Controlling the debate

One of the first things you learn as litigation defense counsel is that you will lose if you let the plaintiff control the case’s message. It’s easy to let this happen, because the plaintiff comes out of the gate like gangbusters, and the defendant finds himself, logically, in a defensive, purely reactive posture. “You did this.” “I did not. And what if I did, anyway?” It’s all about responding to the plaintiff’s narrative.

What the defendant needs to do, and often doesn’t do until the eve of trial, is look at his own facts in a vacuum, without the throbbing background drumbeat of the plaintiff’s complaint. In every case in which I’ve taken the time to do this, and do it well, I’ve discovered that there is a completely different narrative theme available to the defendant — not one that is merely reactive and defensive, but one that stands on its own as coherent, believable (and often winnable) story. If I can get out from under the plaintiff’s tale, either the plaintiff loses entirely, or the plaintiff’s margin of victory shrinks substantially.

I wish the Republican party would figure out that the same rules of behavior should apply in this political race. Right now, in full gangbusters mode, the Democrats are marking out the battlefield. “Bush lied.” “Cheney is evil.” “We’ve lost in Iraq.” “Global warming and polar bears.” “Pathetic, maltreated illegal immigrants.” “Economic despair.” The Republicans are in a pure, panicked reactive mode, either desperately distancing themselves — “I never liked George Bush, either” — or trying to coopt the Democrats — “I’m more green than you are.” John McCain is no exception.

The Republicans need to take a deep breath, convene in a smoke filled back room and come up with their own story, untainted by the Democratic world view. Not surprisingly, because he is, after all, a lawyer, Hugh Hewitt completely understands this. The other day, when I had a rare moment alone in the car — meaning I could listen to grown-up radio — I caught Hewitt expounding on the pure conservative messages that the Republicans should be hammering home without fear. I’ve never figured out how to link to podcasts, so this is how you find it: Go here, and look for Hugh’s May 14 show, hour 2.

What Hugh has to say all comes out in the first ten minutes of that segment, and it’s very much worth listening to. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, what stands out is that he’s envisioning a message that comes, first and foremost from the Republicans, without first being past through the Democratic filter. That’s how you win.

Right now, Republicans are in a losing posture, not because they have a bad message, but because they have no message at all. They look like cornered rats, trying to confuse the cat into thinking they’re something other than a tasty meal. They need to come out like gangbusters too, loud and proud, with a message that resonates with ordinary Americans. Right now, the Democratic message is resonating, but that’s primarily because there’s nothing else out there to stop those sound waves from vibrating around in the political ether.

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  • pacificus

    Book,

    You’re dead-on here. But I’m afraid the only thing that is really going to do the trick is another period in the wilderness–let us hope it’s not for another forty years. God help us if today’s Soros-financed liberal leftists are able to go full speed ahead–even if only for two years–before the grown-ups get the wheel again. I am furious with the current Republican establishment, including most of the office holders. But if we do have to face a conflagration, at least this remains true: the grass grows greener after the fire.

  • Ymarsakar

    I wish the Republican party would figure out that the same rules of behavior should apply in this political race.

    The Republicans would have to grow a pair and learn about military tactics, strategy, and logistics in combination with violence, killing, and annihilating enemies before they would be able to do that, Book.

    Too many Republicans, because of where our natural self-interests take us, learn only about economic principles or budgeting but nothing, absolutely nothing, about war and violence, which are the tools by which societies and nations, great or small, are crafted.

    Many have sought out ways to learn after 9/11, in contrast with the Left who put their heads in the sand. Many conservatives have sought out Milblogs and spoken out that the news from there is so very different and “positive” than out of the Main Sewer Media. In actual fact, “positive” and “negative” are terms which the media wish to use and has nothing to do with actual enemy or allied propaganda.

    As I’ve said before, the military blogs do not bolster our morale by providng us with Pollyanish “it’s all going to be positive” stories. Nor does the enemy media and traitorous media destroy our morale by repeating only negative stories.

    But nobody knows what the heck this process is unless they first learn what “morale” is and how to affect it with leadership or propaganda actions. The media wants to make it about positive and negative because they can easily evade and explain away their actions when the theme is set by them. It isn’t so easy for them to dodge once you pierce the cra* to learn the truth.

    One of the first things you learn as litigation defense counsel is that you will lose if you let the plaintiff control the case’s message.

    One of the first things you learn in strategic battles is that you don’t win wars on the defensive. You may win battles, but you’ll lose the war.

    Most people with common sense or wisdom, like you Book, can make correlations between military strategy and personal experiences in your life dealing with civilian activities. Life is life and war is just part of life, except formalized and refined to a more organized and destructive tone. What is true in war is true in life. But not everything true in life is true in war, since war is very specialized and does not include everything you might do in life.

