 in Quebec but get trounced by Conservative partner Bloc Quebecois, 58-24, showing that the Liberals can expect to lose seats in the region most touched by Adscam.
If these trends continue, it would appear that the Tories will have a chance to form a minority government in January. I’ll keep a close eye on the polling and the subsidiary results. If anyone wants to toss in some loose change to help support the Ipsos membership, my Paypal link is on the sidebar.
UPDATE: I received an update and correction from Ipsos, which has been terrific in terms of customer service already:

First, AP doesn’t do any political polling in Canada, with the exception of their quarterly Globus poll. Rather Ipsos Reid is the pollster of record for the CanWest News Service and its flagship news broadcast Global National News and flagship daily the National Post. All of these polls, including the one you quoted, are reported in these outlets which have national audiences here in Canada. In addition, we release the results over a national wire service and post the results to our website.
FYI Ipsos Public Affairs is the polling partner of the AP and conducts regular political tracker polls in the U.S.
So Ipsos Reid does Canadian political polling for CanWest and Ipsos Public Affairs does U.S. political polling for the AP.
Hope this helps …

Happy to add the correction, and thanks for the assistance!

And By The Way, Nixon Resigned

The House condemns the government for its arrogance in refusing to compromise with the opposition parties over the timing of the next general election and for its ‘culture of entitlement,’ corruption, scandal and gross abuse of public funds for political purposes and, consequently, the government no longer has the confidence of the House.

The above words finally brought down the Liberal government in Canada on Monday evening, a stunning indictment by all three opposing political parties of Liberal involvement in the Sponsorship Programme scandal and its various attempts to dodge responsibility for corruption and abuse of power. While the no-confidence motion itself sounds surprisingly harsh – originally, the parties agreed on simpler language that just expressed a loss of confidence – the fall of the Liberal government comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed the developments in Canadian politics over the past month.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t include the American media, which has consistently ignored the scandal and the events north of its border. The morning papers all reported on the fall of the Canadian government, of course. They did manage to notice when the entire forest fell, but they missed each single tree as it occurred. And if the American media doesn’t hear a tree fall in the forest, it’s as if the forest itself doesn’t exist.
The New York Times, for instance, reported on the fall of the government but wound up giving as much coverage to Prime Minister Paul Martin’s hysterical slander charges against Conservative leader Stephen Harper (two paragraphs) as they did the entire Adscam scandal at the heart of the no-confidence motion. Speaking of forests and trees, the Times did manage to mention the softwood tariff dispute in its report, gave a paragraph to the Liberal platform without mentioning anything about the Conservative position, and assumed that the Liberals would win a minority government again. The Washington Post didn’t even bother to write its own copy on the collapse, posting a wire service story in its on-line version instead. Instead of in-depth reporting and analysis, we have received the most superficial of coverage possible without missing the story entirely.
And two days later … the story has completely disappeared from the American media. It’s as if the Toronto Star reported in August 1974, “Today the President of the United States resigned. He has been dogged by reports of complicity in a politically-motivated burglary two years ago at a Washington business park,” giving no coverage before or after to the worst political scandal of its largest trading partner.
Bloggers have long since outreported the American major media on the developments in Canadian politics. Captain’s Quarters may have helped get the ball rolling for American interest in Canadian politics, but in the months since the Gomery testimony blew the story open in April, bloggers both north and south of the 49th parallel have kept readers engaged in the story. And the significance of the collapse has not been lost on those who have faithfully watched the workings of the complicated four-party political machinations since the spring. When the estimable blogger-journalist Austin Bay comments that Martin has become the “Nixon of the North”, American media consumers may realize that they have missed a major story thanks to the apathetic nature of the response from domestic news agencies to the scandal.
The no-confidence motion should not have taken anyone by surprise. The Conservatives originally tabled the motion on Thanksgiving, giving the media some catch-up time to bring Americans up to date on the political situation. Did they bother to apprise their constituencies of the alignment of the different opposition parties? Have any of them analyzed the Gomery Inquiry report itself, or even bought an analysis from one of the Canadian newspapers? Or have they shown their usual disdain for anything north of the border, as if our neighbors above the parallel have become completely irrelevant?
Canada’s relevance, despite the American media’s judgment, will only grow more significant as Islamofascist terror remains focused on the US and China grows into a more traditional opponent on the international stage. Before this week, the last time the Canadian government got much mention at all was when they started negotiating with Beijing on a sweetheart oil deal that eventually fell through. Most Americans probably don’t realize that the US imports more crude from Canada than Saudi Arabia, running neck and neck with Mexico for top honors. Their proven oil reserves come second only to Saudi Arabia in the global market. Shouldn’t the stability and direction of the Canadian government concern Americans on this key issue alone?
How about border policy? Much attention got paid to the latest speech by George Bush on protecting the southern border and on illegal immigration. However, Canada and the US share the largest undefended national border system in the world – and we need an active partnership with Ottawa to keep Islamists from exploiting that system. That means we need to influence Canadian immigration policy, or at least stay aware of the direction in which their governments take it to ensure that terrorists cannot easily enter either country, and transit in either direction to hit North American targets. The issue gets some mention from Republican hard-liners for whom immigration remains the most important domestic issue, but it doesn’t equate into any interest or reporting on how Canadians feel about border protection.
What positions do the four major political parties take on immigration? Border security? Cooperation with America on continental defense issues? The media has had all weekend to start informing American readers and viewers about the answers to these questions. In fact, they have had months to bring their customers up to date on the politics and the policies of our closest ally, since Adscam first threatened to take the Liberal executive down in May.
Managing those issues with a stable and reasonably clean government in Ottawa would have its challenges. Watching the Martin government fall due to its corruption of the Sponsorship Programme should concern us. Will a new election push the Canadians farther to the European position on Iraq? Does the emergence of Bloc Quebecois as a partner to the Conservatives signify greater autonomy for Quebec if the Tories win the upcoming election, a move which might anger Alberta enough to start its own separatist movement?
Americans should have at least some idea of the issues that this election and the fallout of Adscam will have on Canadian politics. The failure of the American media to cover our closest ally could have disastrous consequences for American security and economic growth. If the media takes itself as seriously as it claims when dismissing citizen journalists as unresourced, narrowly-focused political zealots, then perhaps they should look outside their own telescoped version of global politics as a continuum between Washington DC, Turtle Bay, Brussels, and Baghdad. The upcoming election cycle in Ottawa gives them the perfect opportunity to remedy their Canadian political illiteracy and move us closer in understanding to our most strategic trading and security partner.
If not, then the blogosphere may well serve them with yet another no-confidence motion of our own.

