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May 23, 2006

Comments

"...the Russians in the 1980s (though our Stingers helped - you're welcome, Mullah Omar!)"

Perhaps I'm biased by only reading western accounts (Steve Coll, the late George Crile's Charlie Wilson's War, etc.), but it seems very clear that there's no way the Afghans could have gotten the Russians out without the combination of American, Saudi, and Pakistani aid. Just footnoting to no particular point.

"So why do the Arabs continue to indulge themselves in paranoid fantasies about Jewish and Western conspiracies, against which they are apparently helpless?"

Because it's so easy?

But I'm not comfortable with your generalization about "the Arabs." How about "some Arabs" or "many Arabs" or "the Arabs that choose to support terrorism" or some other "the Arabs that...." formulation.

Because plenty of Arabs don't. Lots write articles about going in different directions, and obviously for each one who writes an article readable in the West, there are countless more who agree but don't write such articles.

"But hey, so do the Latin Americans, and you don't see them flying planes into buildings or strapping bombs to their children."

No, but lots are awfully awfully awfully pissed off. Most, probably even, to one degree or another.

And it's hardly as if most Arabs are engaging in terrorism, you know. Especially against the West outside of Iraq and Israel/Palestine. It's like .000000001% or so.

Unless you've been seeing a lot of suicide bombers in your neighborhood lately, and haven't mentioned it. Let's not stereotype "Arabs" as terrorism supporters.

"...you don't see them flying planes into buildings or strapping bombs to their children."

Point is, we don't see more than an unbelievably tiny fraction of Arabs doing that, either, outside Iraq and Israel/Palestine. And even in Israel/Palestine, it's still a tiny percentage, and the overwhelming majority support a two-state solution. (I'll show you the polling figures if you like. Heck, I just happen to have Marshall McLu-- er, this post standing right here.)

It's easy to get a distorted notion, of course, if one reads hate sites like Little Green Footballs and its satellites, and is credulous about them without much contextual knowledge of the Middle East.

In 1853, the Japanese were humiliated by the appearance in American warships in Tokyo Bay, which they could do nothing to prevent....Why didn't the Arabs react the same way to their various defeats and humiliations?

3GB,
There's actually a lot of "humiliating stuff" that you are eliding there, though it is not something that people should be expected to know. The bakufu system was teetering and the arrival of Perry was taken by a number of the stronger han (city-states) as a 'see, I told you so' moment. Also, there were a large number of Japanese who were opposed to the westernization, with the climactic battle occuring just down the road from me. Saigo Takamori, who founded the first modern army, was the leader of the rebellion and though considered a pivotal figure in Japanese history, he, and any other samurai who died fighting against the Imperial Government Army, have not been permitted to be enshrined in Yasukuni.

And even after Japan had a modern army and navy, the cycle did not end. A large number of currents in Japanese society arose because of the various "humiliations" given by western powers, including the Portsmouth treaty that ended the Sino-Japanese war, the 1924 Exclusion Act, and the The Washington Conference agreement. Two notable ones would be the March 1931 attempted coup d'etat, and the attempt to prevent the emperor from surrendering by killing the members of the privy council charged with relaying the recordings of the emperor's surrender speech to the radio broadcasting station.

Last weekend, I visited the kamikaze museum at Chiran. I don't mean to be snarky, but I really don't think the example of Japan gets you to where you want to be.

(ps, I agree with several of the others that you would be a worthwhile addition to ObWi)

"Saigo Takamori, who founded the first modern army, was the leader of the rebellion and though considered a pivotal figure in Japanese history, he, and any other samurai who died fighting against the Imperial Government Army, have not been permitted to be enshrined in Yasukuni."

Yeah, and people now know him as Ken Watanabe.

;-)

Quick responses before I go to bed:

rilkefan, maybe I'm just being judgmental but I don't think the examples you gave are enough of a reason. Did China suffer any less? How about Africa?

Bruce, I grant that it is a human response - I don't wish to dehumanize the Arabs. But William C. Quantrill is long dead, and Osama bin Laden is (probably) not. I find Opus Dei and its like-minded counterparts in Protestantism despicable, but you have to admit there is a big difference in the number of people killed by them and killed by al Qaeda.

Gary, I should have added a second caveat that by "the Arabs" I did not mean all Arabs or even most Arabs. A disturbingly large minority, perhaps.

Yeah, LJ, I skipped over a lot, though I'm tempted to emulate Gary and point out that the Portsmouth Treaty ended the Russo-Japanese War, not the Sino-Japanese War. ;) But instead, I'll just say that the example of Japan was given only to provide contrasting responses to defeat and humiliation, both negative (militaristic Imperial Japan) and positive (post-war Japan).

OK, now I'm off. I'll check back here in the morning.

the Portsmouth Treaty ended the Russo-Japanese War, not the Sino-Japanese War. ;)

My cheeks are a glowing sakura pink...

Still, I don't think that it's such a simple compare and contrast. Japan had a flowering of democracy during the Taisho era, and the rollback to militarism was due to the deft deployment of nationalistic ideals coupled with the utilization of slights to national honor (whether actual or imagined). And unless we want to take the whole of the Middle East to a point that we took Japan to (remember, there was a faction that argued that Japan could be completely starved into submission, can you imagine that situation obtaining in Iraq?), I don't see how this is actually a contrasting response.

Furthermore, that anti Western response seems to lurk under the surface in many interactions. The protests to the rape cases in Okinawa as well as the banning of US beef suggest that there are currents that run quite deep. And this is a country which has probably been the recipient of more American largesse than any other. I shudder to think what Iraqis, who see little investment and peace brought at by the barrel of a gun, think.

In re KenB: “Say what? I think the Iraq venture as a whole was poorly conceived and the reconstruction poorly executed, but I don't see how it can reasonably be considered a war of aggression against the Iraqi people.”

It would be nice to think it were not. However, if it is not a war of aggression against the Iraqi people, I have trouble explaining the 1+ million to 2+ million Iraqi dead (“depending on the break” – Gen. Turgidson) over the last 15 years, the medical items on the list of sanctions, the deliberate bombing of water treatment facilities, the continued operation of Abu Ghraib (Why did no one bother to change its name?), the millions of dollars in oil revenues missing under the CPA, the bottom-of-the-barrel security priority accorded Iraqi cultural and educational institutions, the near ubiquitous military mantra that the only thing Iraqis understand is force, the imposition of unpopular leaders like Chalabi, some of the other issues raised by SOD at 6:05pm, etc.

Understandably, some infrastructure needs to be destroyed if you are after cutting off the head of an enemy nation. But beyond that caveat, what conclusion can you draw from the examples above of the nature of this war? Is it possible that the reason for the poor execution of the reconstruction is that, despite rhetoric to the contrary, it is not an important goal for the US?

I'm glad you found someone who agrees wholeheartedly with Murtha, sparti. Good for you. I don't agree with Rosen because the so-called insurgents are mostly killing fellow Iraqis, not Americans. I guess the excuse is that they're all collaborators. Rosen also has a disturbing level of sympathy with those who chose to bypass the democratic process. And I wonder what Israeli-born Rosen did that the Israeli army would reject his admittance because he was "enemy of the state". He doesn't say. Perhaps because he's "...wondering if a punitive bombing of Tel Aviv, the city I love, until it complies with international law, might be a good (albeit quixotic) idea." In this interview, Rosen conferred directly with present and former terrorists. I wonder how an Israeli-born Jew was able to get access. Perhaps you should ask Rosen what his agenda is. From a person who knows him:

Nir Rosen, a friend of mine from junior high school is now a correspondent for Time Magazine in Baghdad. You can read his first article here.

Now, some of you might be thinking that this a good thing, since surely David's friends will take an even-handed approach to what is happening in Iraq. Dream on! My friend is one of the most hardcore leftists I have ever met. His mission in Baghdad is to document and expose the inner workings of American imperialism. This is the same guy who insisted that the United States bombed Kosovo in order to expand into the Balkan marketplace.

Kudos to him for going into dangerous places, but you have to wonder how he convinced these terrorists and hardliners not to behead him, like what happened to Daniel Pearl.

"I don't think the examples you gave are enough of a reason. Did China suffer any less? How about Africa?"

Come by my office sometime and we'll chat about the complexity of the simplest, most basic interactions known. What reason is sufficient unto the human heart I cannot say.

But... Consider the Congo. Consider Rwanda. Consider the men forcing children to commit atrocities against their families as a recruiting technique. Consider how lucky we are in Mandela.

Consider that China has (has had) a continuous ancient tradition/culture/control structures, a nearby safety valve in Formosa, a seat on the security council, a clear path to world prominence, some military success against the West, an effective elite authoritarian govt., and a fairly recent history of inconceivable internal bloodshed. Not much like say Syria. Lebanon might be a nice place now if not for the PLO, and Syria, and (I guess) great power infighting and incompetence. Do you think Iraq ever had a clear path to becoming Belgium skipping say Richelieu-era France?

Still, there might be something to what you say - but how one could show it given the available data is beyond my pay scale.

CB, interesting points about Rosen - but if this article is in question, do you contest any of the factual claims he makes (which seem to make up the entirety of the article as I read it)? Stuff like "in what witnesses described to me as summary executions" and '"No," he said definitively. "They could level all of Baghdad and it would still be better than Saddam. At least we have hope."' seem pretty fair and balanced to me.

LowLife’s comments, so far, have been the best at getting to the nut of some topics in this thread, especially, “Saying we don't target civilians and that we do target civilians is saying the same thing.” Thanks.

What is the point of making such a distinction? Does such a distinction matter to Iraqis? Would it matter to us if we were on the receiving end of another nation’s air strike?

Two issues here that are nonsense: 1) US military forces indiscriminately kill innocent Iraqis (the malice afore thought variety). Nonsense. 2) The war in Iraq is not a war of aggression against the Iraqi people. Also nonsense.

If President Bush said, “This is a war against the Iraqi people,” or if he said, “This is a war about WMDs/regime change/promoting democracy/etc.,” how would we be able to tell the difference vis-à-vis the reality on the ground in Iraq? Saying this is a war solely to rid the world of evil and not a war of occupation against another nation seems a convenient device for avoiding affronts to our identity and national narrative.

Charles wrote (about Nir Rosen)--

"Kudos to him for going into dangerous places, but you have to wonder how he convinced these terrorists and hardliners not to behead him, like what happened to Daniel Pearl."

Robert FIsk has gotten interviews with Osama Bin Laden and probably various other unsavory characters because they know he is harshly critical of Western behavior in the Middle East (and also very critical of Arab behavior, btw.) Possibly Nir Rosen has credibility with some Muslim terrorists for the same reason. I have no problem with this. But I get the impression CB suspects something worse.



