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October 24, 2007

Comments

Ok, stop reading crazy right-wing blogs.


I'll send you a bill.

Hey Pub,

I think they gave you a hard time in the "give 'em a break" thread. It was a real avalanche.

FWIW no party has existed in US which uncompromisingly fought for the good with shaving back its ambitions and making "realistic" concessions to public opinions or powerful interests that would have been offended by what the progressives of the time thought was truly proper. Nor has such a President existed.

Today, we have alot of Democrats in office who are making the right calls, but we have some who are not making them or are too scared to make them. We have a Democratic leadership that can't or won't impose unity on the caucus to do what the predominant blog readership here wants. Sometimes the leaders in their personal votes make good ones or bad ones.

But it's not a unique feature of the post-Gingrich Democrats do have a hard time pushing good legislation. That is the historical norm. Passing the real good progressive stuff is the historically abnormal part that comes only in short bursts (1866-1868, 1934-1936, 1964-1965). Every President and every majority party who pushed legislation through has been accused by contemporary and later critics of not being progressive enough and compromising too much. there was a progressive vanguard that was instrumental to change, but it never had total control of any party.

Every great leader, Lincoln and FDR, had moments when they didn't stand for something right because they were afraid to, for Machiavellian reasons.

The ones who didn't compromise at all ended up doing more harm than good. -ie Woodrow Wilson.

It's easy to understand the disappointment of Katherine and the rest, and their frustration. The only context I can add is that, well, a bunch of Democratic politicians in congress, often a majority of them, are voting for the right things.
Hold the individual members who backslide accountable but don't say that the backsliders, and not the ones who do the right thing, represent the party as a whole.
Additionally, while Katherine et al are only modestly requesting that legislators do what's right, historical experience suggests that there's never been a political party fully united behind what's right.

It's hard to take because in recent memory we've seen how there has been a political party fully united behind what's wrong.
But that's how things are, evil just has an easier time manipulating power without compromising itself than good does. There's no limit to how bad things get, but there is one to how good things get. There are real-life super-williains, but no real-life superheroes.

Hey all, is it true that Obama only missed the Iran revolutionary guard resolution because Harry Reid mislead him about whether the vote was going to come up at that time. Obama caught hell from Ed Schultz for not showing up at that vote (after missing a couple others), but then after the fact I heard it was Reid's fault, not Obama's.

If you'll further stipulate that the story isn't "fake but accurate", you've got yourself a deal.

Sure, Brett - since a lot of it has been independently corroborated, "fake" is right out.

Publius,

For the last, 6 years the left has constantly attacked the US military and even more so the last 4.

It's not about saying you're sorry and sending money. It's about telling the truth.

The "vast right wing conspiracy" will continue to pound away at those Americans who have disrespected the men & women of our military and made their job far more difficult and dangerous.

They will continue to call out those like Hilzoy and Katherine that do more to support the cause of terrorism than our troops.

Those who have actively fought against the and worked for the defeat of the US military have yet to do anything to earn redemption.

Don't expect any silence anytime soon! Utter surrender is the objective.

(Of course with approval ratings of the current Congress so low it really looks like the "vast right wing conspiracy" is really just middle America. Shame the republicans screwed up so much...)

The most ridiculous bit of the frenzy (aside from getting thousands more people to read the story who'd never heard of the guy) is that the Malkinites were going all out against TNR, which is not exactly the favorite publication of us moonbats. It's not quite like the battle between Lyndon LaRouche and Sun Myung Moon, since TNR is substantially saner than Malkin, but it does inspire a little of the same wish for both sides to lose.

Tom, if you were to hit yourself in the head a few times with a crowbar and then try writing again, your comments might make more sense.

historical experience suggests that there's never been a political party fully united behind what's right.

Truer words were never spoken.

To be honest, I'd be delighted just to be represented by a party that knew when and how to tell their opponents to piss off.

A guy can dream.

Thanks -

FWIW no party has existed in US which uncompromisingly fought for the good with shaving back its ambitions and making "realistic" concessions to public opinions

Somehow I read this, parsed "shaving its back", and decided I'm better off just going to sleep.

