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September 11, 2007

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I found the whole thing pretty depressing too. In these guys' defense though, they are EMPLOYEES of the president. I'm sure there's enormous (if unspoken) pressure to toe the political line. they're not idiots -- they keep up with the political debates.

Frankly, Petraeus and the military shouldn't be drawn in like this. The fact is that Petraeus has a massive conflict of interest here.

In these guys' defense though, they are EMPLOYEES of the president.

No, they are employees of the People of the United States. There is a difference . . .

On another blog I read a comment that hits the mark about when you will know the security situation has improved. I am just going to make it a little more specific.

When Riverbend returns home.

Nothing is more important than getting to a point that allows this President and the Republican party to save face in Iraq -- to not "lose" by leaving before January 2009. Nothing. Not the thousands of U.S. soldiers killed; not the grieving wives, husbands, children and parents; not the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers maimed and wounded; not the billions of dollars wasted on this misadventure; and absolutely not the hundreds of thousands dead Iraqis. They could not. Care. Less.

And so we will continue this horrific war well into 2009, postponing the inevitable at the cost of dead and wounded Americans, all so George W. Bush can claim not to have "lost" on his watch. They will leave this catastrophe to the next President, who is almost certain to be a Democrat, and then blame that President for losing, stabbing America in the back "just like Vietnam." If there were any justice in this world, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their other cronies would have been dragged from their offices by angry mobs long ago.

Instead, they will be (and are) feted on the cocktail circuit, giving six figure speeches to the 28%ers and WSJ editorial page types. They'll write their seven figure, white-washed memoirs about how well things went during their time in office and how we were on our way to a glorious victory in Iraq at that time. And they will sleep soundly in their beds at night, oblivious to the chaos and death that their bedwetting, post-9/11 nightmares brought to the Middle East.

Fnck them.

I bet that in March, six months from now, the administration will tell us that things are still not sufficiently clear to let us draw down any forces beyond those we have to pull out. Does anyone want to bet against me?
Ah, no hilzoy. The Bush strategy for "victory" is to run the clock out until January 2009. That way the Republicans can pass this disaster on to the next (Democratic) President, and then blame the "defeatocrats" for "losing Iraq." This is the most cynical waste of American lives I have seen in my lifetime. All to cover the ass and preserve the ego of the worst US President in modern history, if not in all our history.

Does anyone want to bet against me?

not me

I'm not a fan of lame puns & haven't actually watched the ad, but saying that someone "betrayed us" is not actually the same thing as an accusation of treason. Not close.

The whole thing is stupid--as if Petraeus & Crocker are free to say anything other than what the administration wants them to say. They're just hiding behind another soldier. (Remember how many times Bush's "generals on the ground" assured him they had all the troops they needed?)

Agree entirely with this, especially the postscript. MoveOn's ad just legitimized the use of accusations of treason for political purposes. It's now something both sides do, instead of being only a Republican tactic.

The MoveOn ad moved the Overton window of what is acceptable to say. And it is TRUE that if Petraeus doctored the statistics, as appeared likely, to convince the Congress that progress has been made when there is no real and lasting progress, then he betrayed the oath he took as an officer of the United States Army, he betrayed the men and women who serve under him, and he betrayed the nation.

If he did not doctor the stats, then let him prove it. His word is not sufficient. No general's word is sufficient. Neither is any Presidents.

Petraeus needs to prove it or shut up about it.

The wingnuts howl, the wind blows. Nothing anybody can do about either one except to set your attention threshold to ignore.

Jake

And furthermore, if you had told me in October 2001 that, six years after 9/11 -- longer than our involvement in WWII -- bin Laden would still be on the teevee taunting us via video, that we would still have no idea who perpetrated the anthrax attacks (and indeed that they would be forgetten all together -- a real live biological weapons attack in the United States), and that the U.S. would be in the fourth year of a disastrous occupation of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 whatsoever, I wouldn't have believed it for a second.

Really, where is the Democratic politician, standing on the floor of the Senate, pounding on the lectern, demanding to know, "Where is Osama Bin Laden! Where is Ayman al-Zawahiri! Who launched the anthrax attacks! When it comes to punishing the primary perpetrators of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, George W. Bush has been an epic failure. Instead, he sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in a country that had nothing to do with either, in a vain search for mythical ponies." etc. etc. etc.

Jeebus am I fncking pissed off this morning.

Dantheman, wingnut accusations of treason aimed at bloggers who disagree with the president is very different from accusations that Petraeus has betrayed his obligations to the nation. A blogger is simply a blogger, someone who has a constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. Petraeus is a General officer of the United States Army. If he lies by omission or comission, with stats or simply bald faced, he has in fact committed an act of betrayal.

Presidents and Generals must be held to a higher standard of truth than mere bloggers. Instead, it seems the opposite is true.

Jake

Ugh, you are not alone.

James Wimberley at RBC points out that the Petraeus propaganda has started dropping a couple of significant words. Not that the public makes any distinction between AQI and AQ anyway.

Jake,

I disagree entirely. "Betray[ing] one's obligations to the nation" is no more acceptable a cover for alleging treason than claiming bloggers are "giving aid and comfort to the enemy". Petraeus is doing his job as he sees it, and there is no reason to make personal attacks on him of the extremely cheap-shot variety. The facts themselves are damning enough.

In terms of the MoveOn ad. They have a pretty good history of hyperbole. However, the main line is not a trashing of the General.

Rather it is a question. In effect is General Petraeus going to betray us by using cooked numbers.

Based on his presentation yesterday, that might be true.

Of course the Republicans, those who never decried the slanderous (definitely) Swift Boat ads, are demanding the Democrats disavow this ad. Back then they merely said it was not the party that was behind those ads (cough cough). While, the Democratic Party is most definitely not behind this ad.

Hypocrisy reigns again.