    But I’m afraid the only thing that is really going to do the trick is another period in the wilderness–let us hope it’s not for another forty years.

    This is like saying it’ll take people meeting murderers and rapists and surviving the encounter to really get the trick that they need real violence to protect themselves.

    It may indeed take them such an encounter but I will never encourage such passive strategies since they aren’t strategies for victory, they are strategies for survival and survival is not the same as victory.

  • Ymarsakar

    If you haven’t read about Colonel Boyd’s OODA cycle, Book, you would do yourself a great favor, now, by reading about it.

    It explains precisely and exactly why being on the defensive and reacting is a cycle that favors the attacker and hobbles the defender, Book. For most people, without life experiences or the wisdom to piece together abstract thought and disparate experiences, they just don’t seem to get it. But for you, we’ve already talked about the same subject, just you haven’t looked at it from the OODA cycle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_Loop

  • Ymarsakar

    If you haven’t read about Colonel Boyd’s OODA cycle, Book, you would do yourself a great favor, now, by reading about it.

    It explains precisely and exactly why being on the defensive and reacting is a cycle that favors the attacker and hobbles the defender, Book. For most people, without life experiences or the wisdom to piece together abstract thought and disparate experiences, they just don’t seem to get it. But for you, we’ve already talked about the same subject, just you haven’t looked at it from the OODA cycle.

    Link

  • rockdalian

    Bill Whittle at Eject! Eject! Eject! has a more detailed look at 40 Second Boyd that is quite interesting.
    http://www.ejectejecteject.com/

  • rockdalian

    Y, if you are not familiar with Mr Whittle, check out other essays that he has written. All are worthy. The list is on the right sidebar.

  • Mike Devx

    Rock,
    I’ve always admired Bill Whittle’s “Tribes”, concerning sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.

  • Ymarsakar

    I am quite familiar with Mr. Whittle, but I hadn’t noticed that he had written a piece on Boyd in the beginning of this year.

  • Ymarsakar

    But that’s what US commanders did. They marched an entire armored column right through the heart of Baghdad so quickly and unexpectedly that their guns could be heard over Baghdad Bob’s televised assurances that the Americans had been held at the border hundreds of miles away. To the Iraqi command American armor seemed to materialize out of thin air, and to disappear as quickly. That is a terrifying quality for such a deadly foe.

    Because Boyd wasn’t around at the time, nobody told Bush that letting Saddam have 6+ months to deal with Gulf War 2, meant that Saddam was now inside your decision loop on the broader strategy if not the tactical battlespace.

    Complacency is complacency and deals made with nations, leaders, and the United Nations that are sworn enemies of the United States often create the greatest number of casualties for our side.

    Even with Tony Blair, it worked out like that, even when Blair did not seek to damage the United States. Yet he did the most damage because inside our defenses and seen as a trusted ally, yet his views and interests were totally mutually exclusive with the security needs and values of the United States.

    And the funny thing is had Bush pulled out of the UN in 2001, it would likely have unraveled and other nations would have started jumping ship. Then Blair would never have told Bush he needed to go to the United Nations if Blair was to successfully get the support of the British Parliament, cause either there would have been no UN or there would have been something the US could create that would replace it.

    Thus Blair could seek international approval from the EU, the European Union, while the US was completely safe from UN sabotage and interference once out.

    But that’s not how history occured because the leaders of America had allowed their enemies inside the decision cycle of the United States war making policy. It took a long time for Cheney to find someone like Petraeus and make him known to someone like Bush.

    This is a nice reminder that wars aren’t luxury items that you can pick and choose for yourself. If you don’t finish something in say 1991, then it’s pretty much assured that later on it will be harder. What was that Churchill said about procrastination and how not doing things you could easily do now about the German threat meant that in the future you would have to fight when things aren’t easy at all?

    You can either pay off the debt now or pay it off monthly in the future, either way you will pay. And future generations will pay even more if you choose the later.

    But it is a large number. And it is perhaps the most fitting monument to a man who is all but unknown among the nations whose children – on both sides – were saved from attrition warfare.

    Which is perfectly how things should be in a nation ruled by Democrats and aristocratic families who will never allow Americans to know of real heroes for they would then admire those heroes as opposed to the fake heroes that are created from whole cloth by Leftist agitators to further their political ambitions. It’s very hard selling Leftist fakery when you have the real deal to compete with, so just get rid of the real deal.

