Jon Stewart: WikiLeaks War Logs May Not be “New” but Show how $%#&ed Up the War Is


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This is a really terrific segment by Jon Stewart on the WikiLeaks war diaries.
For fun, the Al Jazeera clip by Clayton Swisher of Afghan National Police taking bong hits before going on patrol shows up at the end of Stewart’s comments.
It’s important to note that the taping of the police smoking marijuana was actually filmed by soldiers in the 82nd Airborne and given to Swisher. Cool.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Jon Stewart: WikiLeaks War Logs May Not be “New” but Show how $%#&ed Up the War Is

  1. David says:

    Back to my favorite Truman quote, by way of Stephen Kinser: “The only thing new in the world is the history we didn’t know.” Damned sure describes at least half a century and more of Western involvement in the Middle East, actually more like a century and a half.
    Gotta get Kinser’s new book, Reset.


  2. questions says:

    It’s “Jon Stewart” by the way. Hope you don’t take offense to the correction.


  3. Dan Kervick says:

    John Stuart should lose the beard. It makes him look dumber.


  4. erichwwk says:

    “Hi Don:
    Unfortunately, that could be said about any attempt to document “what happened” in real time. At best logs are a map, suggesting a possible path to the truth. It is never the truth itself.
    The same problem arises in using personal letters and dairies. That having been said, I have nonetheless found them to be the single most reliable indicator of what happened. But you are going to have to figure this out for yourself.
    Another example. I did my graduate work in information and property rights. Here is what a friend wrote in the preface about how he chose his dissertation topic (A Theory of Property Rights: With Application to the California Gold Rush):
    “I would like to thank Professor Steven N.S. Cheung of Washington University who first suggested that I examine the California gold rush. He insisted that television shows must be wrong in their violent representations of this period. Surely the costs to miners of forming agreements were not so high that it was more economical to compete through gunfighting.”
    Letters, diaries, newspaper accounts written in real time indeed did not support that violent scenario, rather talking about “doors unlocked” “goods piled unguarded” etc, and violence related more to alcohol and women than gold or other real wealth. Granted, the revolver was the “equalizer” (a point not lost on Orwell who predicted that when weapons become more technical and expensive, this ability to equalize at the local level disappears). In any case, the diaries are corroborated by the mining claims contracts.


  5. erichwwk says:

    Mark Twain has this to say on the subject:
    “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”


  6. Don Bacon says:

    I’m not taking sides, just sayin’ — Noah Shachtman has a caveat lector on the war logs.
    “.. .these reports from a harried commander at the farthest edge of the war zone are by nature clipped, compressed, clunky and incomplete.”


  7. erichwwk says:

    The ability to determine what is real and what is fake is at the heart of learning from others. Granted ascertaining “truth” is a most difficult enterprise – I see understanding truth as more of a journey than a destination.
    That having been said, ome CAN learn from others, each person must figure for themselves how to do that. One area that is especially prone to being falsified by an official “expert” are things of a political or military nature, but even relative value free subjects such as physics have textbooks that are full of “facts” that are not true, even at your “better” colleges. That’s simply “how it is”, and the process of the scientific method.
    The area that interests me the most right now – nuclear weapons – is one that is full of fabricated falsehoods. From the very beginning the views of the developing scientists and engineers were either suppressed or falsified by those in power. Thus the way the “nuclear problem” is currently framed is just plain not true, beginning with the film “The Beginning or the End”, which seems to be the source of many of these myths.
    some links to that in my comments here:
    If you want a very detailed, original source based analysis try Gar Alperovitz’s “The Decision to Drop the Bomb: The Architecture of an American Myth” (searchable, ie mostly readable at amazon)on how American Military myths are created.
    For another eye-opener, I recommend a book by WJ West “Orwell:The War Commentaries” where you will get a sense of how Eric Blair (George Orwell) contributed to such myths, writing “1984” as an atonement, to what he said at BBC in what he and his colleagues than called the “phony war”
    Howard Zinn is also very good on that, and one of the few Americans concluding from his process that Churchill and Hitler were essentially two of a kind.


  8. Dan Kervick says:

    Can you tell the difference between a forged field report and a real one, erichwwk? I doubt I can.


  9. John Waring says:

    Don Bacon,
    The administration knows darn right well its policy in Afghanistan is a Faustian bargain. Like Wilkins MiCawber they are hoping, despite their penury of ideas, that something might turn up.


  10. erichwwk says:

    “simply “dumping” 90,000 documents into the public record is not a very good way of vetting the accuracy, integrity and provenance of the documents being dumped.”
    Did you really mean to say that??
    The advantage of raw data is precisely BECAUSE it has not been vetted, a process that often taints the “accuracy, integrity, and provenance of data”
    You – and EVERY one else is now free to do their own analysis of “accuracy, integrity, and provenance of data”, a process many (including I) prefer to the one that goes through an “official/ predetermined/ designated” vetter.
    BTW, the NYT, der Spiegal, and the Guardian did have it in advance, for those that prefer a filter.


  11. Dan Kervick says:

    As I wrote on July 24:
    “There is plenty of noise from the hawks about Iran, and the need to do something about it eventually. But we have yet to see the big war push. When that comes, we can expect the political pressure to be intense. And it might be pressure with a global dimension, complete with a variety of staged outrages, coordinated media assaults and declamations, fraudulent documents, manufactured evidence and engineered provocations.”
    Are these WikiLeaks documents all legit. Who knows? But excuse me my skeptical judgment that simply “dumping” 90,000 documents into the public record is not a very good way of vetting the accuracy, integrity and provenance of the documents being dumped.


  12. Dan Kervick says:

    I’m afraid we are being spun by this indiscriminate document dump.


  13. Don Bacon says:

    Wikileaks news: Many documents report claims Pakistan helped the Taliban plan attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and their Afghan government allies even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants. A few reports also describe co-operation between the ISI and fighters aligned with al-Qaeda.
    Pakistan has been instigating attacks that are killing and maiming US troops. What did Obama do about it?
    more news: Late last year, President Obama warned in a letter to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari that the US would no longer put up with the contacts.
    Obama to Pakistan: ‘Stop it.’
    That’s it! Warned Pakistan in a letter! Is that responsible? Does Obama take seriously his responsibility to safeguard US troops?
    And then what did the Commander-in-Chief, responsible for US troops, do next?
    The president ordered a review last fall. And what was the result of that review, considering that Pakistan has been behind the killing of US troops?
    Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, December 1, 2009
    THE PRESIDENT: “Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan — the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion.
    “I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. . .This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
    “We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban’s momentum and increase Afghanistan’s capacity over the next 18 months. . .
    “Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security. . .
    “Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan. . .”(end of speech extract)
    The US has a continuing partnership with a country behind the killing of Americans!
    That speech was delivered in Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York, on December 1, 2009 to American young men and women some of whom are (or soon will be) in Afghanistan being exposed to death and injury by people aided by a country that Obama has partnered with, Pakistan, all the while Obama knowing that Pakistan was assisting fighters that are killing Americans.
    Obama still doesn’t get it.
    July 19, 2010: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Monday to convince skeptical Pakistanis that American interest in their country extends beyond the fight against Islamist militants by announcing a raft of new aid projects worth $500 million.
    President Obama, July 28, 2010:


  14. erichwwk says:

    Along that line Al Jazeera yesterday ran a clip of a US military officer (general?) proclaiming how fun it sometimes is to shoot people.
    It is high time Americans saw themselves through the eyes of others. As Garry Wills often states, secrecy is to keep information from your domestic population, not the enemy. They KNOW what happens. They are there.


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