And let's not forget the whole Foxnews propaganda-fest that Petreaus participated in last night.

it was stupid of MoveOn to use that particular pun.

but i'm not going to put much stock in the outrage of any righty blogger or pundits (ex. Coulter, Limbaugh) - they've been explicitly accusing people of treason for years. and, as far as mocking soldiers... wake me up when Hewitt and Malkin track down the purple-heart Band-Aid woman from the 2004 GOP convention and take her to task.

Iraq has never been militarily pacified; its borders have never been secured. The US troops are floundering there, hoping at first that the 'surge' would temporize the violence to allow a central government to emerge; now (whoops), it's there to facilitate a bottoms up partition of decentralized federation.

As opponents of this policy,we're reduced to a position akin to that of the fundamentalist christians with Israel; hoping for the best so that the worst can happen. (the sooner Isreal can vanquish all its foes, the Israelite kingdom can be restored, and the Apocalypse can begin.)

So as the troops remain and the slaughter continues till 2009, when Bush leaves an admission of failure can occur; the first step to meaningful involvement by the Arab League and Iran. The monumental refugee situation can be assessed and dealt with. If we're lucky, a military draft might become necessary (to make future military involvement more a matter of national urgency). And Bush/Cheney can slink off, without admitting their sins.

I am resigned to this, and can see how it can't occur in any other way.

and, as far as mocking soldiers...wake me up when Hewitt and Malkin track down the purple-heart Band-Aid woman from the 2004 GOP convention and take her to task.

John Kerry was a sailor, not a soldier, so it's all good.

"Publius and I think alike"

i call group-think! obwi has been taken over by dfh's! we need more ideological diversity!

i think i've heard ben domenich is available.

Cleek, of course the outrage is fake. "Senator Betrayus" has been a wingnut nickname for Hagel for a while. Unfortunately, with the media we have, the fake outrage generally ends up being effective, as we've seen again and again, and this fake outrage was completely predictable.

Argh, McCain is on the Diane Rehm Show, alone, giving his views of the Petraeus propagandafest.

Jake -but not the one:

"The wingnuts howl, the wind blows."

Recent neurological research indicates a prediliction to the opposite.

Larry Kudlow, whose teeth continue to rot from the noxious words that pass through them, and who is one of the important amplifiers of, well, (I was going to say the Republican Party, but that would be an insult to the few real Republicans left and a linguistic denial of the alien and probably fatal, cancerous infestation destroying the country) their poisonous message said last night on CNBC that he wants the following:

.. the government shut down (for good) over this Fall's budget negotiations.

... perpetual and huge increases in the military budget, which presumably is no longer a part of the government. One might ask what it is, other than the military arm of the above-cited infestation.

... disavowals of Move-On's silliness by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and all other leading Democrats.

That's the message, once again, this season.

NOTHING has changed since these colon polyps lodged themselves 27 years ago inside our country and our government, and were learned to be malignant in 1994.

I recommend heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation. The patient will probably not make it, but it's always been kind of a dicey experiment from the beginning.

Hilzoy: But I also think that anyone who imagines that the MoveOn ad ought to be today's main story is delusional.

Main story? No - but certainly a significant part of the overall story. So call me semi-delusional.

It’s not just the disgraceful ad.

I’ll ignore the statements made by top Democrats the last week or so meant to “soften the target” (“You mean Bush’s report?”) as I myself was upset at the rumors that the WH would be ghostwriting his report. So I was quite happy to hear him state unequivocally that it was his report.

But what I can’t ignore is this from Friday:

“No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,” noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. “The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.

…Followed immediately by the MoveOn ad on Monday.


Lantos: “With all due respect to you, I must say … I don’t buy it.”

This before Petraeus has given one word of his report. What he should have done is stood up and said, “Excuse me Chairman Lantos but with all due respect to you, you have made it abundantly clear that this exercise is a complete waste of my time and yours. I have a war to run.” And then walked out…

Petraeus has served this country honorably for 35 years (he continued to serve after being shot in the chest in a training accident and almost dying). He is on his own third tour in Iraq. He has been given an impossible job with little hope of a good outcome. Every indication to me is that he does have some faith that he can achieve progress, or at least mitigate the disaster to come. There is certainly room to disagree with his assessment (I do myself) but it is completely disgraceful to impugn his integrity in this way. In another day and time it would call for pistols at dawn.

Oh please. We knew damn well what he was going to say. There's nothing I can do about it, but please don't expect me to feign surprise or belief in his independence.

Specifically, what I think is complete bullsh*t, is the idea that saying that Petraeus is saying what the Bush administration wants him to say is akin to challenging his honor. Bush is Crocker's boss, & can give legally binding orders to Petraeus. For Petraeus to depart from the administration's line on this is about as likely as Obama's press secretary to reveal that he kind of prefers Hillary, & for me to get up and court and say "your honor, my boss wrote that argument in our brief but I actually think it's totally wrong." I'm sure he has some control over the particular content of his Power Point, but buying & selling the administration line on the state of things in Iraq is an essential part of why he was selected for this job, & why he's keeping it.

Wow, I am glad I am not the only one feeling thoroughly depressed about this quagmire and clueless about what we should or can do about it. The MoveOn advertisement is the least of our problems and merely reflects the complete frustration people feel about a war with no end and no success in sight. As far as I am concerned Biden is the only one with any intelligent plan to achieve something in Iraq, but no one will go his direction. I suppose the only thing left is just pure anger at this Prez and this Administration for putting us into this awful situation.

Or as Mark Tushnet put it:

"One might say that the "Petraeus" report exemplifies civilian control of the military: President Bush has determined that escalation in Iraq is good policy, and he has directed a military officer to say so."

This is just one more episode in the endless series: "you don't like what I'm doing in Iraq? Then I guess YOU HATE OUR SOLDIERS!"