Night, all.

"They will continue to call out those like Hilzoy and Katherine that do more to support the cause of terrorism than our troops."

I think you meant "they will continue to complain about those like Hilzoy and Katherine who point out illegitimate things they do in the wrongheaded pursuit of defeating terrorism" but it somehow didn't come out right.....

My thoughts went the same way when I hit "shaving back". Clearly Slart and I are the same person.

Can we all keep in mind that Beauchamp's very first story for TNR ( http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=a420fc77-246f-4dc9-b62c-8cc98b6f1109 ) concerned a Iraqi boy who supposedly got his tongue cut out by evil insurgents for befriending US troops, but continued to befriend them anyway? Which, of course, confirms that, whether he's a liar or not, neither he nor TNR have been setting out to Discredit Our Boys. (By the way, there are some odd aspects to that story, too -- "...his lower torso swallowed by one of Little Venice's excrement canals"? -- but we didn't hear a peep about them from the Fighting Keyboarders until he wrote that other story actually saying some negative things about US troops. Wonder why?)

The really remarkable thing about Beauchamp's accusations is how absurdly penny-ante they were compared to some things that we KNOW US troops have done -- and the sort of minor bad-taste routines he reported in that story are the sort of things that have happened in every war, justified or otherwise.


Oh, and why does Sebastian Holsclaw suddenly hate America?

Abdrahaman, who sat across from the table from Adams and Jefferson, trying to shake down the US for cash in 1786 warned:

“A war between Christian and Christian was mild, a war between Christian and Muslim could be horrible.” (McCullough quoting Abdrahaman).

The problem I have with the media is that they hold Western forces to Western ethical standards in a war with Muslims. They seem to enjoy setting impossible expectations for interactions with “innocent civilians” who just happen to pray five times a day to a God who directs them to:

4:89 Have no unbelieving friends. Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.

The media coverage of LCol Chessani and his Marines, of Abu Graib, and of Blackwater field actions puts on display blatant anti-military, self-loathing bias. I resent it because I’ve got a pretty good idea of what happens if we fail to contain this enemy.

If the media is looking for some good, bloody, human-interest stories, there are plenty of them all around Iraq. I’m partial to the ones with drill bits. But the bad guys don’t fit the template and we get silence.

"Oh, and why does Sebastian Holsclaw suddenly hate America?"

SHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I'm one of the more successful undercover agents!

"The "vast right wing conspiracy" will continue to pound away at those Americans who have disrespected the men & women of our military and made their job far more difficult and dangerous.

They will continue to call out those like Hilzoy and Katherine that do more to support the cause of terrorism than our troops."

tom: if you can point out a single post in which either Katherine or I have supported terrorism or disrespected the men and women of the military, please show me what it is. If you can point to a number larger than the ones in which I have advocated for them -- for better armor, more support, better benefits for veterans, and most of all for an administration that treats their lives and their willingness to sacrifice with the respect it deserves -- then you win special extra bonus points.

On the other hand, if, as I suspect, you can't come up with anything, then take it as an opportunity to learn something about intellectual integrity, and about being careful before you make serious accusations on the basis of nothing whatsoever.

comments like tom's aren't even worthy of a response. i think he's just coulter-esquely seeking outrage.

Shorter bill:
"Exterminate the brutes!"

Just to continue my last line of thought a bit:

I waver between finding comments like Tom's merely amusing and getting mad at them. As you may have noticed, I wasn't around this weekend. That was because I was seeing a friend off to Iraq. There is, of course, no way Tom could have known this. But there's also no way he could have known that I wasn't doing any such thing, because of my alleged disrespect for the men and women of the military.

If he had bothered to check, however, Tom could easily have found out that all of us here have some issues that we're more likely to focus on than other posters. When someone writes about telecoms, it's likely to be publius. And when someone writes about the need to do right by the men and women of the military, it's likely to be me.

If Tom had bothered to check, he could have seen that. Instead, he just up and accused Katherine and me of supporting terrorism, disrespecting the troops, working for their defeat, etc., etc., etc., without having the slightest idea what he was talking about. We're liberals, and apparently that's all Tom needs to know to accuse us of, essentially, treason.

