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July 22, 2007


Well said. Great post.

Assuming you’ll accept that from a GOP shill. ;)

There is absolutely no contradiction between disagreeing with the President and agreeing with Andrew, at least none that I can see.

Nor me either.

This puts Bill Kristol into the Ann Coulter category for me: someone I've never read except in quotes, and now have no intention of ever reading. Stupid and venomous.

OCSteve: thanks for reminding me to go unban J Thomas. And if you were a GOP shill, I would have to completely rethink my views of shill-dom.

Jes: he's not as completely round the bend as Coulter -- e.g., he has yet to call for blowing up the NYT building -- but he's correspondingly much, much closer to actual power. [shudders]

hilzoy: "Consider, however, what happens when the mother of someone serving in Iraq comes to believe that supporting the troops means supporting the war."

By now, most of the mothers with children in Iraq are probably thinking more along these">http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/a/a06/a0665/a0665-1-72dpi.jpeg&imgrefurl=http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/a/a06/a0665/&h=984&w=762&sz=360&hl=en&start=1&sig2=0JcDEpGt1jaAS4lsGpYb_g&um=1&tbnid=3S7SxFq9tDfiYM:&tbnh=149&tbnw=115&ei=Jb-jRoW_EYnsgQOgosXXDQ&prev=/images%3Fq%3DI%2BDidn%2527t%2BRaise%2BMy%2BBoy%2BTo%2BBe%2BA%2BSoldier%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1B2GGGL_enUS176US202%26sa%3DN">these lines:

I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier
1915- lyrics: Alfred Bryan - music: Al Piantadosi

Ten million soldiers to the war have gone
who may never return again.
Ten million mother's hearts
must break for the ones who died in vain
Head bowed down in sorrow in her lonely years,
I heard a mother murmur through her tears:

"I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier,
I brought him up to be my pride and joy.
Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder
to shoot some other mother's darling boy?"

Let nations arbitrate their future troubles.
It's time to lay the sword and gun away.
There'd be no war today if mothers all would say,
"I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier"

What victory can cheer a mother's heart
when she looks at her blighted home?
What victory can bring her back
all she cared to call her own?

Let each mother answer in the year to be,
"Remember that my boy belongs to me!"

repeat chorus

Someone should tell Krystol that the Mothers of America thinks he's a baaaaad boy, and send him to bed without his supper!!

The definitive post on the subject, I'd say. Many thanks.

in another world, Kristol would be a Death Eater

In another world, Kristol would write lengthy columns for the Prophet explaining why the Death Eaters are a Good Thing. And as soon as Voldemort was defeated, would claim he'd written them all under Imperius.

Forget for a moment that Kristol is a hack of the first order. Forget that he is into mud slinging with the best of them.

Let us assume that one of us had written what you quote, someone who we all respect, like OCSteve. I would not want to dismiss it out of hand, because I consider him to be an extremely reasonable and thinking member of the human race. Therefore I would look only at the argument.

Obviously this is not the full article, but at least in what you have quoted, everything rests on one sentence:

""With the ongoing progress of the surge, and the obvious fact that the vast majority of the troops want to fight and win the war, the "support-the-troops-but-oppose-what-they're-doing" position has become increasingly untenable."

There are 3 main issues with this. The first, and what is your main thrust, hilzoy, is that the conclusion does not follow logically from the first two statements.

But, even if it did follow in a logical sense, it would only have validity if the first two parts of the sentence had legitimacy.

So therefore, is the surge making progress? This is a very debatable question, with no definitive answer, yet Kristol makes it sound as indisputable fact.

Secondly, doe the vast majority of troops want to fight and win the war? Well I doubt if any want to lose, but that just begs the question. Again, he makes it sound as indisputable that the troops support the "war", but he provides no evidence for this. For example, if what he believes is true, why would 50% of the contributions from the military for Republican presidential candidates be for Ron Paul, an outspoken critic of the war.

These kind of definitive statements, made as if they are indisputable, is what got us into this war.

BTW, as usual, an excellent post as we can tell from the fact that our resident GOP shill liked it.

John: "With the ongoing progress of the surge, and the obvious fact that the vast majority of the troops want to fight and win the war, the "support-the-troops-but-oppose-what-they're-doing" position has become increasingly untenable."

This is where I twist in the wind: back and forth every day. Is is working? Supporting these guys vs. wasting their lives over politics. My liver is going to be one casualty of this war anyway...

Whoops – darn cookie.

Bill Kristol Makes Me Angry

Just to do the obvious here…

Don’t make the hilzoy angry – you won’t like her when she is angry…

Hilzoy angry! Hilzoy smash!

You can see the narrative being developed here, and indeed it has already taken root: a few months ago, when ideas for withdrawal were starting to be expressed by the Congressional leadership, I was talking to a *very* conservative friend (with whom I rarely discuss politics) about some of the Presidential nominees. I knew it was time to stop when she said "Well, I know one thing--I have a nephew about to deploy to Iraq, and I don't want my government to stab him in the back." Kristol isn't making a real argument--he's just producing a set of words that can be fitted into a future story of who to blame.

Let's get to the bottom line of Kristol's smarmy argument: the nation exists to serve its army, not the other way around. If Kristol really thinks that "the troops support the mission", and thinks that's a good reason for the nation to support it, then he views the American military as a sort of Republican Militia, and the US as a banana republic. Someone should ask Kristol directly:

What support do we owe to "the troops" if this war, or any war, is _their_ idea?

I like hilzoy when she's angry.