What Katherine said. Petraeus is participating in a full-blown fncking propaganda campaign to keep the war in Iraq going until the Bush administration can leave town as "not losers." The one-hour clown show on Foxnews was the clincher for me - he's either (i) been ordered to do what he did by the White House and agreed to go along; or (ii) is an eager participant in the deception.

Pretty much everybody on both sides of the issue has known for months, more or less, what the report was gonna say, and how it would be attacked and defended. And we all knew that report, the leaked reports preceded it, the analyses of statistical methodology, the firey questions from members of Congressional Committees, the adverts from left pressure groups, the denunciations of same from the rightwing shooting galleries, the secret visits to Anbar, the colorful melanges of medals and awards on the general's supremely square chest would have no effect on the course of US involvement in Iraq.

None. At All. The compass registers not even a waggle. Everybody has known that for months, too.

The current leadership will not change course. The opposition will not force the leadership to change course. And those seeking to become the leadership will not change course, either. At most, whoever comes next might take the wheel a few degrees left or right -- more training, less security work, more coordination with the internationals -- but all of the GOP candidates* and the leading Dem candidates are committed to a large presence in Iraq (50k troops, minimum) for as long as "it" takes, which ought to be at least a generation, whatever "it" is.

It's gonna take a lot more than a round of interactive, massively-multiplayer General Report Theater and an ill-advised MoveOn advertisement to change it.

-----------------------
*We get to choose between Bush Lite (an occupation of somewhat reduced scale) and Bush Ultimate (The Tehran Option). Yippee! The Bush Administration has shaped the policy battlefield in such a way that the the left-liberal option is continued occupation. How's that feel?

Come on, OCSteve, Mitch McConnell was giving that "we have to wait until Petraeus reports before we can comment" line even while he (and anyone else who wanted to spew the administration line) were commenting. So it's perfectly okay to talk about Petraeus's report before it comes out, as long as you're not criticizing it?

OCSteve, I'm having a hard time squaring your pearl-clutching here with your eager defense of the Swift Boaters just two days ago. Either this stuff is off-limits or it isn't , and if it isn't and Petraeus is cooking the books, he deserves whatever opprobrium he gets.

Every general office we have has 30+ years in service to their country. OCS, what's your point? Are you telling that the mere fact of "service" is all we need to no longer question a mans's motives or truthfulness?

No. It is not enough. Not now, not 40 years ago.

Not ever.

Petraeus either supports his data with something other than his "good word", or the data mean nothing. Or worse, they are lies.

Jake

he continued to serve after being shot in the chest in a training accident and almost dying
It's a good thing for Petraeus he's on the Bushite side. Just think what Limbaugh and Coulter could do with that history.

"In another day and time, it would call for pistols at dawn"

Every day since the Gingrich Revolution took their seats in January of 1994.

Not you and me, Steve, because, for one thing, dawn is a little early for me. ;)

Maybe we can call an exorcist to free OCSteve from the spirit of Zell Miller.

Specifically, what I think is complete bullsh*t, is the idea that saying that Petraeus is saying what the Bush administration wants him to say is akin to challenging his honor.

And as I said I dismissed all the “You mean Bush’s report?” stuff as I too had similar thoughts. What’s challenging his honor is the ad, a Democratic Senator stating that they are relying on an outside group to label him a liar because they don’t have the stones to do it themselves, and the chairman of the meeting stating he would not believe him before hearing his first word.


So it's perfectly okay to talk about Petraeus's report before it comes out, as long as you're not criticizing it?

It’s OK to talk about the report. It’s not OK to impugn the man’s character in the way that has occurred. I’m not sure why people have a hard time seeing the difference.


Given the date and the replay of the newscasts from 6 years ago I watched this morning I’m in as bad a mood as anyone else. I’ll refrain from commenting anymore. In fact I better refrain from reading any more.

OCSteve, are you saying that Lantos was impugning Petraeus's character just by saying "I don't buy it"? That's the example you gave that I was responding to. If that's impugning character and thus out of bounds, then I don't see how you're not saying that military officers are above criticism and can never be doubted.

It’s OK to talk about the report. It’s not OK to impugn the man’s character in the way that has occurred. I’m not sure why people have a hard time seeing the difference.

I'll agree that the Betrayus ad is, if not over the line, at least very close to it. But I don't think that Petraeus' trustworthiness should be unquestioned. The problem is that Petraeus has done nothing whatsoever to demonstrate his independence from the administration. Ever since the announcement of his report he's allowed himself to be used as a political prop, thus the questioning of his motives. For me at least, the interview with Fox News was really the last straw. It's the act of a political operative, not a non-partisan military man. Maybe he was ordered to do it, but in that case what reason do we have to believe him at all? He is, after all, a subordinate of the CIC, and if he can't push back against something as transparently partisan as that, just what degree of independence does he possess?

Also, OCSteve, you've mentioned his report several times. Did I miss it when he actually delivered one? All I've seen is a PowerPoint presentation with absolutely no hard evidence to back it up. He's just saying "trust me" but his actions give us no real reason to do so.

Eh, maybe we oughta quit picking on OCSteve. The "Betrayus" thing really was inflammatory and stupid. And a sideshow (to a sideshow (if that's possible), layers and layers of distraction (nestled within ever deeper tiers of parentheticals)) best ignored.

Given the date and the replay of the newscasts from 6 years ago I watched this morning I’m in as bad a mood as anyone else. I’ll refrain from commenting anymore. In fact I better refrain from reading any more.

Oh, Steve? I'd suggest just one more bit of reading for you.

Petraeus has served this country honorably for 35 years (he continued to serve after being shot in the chest in a training accident and almost dying). He is on his own third tour in Iraq. He has been given an impossible job with little hope of a good outcome.

Napoleon said:

"A general-in-chief has no right to blame his mistakes on his sovereign, or a minister, when they are distant and so must be ill informed.

"Every general is wrong who follows a plan which he considers faulty. It is his duty to show his reasons, to insist the plan be changed, to resign rather than be the instrument of his army's ruin."

