Growing up in Jamaica, I would often hear the phrase “puss logic.” I suppose the best English translation would be “sophistry.” It means an argument that does not stand up to logical analysis, even if it might seem plausible at first. And as I listen to conservative spokesmen in America today, I find myself increasingly muttering “puss logic” as I click the TV remote in disgust.
The TV commentators seem incapable of telling logic from “puss logic.” And they often can’t – or won’t – correct misstatements of fact by their guests. To give them the dubious benefit of the doubt, perhaps they’re just gun shy; they’ve been blitzed so much by the well-funded legions of the conservative movement that they don’t dare run the danger of seeming to belong to “the biased liberal media” – not even when that “bias” would be in favor of facts and logic.
I am sure you can think of numerous examples of “puss logic” for yourself. You can’t turn on the TV or radio nowadays without being subjected to Dick Cheney, Michael Steele, Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and their ilk. And the media are deluged by the special pleadings of right-wing “think tanks” funded by multimillionaires with the diabolical agenda of perverting public opinion.
But you might not have come across the spurious arguments being promulgated by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a neoconservative group that pushes a belligerent “Israel first” agenda of conquest in the Middle East. This group takes “puss logic” to a new level.
For example, a recent report published by the group suggests that in future wars the U.S. should launch military attacks against “the partisan media.” Written by retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Peters, the report states, in part:
Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight, the killers without guns. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.
The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s interests, while our failures nourish monsters.
I won’t take the trouble to poke holes in this argument. The premise is outrageous on its face. And obviously, the use of universally abhorrent tactics would result in such widespread revulsion that victories on the battlefield would be negated by losses in the court of public opinion. And history has shown repeatedly that this is really where wars are lost or won in the long term.
But military attacks on “partisan” reporters are not as preposterous as you might think. As far as I can tell, the United States military has not yet resorted to attacking American journalists, but according to an article by Jeremy Scahill, on the Antiwar.com web site:
In the case of the Iraq invasion and occupation, the journalists who have placed themselves in danger most often are local Iraqi journalists. Some 116 Iraqi journalists and media workers have been killed in the line of duty since March 2003. In all, 189 journalists have been killed in Iraq. At least 16 of these journalists were killed by the U.S. military, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The network that has most often found itself under U.S. attack is al-Jazeera. As I wrote a few years ago in The Nation:
The United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001, shelled the Basra hotel where al-Jazeera journalists were the only guests in April 2003, killed Iraq correspondent Tareq Ayoub a few days later in Baghdad, and imprisoned several al-Jazeera reporters (including at Guantánamo), some of whom say they were tortured. In addition to the military attacks, the U.S.-backed Iraqi government banned the network from reporting in Iraq.
Given the neocon view that most of the media are “partisan,” I wonder how long it will be before American reporters come under fire from the U.S. military. It’s a very likely example of the deadly consequences that conservative “puss logic” can produce.