I'll add my own small words to applaud hilzoy for this. Supporting the troops doesn't mean supporting what they're doing unquestioningly. Some troops, to be blunt, deserve censure: in any war some people do horrible things, and it is in no way a betrayal of our soldiers (indeed, it is the opposite) to punish and shun those soldiers.

As for the majority of the troops who are just trying to do their best under difficult circumstances, all they can ask of their countrymen is the knowledge that their service will be acknowledged and that those who oppose the war do not hold the soldiers responsible for it. I see no evidence that this is not the case. (Yes, I'm sure that a careful search could produce exceptions, such as that delightful sign a few years back 'We support the troops when they shoot their officers,' but it's quite difficult at this point to paint those people are the norm.) If, in fact, the majority of the troops believe that the mission is worthwhile and that they should stay, that carries no more weight than if a majority of the troops believed that the war should be over now. Those decisions are political decisions, and when you put on a uniform you agree to become an instrument of national policy whether or not you agree with it. (I will note here that most people who swear the oath assume that the U.S. will stand for certain things, therefore relieving them of serious ethical dilemmas regarding whether or not they should fulfill their oaths.)

The war should be supported or opposed on the merits. Individual soldiers have every right to argue for or against the war in their capacity as private citizens, but their opinions should carry no more weight than anyone else's. To suggest otherwise is to suggest the existence of an America I don't believe anyone would truly like to see come into existence.

G'Kar, that may have been the very best description I have ever read, even better (dare I say) than hilzoy's.

Kristol says:

How can you say with a straight face that you support the troops while advancing legislation that would undercut their mission ...
It's not "their" mission. It's (currently) Bush's mission.

I think the "war on drugs" as public policy is a wrongheaded farce, but I support the police and the court system.

I'm not crazy about "no child left behind" but I support public schools and teachers.

The issue is kind of a no brainer.

To the degree that Kristol has a rhetorical strategy, I agree with the analysis that he's furthering the "dolchstosslegende" theme.

It might also be as simple as Kristol looking to put the blame somewhere other than on himself.

Kristol is no hack, and is no mere cheerleader. In terms of our Iraq policy, he is something closer to a prime mover. The failure of that policy, IMO, reveals the scandalous bankruptcy of his view of the world, and of everything he's believed and worked for over more or less his entire professional life.

All of that can't be his responsibility, of course, so it has to someone else's.

American progressives, liberals, and lefties have nothing to apologize for regarding their opposition to our foreign policy. To my knowledge, and with vanishingly few exceptions, they've given their unstinting support to every concrete expression of support for the folks in uniform -- materiel, training, medical care, support for families at home, support for troops returning from combat. That is, frankly, more than can be said for the folks in charge at the moment.

In other times and contexts, Kristol's words would, correctly, prompt an invitation to step outside. Folks have been tarred and feathered for less. At the very least, sensible folks would ask him politely to shut up before he does any more damage.

Those options are not available, so I very much appreciate hilzoy's heartfelt and measured reply to his self-serving blather.

Thanks -

Is there anyone who could, in Bill Kristol's mind, decide that we should begin troop withdrawals from Iraq at some point prior to a military revolt? Or is it only "the Left" that this is not possible for? Maybe I'm missing something, but by Kristol's logic, all wars must continue until they are either won or the military refuses to continue fighting. No one can rightly decide to end an unwon war but the soldiers. I must be missing something, right?

I think you're being entirely too generous with Kristol, Hilzoy. By insisting intellectual honesty has no place in our mission to instill our values to Iraq, as he is, Kristol displays either ignorance of those values (you cannot bring American style freedom to another country by squashing the foundation of that freedom at home and still expect those you're trying to get to adopt them to believe they're worth having...valuing intellectual honesty is the only reason to even have freedom of speech) or contempt for the American way of life.

How can you say with a straight face that you support the troops while advancing legislation that would undercut their mission and strengthen their enemies?

I'd counter with this question: How can you say with a straight face that you support the troops while advancing arguments to undercut the values and way of life those soldiers are willing to die for?

No one can rightly decide to end an unwon war but the soldiers. I must be missing something, right?

Yes, the statement ends wrong: the correct answer is, "No one can rightly decide to end an unwon war while fighting is still an option."

That, hilzoy, is what I think you are missing. "Support the troops" doesn't just mean, "Support the people currently fighting in Iraq"; it means, "Support our troops, present AND future, by making it as unlikely as possible that anyone will want to fight them." Running when you could fight ensures that you'll either need to keep running, or have to fight later when the odds against you are worse.

I'm not sure I AGREE with this world-view, but it's common and coherent.

SamChevre: a decent argument for either not going to war, or doing what it takes to win initially. A less good argument for making up for one's failure to do either initially by continuing to throw people into harm's way indefinitely.

I'm sure there will be later occasions on which to demonstrate our resolve, and that if we do them right from the outset, we will recover from this one -- at least as far as our reputation for sticking it out is concerned.

Kristol needs to go on the Daily Show for one of his periodic rhetorical smackdowns at the hands of John Stewart.

if the administration didn't already have a bill kristol, why, they'd have to invent one.

digging deep in the memory vault i come up with the lyrics from a Hee Haw skit...

(i only recalled the first line, not the second)

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all

Gloom, despair, and agony on me

We figured she was rich, loaded to the hilt

And we figured she had class like the Vanderbilts

'Cause we had heard for years how she was so well reared

How was we to know they meant the way she was built

late comedian Bill Hicks on the first gulf war:

"I'm in the unenviable position of supporting the war and against the troops."

If you there at the time this was brilliant..

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