Petraeus has betrayed the army by not resigning.

Puns are stupid.

What's even more stupid, however, is how people have been babbling on about Petraeus's honor for the past several months. He has a record of commentary on the Iraq War which shows he hasn't been an accurate analyst, and his analysis has tended to support the Bush Administration. His motives are of no interest whatsoever.

Of course the reason for the "honorable man" theme was simply to elevate his analysis up to a level where he couldn't be questioned without looking like the critic was impugning his honor. The man is the expert on counterinsurgency, he's the warrior philosopher, and he's honorable, so how dare anyone question him? There's no rhetorical technique that is too stupid and obvious to be used in American politics.

OCSteve: I don't have a problem with Lantos' "I don't buy it". He didn't say that he didn't buy Petraeus' report in its entirety, or even in part, without having heard it. He said: "But the fact remains, gentlemen, that the Administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two Committees and the Congress that victory is at hand.

With all due respect to you, I must say … I don’t buy it."

I don't buy the idea that "victory is at hand" either. If I mind anything about what Lantos said, it's that I don't think the admin. did send Petraeus to convince anyone that victory is at hand, just that we've made enough progress that we should give the surge another 6 months. I don't buy that either, and didn't before I heard what Petraeus and Crocker had to say.

The anonymous leader and MoveOn are different: they're going after Petraeus' honor in a way that Lantos, as I read him, is not. That's wrong, and it's also counterproductive.

But it's hardly something unique to Democrats, and it's nowhere near as important as answering the question: what on earth can we do to get out of this war?

what on earth can we do to get out of this war?

but, but, Bush just announced he is going to pull out 30K troops by next summer!

Frankly, I do not care how tasteless the Move On ad is. We are at a point where nasty things have to be said. The fact that it was too nasty or the wrong kind of nasty just does not matter that much.

An apology should be of the nature that one is sorry that Move-On's basically legitimate point got lost in bad rhetoric, and then make the nasty point with better language. But the nastiness itself is exactly what is needed -- Petraeus is behaving dishonorably by being such an enthusiastic shill and using cooked books and sly phrases to sell more war. He stands on the shoulders of deceit in making his points -- particularly the numbers game in which the underlying numbers are kept secret.

Colin Powell was also an "honorable man". That didn't keep him from lying to the UN.

As far as I'm concerned, anyone who speaks for this administration (I'm not saying OCSTeve does) is a liar unless proven otherwise. It's a pretty safe bet so far.

OK, I’m, back. This is always a weird day for me. Today was more so because it fell on a Tuesday. Luckily it was hazy here and not blue sky or it would have really been bad.

I’ve determined that sorrow has a vesting plan – at least vs. anger. On that day and most anniversaries since, anger was the strongest emotion with sorrow trying to make elbow room. Today may have been the first time sorrow broke through. And today was especially important because it was a Tuesday. So I am very thankful for the haze… With a crisp cool blue sky I likely would have lost it completely.

I know few here will believe me about the MSM hiding these images from us – but you have to look for the most provocative ones. Not the planes hitting the towers, but images like “the falling man”. That one killed me and I make it a point every anniversary to always spend a few minutes looking at it. I had it bookmarked several places – 404. I found it at MM.

Anyway – if I offended anyone, sorry - this is just a hint at my state of mind today. I need to stay away on such days.

Now – on the subject of Petraeus – obviously he is subject to criticism. What I object to is pre-emptive dismissal of what he has to say. Pre-emptive labeling him as a liar, a “betrayer”, before anyone heard word one. Criticism after he gives his report is obviously fair game. Smearing the man for political gain before he speaks is not.

With that said, I don’t agree with his assessment. I did not support the surge; I want all troops home now. As I am totally in alignment with your (most here) goals, I’m not sure why we have to argue so much about the details of me getting there. The bottom line is that I will not abide this kind of smearing of a life long military officer without solid proof he is being disingenuous – not because he disagrees with someone’s opinion, not because you don’t agree with what he believes to be true, but because you have proof he is lying based on the dictionary definition of the word. It is a bias on my part and it will always be there. 40% of the finest men (and one woman) I ever have known in my lifetime have been military officers. The other 60% were NCOs.

Anyway, thank goodness this day is almost over.

OCSteve, I haven't seen Petraeus's report and I haven't called him a liar.

However, it's completely predictable what will be in the report, and that it will be pretty much lies.

I can predict it. You can too. Everybody can. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to say -- sight unseen -- that Petraeus's report is garbage and that history will show that it had a lot of lies. And if it turns out that the report has something significant that's *surprising*, that I didn't expect, then I will apologise.

I expect you've seen the report by now. Do you want to lay odds on it doing that? A sucker bet, if it does.

J Thomas: Again, please check the dictionary definition of “lie”. Reporting what you believe or what you think you know is not a lie. You may be wrong, history may show you to be wrong, and that doesn’t make you a liar.

If you want a bet then show where Petraeus actually lied, after you have, you know, actually read his report, as opposed to “I'm going to say -- sight unseen -- that Petraeus's report is garbage and that history will show that it had a lot of lies”.

In other words, make your case that he has lied, not that he will lie because you already know you won’t agree with his assessment. One is proof of wrongdoing, the other is slander.

And again – If I agree with your analysis of the outcome, why so much focus on how I got there? Do you want results or ideological purity?

I know few here will believe me about the MSM hiding these images from us – but you have to look for the most provocative ones.

Actually, MSNBC repeated their 9/11/2001 broadcast this morning, real-time. It was astounding that Tom Brokaw didn't realize that the first tower had fallen, but there was so much debris and dust that it was hard to see at first.

Like OCSteve, I think you have to be really careful with the word lie. For example, I don't think the administration lied us into the war, but definitely misled us.

I think Petraeus falls somewhat into that category. But I will give him credit for admitting that he doesn't know if the war is making us safer.