I would never do the same to him.

And if the vast right-wing conspiracy has nothing better to offer than flat-out calumny -- no good arguments, no convincing refutations of liberal views, no nothing -- then I'm no more worried by the prospect that they will continue to call me out than I am by the anti-hilzoy antibody.

publius: you're probably right. Sigh. It's just that every so often, it does get to me.

They will continue to call out those like Hilzoy and Katherine that do more to support the cause of terrorism than our troops.

Who are you to say that our troops support terrorism?

Could someone perhaps please explain to me when it was that "the left" allegedly invested itself in, of all venues, The New Republic, as a "leftist," or "anti-war" outlet they should feel interested in defending?

Tom makes me shake my head. Bill makes me worry about the future of our species.

To speak is to be accountable to truth. To be truthful is to be accountable to understanding.

We're liberals, and apparently that's all Tom needs to know to accuse us of, essentially, treason.

Liberal *women*, I think, is probably the trigger.

There was once a time when there was a significant American political movement that could be described as "the left" (not the "new left", mind you; that came later), and there was once a time when The New Republic was part of the coalition of what could broadly be called "the left".

It's been 40 or 50 years since those things were true, but the idea that The New Republic is a left publication isn't completely made up. Just out of date. Badly out of date.

"It's been 40 or 50 years since those things were true, but the idea that The New Republic is a left publication isn't completely made up."

Indeed. I've been reading TNR since the Seventies, am quite familiar with its in and outs and have read a fair sampling of what it published for much of the earlier 20th century, and have a general overview smattering of knowledge as to its 19th century history.

But, as you say, this isn't relevant to the last couple of decades, and most certainly isn't relevant to the Clinton/Bush era, let alone the Iraq War.

No more so than it would be to claim the publication is the same today as it was under Andrew Sullivan, whose views have in some respects evolved considerably since his day, and in some respects apparently haven't (he's still defending The Bell Curve proudly, and bringing it up voluntarily).

Neither is today's publication that of Kinsley or Hertzberg, or Henry Wallace, or what it was in the 1960s, or any other past time.

Of course, mostly it's actually somewhat heterogenous, and tends to get tarred by many as somehow homogenously holding the views of any given article or writer, which is silly. But the tone definitely does shift with the editor and publisher and year by year, of course.

The idea that anti-war "liberals" somehow have ownership of TNR in the contemporary era seems little supported by the facts.

Certainly although Marty Peretz is no longer, as of February, owner, but "merely" editor-in-chief, he still is most visible voice of TNR, and the idea that anti-war folk should all be rushing to defend the publication that has been his for decades, and that he's still the editor-in-chief of, is pretty hilarious.

I mean, Malkin and crew seem to have not noticed that TNR was, by editorial, and the views of most of its writers, extremely pro-Iraq-War.

A number of the writers have shifted views to various degrees in the last couple of years, and so has the official view of the magazine, but, nonetheless: hey, pro-war magazine.

They fired Spencer Ackerman, who -- and I'm not saying this was the cause, mind -- went notably off-message on being pro-war.

This makes the contremps extra-crunchy amusing. It's like Malkin and the flying monkeys have lost their program, and track of who has been for what. Or it's just plain eating the children of the revolution.

Either way, my mode is fetch more popcorn and peel me a grape!," not circle the wagons!

BULLETIN -- Damned if Drudge hasn't already retracted the story:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_10/012344.php

See, Publius? That's what you get for premature surrender.

No doubt Drudge's story was fake but accurate.

of course that's what happened.

my post was obviously a joke, but there's a not a doubt in my mind that -- given the characters involved -- TNR will be vindicated.

Not that it will matter. by then, there might an paraplegic 9-year old leukemia patient enjoying government benefits that needs a good sliming.

I hear there's a paraplegic 6-year old cancer patient on a respirator somewhere currently enjoying free medical benefits.

By any chance, would you have a home address?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we are fighting this war, and the parallels to our own revolutionary war. When the British were coming in to fight us, they would march in columns and followed the 'rules of war,' where the two forces faced off and then started fighting. The Americans did away with this and shot from the trees at the British and did all kinds of things that were against the 'rules of war.' We eventually won the fight, and I think it had much to do with our fighting style.