TGB's point about how many cultures have been humiliated by the West, but only the Arabs have flown planes into buildings is one I think I first saw made by Hitchens. It's always struck me as funny--there seems to be the unconscious presupposition that it's in the natural order of things for us to have killed innocent people overseas, but a bizarre aberration in need of special explanation if some member of another culture murders innocent people here. Look at those other cultures--we piled up bodies all over the place and they sucked it up, seems to be the argument.

But anyway, if you actually look at Asian, Latin American, and African reactions to Western colonialism you'll see countless examples of extreme brutality. 9/11 is different because it's a massive atrocity that occurred on our own soil. Does TGB really want to uphold China's 20th Century history as a more reasonable sort of response to Western imperialism? I kinda doubt it.

I don't know, it is difficult to know how well Adesnik knows Nir Rosen, and I have the sinking suspicion that for Oxblog gents, they probably think that they can tell what people are like because they knew them in Junior High school. At any rate, any prognosticator who felt that Richard Lugar or Richard Armitage had a snowcone's chance in Hades of becoming Sec of State is not coming to this enterprise with a high batting average.

Nir Rosen's website is here and his blurb about his book is worth quoting.

In the Belly of the Green Bird is a searing report, unlike any other book about the American experience in Iraq. Almost everything covered in the Western media has been at least one or two steps removed from the minds and acts of the people who will determine the future of Iraq. Some of them are peaceful, some are violent. Some of them hate one another with the intensity of ancient enemies. The depth of discord between Sunnis and Shias is difficult to fathom without listening to them. Their anti-Americanism is much more recent, but not much less intense. The divisions within this cobbled-together country, much like those within Yugoslavia after Tito, are simply too intense to contain.

Charles links to David Adesnik about Nir Rosen as an expert opinion. As it happens, I had read David's post that got Charles' attention, which he didn't bother to quote, many hours before Charles linked.

Charles neglects to quote other things David says, David having known Nir so well and long since junior high school. Let's go, instead of to David's post from yesterday, not the one from 2003 that Charles selectively quotes (I don't believe Charles happened to recall a three year old post, rather than that he saw the link to the three year old post in David's post yesterday, which is still the top-most post at Oxblog).

Here:

DISPATCH FROM IRAQ: Nir Rosen is one of the fastest-rising stars among the ranks of foreign correspondents. He shipped out for Baghdad as a freelancer immediately after the invasion and quickly learned to speak Iraqi Arabic. Thus, he became the only American (that I know of, at least) to report extensively from inside insurgent-occupied Fallujah in 2004.

Nir's dispatch from Fallujah was given pride of place in the July 5, 2004 issue of the New Yorker, an accomplishment that immediately established his reputation as leading observer of occupied Iraq. A book contract soon followed. Earlier this month, the Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, published In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq. In addition to various assignment for the The NYT Magazine and The Atlantic, Nir also has a major article on the cover of this morning's Outlook section in the WaPo.

Before getting to the substance of Nir's publications, I should warn you that I have been friends with Nir since elementary school. There is no question that I want him to succeed and I am proud to have OxBlog contribute to his success in whatever small way it can.

[...]

Although the overarching narrative here should be familiar to anyone who reads the newspapers, I think Nir is especially good at capturing details that bring the narrative to life, such as the police issue Glocks and handcuffs that found their way to the Mahdi army.

[...]

In the end, I don't think the outcome of the occupation will turn on who made more predictions that were right or wrong. It will turn on a few critical issues that are much more important than the rest: whether an elected government can hold together, whether the army can fight, and whether the police will enforce the law or function as sectarian militias and death squads.

Nir and others have made a strong case that the trend in each of these issue areas is running in the wrong direction. But I'm not throwing in the towel just yet, because even those with first-hand experience have been wrong before about the most important trends in Iraq.

Bear in mind that David also is of the mind that the press doesn't publish enough positive things about Iraq, that Iraq is on the way to success, that it's a mystery why people are being so negative, that the CIA is engaged in "trench warfare" against the administration, etc.

Wow, Charles' 2:43 am is an awful lot of words just to say "I summarily dismiss the man's argument because of his political opinions"

"Nir Rosen's website is here and his blurb about his book is worth quoting."

It's not his blurb. It's the cover copy written by Simon and Shuster. Writers don't do this for their own work.

Perhaps more relevantly, one can read Rosen's articles for one's self, and judge them for one's self. There are plenty of them, and they're long and thorough, and extremely good reading, as those of us who have been reading them for the past couple of years know.

Wow, Charles' 2:43 am is an awful lot of words just to say "I summarily dismiss the man's argument because of his political opinions"
He's rather busy writing responses to comments he hasn't read. You'll have to forgive him. He's clearly very, very, busy.

I mean, Chas' Tacitus comment was in response to a brief post about Congressman Kline, so him telling slarti that he doesn't know who Kline suggests that he's not actually considering any information that is being rendered.

Several points, LJ. First, yes, at Tacitus I caught the title to the diary but the read body too quickly before spouting off. The reference to Kline slipped right past me. Either that or I forgot that it was Kline who said what he said. On a second reading of the Tac diary just now, indeed there was mention of Kline, so my bad. The point remains that I read this thread non-chronogically and caught sparti's comment first (and responded), then I read Gary's comment (and responded). Second, nothing I wrote in the Tac diary or here takes away from the fact that Murtha held a press conference at his own instigation in order to commemorate the six-month anniversary of his calling for immediate unilateral withdrawal of troops from the Iraqi theater. In that press conference, he exploited for his political gain (in my opinion, which still seems obviously self-evident) the Marine incident at Haditha by stating as fact that Marines killed innocent civilian Iraqis "in cold blood", using it as a political club to bash current American policy. His own transcript of the press conference makes that fairly clear to me. By the way, it was "sparti", not "slarti". We must be right about every single possible detail, no?

you're smearing him because he was right without your permission

Where exactly did I smear Murtha, cleek?

OK Gary, but one more shot. You asked if I was mindreading Murtha. My answer to that is no, I don't think so, because he made his agenda clear, foldeding Haditha into his "it’s time for us to leave" press conference and then went on the talk show rounds. Second, I also understand the timing of how the news came out. The difference is that Murtha used the phrase "in cold blood" in his press conference, seemingly rendering his verdict before the investigation was finished, and he expressly used Haditha when he commemorated his initial call for immediate redeployment, then he went on to Hardball and ABC This Week to do the same thing all over again. A politician could hardly have politicized it more. Third, let's be clear on what I didn't say. I didn't say Murtha was a traitor nor did I question his patriotism. Never have. Those that did must answer for themselves, because I never agreed with their take. I didn't question his accuracy. I didn't say that he released unauthorized information. It does come across that he rendered his own verdict prematurely, which you would think an elected official would be more careful about, especially since we have the fairly recent case of Ilario Pantano. But on its face, it does look pretty bad, that Marines did kill innocent civilians. And if it's true, it's worse than Abu Ghraib because so many were killed. Fourth, my apologies for not reading a thread in proper linear progression.

"But on its face, it does look pretty bad, that Marines did kill innocent civilians."

How dare you slander the Marines involved by this accusation, when the investigation hasn't finished, and there's been no report!

Why would you comment prematurely, like this!?!

Clearly this demonstrates that you are a loser-defeatist, as only a loser-defeatist would hate the United States and our Marines enough to attack them so viciously this way.

-----------------------

Okay, I don't mean any of that: I've just been getting it all weekend from certain blogs, which isn't your fault.

But I really don't understand what the rationale is for how you can differentiate between the above and between condemning Murtha for having said the same thing last week.

I'm not interested in discussing Murtha's policy notions at this time, and I find the fact that you find them inseparable (apparently -- if you can separate that from this discussion, and drop that issue for another time, more power to you) telling. It's a separate and separable issue.

So, setting that aside, you say: "The difference is that Murtha used the phrase 'in cold blood' in his press conference, seemingly rendering his verdict before the investigation was finished...."

Aside from the fact that that's what all the Marine attestations say, and if you give any credulity to the now extremely multiply-attested to accounts, you have to note that the "cold-blood" part is inextricably at the heart of the whole point of what's so terrible in what appears (at present, given as yet not-fully-confirmed information) to have happened here, so I don't for the life of me understand what distinction you're making, once one separates out your pre-existing disagreements with Murtha over Iraq policy (which are, to repeat again, irrelevant to whether he's given an accurate account of the information).

I'll repeat again for emphasis that it's become clear that Murtha was personally briefed by Marine Commandant Hagee. Yet again, I'll ask you to please comment on that. Yet again, I'll ask you -- for the last time -- to please comment on what Represenative Kline has said, and compare and distinguish it from what Murtha has related and characterized in describing this issue (without bringing in extraneous issues about Murtha's other views).

Thanks in advance.

And I wonder what Israeli-born Rosen did that the Israeli army would reject his admittance because he was "enemy of the state". He doesn't say.

Neither do you. Neither do you address anything in the article in a substantive way. Now, if I was to turn around and adopt the tone you've displayed, I would probably say something like "so the Israeli Army won't have Rosen. What reason did the U.S. Army give you?"

But that wouldn't be very constructive. You're not being constructive here Charles, either here on this thread where you're displaying either a laziness in reading and responding to comments or I'm afraid, a degree of bad faith.

And you're not being constructive in the larger "meta" sense by labelling those that disagree with you traitors (and no, I'm not going to buy your weak arguments that loser-defeatists isn't a rather transparent euphemism). Especially given the fact you don't seem to have the courtesy enough to read what your "opponents" say.

"...and if you give any credulity...."

Very poor word-substitution there: I meant to say "grant any credibility...."

And you're not being constructive in the larger "meta" sense by labelling those that disagree with you traitors (and no, I'm not going to buy your weak arguments that loser-defeatists isn't a rather transparent euphemism).
I'll defend Charles on that.

"Traitors" is vastly more flamnatory, and has a very specific meaning.

It's precisely because of that that I carry on about its misuse. Treason carries the death penalty. It's defined in our land by Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution. The word should never be used in a lesser context.

"Loser-defeatist," aside from being subliterate, and better replaced with the normal "defeatist," is merely an accusation that can be debated. It carries no criminal penalty attached, let alone the death penalty. The choice of which to use is vast and important.

It also has the advantage that you wouldn't be able to sue for defamation, like you could with "traitor."

Given the current climate, I feel confident, though, that "loser-defeatist" is being employed as code (and probably for the above reason). YMMV

"Given the current climate, I feel confident, though, that 'loser-defeatist' is being employed as code (and probably for the above reason). YMMV"

I prefer to limit my mind-reading attempts, so I couldn't say. But if people can be shamed out of accusations of "treason" and "traitor," to far more reasonable language (if still entirely debatable), than I feel something has been accomplished.

"Defeatist" is something I think is within the bounds of decency and argument.

