Posts Tagged ‘Sanchez’

Race to the Bottom

Rick Sanchez was canned from CNN this week.  In a general whine about the discrimination he has faced–which apparently burdened him with fame and an enviable job–he said something about Jews, suggesting that the elitist, mean-spirited Jon Stewart had no idea what it was to be a real victim like the good-looking media-celebrity, Sanchez.  I can’t say I was a huge fan  of either man.  But the lightning speed with which Sanchez was dispatched says a lot about which groups in our society cannot be criticized and, concomitantly, which groups have significant power in that society.  Genuinely oppressed and hated people can be criticized with impunity.

While the merits of either man’s claim to victimhood is kind of ridiculous, Rick clearly hasn’t been paying attention.  For all of the vaunted independence, iconoclasm, and general edginess of the media, there are certain pieties that must be respected, and one of the most important of which is the utter sanctity of Jews as a victim group in the pantheon of America’s victim groups.  We’re supposed to pretend that wealthy media executives are little different from Stetl Jews in Ukraine shot in ditches by Nazis, just as we’re supposed to pretend that blacks who became President of the United States are the victim of ongoing oppression little different from that of Jim Crow.

Much of modern America’s cultural obsession consists of a race to the bottom whereby various groups–blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Indians–are all competing to be the biggest victim of all.  The only group that cannot play in this game is the old American WASP, America’s historical majority people that is grouped alongside with Hitler for having exclusive country clubs and Ivy League quotas 75 years ago and slavery some 150 years ago.

Sanchez pointed out an easily verified fact:  Jews, as a group, are successful and particularly over-represented and powerful in the TV and print media.  This is one of those facts we’re not supposed to notice, just as we’re not supposed to notice various short-comings of other ethnic groups.  The Jewish claim to historical victimhood in America today requires quite a bit of work.  After all, unlike blacks, Jews came to America willingly and voluntarily.  While once upon a time there were minor discriminations and sleights against Jews in America–exclusive clubs, Ivy League quotas–on the whole, America has been welcoming to Jews, and, more important, Jews have been wildly successful in America in spite of whatever obstacles their great grandparents may have faced.  They have become the establishment in spite of the continuing self-identification as being an alienated, oppressed outsider. That success, once a source of pride, became a minor embarrassment in the great multicultural race to the bottom that began in the 1980s.  Upon further inquiry, however, it becomes clear that multiculturalism is in fact an ideology to promote and protect the new elites emerging from the decline and displacement of the WASP since the mid-20th Century.

As Peter Novick put this in his work The Holocaust in American Life:

By the 1980s and 1990s many Jews, for various reasons, wanted to establish that they too were members of  a “victim community.”  Their contemporary situation offered little in the way of credentials.  American Jews were by far the wealthiest, best-educated, most influential, in-every-way-most-successful group in American society–a group that, compared to most other identifiable minority groups, suffered no measurable discrimination and no disadvantages on account of that minority status.   But insofar as Jewish identify could be anchored in the agony of European Jewry, certification as (vicarious) victims could be claimed, with all the moral privilege accompanying such certifications.

The multicultural order is inverted.  Victim status is the currency of the realm, and the Holocaust of the Jews, through books, movies, and constant repetition is placed above all other possible victimizations in the consciousness of Americans, even comparable mass murders such as those of the Soviet Union, Cambodia, and Turkey, and even though this event was largely not done to American Jews nor perpetrated by Americans.  The elevation of this European event of some 70 years ago is particularly useful when the “victim” in question is fast becoming the society’s elite, with its members constituting 30 members of Congress and 13 US Senators, 43% of the most influential opinion-makers, and some 21% of Ivy League admissions today. Frankly, Rich Sanchez is right:  for Jon Stewart or any other American Jew to proclaim the status of victim is patently ridiculous and insulting to ordinary intelligence.  But Sanchez is too self-pitying to realize that it’s ridiculous for him, a man until recently on CNN with a show named after him, also to claim victim status.