Now we are fighting according to the 'rules of war' set forth in the Geneva Conventions, but our enemy isn't. I can see the definite parallels and our eventual loss if we don't change our fighting style. When the enemy comes at us as a regular force, we handily defeat them. That's what happened in the first Gulf War. Now we are fighting the same way, and going on over four years now, aren't making a whole lot of progress.

I don't have the whole thought process complete yet, but I thought I'd give it out since someone earlier was talking about this.

Er, no, we're not fighting with anything like the Geneva Conventions. They were explicitly repudiated by the president, and this decision was supported by his legal counsel, more or less immediately. (And we know that some actions later justified as necessary by the war were underway before 9/11, just as the decision to go to war was made while the president made public statements that it hadn't been and that the decision to attack Iraq along with Afghanistan was made well before administrative public speech suggested that the war was inevitable.) That's actually the big part of why we're in trouble - you can win a war without the rule of law and a basically moral code of conduct, but you can't win an occupation the same way. The US's own manual of counter-insurgency discusses this explicitly - settling unrest is as much a matter of earning the locals' trust as it is of killing bad guys.

The fools in this debate are the ones who think that the rules of war are just about niceness, and who neglect the history of how and why they exist and what has happened to past warmakers who thought to abandon them.

To clarify one point: the modern rules of war were developed by soldiers along with politicians and others, based on what had worked in keeping conflicts as limited in time and space as possible while still accomplishing their goals. The idea that it's desirable to have boundaries to one's conduct that are known publicly in advance and held to even when they're inconvenient is an idea popular among those who make war as well as among those who contribute to it from outside the military hierarchy. The enthusiasm for unbounded brutality, on the other hand, is almost purely a civilian wish, held by people who haven't and won't have to do the fighting themselves and who have the liberty of tuning out attention to the costs in lives, morale, well-being, popular resistance, and the like, as well as physical assets, or who just plain never looked at the details of how the rules still held by other industrialized nations came to be.

Outstanding posts Bruce. I hope I can remember that argument next time I'm talking to some rightwinger who thinks the Geneva conventions are quaint.

--The enthusiasm for unbounded brutality, on the other hand, is almost purely a civilian wish, held by people who haven't and won't have to do the fighting themselves...

The people who threw out the rules are the ones who ARE doing the fighting on the other side. When you have one side drilling into hands and burning skin and gouging out eyes, how can you say they are following the rules of war?

By the way, I was just musing out loud, but didn't really expect to be called a fool for trying to hash out a few thoughts in public.

John, in the first place, much of what you're talking about with regard to our opponents is the work either of a small group of people, or deliberate lies and distortions by people seeking war for their own ends. (Recall, for instance, the stories of Iraqis dumping babies out of incubators in Kuwait, or for that matter the original hoopla over Pvt. Jessica Lynch.) Insofar as bad stuff really happened, though...

We aren't fighting a war at this point, in the sense that we are engaged against the armed forces of an organized nation-state. That ended mere weeks after it began. Nor are we fighting a revolt of people historically under our rule. We are occupying another nation and attempting to push and/or pull it into a state of something approximating peace. Occupation, internal revolt, and war all call for different kinds of strategy. In one sense they all have the same overall goal, of removing the opposition's will and ability to fight (and as Sun Tzu noted, the highest victory in war is the one that requires no bloodshed). In occupation, one of two things is necessary: either to win the support of enough of the local population that those who want to fight are isolated and neutralized, or to convince the locals that we are so powerful and so brutal that resistance is useless. You're talking about the second of this.

But it doesn't work.

In particular, note that the Soviet Union never managed it. The moment any signs of weakness appeared in the Kremlin's willingness to bloodily suppress dissent, resistance appeared first in Poland and then elsewhere. China can't keep Tibetan determination to be independent down. Heck, Vietnam spent a thousand years as the possession of one nation or another, and resistance kept up. So one obvious early question should be, what do you think we know now that that the Soviets didn't and the Chinese don't?