I feel strongly that "traitor," absent specifically providing aid and comfort to an enemy in time of war by acts, witnessed by two people (not by words), is not within the bounds of decency in our society, and is unacceptable, and people who make such accusations without cause should be shamed and shunned.

"Defeatist," though, is merely a disagreement over policy within normal bounds of political discussion. Harsh and perhaps foolish, but within bounds.

You are, Gary, using the words as they are defined by the law and the dictionary (and as they should be). But I am continually troubled how defeatist is employed in a manner which suggests the "defeatist" actually hopes for defeat.

Treason. Not of the [narrowly defined U.S.] law, but of the spirit.

Mindreading, of course.

rilkefan's 2:54 AM post and Donald Johnson's 8:35 AM post both kind of get to the heart of what I am talking about. Of course I wouldn't suggest China's response to Western imperialism in the 20th century was positive. But suppose instead of overthrowing Chiang Kai-shek, Mao had instead sent bombers over to the US to emulate Sacco and Vanzetti? And suppose Chiang was giving covert support to Mao and railing in private about occupied Hong Kong, while smiling to our face? Wouldn't Americans resent the Chinese much more than we did in the wake of the Korean War? Isn't it better to have an enemy who will face you?

I know that I'm generalizing about responses to cultural humiliation, but generalizations ususally have a core of fact (uh-oh, now I'm generalizing about generalizations).

Whatever our sins in the Middle East, and they are many, nothing justifies reliance on terrorism as a primary tool, and it's hard to respect people who do so (again I note for the record that I do not consider most Arabs terrorists, nor do I yearn for a cultural or religious war).

Where exactly did I smear Murtha, cleek?

you mean besides your insistence that he's using the Marines to advance his own craven political agenda ?

"Traitors" is vastly more flamnatory, and has a very specific meaning.

given the amount of rightwing stuff you must read to keep up your blog, you should know as well as anyone that the words "traitor" and "treason" get tossed around on the right quite freely. personally, i don't think there's much reason to assume "L-D" isn't just another way to express whatever the tr* words are meant to express ("working for the enemy", "blame America first", "objectively-pro ___", yadayadayada).

in other words - it seems silly to assume that people who throw accusations of treason around willy-nilly are paying attention to the nuances of synonyms.

Let me say that I give Charles credit insofar as he does, to the limited extent he does, show up here to defend his remarks and positions; I wish he did it more, but, of course, he could just quit and not do it at all, and I know it isn't easy for him to face a largely hostile set of responders.

But I see his view on Murtha in the contest of the environment of uncivil nutbars on the conservative wing who eagerly through around the words "traitor" and "defeatist," as well as other slurs, like kids throwing popcorn at the movie screen of a bad movie.

Here, for instance, we see Hindrocket:

One of the most disgusting aspects of the story so far is the behavior of ex-Marine Jack Murtha, who has been making the talk show rounds trumpeting claims of atrocity:

[...]

The investigation is not yet complete, but I guess we don't need to wait for its conclusions, since Murtha is getting "high-level reports," i.e., leaks.

Of course, this is a lie. Murtha received the briefing that was personally given by the Marine Commandant, General Hagee, to the House Armed Services Committee. But Hindrocket isn't interested in the fact, he's interested in slander and slur, so he lies, and says it's a "leak" to Murtha."

Of course, he's the top end of the market.

Here we find the "Gateway Pundit":

And, I would bet that if ten Marines invited John Murtha to a blanket party, that would top naked pyramid, too!

Honestly!

And, get today's other Murtha headline... "Murtha: Iraq killings may hurt war effort"

* And, so does convicting innocent marines (they are still innocent, right?) before their trial has ended.
* As does holding press conferences daily on "cold blooded" murdering marines.
* And, so does exaggerating the death toll from initial reports.

How long is the democratic media going to water board the American public with Murtha's defeatist nonsense?

How many John Murtha headlines are we going to be force fed? How many interviews of Murtha attacking the brave men and women fighting in the field are we going to see in the coming days... months?

[...]

But, John Murtha would rather see a defeated America. Pathetic.

Australian President John Howard told the White House ten days ago, "The world needs a strong America!"

But sadly, that won't stop the liberals in this country from tearing it down.

Murtha: defeatist.

Here we have "Macsmind," topic header, "No matter what happened in Haditha - Murtha's still a coward":

I can't tolerate an idiot.

[...]

Of course you remember that Rep. Murtha used the incident to rehash his cut and run philosophy USING the Marines as a talking point.

Sound familiar?
First, no one needs to 'apologize' whether the story is true or not - the point that we are the right made was that Murtha USED the yet as unproved incident for political reasons. Fact is that no matter what the yet untermined facts bear out, nothing changes the facts about Murtha.

Thus he still profaned the Corps and still owns the dishonor (which was borne in 2005), of being a chicken shit cut and run coward.

Mind, this is said of a former Marine Colonel with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart (2), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, who, well, let's cut to the record:
He learned about military service from the bottom up, beginning as a raw recruit when he left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marines out of a growing sense of obligation to his country during the Korean War. There he earned the American Spirit Honor Medal, awarded to fewer than one in 10,000 recruits. He rose through the ranks to become a drill instructor at Parris Island and was selected for Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia. He then was assigned to the Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 1959, Captain Murtha took command of the 34th Special Infantry Company, Marine Corps Reserves, in Johnstown. He remained in the Reserves after his discharge from active duty until he volunteered for Vietnam in 1966-67, receiving the Bronze Star with Combat "V", two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He remained in the Reserves until his retirement. [...] He was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal by the Marine Corps Commandant when he retired from the Marines.
Damn the coward for all that. It takes a brave man to stand up and note that such a record is clearly the mark of a coward.

Now, a decent person could disagree all they want with Murtha's choice of policies; that's cool, that's fine. But they could do so civilly.

Or they could act like disreputable children with a shocking lack of respect for actual military service in our nation's defense, and potty mouths.

But they show who they are and what sort of honor they truly hold when they do so. So perhaps we owe them our gratitude for making clear what sort of people they truly are.

In any event, we see the tropes Charles uses in milder form: Murtha can't be disagreed with civilly, he must be smeared and slurred personally. Murtha's policy advocacy is what is relevant in discussing Haditha, not whether what he said about Haditha was accurate or in any way out of line with what Republicans and conservatives otherwise say. Since that's not an argument Charles can win, he'll go with the smear argument, and besides, it's pre-made by his compatriots, and merely has to be repeated; this has the side benefit of demonstrating his bona fides with the nutbar wing, and giving him some comfort level there, where he already has too many disagreements.

But the Murtha=Traitor meme is all over the right. John Murtha, Traitor. This from May 18th:

John Murtha’s said some extremely outrageous things the past 6 months but nothing as outrageous as his latest pack of lies. He was barely tolerable when he was hurling lies about conditions on the ground. This latest tripe is the stuff that should get him expelled from the House. Here’s his latest pack of lies
Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19. The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq.
[...] Frankly, this is the actions of a traitor or a sellout. He deserves to be ridiculed, excoriated and frog-marched off Capitol Hill, then remanded to jail. No bail.

When Murtha’s made prior outrageous statements, I’ve advocated that the Pennsylvania voters should fire him. This goes beyond him advocating “immediate redeployment” of the troops or his claiming that “our troops are living hand to mouth”. This rises (sinks?) to the level of harming the U.S. military at a time of war. That takes it beyond Pennsylvania. Now it’s the nation’s business.

For that reason, I’m asking that the House Ethics Committee start an investigation into Murtha’s actions and that they expel him from the House if he’s found guilty of betraying the soldiers of the U.S.M.C.

Malkin the 18th:
JOHN MURTHA HANGS THE MARINES
Dan Riehl has words of inspiration:
I'll be damned if I'm going to excuse a political hack like John Murtha who didn't have the decency to allow this thing to play out and let the institutions we know we can trust to do their job. One certainly can't trust Murtha to speak the truth, as he is speaking before he even knows it and manipulating a terrible event for selfish political gain.

[...]

And personally, I have no intention of going on the defensive, or letting the hand wringers win because some few out of hundreds of thousands of brave and noble men and women may have behaved criminally.

It's a war. Terrible things happen, no doubt they have been happening in one form or another everyday. If someone didn't appreciate that in the first place, then they never should have signed on.

And as for those worrying about what the rest of the world is going to think ... you mean that rest of the world whose primary pre-occupation seems to be undermining American power and running us down at every turn?

Frankly, I couldn't care less.

It's a war, war is hell. Good people die and some bad people can even commit crimes ... one's for which they will be held accountable and perhaps even pay with their lives.

Buck the hell up and get ready to move on, because the war is far from over. And the fall-out from this has just begun. Sitting back playing defense and giving ground to a Left and a MSM that was all but if not actually saying this of our fighting men and women long before they had a single shred of evidence to hang their opinions on is not a strategy to win.

Rousing, eh?

Of course, this is the same Dan Riehl who, two days before he wrote that on the 28th, wrote this on the 26:

It appears as though America is going to have to face the fact that some number of its military forces may have committed a heinous crime. We should face it. And they should be held accountable, as undoubtedly they will.

[...]

Early reports suggest we may be looking at seven individuals.

The incident is still under investigation, but several senior military officials say at least seven Marines could face criminal charges.
But, you know, when he says it, it's okay.

It just goes on and on. Most of the big name conservative bloggers have all now written stuff about how it appears that dreadful crimes were committed at Haditha.

But that's okay. They're on the right side. That makes all the difference.

Presented just for curiousities sake, but defeatism is an actual crime in some [nasty] countries. Ex.

Luigi Fabbri, (1877 - 1935), an Italian militant anarchist, was charged with defeatism during the World War I.

Elizabeth von Thadden (1890 - 1944), a teacher and an anti-Hitler activist from Morag, was sentenced to death for defeatism and attempted treason.

Daniil Kharms (1905 - 1942), a Russian writer, was charged with defeatism and jailed during the Siege of Leningrad. He starved to death in prison.


cleek: "given the amount of rightwing stuff you must read to keep up your blog"

I actually only do so quite sporadically; I feel no obligation to spend much time in the cess pool, and in fact I don't generally frequent the more flamnatory liberal/left/Democratic blogs, either. They're not tempermentally to my taste. I prefer facts and calm reasoning to being shouted at, no matter by whom and in what cause.

I prefer unadorned nouns when discussing heated issues, rather than loaded adjectives and adverbs.

But that's just me.

I make exceptions at times, and that's what I'm doing in this case. Precisely because I feel so strongly that a line is crossed when "traitor" and "treason" are words tossed about so casually. I find that appalling. And highly dangerous. I want to do everything I can to damp that down, to try to encourage a sense of shame to be spread in regard to anyone who uses such flamnatory terminology.

There's a reason that since early 2002 my blog has had on its sidebar "Proudly free of calling anyone a 'traitor' since 2001."