In termns of the ad, to me it wasn't calling him a betrayer, but was instead giving him a chance not to by giving us all the facts, not just those that make his plan look good. Ad I do think that in that area he failed.

Was the ad distasteful? Possibly, but no worse and probably better than what the Republican party has subjected us to for the last several years, particulalry in 04.

OCSteve, I take a different tact than you as far as 9/11. I avoid looking at any coverage that replays what happened that day. From a psychological point of view, it is as likely to do as much harm as good. I know what happened, I am still pissed off about it, in fact more so knowing that this administration has totally f--ked up in its response and that most of the republican cadidates want to continue the f--k up.

Again, please check the dictionary definition of “lie”. Reporting what you believe or what you think you know is not a lie. You may be wrong, history may show you to be wrong, and that doesn’t make you a liar.

To my way of thinking, if you're a high government official and you accept underlings reports that say what you want them to say, and you make no serious attempt at verification, when you could easily have found that they are bogus, but you report it as truth anyway -- that's lying.

It could be argued that you're a high government official who doesn't know how to tell truth from lies when they come from your subordinates, that you are an utter bumbling incompetent instead of a liar. I see no point in making such subtle distinctions. If you are that incompetent then you lied when you took your oath of office.

If I agree with your analysis of the outcome, why so much focus on how I got there? Do you want results or ideological purity?

Did I do that? Are you getting me confused with somebody else?

Criticism after he gives his report is obviously fair game. Smearing the man for political gain before he speaks is not.

Sure it is. His being a "life long military officer" carries no more weight for me than if he were a doctor, a lawyer or a plumber. Colin Powell was a "life long military officer" -- that didn't stop him from lying (yes, lying -- he'd been briefed and KNEW there were no mobile weapons factories or anything like that) to the UN.

BushCo spokepeople lie. That's what they're hired for. That's all thy've done. It may not be admissable in court, but if it was any person talking to another, a reasonable person would call it a lie.

I avoid looking at any coverage that replays what happened that day.

damn straight.

i won't watch it. i won't wallow in it. i don't want to relive it.

In another day and time it would call for pistols at dawn.

Be careful what you wish for. That street has two sides.

Thanks -

. 40% of the finest men (and one woman) I ever have known in my lifetime have been military officers. The other 60% were NCOs.


OCSteve, is this really true, or was it hyperbole? It just seems weird to me for anyone to say that every single one of the finest human beings they have known in their life was in the US military. My experience with people in the military is that some of them are amazing, some of them are complete jerks who barely register as human, and most are just average folk trying to get by. In other words, in my limited experience, military folk are just like non-military folk when it comes to the "finest human beings I've known" metric.


Now, if you really do believe that people in the US military are in some way inherently superior to other human beings, that might explain why you find questioning of Petreus so galling, especially when the questions are raised by mere civilians ;-)

Someone on this site once mentioned this and I'd like to point it out. An accusation of treason is not just an ad hom, not just "nasty" talk. It is saying that someone has committed a crime punishable by death. Please, think before you defend something this childish and ignorant. Most of you are above this.

Ladan, many of us have been accused of treason for opposing the war. Some of us have been accused of treason merely for being Democrats.

That discourse has been cheapened. The words no longer mean what you think they ought to mean.

This is not your father's USA.

Well I'm glad I used the modifier most. Nothing speaks of adulthood like "but they did it fiiiirst."

J Thomas: all the more reason why we should know better. Saying that someone has betrayed us is serious. I would imagine it would be especially serious to someone in the military. We should not say things like this without very, very good reason. And we don't have it here.

Besides, as I said, it was stupid.

laden,


Perhaps I'm slow today, but would you mind explaining exactly how anyone has accused anyone of treason here? The closest I've seen in calling Petraeus Betray us, which doesn't imply treason to me at all: it implies dereliction of duty but in my mind that's hardly the same thing as treason. I've seen no evidence that anyone thinks that Petraeus is actively assisting the insurgency.


So, if you don't mind, please connect the dots for those of us that are having trouble seeing what you're so upset about.

Ladan, you are criticising other bloggers' style. How can you bear to be so crass?! I hope you're very ashamed of yourself and you should apologise right now.

You should make your points cleanly, like a gentleman, without ever criticising anybody. You should show us all that you'd never retaliate against anybody no matter what they do. Show us that you always turn the other cheek. That's the way to impress voters. US voters want principled politicians who always respond with sweetness and light no matter how they're provoked. And even if they do occasionally elect bullies, still you can have the satisfaction that your side followed the rules. It's a moral victory. It isn't whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

So please, please never again criticise me or anyone else for doing political blogging in a way you disapprove of. You should maintain a dignified silence in such cases, you should let their bad behavior speak for itself. Don't stoop to their level by telling them they're bad. That sort of thing should be beneath you.

Turbulence -
I can think of one example of a general who betrayed us, and his name has been synonymous with traitor for centuries. At least one definition of betrayal is "to deliver to an enemy by treachery". I can't think of any way in which an army general COULD betray me that wouldn't involve treason. Perhaps if I was married to one or was playing Diplomacy with one, but I doubt that is what Moveon had in mind.

This is silly. Defend it if you must. I won't spoil the party anymore.

Ladan, there are innumerable ways anyone can betray people without committing treason. It doesn't matter whether the person is a general or not, and it doesn't matter what one definition says if that's not the definition being used.

I think the headline was out of line, but it's ridiculous to call it an accusation of treason.

john miller: On Petraeus I think we are pretty close, except for the ad.

On 9/11 – I hear what you are saying, and your advice is undoubtedly the best, I should just tune out the day… But I have to look again. I have to refresh my anger. It’s something I have to hold on to. It needs stoking once a year. I have to see “falling man” and listen to the 911 tapes and watch the towers fall.

It seems to be some kind of penance.