But really, the first question when you find yourself asking something like "How about more brutality?" really should be "Um, wait a minute, have I thought this through and done some homework before bringing it up in public?" Definitions of torture almost always involve phrases like "shocking to the conscience", and if we find ourselves not being shocked and not feeling compelled to exhaust less abhorrent measures first, then we should take this as a sign of moral numbness and a problem to be worked on. American civic discourse makes it easy to be glib about other people's suffering, but that just means that we individually have to do some more work to keep our consciences alive and healthy and well-exercised.

There is, to the best of my knowledge, no argument for increased brutality of the occupation of Iraq that deals either with the details of Iraqi life and history or with the general history of occupations. I say this with that qualifier because I have done my homework, but homework is never complete. If there were reason to believe that brutality could conceivably work, I'd have to prepare a more detailed argumet against it. But at the outset, it doesn't work, hasn't worked, and won't work - it's being advocated for reasons other than the expectation of success by those who actually hold power, and they are exploiting the good will of others to support pointless evil.

Oh, yeah, another addendum.

I do admit to being some mix of skeptical and hostile to the sort of question you're asking, John, for a simple reason of history. It's 2007. We've been at war for half a decade. There's been talk about it. It's been in the paprs and everything.

Now, admittedly, there's first time for everyone. I have a friend who's about to turn 17 and who's asking a lot of these questions for the first time as friends of hers a year or two older who joined the Army are about to get shipped over to Iraq. It is a freshly immediate subject for her. If you're also still young, or have been isolated from general society by illness, immediate distractions (I'm thinking here of the extent to which grief after my father's death distracted me from most news for a year-plus), and like that, then I very sincerely apologize. I should have thought more about the wide range of reasons people might be fresh to thoughts of how it's good for the US to make war and acknowledged them up front.

But if you haven't been outside the flow in that kind of way, then it just seems awfully late in the day to be musing now, without looking at what's actually going on, how it's justified, and like that. And when it comes to advocating more brutality, then it seems like in the face of a million dead and two to five million refugees, the shattered infrastructure, the complete collapse of viable central authority, and all the rest, "How much brutality were you thinking of?"

I enjoy reading people who muse publicly about the need for more brutality, especially when they get all huffy because people cast unkind aspersions on their good sense. It's a harsh rhetorical world out there and sometimes when you advocate violations of the laws of war, people's feelings get hurt. Blog discussions are hell, as Sherman once said. Perhaps we shouldn't be allowed to hide behind trees and snark at people.

I also wonder about the logical connection between the notion that the Revolution was won by Americans who hid behind trees and shot at the stodgy conventional British forces (a myth, from what I've read) and the notion that we should be more brutal. Evidently John thinks that rules governing brutality are just conventions to be flouted by people who like to think outside the box. I blame Clint Eastwood's earlier movies for this.

However, on one point I will disagree slightly with Bruce, or put it differently. Those who murder with power tools (who Bill above seems to think only he knows about) are undoubtedly a small minority of Iraqis, but I would guess a significant fraction of the insurgents and militias commit war crimes of one sort or another. It is hard to know for sure, though, since some of the insurgents say they are just against the occupation and don't favor attacks on civilians. I suspect, though, that they consider attacks on those they think are collaborators are justified. I know of the statistics which say that the vast majority of attacks are directed at US forces and not Iraqi civilians, but I don't know that I believe these numbers, since I also think the true death toll is probably much higher than Iraq Body Count's. There are probably a lot of acts of violence against civilians which aren't counted. (Possibly including some by Americans.)

Having flogged the living hell out of revolutionary analogies back in late 03 and 04, I have to jump in on this one too. The Brits didn't lose because they fought in a more civilized way. Read up on South Carolina and New Jersey, for example, if you want.

They lost because the expense (they didn't care as much about the lives of soldiers then) became unbearable, and because no viable strategy could be found that would reconcile people here to foreign domination. They tried several, chasing around the ideas of being greeted as liberators hither and yon, having Loyalist awakenings in this, that, and the other place, finding in each case that it was simply never enough to get people to settle down and just take it.