Spartikus: "But I am continually troubled how defeatist is employed in a manner which suggests the 'defeatist' actually hopes for defeat."

Yes, but I still find that within acceptable terms of debate. It's offensive, but I don't object to accusations of "treason" because it's offensive. I object because it calls for the death penalty.

Presumably prefigured by arrest and trial.

And in an environment where we already have the Attorney General of the U.S. saying he has the right to try reporters for printing classified leaks, and Congressional Republicans calling for the arrests of reporters, not to mention a President who reserves the unilateral right to torture, to imprison indefinitely without charge, to eavesdrop at will without warrant, to assassinate at will, and so on, accusations of "treason" are as serious as can be.

They're calls for killing one's opponents, with whatever degree of legality might or might not be involved in our Brave New World.

That's a whole 'nother thing than merely being offensive.

Back as regards Charles, we do know why he has to tie his charges against Murtha to Murtha's "loser-defeatist" policies. He has no choice. He can't maintain without reference to Murtha's policies that Murtha said anything out of line in reporting the known facts given to him by the Marine Commandant on Haditha. Most conservatives have also said such things by now. Those reports are made by every news source. Plenty of Republicans are now on record as repeating them. He doesn't address Congressman Kline, because if he, and the rest of his friends taking this line, were honest and consistent -- and this is very simple and plain and utterly undeniable -- nothing complicated about this -- they'd have to condemn Kline for saying what Murtha said, and they'd have to condemn most of themselves.

It's illogical and indefensible; it's not a stand that can be taken, even by people given to the most amazing twists of logic.

So the only possible way to throw more mud at Murtha and make charges about this are to insist that the true fault is that he's "using" this incident.

And then you have the absurdity of accusing a politician of citing facts in support of the policy he desires.

Which, of course, is absolutely no different from what all these pro-war guys are doing by citing Murtha's statements to denounce his policies in favor of their policies.

It's remarkably twisted, but there we are. They're being complete hypocrits, and can't face up to that, of course, so they engage in further hypocrisy by claiming there's something wrong with citing facts in support of a desired policy.

The right and proper and honorable thing to do, of course, would be to simply argue with Murtha's policies on the merits. And that's all.

That's fair game. They're free to simply say "I oppose Congressman Murtha's advocacy of rapid redeployment of our troops to stations near Iraq, but to no longer base them there, because that is a bad idea for reasons A, B, D, and C.

But that isn't good enough. Civil disagreement isn't good enough.

Apparently they are afraid logic is insufficient to make their case convincingly. That, or they are simply tempermentally incapable of not smearing and slurring.

So they smear and slur.

And when they do that, they show they have no honor.

It's all very sad.

Sorry, Chas, don't mean to be ganging up on you, but you said

First, yes, at Tacitus I caught the title to the diary but the read body too quickly before spouting off. The reference to Kline slipped right past me.

Work with me here. You make a harsh comment about Murtha in a kneejerk reaction to a title. Now, wouldn't it be better to just admit to that up front rather than try to defend the last trench of 'murtha is a loser-defeatist'? Instead of spending all this time and effort over getting offended that some other people are getting offended over your rhetoric, especially when you yourself admit it was not a thought out point, but a reaction to a title, wouldn't it have been better to all concerned to just acknowledge you feel strongly about it and let it go?

Gary provides a number of excerpts to show why some of the leading lights of the right blogosphere arouse such ire on this. We know that they are completely unconcerned with having a dialogue, but why do you seem to throw your lot in with them? Or, conversely, why do you waste your time here?

Precisely because I feel so strongly that a line is crossed when "traitor" and "treason" are words tossed about so casually. I find that appalling. And highly dangerous. I want to do everything I can to damp that down, to try to encourage a sense of shame to be spread in regard to anyone who uses such flamnatory terminology.

agreed.

i enjoy responding to people making those charges with a simple URL: https:/tips.fbi.gov. that way they can report the crime they've witnessed with no more effort than it takes to write a blog post.

"But suppose instead of overthrowing Chiang Kai-shek, Mao had instead sent bombers over to the US to emulate Sacco and Vanzetti?"

Aside from the fact that Mao had no such intercontinental bombers, the other problem with this example is that Sacco and Vanzetti were famously railroaded in an unfair trial, and Vanzetti was innocent, it appears. (Possibly Sacco, too, but we can't know; what we know is that the trial was ludicrously unfair -- that's why they're famous.)

"And suppose Chiang was giving covert support to Mao and railing in private about occupied Hong Kong, while smiling to our face?"

That's not so far from what happened, insofar as he was deeply corrupt, and most of those around him were deeply corrupt, and in any case, when we gave him endless support in WWII to fight the Japanese, he largely hung back, made a profit, and hoarded troops and equipment to fight his true enemy, Mao, rather than the Japanese.

But instead of being vilified, as he was by, for instance, General Stilwell, and those in the know, the American public lauded him, and kept lauding him even after he died, thanks to the anti-Communist crusaders who instead put the blame on Democratic traitors who, by way of being Communists, deliberately turned China over to the Communists. Thank Richard Nixon, Joe McCarthy, Henry Luce, and most of the Republican Party for that.

"Whatever our sins in the Middle East, and they are many, nothing justifies reliance on terrorism as a primary tool, and it's hard to respect people who do so...."

This would not seem to be a controversial sentiment, and I wouldn't expect much debate. :-)

"Whatever our sins in the Middle East, and they are many, nothing justifies reliance on terrorism as a primary tool, and it's hard to respect people who do so...."

Though let me note that America, overall, had little problem dealing with, or forgiving, Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, whose career as terrorists is quite famous, though not to all Americans, to be sure. Not everyone is familiar with the history of the Irgun Tsvai Leumi and the Stern Gang.

Hokay, I'm off and out for a few hours now. Talk amongst yourselves. :-)

interesting points about Rosen - but if this article is in question, do you contest any of the factual claims he makes

I don't think I'm able to, rilke, but if he came to Iraq with the agenda that Adesnik suggested, then I am skeptical with his choosing of the facts that he is putting forward, because it feels like I'm not getting the whole picture. At the risk of jumping the linear progression of comments, Gary linked to a new Adesnik post which I thought was interesting.

But that wouldn't be very constructive. You're not being constructive here Charles, either here on this thread where you're displaying either a laziness in reading and responding to comments or I'm afraid, a degree of bad faith.

Here's a fair question, sparti: Why are you so exercised about my agenda yet give noot the slightest damn for Rosen's? Surely as a published writer, he is much more influential than lil ole me. It doesn't sound terribly pragmatic of you, and from where I sit, your uncuriosity does not contribute to this world of pragmatism that you said you were seeking. Quite frankly, I think you're applying an unfortunate double standard. BTW, I'm not dismissing what Rosen wrote in the WA Post, just expressing serious skepticism, justifiably so, in my view.

And you're not being constructive in the larger "meta" sense by labelling those that disagree with you traitors...

That is simply a false statement, sparti, "meta" or in any other way, and you're bordering on violating the posting rules with such a detestable mischaracterization.

Given the current climate, I feel confident, though, that "loser-defeatist" is being employed as code...

Your confidence is misplaced. Code is not a language I speak in. Going one further, I wrote months ago that I thought Murtha was a patriot who loved his country. I actually and honestly meant what I said back then, and I hold that same opinion today. Believing that a person is horribly wrong does not mean that said person is unpatriotic, treasonous, seditious, etc.

Yet again, I'll ask you -- for the last time -- to please comment on what Represenative Kline has said, and compare and distinguish it from what Murtha has related and characterized in describing this issue (without bringing in extraneous issues about Murtha's other views).

I don't accept your conditions, Gary, because Murtha himself made inseparable his comments about Haditha and immediate withdrawal. But to excerpt the NY Times:

Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that "this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians." He added, "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity."
Although not in quotes, his statement was qualified with "allegations indicated", but more clearly delineated qualifiers would have been helpful. The context of his comments also counts. He didn't set up a press conference, he didn't go on Hardball. Instead, he was there are at the DoD briefing, and when reporters called, he answered their questions. This is important because the point I made was specifically about political exploitation, not a comparative analysis of what Persons A and B said. If you think Kline exploited Haditha to advance his political agenda, tell me how. Perhaps he did, and I just missed it.

Murtha said a lot of things in a lot of places, but getting to his signature comment: "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell." Taranto offered a pretty fair analysis of Murtha's words. The phrase "our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them" does bother me. While you accused me of mindreading, wouldn't it be more accurate to put that one on Murtha? He's the one who was divining the states of mind of those Marines. Also, Murtha did not see the report, and his phrasing suggests that he arrived at his own verdict.

you mean besides your insistence that he's using the Marines to advance his own craven political agenda ?

First, cleek, Murth didn't use the Marines, he used Haditha. Second, "craven" is your word, not mine.

You make a harsh comment about Murtha in a kneejerk reaction to a title. Now, wouldn't it be better to just admit to that up front rather than try to defend the last trench of 'murtha is a loser-defeatist'?

You mean I can't do both? Yes, LJ, I made a harsh comment. Yes, there was some kneejerk in my reaction to it. Yes, I made the mistake of not committing Kline to memory. But those are separate from my views that Murtha politically exploited Haditha and that his "it's time to leave" proposals are defeatist.

We know that they are completely unconcerned with having a dialogue, but why do you seem to throw your lot in with them? Or, conversely, why do you waste your time here?

That's exactly why I like to have a presence on both the left AND right sides of the blogosphere. I suggest that there are hefty numbers on both sides who are "completely unconcerned with having a dialogue", and that there are hefty numbers on both sides who do. It's a little unsettling at times, being in both places, and there's a lot of dissonance, but I like being able to have my feet in both puddles. I think it brings a wider understanding and perspective on the issues. Having seen quite a bit of freerepublic and Atrios, for example, I've seen little difference in tenor, tone and substance between the two commentariats.

Here's a fair question, sparti: Why are you so exercised about my agenda yet give noot the slightest damn for Rosen's?

Possibly it may be Rosen is in Iraq actually bearing witness, while you barely seem read the comments you respond to.

That is simply a false statement, sparti, "meta" or in any other way, and you're bordering on violating the posting rules with such a detestable mischaracterization.

If you feel you've been mischaracterized maybe, instead of threatening banning, you could clarify your meaning. Or not. It's up to you. Quite a few people, myself included, have not been convinced by your efforts to date. FWIW:

Defeatism is acceptance of defeat without struggle. In everyday use, defeatism has negative connotation and is often linked to treason and pessimism,

"He didn't set up a press conference, he didn't go on Hardball. Instead, he was there are at the DoD briefing, and when reporters called, he answered their questions. This is important"

That's cool, because in fact I've seen Representative Kline give several tv interviews, and he's in dozens of different newspapers. Try another.

Let's back up: Charles, define "exploited" in this context, and precisely what you view as wrong about it, please.

