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NPR Fairy Tales About War Support

NPR Fairy Tales About War Support

by Billy Beren on April 12, 2011

On today’s Talk of the Nation, NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving made the following assertion:

There are only marginal cuts in either the president’s budget or in the Ryan budget for defense. And I think the simplest way to answer that question is to say we are in two wars and a no-fly zone enforcement action. We have a lot of people engaged overseas. And the general perception of the public is: we can’t cut defense in a moment when we are, in some sense or another, at war.

Now, this isn’t World War II. It’s not the Vietnam War. But we do have a lot of commitments overseas, including a couple of hot wars. And the polls all show that people think that we should support our troops. And when you get right down into all of the problematic detail on how many weapon systems we’re buying that don’t have anything to do with those wars, surely, you could find savings. But the politicians that make these decisions are driven largely by the public’s perception of what is necessary and what is not. And we have not yet reached a consensus that we can have a peace dividend, when we have no peace.

The bolding used above is my emphasis and I want to address each bolded segment.

“And the general perception of the public is: we can’t cut defense in a moment when we are, in some sense or another, at war.”

Quite contrary to Elving’s claim, the general perception is that we shouldn’t be in these wars at all.  According the a Pew Research Center poll conducted March 30 – April 3, 2011, 50% of Americans want to “remove troops ASAP” from Afghanistan with only 44% disagreeing.

According to the most recent Washington Post / ABC poll (from early March) “nearly two-thirds of Americans say Afghan war isn’t worth fighting.”

Of course, those polls were taken in reality, and clearly NPR reports from somewhere else.  If it were “Science Friday,” perhaps we’d guess they were reporting from an alternate universe.

Alas, today is Monday so the reporting came from the everyday un-reality in which NPR lives.  In this un-reality, Americans always say “no cuts to defense” (no matter what Americans actually say).

Let’s pause to assume NPR is aware of the major polls (cited above).  That would mean (according to NPR) Americans want to end the war in Afghanistan, but keep spending money on it.   Forgive me if I have a hard time reconstructing the logic of un-reality, as I haven’t visited.

“And the polls all show that people think that we should support our troops.”

Yes, but clearly not by funding the war and putting their lives at risk.  Americans always will and always should support our troops.  That point is entirely independent of American support of a particular war policy or strategy.  It’s possible to support our troops in many ways, including ways that don’t spend billions on new weapon systems, private contractors, and largesse that benefits the defense industry, but not the troops.

“But the politicians that make these decisions are driven largely by the public’s perception of what is necessary and what is not.”

Note to readers: this wasn’t a Jon Stewart-esque satirical remark made with deadpan and punctuated with a smirk.  Apparently Ron Elving – who I repeat is NPR’s SENIOR WASHINGTON EDITOR – actually believes this. Shudder.

If there is anything that can bring together, in harmonious agreement, the vast spectrum of American political opinion, it is likely refutation of Elving’s absurd claim. Therefore, I won’t waste space here with an elaborated rebuttal on behalf of the people of reality.  I’ve listened to my fair share of NPR fairy tales.  If they want to know why Elving’s statement is ridiculous, it’s their turn to make the trip and visit us in the real world.

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{ 1 comment }

JGos April 12, 2011 at 11:59 am

Great article – NPR clearly out of touch with reality

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