    The most shocking thing about Boyd’s battles with the Pentagon was that it revealed a general officer class that more often seemed more concerned with seniority and protection of one’s own posterior than with winning battles or protecting the lives of our soldiers. I do not want to be mistaken on this: these officers are, I believe to a man, patriots who love their country and cannot conceive of willfully doing her harm. But all isolated cultures suffer from a lack of perspective, from a lack of flexibility and from a self-reinforcing groupthink that protects the status quo at the expense of the pain of innovation. In the name of the country and the soldiers under their command, this needs to change.

    The nice thing about civilian control of the military is that war becomes subordinated to the people, rather than war becoming an ends unto itself.

    The bad thing about civilian control of the military is that when Democrats control the military, they end up creating perpetual warfare both inside and outside the United States. Subordinating war to the people is all nice and good, but first it has to go through the politicians, who can easily subordinate war to their own petty interests and ambitions. Which is exactly what most of the top Democrat leadership has done and will do, even if you get some folks like Lieberman who object. As with all democracies based upon majority rule, the individual does not matter. The majority does not matter. What matters is the top echelon elite cadre at the top like Pelosi, Dean, Harry, and what not.

    Clinton from 1992 to 2000 not only slashed the military budget to pay for votes here in the US by talking about some kind of balanced budget, which was similar to the objective of conservative Republicans but for entirely different reasons (You know something is fauked up when Democrats are talking about the balanced budget as if this was a progressive platform issue). but he promoted generals that were loyal to ideology and creed to flag and general officer rank. They were not promoted based upon their intellectual and military efficiency. They were promoted because they were able to kiss arse better and provide to Clinton what he wanted to see in the military, which is war that has nothing to do with liberty or security and everything to do with using power to bully people around from the air. He would have bullied people on the ground as well, ala the Diem Assassination, but Clinton didn’t want ground forces involved cause that means casualties and casualties mean bad PR: bad PR equals less votes and less voter adulation.

    Beyond them both lay Swordlessness.

    The military side of things deals with how to combat enemies using the resources at your discretion. Sun Tzu’s view of the acme of battle skill, in fact, was actually not fighting at all. And he wasn’t talking about “not fighting” as in appeasement or “peace”, he was talking about making war pay for itself.

    Since war consumes two great limited resources, manpower and money, not many people can make war pay for itself. When they try, they either sacrifice men and women for the money (which is what France and Germany did by selling arms and nuclear technology to Saddam) or they sacrifice money for men (what usually happens in an American war).

    Thus when Bill Whittle speaks about Swordlessness, he is speaking on about the same subject as I am.

    To be able to fight and defeat your enemies without fighting, is no magic trick. It just means you have to make your enemies fight for you by converting them to friends and allies. When you have done that, then you don’t need a sword anymore because now your former enemies are now your sword. Simply repeat this across the entire globe and you will have the mightiest military on Earth and you will never have to use most of it at any one time, because you will have turned your most bitter enemies into your most loyal allies.

    This has nothing to do with diplomacy or peace as modern idiots understand them. This has everything to do with the acme of skill in war.

    Swordlessness is not peace and it is certainly not surrender.

    You can make a personal test for yourself to see whether where I am coming from is the same as Whittle and Boyd. I wrote “The military side…” before I read “Swordlessness is not peace….”. You may say I extrapolated things from Whittle’s comment about Sun Tzu, which is the first scholarly book on war that I had read and it was also the first and only book on war that I perceived less than 1/10th of what it was saying and could perhaps only apply 3/10ths of the 1/10th I comprehended.

    This is not firepower. This is not attrition. This is, rather, an intelligent, delicate, sophisticated, maneuver-based strategy. A light, but sometimes deadly touch. Fingertip control. Water flowing downhill, into the cracks which our enemy cannot fill.

    To the Democrats, when Petraeus says “Iraq can’t be won by military operations alone”, it meant that Iraq can’t be won by force, brutality, mass murdering rampages, United States bombing shacks to hell, and the various other things Democrats think of when they hear “US military operations”.

    To people like me, when Petraeus says Iraq can’t be won by military operations alone, it means that Iraq can’t be won by mass murdering idiots in Congress like Ted Kennedy and Harry Westarded that would be willing to sacrifice millions and billions so long as they could get re-elected. The United States is not waging war against the Iraqis and thus it would be pointless to conduct more military operations in Iraq against the Iraqis, as this won’t solve our problems nor theirs. The “more body armor” fabrication, the “more armor for vehicles” sabotage”, “the US atrocities require more strict ROE” crack are all non-military operations. Such operations help military operations succede. That is what Petraeus meant when he said military operations alone could not produce victory in Iraq, just as military victory alone for the North Vietnamese could not produce victory in Vietnam without the help of American Democrats and Senators.