And let me see: you're saying that it's just fine for people to utter opinions about what they've been officially briefed as regards Haditha, and as regards news reports on what is alleged to have happened at Haditha, or not?

If not, precisely what's okay in your view, and what's not, as regards passing on what someone has learned in an unclassified briefing and as regards opining about what appears to be tentatively know so far?

Lastly, are you saying that you have no problem with what Congressman Murtha said as regards Haditha except insofar as it connects to "his political agenda," or are you saying that you have a problem with it that is separable and isolatable simply as regards just what he said about the Marines -- or not?

For the record, in my 12:24 p.m, when I wrote: "But I see his view on Murtha in the contest of the environment of uncivil nutbars...."

What I meant was "context," not "contest." Apologies.

Incidentally, in the new, very safe, terribly democratic, ever -improving, full-of-good-news-we're-not-told-about Iraq, a CBS newscrew was just mostly killed.

wo members of a CBS News team, veteran cameraman Paul Douglas, 48, and soundman James Brolan, 42, were killed and correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39, was seriously injured Monday when the U.S. Army unit in which they were embedded was attacked.

A U.S. soldier was also killed in the attack, and six others were wounded.

The CBS crew was on a patrol with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, when their convoy was hit. They were reporting a "routine" story, covering American troops for Memorial Day. The trio was only planning to be out for a few hours, in order to get back to the CBS Baghdad bureau in time to edit their piece.

Dozier, Douglas and Brolan got out of their armored vehicle in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad when the U.S. troops they accompanied stopped to inspect a checkpoint manned by the Iraqi army. That's when a nearby car packed with explosives detonated. Douglas and Brolan died at the scene.

Dozier sustained serious injuries and was flown to a U.S. military hospital inside Baghada's Green Zone, where she underwent surgery. She is in critical condition, but doctors are cautiously optimistic about her prognosis.

This may interfere with their presenting good news from Iraq any time soon.

Gary,
CW:"Yet we don't call the Confederates 'terrorists' and 'criminals'- we recognize that when a substantial subset of a country doesn't accept the legitimacy of the government, there is a big problem."

Yes, we call the Confederates "traitors" and "rebels," actually.

Im not sure if you're agreeing with me, or disagreeing- since ("traitors" and "rebels") are not equal to ("terrorists" and "criminals"). But the context (why bring up these alternatives) and the "actually" make me think that you're drawing an equivalence & therefore disagreeing...
Two main differences:
1)Rebels (the most commonly-used term I've seen) is not really perjorative (my high school mascot was a rebel). I have yet to encounted a "criminals" mascot. "Traitor" is admittedly perjorative though (but also in the eye of the beholder, Oleg Penkovsky may not seem like a traitor to us...)
2)The former two terms accurately describe action against a country, either in the service of another power or en masse representing an internal power/faction. The latter two terms describe a)deviant or self-serving behavior or b)the use of violence (or threatened violence) against civilian targets to cause sociopolitical change.
The Iraqi insurgency could reasonably be called rebels. I think traitors would be a less reasonable appelation (since they are opposing an order they have never assented to- likewise, calling Confederates traitors ignores the fact that their fealty was given to their states, and that secession was certainly considered a legitimate action by those Confederates).

Neither should be called criminals or terrorists, except insofar as their specific actions meet the criteria for those names.

(nb saying that the Confederates and the Iraqi insurgents were not criminals or traitors should not be considered an endorsement of eithers' agenda).

I probably should have included:

Douglas, who was British, leaves a wife, Linda; two daughters, Kelly, 29, and Joanne, 26; and three grandchildren. Brolan, who was also British, leaves a wife, Geraldine, and two children, Sam, 17, and Agatha, 12.

The attack was among a wave of car and roadside bombs that left about three dozen people dead before noon Monday, including one explosion that killed 10 people on a bus. Nearly all the attacks occurred in Baghdad.

But I'm sure there's good news, too.

"1)Rebels (the most commonly-used term I've seen) is not really perjorative (my high school mascot was a rebel)."

Pejorative. "Perjorative" isn't a word.

It's funny how Southern rebellion-inspired mascots never are called "the Traitors." Probably isn't as catchy.

But we probably don't want to digress into offensive mascot name discussions.

I'm afraid I've lost track of the relevance of the rest of your points; sorry. It's not as if there's a single "insurgency" in Iraq, or it's the chief problem there, in any case.

Incidentally, in the new, very safe, terribly democratic, ever -improving, full-of-good-news-we're-not-told-about Iraq,

Along similar lines, this story highlights the burdgeoning non-theological nature of the new Iraq.

Charles,
Abu Ghraib was under already investigation when it was made public, and it was inevitable that it would be publicized. This has happened for every scandal, non-scandal and pseudo-scandal that has occurred in the last six years.

Are you saying that every scandal that has occurred has been publicized? Or that every scandal that's been investigated has been publicized? Every scandal has been both investigated and then publicized?
Or just that every scandal that you've heard of has been publicized?

You're either omniscient, or you've decided to grace us with a truism.

Third, let's be clear on what I didn't say. I didn't say Murtha was a traitor nor did I question his patriotism. Never have.

Let's be clear- saying that someone wants our military to lose is questioning their patriotism. Quoth Charles: "Murtha is betraying the American soldiers who have been there.- but apparently this was only the patriotic kind of betrayl.

Also, you didnt address the Confederacy point. Noting that political analogies are never an exact fit is *not* addressing the point, it is fleeing (in a loser-defeatist manner, no less) from engagement with the point. If you think that the Confederates were not criminals and terrorists (using your logic), please explain how their situation was different rather than just asserting that this is the case.


And finally, you've neglected to tell us how re-labeling the insurgents in the American media is going to produce "concrete" results (that's the kind you profess to like, after all)- as opposed to shifting the blame for the current problems from those who were in favor of the original decision to invade over to those recalcitrant Iraqis who cannot play fair and accept that they've lost.

Gary,
Thank you for courageously correcting my spelling- the world is a better place now.
Im sorry to hear that you can't remember why you made your original comment, but Im afraid I can't return the favor by helping you with that...

You make a harsh comment about Murtha in a kneejerk reaction to a title. Now, wouldn't it be better to just admit to that up front rather than try to defend the last trench of 'murtha is a loser-defeatist'?

You mean I can't do both? Yes, LJ, I made a harsh comment. Yes, there was some kneejerk in my reaction to it. Yes, I made the mistake of not committing Kline to memory. But those are separate from my views that Murtha politically exploited Haditha and that his "it's time to leave" proposals are defeatist.

Morning Charles. You can do both, but if you had done the first from the beginning, we might be having a more meaningful discussion about the question. And by not doing the first from the beginning, it reinforces the suspicion that you are thinking, you are simply reacting.

I'd also point out that there is a hierarchy of errors, so you not knowing who Kline is might be considered more grevious than me typing slarti for sparti (especially when you look at the keyboard and see where l and p are located) In fact, I had no idea what you were talking about until reviewing this.

Since this is a big pile on, I'll sneak back up into the stands, but I'm wondering what kind of evidence would be necessary to change your opinion. To be honest, I'm not sure what evidence is necessary to change mine, but I take Murtha's previous record of service as well as the position he had previously staked out as a politician evidence, while you seem to dismiss all of that out of hand.

Eye-witness after-the-fact testimony about the bodies at Haditha from Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones.

I'd also like to assume that everyone read this post that I've pointed to a few times, with all the various links and cites and quotes, including to this ABC account of the other night, and seen this this video of the shot-up house, and of Safa Younis, the 12-year-old girl said to be a survivor of the event. Alternate version here.

Of course, Dan Riehl and others immediately find it questionable and hint it's a lying fake (he has a number of posts along that line; so do many others who love to engage in wishful thinking.

But I'd like to hope everyone is keeping up with the story.

Carleton: "Im sorry to hear that you can't remember why you made your original comment...."

No, I remember that.

From spartikus's link: "In addition, the leaflet forbids men from wearing goatee beards and anyone from buying mayonnaise."

Iraqi fundamentalists prefer a different condiment?

Dreadful story, of course. But also reinforcing one of my points above: this has nothing to do with the "insurgency." It's part of the civil war.

Possibly it may be Rosen is in Iraq actually bearing witness...

So it doesn't matter how partisan or agenda-driven the person is, what's most important is that the person was there? It looks to me like your double standards are still showing, or do you place equal weight on all of the other numerous firsthand accounts, such as here? If not, why? They were there, after all.

If you feel you've been mischaracterized maybe, instead of threatening banning, you could clarify your meaning.

No, I don't feel mischaracterized, sparti, you actually did it. You made a clearly false statement, so the warning still stands. How many times must I explicitly state--before it finally sinks in--that when I criticize someone like Murtha, that I'm questioning his policies and not his patriotism? For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure I did clarify my meaning, but if you desire a dictionary definition, this is the one I had in mind, not wikipedia's. Does that clarify?

Gary, I take your word that Kline was on television and in more than one newspaper. Tell me how Kline exploited Haditha to his political advantage.

As for "exploiting", I'll take this definition and say that Murtha took unfair advantage of the briefing information he received by folding it into his commemorative press conference, adding Haditha to his litany of reasons for immediate redeployment out of the Iraqi theater, possibly going as far as mindreading by stating that "our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them", thus lessening the responsibility of those who shot those unfortunate Iraqis (allegedly) and shifting the blame up the chain of command. Wasn't this how Calley & Co. got such piddling sentences?

Noting that political analogies are never an exact fit is *not* addressing the point, it is fleeing (in a loser-defeatist manner, no less) from engagement with the point. If you think that the Confederates were not criminals and terrorists (using your logic), please explain how their situation was different rather than just asserting that this is the case.

I liked Charley's and Gary's answers, so I didn't feel the pressing need to respond, Carleton. Criminals or traitors would fit the bill for me, but to be neighborly with our southern compatriots, and since the war is fourteen decades past, southerners also works for me. I don't remember terrorist attacks being much of an issue back then, but those who did target civilians for attack would be terrorists.

And finally, you've neglected to tell us how re-labeling the insurgents in the American media is going to produce "concrete" results...

I take it that you reject the works of Lakoff? Are we not fighting an information war as well as a physical one?

So it doesn't matter how partisan or agenda-driven the person is, what's most important is that the person was there? It looks to me like your double standards are still showing, or do you place equal weight on all of the other numerous firsthand accounts, such as here?

Is there something specific, as in some sort of concrete fact, in Rosen's piece you are calling into question?

Is there something specific in Iraq the Model you wish me to read and address? Otherwise, they're entitled to their opinion.

You made a clearly false statement, so the warning still stands.

Ridiculous. I have not mischaracterized, and certainly have not "lied" about anything you've said. If you don't like that your words carry connotations beyond what you intend....STOP USING THEM.

As for threats of banning, this is abusing your moderator's position.