A better approach  for both the Jon Stewarts and the Rick Sanchezes of the world, has been suggested by Steve Sailer:  a self-conscious development among Jews and other emerging elites of a sense of noblesse oblige, that is a sense of self-conscious responsibility for what is now their society coupled with public expressions of gratitude for this society’s opportunities.  But, events to date, suggest that this softening of attitudes is unlikely.  More likely is the overplaying of this hand by the “victims,” as represented in part by the unmagnaminous firing of Sanchez.  I fear the continuation of such events would lead to an eventual, tragic backlash.

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I think it’s remarakable that General Ricardo Sanchez, former Corps Commander of all coalition assets in Iraq, is now pointing the finger at everyone–including Rumsfeld, Bremer, Casey, Bush, etc.–when he was so singularly incapable of getting the mission accomplished in Iraq. He failed to keep control when the daily numbers of IED and other attacks were 20% of what they are today. He supervised the slow-motion effort to up-armor American vehicles, train Iraqis, and win “hearts and minds” with little attention to the security of ordinary Iraqis. His and Bush’s motto could have been, “Who needs security when you can vote!”

He failed to sound the alarm about our troops’ lack of language training, the porous Iraqi borders, and the failed detention system that culminated in the Abu Ghraib scandal. His task may have been too ambitious and his assets too few, but even so he misused what he had and never risked his career to do the right thing for the American troops in the field. He willingly gave support to Rumsfeld’s ideological blindness about the war’s progress and failed to provide an appropriately skeptical counterweight to Rumsfeld and Bush’s more outrageous demands. Finally, he failed to provide a proper “big picture” mission to his division commanders, and thus a lack of mission clarity hampered efforts at every level.

I believe this anecdote, recounted by the highly credible Thomas Ricks, speaks for itself:

I actually said to Sanchez one day, something my driver had said to me. My Iraqi driver said, “You know, when I lived in America, we could call 911 if you wanted police help.” He said, “Why isn’t there a hotline here that we can call in and say, ‘Hey, I saw some insurgents'”? …

I mentioned this to Sanchez, … and he said, “Oh, that’s an interesting thought.” Well, this was March, I think, 2005. I believe they finally did stand up a national hotline.

Sanchez symbolizes everything that is conventional, unimaginative, incompetent, and overly political in today’s corps of generals.

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In the wake of the Cold War, the US military was cut dramatically. We went from a 750,000 man Army to one of about 475,000 today. The Navy and Air Force undertook similar cuts. We went from spending about 5.5% of GDP on the military to 3%. One consequence has been that the “all volunteer force” is stretched thin, has had to make due with relaxed recruiting standards, and there is a great deal of grumbling from senior commanders that the Iraq War and the repeated, lengthy deployments are killing recruiting and retention.

A larger military, both now and in the future, likely would be easier to recruit for and retain manpower, even during a time of war, than the present system. There is a reason for this paradox: such a military would allow greater time between deployments, greater flexibility when a surge of any kind is needed (including for contingencies in other theaters), and it would ease the strain on the battlefield through more overwhelming force whenever a large number of forces may be concentrated. Since one of the missions our troops will likely be called upon in the future is counterinsurgency, large numbers of skilled, trained, and well-rested infantry will be needed. The basic dynamics of this type of war are less technology and more manpower intensive than their counterparts. The U.S. had over 500,000 troops in Vietnam and the French had more than 400,000 in Algeria. We have now approximately 160,000 troops in Iraq. Since our goals in the wake of 9/11 have been so ambitious–indeed, overly ambitious and utopian in my opinion–Rumsfeld and Bush’s continuation of the “peace dividend” military and their failure to demand a larger military (particularly when support would have been high right after 9/11) has proven foolish indeed.

This is not just a matter of 20/20 hindsight. Their decision-making was truly warped. Who looks at the Soviet problems in Afghanistan and blames them on troop levels rather than on the Soviet penchant for “scorched earth” tactics and the inherent unpalatability of its ideology to the religious Afghan people? Who looks at a looming occupation and thinks gratitude will grease the wheels when governance and power are necessary? Who looks at a country the size of Iraq and thinks troop levels that are a fraction of the number of (per capita) police in the peaceful United States will get the job done? The combination of incompetence and ideological blindness is the root of the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq. Some hard-headedness, including about the size of the military, will be needed in the next administration. We should not, because present-day recruiting problems avoid planning for the next conflict in a way that is sustainable, avoids a draft, and allows the military to accomplish the mission.

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