Shock and awe didn't work, taking the enemy capital didn't work, defeating the enemy army in battle after battle didn't work, changing the 'central front' to ground thouhgt more favorable didn't work.

Now, no one can know how long the thing would have gone without the intervention on our side of the other superpower. (Which, by the way, was the occasion for plenty of rhetoric, since that other superpower had been the common enemy not long before -- to the point that tolerance of some customs in territory conquered from the superpower was a grievance listed in the Declaration).

The idea that more brutality in Iraq would work is truly mind-boggling, though. Everywhere we go, the situation is more or less the same: Kill my enemies, and then get out. Our aim, though, is that no one faction becomes dominant, but they live together in a benevolent world of ethnic and regional non-violent checks and balances. With us there to police it and maintain a presence in the region for its strategic value.

How many people do you think we have to kill before Iraq will accept our message of non-violence?

How many people do you think we have to kill before Iraq will accept our message of non-violence?

Or, as I think cleek put it, we will continue killing your friends and relatives until you love us.

Don't expect any silence anytime soon! Utter surrender is the objective.

Why do these guys always sound just like Marvin?

Must… resist. Not. Gonna. Doit.

They will continue to call out those like Hilzoy and Katherine that do more to support the cause of terrorism than our troops.

Our troops support the cause of terrorism?

"Third, this bill meets our commitment to America's Armed Forces by preparing them to meet the threats of tomorrow. Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

This is in response to your previous post. If you want to understand why the Dem base is so angry, read Matt Yglesias today, or any of Digby's columns. This isn't about vote numbers, it's about playing into the opponents' hands over and over again. They say it much better than I can.

No retraction at all? Be serious.

The guy's an employee writer, talking to his editor. When the employee announces, as Beauchamp does repeatedly, that he's going to treat his boss like any other media outlet from now on, despite veiled threats by Foer against his and his wife's careers, that's the functional equivalent of quitting.

The writer will always stand by their story. Stephen Glass still probably stands by hers. Hell, so does Judy Miller. But when one starts pointedly refusing to give his employers even the time of day rather than assist with fact-checking his own work, there's no reason for those editors (or anyone else) to give him the slightest credence on the issue at hand.

John Snape would do well to research George Washington's statements on how British and Hessian prisoners should be treated (particularly compared to how the British treated captured "rebels") before presenting his somewhat half-baked thoughts.

I don't know where the idea came from that I want any more violence at all. If I could wave my hand and everyone involved would drop their weapons right now and walk away, I'd be joyous. It tears me up at any fighting.

My whole reason of musing out loud was to get thoughts of how we could engage an enemy who refuses to follow any rules at all.

I hate violence, whether physical or verbal or whatever, and am at a quandry as to what can be done.

I don't watch the news continuously, and find it hard to watch when I do. I also don't read blogs on a daily basis, although I did read the publius blog before occasionally, and came here when that one was closed. I haven't spent years hashing through these things, I've had my own problems to worry about before international situations could take precedence. I guess they are all half-baked thoughts, but only because I've spent little time on them, and just recently could afford the luxury of exploring them.

I apologize if I caused any trouble.

My whole reason of musing out loud was to get thoughts of how we could engage an enemy who refuses to follow any rules at all.

You're right, fighting the folks we're fighting right now presents a real challenge. I'll offer a couple of reasons why throwing off our own adherence to rules is not the way to go.

First, it's destructive of the ends we want to achieve. Our goal is not simply to reduce Iraq or Afghanistan to a bloody heap of smoking rubble. We want to leave behind viable societies, with whom we have good relations. That's the party line, anyway. Engaging in brutal, no-holds-barred, whatever-it-takes tactics doesn't create that result.

Second, if we want to approach things like barbarians, we actually have to be barbarians. Or, rather, the folks who we ask to go and fight for us have to do so. Their job is tough enough without that. If they are able to fight under clear, reasonable rules of engagement, when the war is over they are that much more likely to be able to come home and get on with their lives without going insane.

Finally, I'll point out that we've already tried our hand at coloring outside the lines a bit, and it hasn't done us, or anyone, much good.