My wife hates it, and we fight over it more years than not. I was cranky all day and we bickered, she doesn’t know why, as of now she does not realize that it is the 9/11 anniversary. I wake up every day and the first thing I see is my 9/11 Amtrak stub and ticket. It’s faded by the sun after 6 years, but the first sips of morning coffee for the last 6 tears involve memorizing that ticket.

Yeah, let it go, I know. Someday. Anyway, it colors my opinions.


J Thomas: Did I do that? Are you getting me confused with somebody else?

More a question for the thread. I’m in agreement with most people here…


Turbulence: is this really true, or was it hyperbole?

Some hyperbole, but in the end, absolutely true for me. The officers and NCOs I knew absolutely set my life on this course, and they were right. In terms of first, second, third managers, I never dealt with better than ARMY NCOs. In terms of executives, every officer I ever dealt with was fantastic. They nurture. They develop you. I am what I am because of them.

I’ll protect them instinctively so take that into consideration in anything I say…

Cleek did a brilliant job of treating Petraeus' presentation with all the respect it deserves.

Oops.. Sorry.

I'd love it if we could have a moratorium on the use of the term "treason" for the next, oh, 50 years.

We might have to bury Ms. Coulter under a pile of books on law first, however. A total embarassment to Cornell University.

(My own feeling is that anyone who accuses anyone else of "treason" without being able to immediately quote the Constitutional definition of such should be immediately beaten to death with Mommsen's edition of the Corpus Iuris Civilis, but that's me....)

I have to look again. I have to refresh my anger. It’s something I have to hold on to. It needs stoking once a year. I have to see “falling man” and listen to the 911 tapes and watch the towers fall.

It seems to be some kind of penance.

Hey OC --

Take this for whatever it's worth to you. I'm just some anonymous guy on the other end of a wire.

What I want to suggest, with humility and respect, is that you need to give yourself a break regarding that day.

Best -

OCSteve, I recommend - in all seriousness and fully expecting to be ignored - that you take alook at this and, especially as regards "Falling Man," this. The victims of 9/11 are not anyone's political props or therapy tools, they are people. Michelle Malkin doesn't give a crap about who the falling man was, and she sure doesn't care about how repeatedly exploiting the image of his impending death might affect his family. She just wants to use him to incite already angry and traumatized people into more warmongering. So before you congratulate her at the expense of the dreaded MSM, give that some thought.

OCS, assume for a minute that in the slums of Amman, there's a teenage boy whose father, a waiter, was killed in the first day of shock and awe, because someone who looked like Saddam had been at the restaurant earlier. In the slums of Baghdad, there's a younger boy who's widowed mother has had to turn to prostitution to survive.

I'm not going to ask you to weigh their grievances against yours, that would be gratuitous. Instead, the practical question: how long do you hope it takes for them to 'move on'?

After all that's happened, is it maybe a little unseemly for those among us not as personally harmed as widows and family members to cling so tight?

Phil: Not sure why you’d assume you’d be ignored – I read your links now as I always do. I didn’t “congratulate her at the expense of the dreaded MSM”. I mentioned that it was gone where I had it bookmarked and when I went looking for it that’s where I found it.

russell and CC: As with John you are undoubtedly correct and your advise is sound. But acknowledging good advice and following it are two different things. Maybe as a first step I’ll take the damned ticket off the poster board and bury it in a drawer.

Don't put that ticket away, OCSteve. You have to acknowledge what this whole deal, Iraq, Afghanistan, NSA, FISA, etc., is about.

I believe that the war in Iraq is a battle in the greater war for freedom in the Middle East.

I can understand the criticism of how this war has been conducted
, but that does not make my beliefs untrue.

You have to acknowledge what this whole deal, Iraq, Afghanistan, NSA, FISA, etc., is about.

It's about a small group of people gaining power, in the US and worldwide, at the expense of everyone else's freedom and very many lives.

Americans like DaveC are why I'm still not over September 11, though I am closer to being able to bury him in a drawer like an old bus ticket, which is where his opinions rightfully belong.

(Note that the war to which DaveC refers in his post is this one: DaveC is running about 103 years behind in his blog commenting.)

DaveC.'s not a problem.

I've met problems, I've served under problems, problems have eaten most of my lunches, and believe me, DaveC. is no problem.

If it weren't for DaveC., Groucho's motto for the Internets (Whatever it is, I'm against it!) wouldn't hold water.

OCSteve, what exactly do you gain by renewing your grief and rage annually?

My own religion calls on me many times a year to remember horrors -- but generally, in the service of some goal. For example, I remember the horrors of Egyptian slavery so as to call to mind the grace of G-d who freed me. This very weekend I commemorate the assasination of the Babylonian satrap Gedaliah by a would-be patriot, so as to remember that it is not always obvious who the enemy is or what result violence will have. So, what do you get out of it?

Personally, I think many Americans take 9-11 way too much to heart. Perhaps 9-11 failed to impress me because I grew up hearing about horrors such as the Shoah and Palestinian terrorism, next to which a single successful act of urban terrorism pales. Whenever I hear someone raging about the inhumanity of the attack, I always think, 'so, this was a surprise to you?' I think we have been remarkably lucky not to get attacked more.

I certainly want those responsible punished -- i.e., Al Qaeda, the Taliban for sheltering them, maybe Saudi Arabia for negligently breeding the organization -- and I want us to take reasonable safety precautions to prevent a recurrence, i.e., precautions that don't involve a blank check or the sacrifice of basic freedoms, but the attack didn't change my whole worldview. It struck me as just one of many bad things that happen, something that had to be addressed, but not something to obsess over. You seem to feel that it is in a class by itself, and I wonder why.

Hil, I rarely find your position on anything other than logical, and usually admirable. On the Moveon ad, I think your position is at least counter productive. The ad opened the discussion about what it means to be a patriot. And it isn't good enough to be a general.

If Petraeus has cooked the books, he has done exactly that of which he stands accused. He, or the White House, has it within their power to completely defuse the issue, but they don't. Likley because they can't. And not because of security concerns.