"...and say that Murtha took unfair advantage of the briefing information he received by folding it into his commemorative press conference...."

So what you're saying is that he shouldn't use facts in the course of espousing his opinions, and that that's wrong, is that it?

The wrongness comes from what, precisely, other than that you don't agree with him?

This seems to be a key point. I have no idea what you think is wrong here. You assert that something is wrong, but what it is: beats me.

I'm pretty sure that using facts to disagree with you is not, in fact, wrong.

It wasn't a classified briefing, after all. If it were, and Murtha gave away secrets he shouldn't have, than I'd join you in criticizing that.

But that's not the case. It was an unclassified briefing. It's the same information that has been provided to the public.

I'm fairly sure that part of the job of elected officials is to speak to the public about the facts as they know them.

So, the problem here, beyond that you disagree with Murtha, is?

"Is there something specific in Iraq the Model you wish me to read and address?"

Regarding that, oh, my, but the negative things I can quote from Iraq The Model, and every other Iraqi blogger Charles has ever mentioned. None of them is a happy camper. It's hard to believe that he actually reads them consistently, rather than picking up on a few of the more positive bits as cherry-picked by the Usual Suspects.

Similarly for the way Michael Yon is beloved by the right, save for his insistence for many months that what's going on in Iraq is a civil war, and his denunciations of those on the right who he says are refusing to listen to him.

From the latter -- but don't let that stop you from reading the whole thing, or the other post I cited:

Of course! Ye’ old censorship. Every country practices censorship, in one form or the other. Just this week, Thailand is having a Texas-cage match over censorship, accuracy in reporting, and alleged slanderous swipes at the King. Last week, in America, a radio producer for a large syndicated program in the United States called me requesting that I go on the show, a show that has hosted me many times and where I’ve been referred to as, “Our man in Iraq.” But when I said Iraq is in a civil war, that same producer slammed down the phone and, in so doing, demonstrated how much he reveres truth.

The many faces of suppression are interesting. The first time I said something the producer did not agree with, he slammed down the phone. That’s why I do not accept advertisement. That same syndication had regarded my opinion highly when I was saying what they wanted to hear. They were not happy per se for truth. The truth was that we were making much progress in Iraq, and that is what they wanted to hear. But I knew the honeymoon would end the day the truth was at variance to their narrowly defined message. When the receiver slammed into the phone, the producer revealed himself naked; he was not supporting the troops, nor the Iraqis, but the President. One day, perhaps when I am in some hell-spot on earth and the only person they can reach by satellite phone, they might call again, and I will go on again, and I will tell the truth, and they will either hang on my words and say, “See, see, he is on the ground! And he believes the same as we!” Or I might say something they don’t like, they might hang up the phone again, and I will go about my business, no hard feelings. Although sometimes the truth saddens me, it just is what is.

I checked my website to see if the United Arab Emirates had shut me down for saying Iraq was in a Civil War. They had not. More interestingly, though a few military leaders politely disagreed with the statement that Iraq is in a state of civil war, a larger number of Iraq-experienced military officers agreed (off-the-record) that Iraq is in a civil war, and thanked me for saying it.

So whose opinions should we respect on matters Iraq? Smart combat veterans who have graduated from top schools in the United States and who have faced bombs and bullets and bled in Iraq, or a radio producer who has never been there and who cannot control his temper in the face of words? It’s time we listened to our combat leaders.

I'd also note that gung-ho conservative bloggers aren't providers of Truth about Iraq any more than IndyMedia is.

Looking at Iraqi bloggers is a good step. Shall we do that next?

Does that clarify?

No, the wikipedia entry, and the citation of those jailed in times past on the charge of defeatism, was to illustrate the word carries beyond it's dictionary entry. Like the context of coupling it's use with a sentence like Murtha is betraying the American soldiers who have been there. & Murtha is betraying the Iraqi people.

Here is an Iraqi blogger, Charles. Do you read her regularly, to find out the truth in Iraq, or do you filter her out, because you don't like what she says?

But let's look to Iraq The Model at the moment. Here is a post from Thursday about the wire from Mohammed's neighborhood generators being stolen at night, so they have no power -- no one in Iraq relies on official power, of course, since there is little, and never for long. Good news!

The case is still unsolved but some of the neighbors are suggesting we take shifts at night to guard the wires!

Here a post from the 21st on the new government.

After five long months from the day we elected our representatives the government finally saw the light, though lacking two key members who hopefully will be named within a week.
They haven't been. That's without having had any new government at all since those elections in December Charles is so fond of.
The remaining part of the task requires the PM to find two independent, qualified, competent and nonsectarian Iraqis to fill the defense and interior ministries and a third for the national security ministry but five months were not enough to find such people which indicates that either such people have become very hard to find or that the distrust between our politicians have grown bigger.
Good news!
...we're hearing ugly reports about the extensive smuggling operations taking place in Basra, maybe this report from Azzaman shows the depth of the corruption and the mafias running it.

In short it says that there are 8 illegal ports in the southern part of Basra controlled by 8 different militias working for Islamic parities represented in the government and that these militias use intimidation and bribes to make the 'oil protection force' facilitate the constant flow of oil that is smuggled to neighboring gulf countries.

Good news!

On the 19th:

I think most of you noticed that ITM is getting updated with new entries less frequently compared to earlier times and there are plenty of reasons behind this reduced activity, some I'd like to share and others I prefer to keep for myself. [...] First of all we're having a hard time getting reliable electricity and internet access, as you could tell from Mohammed's latest post, thus we're getting fewer hours of online time and this of course is not enabling us to read enough material that is needed to know what's going on and connect events and news. [...] I'm also not getting my newspapers regularly enough for a number of reasons, so we're technically not receiving enough material to be able to blog in the way we wish we were especially when it comes to things happening outside Baghdad.

[...]

Of course most of headlines bring bad news and every once in a while we find some good news or potentially good news but regardless of that, they all can be considered as good raw material for blogging but the thing is that we're growing numb over news whether good or bad.

I very well realize that this numbness is dangerous but I can't help it, I'm surrounded by these news, events and incidents. I see them on TV, hear them on the radio, read them-and write about them-on the web and chat about them with friends, family and workmates and occasionally witness them first-hand. And this is leading me to the threshold where they stop to be interesting but I'm trying hard to keep a distance from this threshold or at least slow down its arrival and that's why I'm still writing till this moment.

On the other hand many of my friends, relatives or the people I know have either left Iraq or are planning to do so, actually instant messaging and emails have long ago become the only way I stay in touch with my friends.
"I'm going to take my family to Syria next month and will be staying there for a year or two until things calm down" or "I've been granted admission to a university in the UK" or "my uncle found a job for me in Egypt and I'm leaving next week"…
These are examples of what I get to hear from people I know and it's getting more and more frequent lately.
Not all people have the resources or the urgent need to leave Iraq; so they chose to be refugees inside Iraq; I have friends who left Baghdad and went to Najaf or Kurdistan seeking the nearest place where safety can be found.

One friend told me the other day that "Iraq is no longer a place for civilians like us, let politicians, militias and soldiers settle their accounts but I am leaving indefinitely". I don't know what to tell these people; I can't advise them to stay and risk their lives with all the violence happening around and I feel sorry they are leaving, sorry for them and for the country; it's never easy for them to leave the place where they were born and had lived their entire life to go start from zero in a place where they'll be total strangers and at it's not possible to build a country without people but at the same time, you can't help your country when you are dead or living in fear all the time.

This is the kind of dilemma unfortunately many Iraqis are facing these days and time is a very important factor here and Iraqi's are not sure whether it's on their side or on the enemy's…some people tell me they don't want to quit now that they endured so much and been through a lot. The other day I was with some friends at home and the subject eventually surfaced "let's just wait for another six months, I'm sure things will improve by then" one friend said and I nodded in agreement "I'm not willing to take the risk, what if I get killed or kidnapped tomorrow or next month!? I'm leaving Iraq to live somewhere else until I believe it's safe to return, we live only once guys!" and I nodded in agreement too.
Both opinions make a lot of sense and I could never say the first friend was a coward since he's still living through what I and the other friend are living through.

Good news!

Tuesday the 16th:

This summer electricity in Baghdad is almost nonexistent, the national grid provides one hour every five other hours; reasons are numerous and government excuses are even more but maybe the straw that broke the back of the camel was the shut down of Biji station which one of the biggest in the country. The reason in this case is supposed to be that the 200 employees and their families were forced to leave the station and their homes at gun point; most of those people are not from the same town or province and they lived for years in a small housing compound near the station and if this is the real reason then I wonder how the government failed to protect those families who live in a relatively easy-to-protect isolated area around the station!

People here had long ago stopped to expect anything good from officials' statements and promises which became a source of inspiration for countless cartoons on the papers and jokes that circulate through text messages and emails.

[...]

Anyway, promises about an improvement in power production and supplies by 2008 is not largely convincing to people living under the burning sun of Baghdad under which promises evaporate and dreams of a cool A/C breeze evaporate as well.

Apparently we are destined to have more rough summers.

Good news!

May 7th:

Let's take a look at the situation in Iraq, two years ago, that's May or April 2004, we had almost the same number of MNF soldiers in Iraq, much less force in the Iraqi police and a lot less than that in the army, yet there is more violence now than before.
Good... well, you know.

Why is it that the American MSM refuses to bring us this good news?

I, for one, want to know.

Shall we look at some other Iraqi bloggers? Remember, these guys are the most rose-colored-glasses ones you can find. The others are a heck of a lot more negative.

"I take it that you reject the works of Lakoff? Are we not fighting an information war as well as a physical one?"

Um, Charles? Lakoff talks about framing ideas in a democracy, for political use.

He doesn't suggest that reframing wording is going to win a war.

But, by all means, if you can get him to back you up on this, go for it. I'll just wait here. I have lots of popcorn on hand.

Let's look at Healing Iraq. Zeyad was quite the favorite of American rightwing bloggers, after they had dropped Salem Pax as their favorite, because Salem said some unflattering things about the American invasion.

Of course, then when Zeyad told the story of how American soldiers had made his cousin and another man jump in a river at night, and his cousin drowned, most of the American rightwing bloggers declared that Zeyad was lying and making things up, and dropped him. A few later apologized. Zeyad eventually quit blogging for over a year. He came back a while ago, but is still infrequent; he's also fleeing for a journalism degree in the US at Columbia U. soon. What's going on now in the former favorite's view?

May 8th:

Sorry for the unannounced absence. I had some troubles getting online (still have actually) and, now that summer is here, the electricity situation is worse than ever with less than 4 hours of power a day - and only 2 per day for the last 3 days or so. The deteriorating situation in my neighbourhood is always a very convenient excuse for local generator owners to provide less hours of power (but heaven forbid if someone is late on paying their monthly subscription fee).