American Intervention Creates Balkan Islamists?

The Left has long held up the Balkans intervention as a model for American intervention — low footprint, low investment, and practically ignored, although like the Iraq War, also unsanctioned by the UN and actively opposed by Russia and China. They claim that the use of overwhelming force in Iraq has created a “training ground for terrorists” and that American troops only add to the recruitment of more terrorists. I expect, then, an explanation of how this differs from the recruitment and training of mujaheddin in Bosnia, where Islamists have built cells specifically to infiltrate heavily Caucasian nations for terrorist activities:

In particular, Islamic radicals are looking to create cells of so-called white al Qaeda, non-Arab members who can evade racial profiling used by police forces to watch for potential terrorists. “They want to look European to carry out operations in Europe,” said a Western intelligence agent in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and Montenegro, adjacent to Bosnia. “It’s yet another evolution in the tools used by terrorists.”
Parts of the Balkans, stuck in lawless limbo after years of war in the 1990s, are ripe recruitment territory for Middle East radicals, intelligence officials say. Bosnia is still divided among Muslim, Croat and Serb population areas, even if nominally united under the 10-year-old Dayton peace agreement that ended ethnic warfare.
Muslim enclaves in Serbia are restive, and Muslim-majority Kosovo remains an estranged province campaigning for independence six years after NATO bombing forced out Serb-dominated Yugoslav troops. The Balkans have long been a freeway for smugglers of cigarettes, drugs, weapons and prostitutes. “All the conditions are present. Embittered Muslims, arms, corruption — everything underground operators need to get established,” said the Western intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The real quagmires have come from inaction, from an inability or an unwillingness to face unpleasant tasks in resolving international disputes. The Balkans have been left to sit for over a decade now with no permanent resolution of the political disputes which led to their civil wars — over 600 years of them — and only by the intervention of a bombing campaign did the combatants get pushed into their corners. The lack of direction over the remaining period of time has allowed the depleted Islamists in the area to rebuild and redirect their efforts not so much against their local enemies, but against the West in general.
The same held true in Iraq for a dozen years. We allowed Saddam to remain and for the status quo to exist in a fugue state, through sixteen ultimately meaningless UN Security Council resolutions demanding Saddam’s compliance on disarmament and recognition of human rights. During that time, Saddam simply allowed the infrastructure of Iraq to rot, keeping as much money as possible for himself in order to finance his own security and well-being at the expense of the people, especially the Shi’a. (He couldn’t reach the Kurds after the end of the Gulf War, thanks to Anglo-American protection.) He hosted Islamist conferences openly attended by al-Qaeda leadership and welcomed terrorists such as Abu Nidal and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to Baghdad to live openly, for a time without fear of capture or deportation. Saddam openly paid the families of suicide bombers for their craven acts of murder, and we failed to respond until March 2003, after twelve years of dithering over what to do with Iraq.
Waiting around for difficult choices to magically get swept away clearly doesn’t work. The creation of Iraq as a terrorist recruitment ground happened because we lacked the political will to finish Saddam and his sociopathic sons in 1991. Bosnia and Kosovo have turned into Islamist training grounds for Caucasian terrorists because we intervened in a fight without a clue as to the terms of the civil war, which side fought for which principles, and what to do with them after the shooting stopped. In Iraq, we had a plan, which we have followed relentelessly: create democratic structures, get the people to start voting for their own native government, and create a native security force that will eventually become strong enough to defend it — and only then do we leave. In Kosovo, no one can even say whether the province should be independent, let alone what kind of government and security force should develop there. No wonder the natives are restless! After six or ten years of limbo, who wouldn’t be?
The Iraq model shows what happens when the Americans manage the post-war process. We may experience some hiccups, but we push for progress and execute a plan for long-term success. When we leave it to the UN to manage, as happened in the Balkans, the committee approach only defends the status quo and never makes a decision to move forward towards a resolution. That approach leads to disaster, as the terrorist infiltration of the Balkans clearly shows.