Petraeus is defending a policy and plan that indisuptably costs lives, Iraqi and American, displaces millions of Iraqi's, and costs billions of $'s. He has an obligation, as does his master, to justify his words and actions to Congress, to us, Americans all. He isn't. He says, we've got the real numbers, trust us.

Rove also had the real numbers.

A good man in the service of a bad policy, who does not and will not examine his role in furthering that bad policy, is not acting in the best interests of the country or himself. I have no idea of Petraeus is a good man or not. I am sure that he speaks and acts in the service of a bad policy.

If Petraeus can't forsee political success and yet continues to promote military action - and this does appear to be his position - then just what is it that he recommends?

Jake

John: I've met problems, I've served under problems, problems have eaten most of my lunches, and believe me, DaveC. is no problem.

I believe that the war in Iraq is a battle in the greater war for freedom in the Middle East.

I have no doubt that that is exactly your belief. It's actually not an unworthy goal, the Middle East is not exactly a garden of human freedom and liberty.

The questions that need to be asked in light of that goal are these.

What does "freedom in the Middle East" mean?

The Middle East is a big and varied place. Does it mean the same thing everywhere?

What do the people who actually live in the Middle East want?

Is our continued presence as an occupying force in Iraq actually bringing about any useful form of freedom or liberty in the Middle East or anywhere else?

If it is, can we afford to continue that presence until the goal is met?

If not, what do we to then?

If our presence is not helpful, is there something else we can do that *would* help achieve a good goal? Note that one possible answer to this question is "no".

I would like every human being on this planet to be safe, have enough food to eat and clean water to drink, and have access to a sufficiently basic level of public health services such that they don't suffer and die unnecessarily from easily preventable conditions.

I would like every child born on this earth to have a reasonable chance of achieving whatever good things they are capable of.

I would like all sentient beings to be free from suffering.

There are some things I can do to help make some of these goals come about, and I try to do them. But, obviously, what I can do is a flyspeck.

So, I've learned to live in the real world, which means I have to answer the kinds of questions I've asked you above.

We're a big, powerful country with a very worthwhile legacy. There's a lot of good things we can do.

Changing the political landscape of an entire other part of the world, through our own will and effort, just because we think it should change, might not be one of the things we can, or even should, do.

If it's not, we should try to make a more realistic plan.

All of this, of course, assumes that our intentions in Iraq are as laudable as those you've expressed. That's also something worth questioning.

Thanks -

Trilobite: what exactly do you gain by renewing your grief and rage annually?

Little good? ;) It’s not rational. I feel like I have to remember how pissed off I was that day. It changed my life, not for the better. As the anger fades I miss it. I need it back, at least once a year. This is perverse but maybe I need to feel those emotions again because I never felt stronger emotions? I have no idea. Just being honest…

Anyway I’m a mess. I really should just turn off the computer and the TV for the week.

That's okay Steve - go ahead a be mad. I've been doing the same thing every 08/29 (Hurricane Katrina for those who aren't obsessed). I understand perfectly. I need to be as mad as I was that year and I need to renew hat anger every year. It does serve a purpose. It makes me never forgot how worthless the people are that are running this country. It reminds me never to give them another break and it makes me happy to be reminded. Your purpose will be different, of course.

Rdldot: Your purpose will be different, of course.

Once again, my goals are mostly the same as everyone here. I differ only in how I arrived here. Do you want results, or ideological purity?

Sorry, Steve. Just meant that the purpose to your anger would be different than mine. Nothing else.

I also have rituals. Besides 9/11, I also watch the Frontline piece 'Ghosts of Rwanda' every year on the anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. I have no idea what I gain by renewing my grief and anger annually, or why I do it, except that, somehow, I have to.

This stuff works in mysterious ways, and I, for one, don't really feel like asking OCSteve why he deals with 9/11 the way he does, since I seem to do similar things, and can't really see what's wrong either with them, or with the fact that I can't fully account for them.

Some things need to be commemorated. Some things make you think: may I never forget.

hilzoy,

I have no idea what I gain by renewing my grief and anger annually, or why I do it, except that, somehow, I have to.


No. No you don't. You want to. You will not die if you fail to commemorate the genocide this year. As long as you insist that your reasons are unfathomable, then of course, we can never know why you do this. But if you bother to ask questions and discuss things, I've often found that these unfathomable mysteries yield simple explanations.


This stuff works in mysterious ways, and I, for one, don't really feel like asking OCSteve why he deals with 9/11 the way he does, since I seem to do similar things, and can't really see what's wrong either with them, or with the fact that I can't fully account for them.


Birthday parties and klan rallies to celebrate glorious lynchings past both involve commemoration. That does not mean that they are the same and it does not mean that they are equally beneficial to society.


Unless I'm misreading him, OCSteve has indicated that his way of "dealing" with 9/11 doesn't actually help him: it makes him unhappy, causes him to fight with his spouse and doesn't seem to serve any purpose beyond the stoking of blind rage and hatred.


I ask you hilzoy: is this what Americans need now? More blind rage? More hatred? Because, from where I'm sitting, it seems like we've spent entirely too much time indulging in our childish rages and there are a lot of corpses stacked up as a result. Perhaps if we didn't indulge our "commemorative" hate fests in the recent past there might be fewer corpses in Iraq today.


What people do with their personal grief is their business. But when people insist on indulging an emotional pathology that makes them act like bad citizens, then it becomes the public's business. Our nation requires wisdom and prudence of us but annual hate-orgies bring us neither; in fact, they drive out such virtues. You don't need to revel in hate and rage in order to remember 9/11: OCSteve has already said that he stares at his Amtrak ticket every single day.


Sometimes it is not about us, or our "needs" or our precious emotions. Sometimes we have to sacrifice things that we want in order to be good citizens. If the only thing that your commemoration does is make you a worse citizen and a worse human being, then you really should stop because that's a pretty crappy way of honoring the hallowed dead.