It hasn't been very pretty in Adhamiya since my last post. The district looks deserted most of the time, with random gunfire here and there. American Apache helicopters circle the area almost non-stop, and residents are whispering to each other about an imminent assault, as part of the American plan to 'liberate' Baghdad again. But to liberate it from whom? Its residents?

I'm on the verge of quitting my job. I haven't been to work for about a month now and I told my boss flat out on the phone that I wouldn't dare make the 20-30 kms trip to work for the time being. I can't even put my nose out of my doorstep for fuck's sake. Sometimes I'm really amazed that the state still continues to function at all.

Here is a nice shot of yesterday's car bomb explosion...

And this is a blurry shot of the Oil ministry fire that broke out about a week ago. Funny that the event did not even register in the news. The fire actually engulfed two floors, the accounts and records floors to be exact. Rumour among Oil ministry employees is that the fire - which went on for over 2 hours - was intentional, apparently to cover up some major corruption scandal. Hardly surprising to hear that. The employees were also told that they should not expect their salaries for some time, since all records were puff, gone.

Okay, that's about as cheery as he gets with the good news. Don't believe me? Go look for yourself.

Just some typical phrases in recent posts: ...7 to 12 residents were killed in the clash. [...] The fire was random now.... [...] We heard from friends and relatives that life was going on 'normally' in other parts of the capital; the obligatory car bomb or roadside bomb, politicians still bickering, corpses still turning up at random locations, people still being kidnapped and assassinated, you know, the usual everyday stuff. [...] The area is now one huge fortress, armed to the teeth and expecting an attack any moment now.

Here is a post on his job.

Earlier: "[...] I'm not sure if it's an ill-fated omen or something else, but random violence seems to follow me wherever I go in Baghdad."

Friday, March 24, 2006
Lynchings and Holy Wars
And so on and so forth.

Wanna look at some more Iraqi blogs for the good news we're not hearing in the MSM, Charles?

Charles,
I assumed that when you took issue with my characterization of the Confederacy as worthy of the same labels as the Iraqi insurgency (I say 'took issue' bc you said Your problem is equating the American Civil War with what's taking place in Iraq, Carleton...). Now you seem to agree that the Confederates could rightly be given the same labels (ie "criminals").
I don't agree, but at least you're consistent on this point now.

As for questioning Murtha's patriotism- you said that the man betrayed American troops. No amount of reiteration (or banning, for that matter) is going to change this. While you may believe that you've somehow managed to make that statement without impuning Murtha's patriotism, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to draw the opposite conclusion. Disclaimers are not magical, and we are not obligated to believe them when the evidence to the contrary is so overwhelming.

And I haven't read Lakoff; Im less interested in political framing than I am in practical, concrete (some might even say "conservative") solutions to problems.

Gary,
Carleton: "Im sorry to hear that you can't remember why you made your original comment...."

No, I remember that.

Excellent. I'll just stick that in the big "Im sure Gary had a point in there someplace" pile, then- since your original comment was so poorly worded that it was unclear if you were supporting the position or attempting to ridicule it, and you apparently spent so much energy spellchecking mine that you're unable to summon enough to explain it, or respond further.
Hey, it was a tangential point anyway, Im glad to be done with it.

Charles, Bush has given up on Iraq in all but the rhetoric. The troops are being pulled back to bases. Our role will be to watch from the sidelines as the Iraqis kill each other. Southern Iraq is now controlled by SHiite militias with ties to Iran. . The only good news is that with the Sunnis at only twenty percent of the population I don't expect you will have to wait for more than three or four years for "victory"--the Shiite militias should be able to kill most of them off by that time.

"The troops are being pulled back to bases."

This is is a considerable over-generalization, to the point of being not particularly helpful, insofar as that without discussing at least with slightly more granularity and specificity, it's as untrue as it's true, or probably more untrue than true. It just isn't useful to speak so broadly in this context.

"Our role will be to watch from the sidelines as the Iraqis kill each other."

This is, at this time, still more than a little speculative.

Lily, you have many wise things to say, and many excellent points that you often make in excellent fashion. Discussing military specifics isn't one of your strengths, however, and I'd like to gently urge you to, if you feel the need to address them, to perhaps put a bit more effort into at least being a bit more specific. Because I'd prefer you when you argue with Charles, to not leave him holes the size of the Holland Tunnel to drive through.

I mean this in the friendliest fashion, and hope I don't seem condescending, as I know it's so easy for me to do unintentionally in trying to say something like this.

"Southern Iraq is now controlled by SHiite militias with ties to Iran."

This is closer to a true generality, but still slightly over-stated; better to at least, though, use some modifiers. "Close to being controlled." "Largely controlled." "Heavily controlled."

Something like that.

"...the Shiite militias should be able to kill most of them off by that time."

Extraordinarily unlikely, given the tendency towards regionalization; what might happen are more complete ethnic shifts by geography, but the complete wiping out of the primarily Sunni region is not at all likely to be in the cards; were it to start to look that way for some reason, Sunni neighbors would intervene and we'd have a regional war, to point out one perfectly obvious and well-known reason.

Also, the Kurds are Sunni.

Are you saying that every scandal that has occurred has been publicized? Or that every scandal that's been investigated has been publicized? Every scandal has been both investigated and then publicized?

I could've written it better, Carleton. The point earlier on was that there is no reason to believe that Haditha would be swept under the rug.

As for questioning Murtha's patriotism- you said that the man betrayed American troops. No amount of reiteration...is going to change this.

I disagree that betraying the troops who have been there equates to a betraying of one's country. What I wrote:

Murtha is betraying the American soldiers who have been there. By most accounts, the soldiers in-country have seen noticeable and significant progress. While it's commendable that Murtha goes to Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals "almost every week", he should spend more time in Iraq, talking to the soldiers on the ground, getting firsthand accounts of what's taking place. Murtha's problem is the mainstream media's problem: They observe and report the truth they see, but what they see is a slice. In effect, Murtha is telling those soldiers with life-altering injuries that their efforts and sacrifices were a waste.
I don't believe what I wrote was tantamount to calling Murtha a traitor or questioning his patriotism. I think it's highly troubling that Murtha told American soldiers that they've done all could, that their efforts are a waste, and that their mission is no longer worthwhile. I also don't believe that a betrayal of the Iraqi people is unpatriotic because Murtha's not an Iraqi. But I will reiterate it again. I think he's dreadfully and horribly wrong, not unpatriotic.

Im less interested in political framing than I am in practical, concrete (some might even say "conservative") solutions to problems.

Me, too, re concrete, which is why I believe framing is important, and why I also believe that the information war is just as vital as the physical one. It's a multi-front conflict, and our enemy also wants to prevail mediawise. Zawahiri:

However, despite all of this, I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma. And that however far our capabilities reach, they will never be equal to one thousandth of the capabilities of the kingdom of Satan that is waging war on us.
Today's news re the attacks against CBS journalists should be a reminder that journalists are being targeted by terrorists, as I wrote here.

No, the wikipedia entry, and the citation of those jailed in times past on the charge of defeatism, was to illustrate the word carries beyond it's dictionary entry.

Sparti, I already told you that I didn't accept the wikipedia definition as mine (add to that your citations of those folks jailed long ago in other countries), and I don't know why you're trying to push your wikipedia definitions on me. I use wikipedia, but I don't consider it the ultimate authority. I gave you one that fits my interpretation and use of the term. You said: "If you don't like that your words carry connotations beyond what you intend....STOP USING THEM." All kinds of words carry connotations beyond the conveyor's intentions, but that is no reason to stop. In situations where there is uncertainty, then the thing to do is ask for clarification, which you did. Clarification given, but now you seem to be going back on that.

You wrote: "And you're not being constructive in the larger "meta" sense by labelling those that disagree with you traitors."

I will say again. Your statement is patently false. Treason carries a heavy meaning, and I don't use it unless a person is actually tried or proven to be a traitor in a court of law. I disagree with Gary, Hilzoy, you, Carleton and dozens of others on this blog almost every I time I show up, and I label none of them traitors. I disagree with left-wing political figures all the time (and right-wingers) and I've labeled none of them traitors. Your statement is absurdly untrue, and it's a detestable mischaracterization. It is egregious to the point of being a personal attack, which is why I consider it a posting rules violation.

Is there something specific in Iraq the Model you wish me to read and address? Otherwise, they're entitled to their opinion.

You brought up Rosen because he agrees with Murtha that immediate withdrawal is the best course. His opinion has weight, according to you, because he was there. Omar is there, too, and more so than Rosen, and he is against immediate withdrawal. Because being there is such an important prerequisite to you, and since Omar has lived there for quite a bit longer, I'm glad you changed your opinion re the immediate redeployment of our troops from Iraq.

So what you're saying is that he shouldn't use facts in the course of espousing his opinions, and that that's wrong, is that it?

Tell me how the phrase "our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them" is a fact, Gary. Also, Murtha did relay facts, although I don't think "in cold blood" was said to Murtha by DoD officials. That was Murtha's own spin. The setting in which he dispensed this combination of facts and opinion and spin was overtly political and overtly agenda-driven. Obviously you see nothing wrong with it, and that's your opinion.

Wanna look at some more Iraqi blogs for the good news we're not hearing in the MSM, Charles?

You're veering dangerously close to jerkoff comment territory, Gary. My point upthread (and the ITM link) had nothing to do with good news or bad news in Iraq, but with the topic of immediate withdrawal.

"While it's commendable that Murtha goes to Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals 'almost every week', he should spend more time in Iraq, talking to the soldiers on the ground, getting firsthand accounts of what's taking place."

Of course, the ludicrous part of your writing this, Charles -- and let me again thank you for participating in some discussion -- is that the only people possibly privileged to write this are people who have done what you are lecturing about.

But if you've, in fact, been to Iraq and talked to the soldiers, I apologize.

If not, I'd like to bring to your attention the absolute absurdity of your taking it upon yourself to lecture Murtha (in his absence, to be sure) that he's only privileged to speak about Iraq if he's been there (which I think he has, but never mind), but somehow, this applies to him, but not to you.

You do realize, if you think about it, that this is cuckoo, right?

"It is egregious to the point of being a personal attack, which is why I consider it a posting rules violation."

I'll agree with Charles here; regardless of your feeling, Spartikus, that "loser-defeatist" has some connotations of "traitor," words have specific meanings, and those are different words -- not synonyms. You're on safe ground in charging Charles with the implications and connotations of "defeatist" in various circumstances, but you really don't have standing to insist that Charles means one word when he uses another, nor to insist that words that are not synonyms are, just because it feels that way to you. In my opinion.

But you're free to carry on telling Charles why "defeatist" is a problematic word choice by itself, in my view.

"Tell me how the phrase 'our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them' is a fact, Gary.