    To the Democrats, the US is waging war against the Iraqis, hence the “Iraqi insurgency” and “freedom fighter” allusions. There’s an insurgency all right, but it is primarily not from the Iraqis. Military operations are kinetic operations which focus on killing, and like I said about Zarqawi, killing is good but it is never enough. To do the most killing, I mean the absolute most efficient way to kill without breaking a sweat, you have to wage war and non-kinetic affairs like Ted Kennedy and Cronkite did during Vietnam. They waged a campaign against the South Vietnamese more effectively than they could have done via any “military campaign”. Looking up Diem Assassination, Fall of Saigon, Tet Offensive, ROE in Vietnam, and you will perhaps see a glimmer of what was done in a non-military way to South Vietnam. All of such actions were non-kinetic and not military in origin.

    But all of them did far more than any military operations alone would have. Just ask the North Vietnamese as they came rolling into Saigon with a Soviet trained army and Soviet/Chinese supplied tanks how much it did for them to combine kinetic and non-kinetic action plans.

    And as for the Surge, I am struck by one thought, and that is this: It seems clear now that we needed more troops in theater from Day One. But I think the spectacular success of the Surge is due less to the number of boots on the ground than it is to something far more important.

    You will never get a Leftist anti-Iraq or even “conservative” anti-Iraq person to comprehend this little factoid. Their views of warfare almost inevitably ends up with Stalin’s saying about one death being a tragedy, a million is just a statistic nobody pays attention to. It has never been about more troops or less troops; it has always been about how people are used, coordinated, and led.

    People are resources just like water, food, energy, and currency are. When you use them up, you can’t get them back by saying “I made a mistake, can you reprocess what I put in the sewer yesterday back into a burger”. If you are making mistakes on the job, giving you more resources just means you will have more chances to make more mistakes. If you are in a war getting casualties cause of your tactics and strategy, then giving you more men will just result in more casualties cause if your tactics produced 50 casualties out of 50,000, then giving you another 50,000 will just produce 50 more casualties. That’s fine if you wish to accomplish a goal that you need to regardless of the cost. It is something else entirely when the “goal” is to “reduce casualties” from IEDs and the occupation of Iraq, which is the often stated goal of Leftists who said more troops were needed in Iraq.

    Let’s take the pacifist as an example. How well do you think a pacifist will fight with his barehands as opposed to you giving him more resources and weapons, such as body armor, night vision goggles, rifle, handgun, grenades, TNT, C4, nuclear bomb, etc?

    Is there any practical difference between a pacifist with no resources and a pacifist with resources when fighting? No, there is not, unless the pacifist changes his beliefs, ideology, and way of thinking.

    Hope can spread here, too. A few weeks ago, a remarkable story may have passed under your radar: in an extremely unusual move, General Petraeus was asked to briefly return to “the Building” (the five-sided one) from his command in Iraq to help select the next 40 or so Brigadier General candidates from a pool of about 1,000 colonels. These forty officers are the new Golden Boys: fast-tracked rising stars who will be determining how, if not when or where or why we will fight in the new century.

    And that’s why electing a President is so vitally important to America’s security. Some people say a Democrat will do the same thing as a Republican with Iraq, so no worries. These people are smoking air.

    Armies and militaries need time to fully mature. That means the right leaders must be selected so that they, in turn, will select the right subordinates. When a Democrat gets into often, what inevitably happens is graft, corruption, and the selection of people to positions of power that are 1. megalomaniacs, 2. incompetent, 3. beholden to foreign interests like Saudi Arabia, 4. corrupt, 5. idiots, 6. useful idiots, 7. useful idiots only to enemies of America, meaning not us, and 8. Retards that will select even more retarded people for more positions of power.

    All you have to do is to look at LBJ’s circle of “friends” and “advisers” compared to Bill Clinton’s.

  • suek

    >>They were promoted because they were able to kiss arse better and provide to Clinton what he wanted to see in the military, which is war that has nothing to do with liberty or security and everything to do with using power to bully people around from the air.>>

    Exactly. And when you then have a follow up President waging a war, he has to wage that war with Generals who may or may not be incompetent for that particular war, but their competency at waging the war as it should be done instead of trying to please their superiors – which is what they did to become Generals – is completely unproven. They will also probably have surrounded themselve with staff who are also brown-nosers.

    It will then take some failures before qualified officers move up in rank.

    Which leads to one more unhappy fact. You need wars to prove warriors. Long periods of peace will necessarily require shakedown periods with losses before men with the necessary temperment and decisivness are “discovered” and promoted to a level where they can affect command decisions. The only solution to this is to have action in many small wars. That’s generally considered a bad thing.