By the way, hilzoy, since you're interested in the Rwandan Genocide, you may find this paper interesting:
Explaining the Ultimate Escalation in Rwanda: How and Why Tutsi Rebels Provoked a Retaliatory Genocide

I'm still groping toward the words for a thought that's as much a feeling as a concept in my mind. Please pardon any roughness.

It seems to me that the great peril in trying to recapture our feelings of a particular moment is that we also may slide back into the rest of our state of mind of that moment...including what we didn't know then but have learned since, often at great cost.

This is one of the reasons I so much admire the Jewish holidays, and enjoy celebrating them with Jewish friends when I'm invited: they're not just about remembering, but about understanding, of seeing the situation not just as it seemed then but as it appears in the light of history and the divine wisdom. If you enter fully into the ritual, you will come out with direction as well as passion, and at that a direction shaped by careful contemplation as well as the heat of rage, loss, and joy, all of which can deceive us if not guided.

In the case of 9/11, darned few of us knew as much as we really should have on that day. Some among us saw clearly how determined the Bush/Cheney crew was on war, about how they'd pushed defense against terrorism aside to leave us vulnerable, about the fatal delusions in their concept of effective war, and so on. Not many, at least not among my acquaintances online or off-. Thee's been a lot of hard learning since then. So when we remember the terrible events of that one morning, we had damn well better remember them in the light of the years since. Because a lot of us got played, and it would be good not to do that again.

So yeah, remember, but don't reenact too much. The point of memory is to guide life in the present.

Turbulence: that may be, but I don't see what it has to do with OCSteve, who strikes me as a pretty good citizen.

Oh, I think OCSteve is a great citizen, right now. But in the past, he advocated for a disastrous foreign policy that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. That constitutes acting like a bad citizen in my book. Which was my point: if more Americans refused to stoke their hate and rage, they might have realized that the Iraq War was insane much earlier. But you can't expect people to make rational policy judgments when they're spending time stoking those fires.

Sometimes people try to hold onto their rage. I've done it myself. I remember people telling me "Sure, that was a bad thing, but don't you think it's time to just get over it now?" And I'd be going NOOOOOOOO!

I remember a usenet group where a rather-rich system adminstrator with no social skills had gotten involved with some woman from the group. He took her to the opera, he took her to expensive restaurants, he bought her hundreds of dollars worth of toiletries and hundreds of dollars worth of flowers and he obsessed over her, and after a little while she got so uncomfortable around him that she told him she didn't want to see him any more. He blew up. He started flaming her on usenet. He obsessed over the details of every date. How much money he spent on her. How he'd wanted to put her through college. How much she'd wronged him. Lots of intimate details. Probaby the most embarrassing was about squeezing her blackheads in the bathtub, and how she screamed when he did the ones on her labia. Though the description about all the sexual positions they tried were getting there. Through all that she kept a dignified silence. She'd only intended a one-night-stand. Every now and then somebody would suggest it was time to get over it and he'd go NOOOOOOOO!

I'm sure if somebody suggested that 9/11 was very bad but it's time to get over it, a whole lot of people would say he was depraved and insensitive, after they calmed down enough to do more than go NOOOOOOOOOO! NEVVVERRRRRR!

We did get over Pearl Harbor, though. I remember reading old Life magazines etc from during the war. I was bothered at the hysteria and how everybody in print approved of it. Like, Life had a poster contest, for who could make the best support-the-troops poster. The winner was by a war widow, and the caption was KILL MORE JAPS. I don't remember now whether it was the one showing the evil japanese soldier carrying a naked presumably-unconscious woman on his back, holding her by one ankle.

A union had tried to go on strike and soldiers were called in with bayonets to stop them. They showed a full-page photo of the wound in the butt a union leader had gotten, along with a snarky caption about how it was just what he deserved and how he admitted in the hospital it was just what he deserved. He shouldn't have hurt the war effort when we needed to kill more japs.

But we did get over Pearl Harbor. Maybe it took Hiroshima for us to do that. Maybe that was the only way, and that's the best justification for Hiroshima -- that without it our occupation would have been cruel beyond excuse.

Still, I remember a cantrip that Larry Niven quoted, that's been useful to me sometimes. "I'm going to have to get over this someday. Why not now?"

I think two (roughly) things happen when individuals experience intense emotional and psychic pain and suffering, either directly or indirectly.

Because the traumatic intensity of these episodes is so extremely heightened relative to our everyday lives, we come to "hate" and to be haunted by the memories and we try to forget (become numb), but at the same time, we come to "love" the memories of our reactions to the events BECAUSE, for even a short period of time, our experience of reality and what it is to be a human being in the world is so severely heightened that, in fact, we've never felt more alive and "better" in our lives.

It is the one time we are not "numb".

Thus the combat veteran who awakes after having been knocked unconscious in an explosion in the battlefield in which his comrades have been mutilated and the first thing he sees is his hand, and he beholds his hand and its wonderful singularity for the first time in his life. He "sees" it for the first time.

Forty years later, the routine of life is such that he simultaneously yearns to experience that moment of heightened experience again and is wracked by the pain and loss of that moment.

He will give anything to have his comrades back and reverse that moment, but he is drawn to the commemorative celebration, say, on the Normandy Beach, to remember (re member, to put together again) it and to be with other survivors, whom are the only ones who "know" and share the experience.

Tell me whether a commuter on a train heading for Manhatten, on his quotidian way to his boring job for the 7249nth time, wants to look out the window and gaze unseeingly at the buildings in the skyline for the 7249nth time, or secretly yearns to see those buildings subject to some sort of disaster, and furthermore, will turn to his seatmate to communicate the awful, tragic and exciting news, and then immediately call his wife to further spread the awful, tragic, exciting news.

I don't know.

Just some thoughts.

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