It's not: it's an attempt to apologize for their behavior and defend them, insofar as it is anything. A lot of people have disagreed with that statement of Murtha's, and you're free to, as well. But what justification you have for regarding it as something beyond something to disagree with, for whatever reason, and as something to slur the man, I have no idea.

"Also, Murtha did relay facts, although I don't think "in cold blood" was said to Murtha by DoD officials. That was Murtha's own spin."

Charles, the entire point of what's so horrible about this is that the handful of troops involved apparently spent a considerable time, hours, on the scene, shooting people they had no reason by the rules of engagement to shoot, and then covered up their crime. That's the point. If it were in a battle, that would be different.

Now, if you want to say they were in a rage because of the death of Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, then you can argue that, but while neither you nor I are in a position to judge many facts for now, given that Murtha was briefed personally by General Hagee, I'd presume he's presently in a better position to know than either of us. In any case, sooner or later the facts will be relatively clear, and you can then judge how accurate or inaccurate he was.

Have you been following the news stories I've been linking to? Should I run through the accounts again?

"The setting in which he dispensed this combination of facts and opinion and spin was overtly political and overtly agenda-driven. Obviously you see nothing wrong with it, and that's your opinion."

You've not answered my question: you're being overtly political and overtly agenda-driven: is there something wrong with that?

No, I don't see anything wrong with people being political and agenda-driven, so long as they're not lying or distorting facts. You?

"My point upthread (and the ITM link) had nothing to do with good news or bad news in Iraq...."

"Omar is there, too, and more so than Rosen, and he is against immediate withdrawal. Because being there is such an important prerequisite to you, and since Omar has lived there for quite a bit longer, I'm glad you changed your opinion re the immediate redeployment of our troops from Iraq."

I guess you've, on this logic, changed your mind about how the MSM isn't giving us the good news that the Iraqi bloggers are telling us, then.

You didn't answer my query about Riverbend: do you read her, or not? Do you disregard her opinions simply because you don't like them and they contradict yours? What about giving weight to Iraqi bloggers? What about how people should "should spend more time in Iraq [...] getting firsthand accounts of what's taking place."

Is that only if those firsthand accounts accord with your preconceived desires of what you want to believe?

What about my point in quoting all the stuff that I quoted from Iraq The Model, and Healing Iraq: you've simply ignored it in your reply, other than to tell me that I'm "veering dangerously close to jerkoff comment territory."

That you choose to not deal with the accounts I've cited, but to jump to ad hominem, instead, tells me just that: you choose not to deal with accounts that you don't like, even when they're the sources you just cited as most authoritative.

How does that work? How is that intellectually honest, Charles?

Why not discuss the substance of what I quoted, please? What do you think of it? Things going well and getting better? Good news that the MSM isn't telling us because they're biased against the war? Reconcile, by all means, rather than dodge into calling me names, if you wish to persuade anyone of anything other than that you have ad hominem to fall back on.

Thanks.

Your statement is patently false.

Obviously you didn't read this comment. Honestly, how many times must you be taken to task for not bothering to read what's been written?

You brought up Rosen because he agrees with Murtha that immediate withdrawal is the best course.

That's funny. There's no advocacy for withdrawal in the article. Could it be something else you haven't bothered to read? I wouldn't be surprised if Rosen felt that way, but his observations from Iraq, quite damning, were presented to show that the goal of a "free, peaceful, non-theocratic representative republic" isn't being achieved by the current policy. I'll ask again: is there any factual claim you dispute from the Nir Rosen article Iraq Is the Republic of Fear?

Omar is there, too, and more so than Rosen, and he is against immediate withdrawal.

Good for him. I'll ask again: is there something specific from Iraq the Model you wish me to read?

I'll agree with Charles here; regardless of your feeling, Spartikus, that "loser-defeatist" has some connotations of "traitor," words have specific meanings, and those are different words -- not synonyms.

Unless they are employed in a manner inconsistent with those specific meanings. Then it becomes a flag of convienence.

That said, I've already admitted it's mindreading.

You know the funny thing my original comment didn't even call out Charles Bird by name.

Another part of my agenda is to live in a world where absolutism is downplayed as much as possible. If someone disagrees with your favoured approach to achieve a goal, for example, they are not labelled "losers", "defeatists", or "traitors".

In case anyone's tired of the above repartee, this is striking.

i think Tony Blair summed-up the situation pretty well:

    I think it's easy to go back over mistakes that we may have made, but the biggest reason why Iraq has been difficult is the determination by our opponents to defeat us.

Wow. I think he's onto something!

(via CNN.com)

It's late in the thread to be making any comment, let alone as silly a one as I'm about to make, but, hell.

I'm %75 sure that I met Nir Rosen at a dinner party, about a week before he shipped out to Iraq in the winter of 2002-2003. He was first headed for Kuwait. "What if the war doesn't happen?" we asked, and he said he'd come back. And then we asked "What if the war does happen?" I couldn't quite believe that he would really stay and cover it, as he said he would, because it just sounded so dangerous. There was an interesting dynamic between him (if I'm right about this) and his beautiful, very smart wife: they'd already argued about his going into such danger, it seemed, and they'd come to a wary understanding. Watching them I had that sense of icebergs below the surface.

I remember being very impressed by him, and not the least because when I described a project I was working on at the time, he listened carefully to my then still-fuzzy ideas and then disagreed amicably with my basic conceptual framework. If I'm right about his being Rosen, that is.

(It's hard to say from the photos I've seen: famous-Rosen is thinner and wears glasses, and my visual memory of that night isn't clear.)

Anyway...

I have a fresh post with new links on Haditha stories, incidentally, if anyone is interested; I recommend reading the full pieces, not just my quotes, of course.

Reaction to the Nir Rosen piece summarized.

So, we go from chimera to chimera. My stock response back when the great hope was the unified secular Iraqi national army was "Robert E. Lee." Now I'm reduced to saying, "William Clarke Quantrill, anyone?"

Back in busy mode again. I haven't read any comments since my last one, but I need to say to Gary that I'm sorry about my own last jerkoff comment. I take it back.

Charles and I already had this exchange in e-mail yesterday, where I thanked him, and again told him I appreciated his coming back when I'm roughing him up. (Though, of course, I look forward to him coming back soon so I can continue cuffing him. ;-))

This morning's Haditha roundup here, by the way.

Last two comments - good stuff.

Um, Charles? Lakoff talks about framing ideas in a democracy, for political use.

Is not politics war by other means? Do you disagree that we are in an information war as well as a hot war?

Of course, the ludicrous part of your writing this, Charles -- and let me again thank you for participating in some discussion -- is that the only people possibly privileged to write this are people who have done what you are lecturing about.

That wasn't my point about Murtha, Gary. It had to do about where he was getting the information which formed the basis for his wrong conclusions. As a Congressman who chose to turn his back on who knows how many of his own constituents fighting in Iraq, surely it would've been more helpful for him to go there from time to time, such as what McCaffrey did, to get a broader perspective on what's taking place.

Murtha has a higher responsibility than I do, so I don't know why you would compare him to me. I haven't been to Iraq, but I've read a broad range of accounts from folks who are (or were) there. Murtha is an elected representative who's not only speaking for himself, but also for his constituents as a representative of the U.S. government, and especially so because he has purposely put himself on the national stage. And what about the opinions of thousands of troops who disagree strongly with Murtha's take? Did he consider their opinions? Doesn't look that way. Which general, retired or otherwise, agrees that immediate redeployment is our best course of action?

But what justification you have for regarding it as something beyond something to disagree with, for whatever reason, and as something to slur the man, I have no idea.

What slur? Is it not possible that Murtha is doing the slurring by reading the minds of those Marines? To me, he was trying to blame-shift, not apologize for their alleged behavior.

Charles, the entire point of what's so horrible about this is that the handful of troops involved apparently spent a considerable time, hours, on the scene, shooting people they had no reason by the rules of engagement to shoot, and then covered up their crime. That's the point.

That's the difference between you and Murtha, Gary. You used the word "apparently", which was my point. Murtha not only rendered his judgment, he also apparently knew their states of mind. He may end up being right, that an atrocity occurred, but I still believe he wrong for politicizing it in the manner he did.

I guess you've, on this logic, changed your mind about how the MSM isn't giving us the good news that the Iraqi bloggers are telling us, then.

My long-running point is that Iraq is a big country, and journalism that follows the if-it-bleeds-it-leads playbook does not paint an accurate picture of what's taking place, especially with the magnifying effect that news reports (especially TV) can have. There is also an information war we are fighting. Yes, there's plenty of bad news, and it's out there every day. I've never not acknowledged that, so I'm not sure why you may think I'm fixated on good-news-only.

That said, I am concerned that there are many who are eager to talk down Iraq, just as there are Krugmanites who will talk down the economy at every opportunity. It may be a bad analogy, but it reminds of a time when I was playing golf with a fella who bitched and moaned after every single shot but finished at two over. Barone has another perspective.

You asked if thought the situation in Iraq is getting better. It depends. Right now, the violence is worse since the new government was established. There's a bunch of militant Islamist Sunnis in Hadith, Ramadi and Baghdad and other places who need to quit or die, and there remains thousands of Iraqi troops who need more training to help do the job. It's going to take time.

You didn't answer my query about Riverbend: do you read her, or not? Do you disregard her opinions simply because you don't like them and they contradict yours? What about giving weight to Iraqi bloggers?

I read her for awhile, but when she broke out with a lingering and virulent case of BDS, I quit her. I do read other Iraqi bloggers and other bloggers in Iraq, and I generally take what they say seriously.

Obviously you didn't read this comment.

I read it, sparti, and I agree with Gary and I disagree with you. And your statement remains patently false. Defeatism, even political defeatism, does not equate to treason, especially since this is the third time that I've said that I don't accept your wikipedia definition. If I meant treason, I would have said it outright, not backdoored it.

Also, let's be clear on what I didn't read in this entire 276-comment thread: it was one single link from one comment written by Gary, which I have since read. So please keep that in mind before you start making more stupid generalizations.

That's funny. There's no advocacy for withdrawal in the article.

You're correct. It simply reinforced his earlier theme, which is in virtual lockstep with Murtha.

I'll ask again: is there any factual claim you dispute from the Nir Rosen article Iraq Is the Republic of Fear?

Asked and answered.

I read her for awhile, but when she broke out with a lingering and virulent case of BDS, I quit her.

Well, that certainly says it all.

I don't accept your wikipedia definition.

That's your prerogative. Nevertheless, the labelling of people with the term in wartime remains, in my opinion, shorthand for treason, in spirit. I'm sure you'll be able to live with the fact we disagree on that.

If I meant treason, I would have said it outright, not backdoored it.

Maybe. I have no way of truly knowing without mindreading.

Asked and answered.

Where's your answer? Could you link to it? Or is it simply a case where an author disagrees with your politics, therefore the things they write about are, by definition, untrue.

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