Thanks -

"First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along."

Alexander von Humboldt


Sounds like you guys are on step #2.

Grasshopper (John Snape):

The enemy (enemies, actually) in Iraq follow rules, procedures, and conventions in their operations. They don't happen to be ours, however, which is why we are having trouble fighting them.

The trick is to try and learn what these rules, procedures, and conventions are, and to explore how to exploit their weaknesses, while still using the resources in which we have a massive superiority.

Example:

If the information is to be believed, one of the factors that led the Sunni clans in Anbar to turn against Al Qaeda was the latter's attempts to form alliances by marriage into the clans. Apparently this was the custom in Afghanistan, but not in Iraq.

Go forth and learn...

Not to belabor the Beauchamp thing, but I'd be interested to hear the ObWi take on Michael Yon and Jeff Emmanuel's follow-ups.

dkilmer:

I was going to stay out of this, but I was quite impressed when I read Yon’s post on both Beauchamp’s and his unit’s response to all this. My Aug 4 prediction was way off and I couldn’t be happier about that:

To clarify – unit cohesion and teamwork are a high priority. You might think you know what peer pressure is, but you may not realize the scope of what this guy is going through right now. He is likely ostracized by the people he has to work with every day. His squad leader, platoon sergeant, First Sergeant, and CO are likely all quite pissed at him. He probably can’t function where he is, but a transfer to another unit won’t help much because his reputation will certainly precede him.

The guy is done, and I expect a transfer stateside or Germany to a quiet out of the way place.

You know my opinions on what he did, but the punishment will not fit the crime. He is toast. So I won’t be among those exulting at this new “scalp” collected by the right-o-sphere.


His entire unit right up to the battalion commander really impressed me with how they appear to have handled him.

More importantly - Beauchamp is showing a lot of character here. To the extent that I questioned his character before I regret that and I apologize for it. Everyone makes mistakes. Not many “man-up” like this.

Kudos Pvt. Beauchamp and while I still question your judgment in all this I now have a lot of respect for you and I apologize for questioning your character and integrity.

"More importantly - Beauchamp is showing a lot of character here."

To his squad and service.

To his wife and employer, and to the ethics of journalism, perhaps not so much, though I don't regard myself as having remotely sufficient knowledge to actually judge.

Gary: I presumed to have the knowledge to judge. That knowledge is decades out of date and never involved a combat zone. I was wrong.

On his employer and journalism, my opinion has not changed. On his wife, that is between them. On Beauchamp – I now respect and admire him. He stepped up in a huge way. I want you to be first in line to remind me if I stray this way again.

"On his employer and journalism, my opinion has not changed."

Could you remind me/us? Do you feel that he's behaved honorably towards his employer, and been honorable in his treatment of the ethics of journalism?

Would you consider honoring the tenets of ethical journalism less of a moral obligation than being loyal to your squad? Do you consider blowing off your wife when she says something is "the most important thing in the world" to her, less of a moral obligation than being loyal to your squad?

Mind, I'm not asking you to judge this soldier; I'm not asking that. I'm asking purely abstract questions, without regard to this guy, that have arisen out of his situation. I don't know of any relevant distinction between what we know about him and his squad, and what we know about him and his employer and him and his wife: it's all in one tape.

However, if you do judge that he stepped up to his moral obligations to his squadmates, and to serving, by what measure do you fail to evaluate how he did or did not step up to his moral obligations to ethical journalism, his editors, and his wife?

Offhand, and I'm not judging, if we take the tape and what's known at face value, it would seem fair to praise him for stepping up to one, which was apparently clearly done by betraying the other two.

But if it seems different to you, I'd like to understand how. Honor doesn't just apply to one corner of one's life.

Not as I understand it, at any rate.

Gary: Ugh. (No – not you Ugh.)

On the topic of his employer: I’ve always had a problem with what they did. They were wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

Journalism ethics? I don’t think they ever applied here. Him, his wife, or his employer. All wrong.

Would you consider honoring the tenets of ethical journalism less of a moral obligation than being loyal to your squad?

To be honest -squad comes first, no doubt.

Do you consider blowing off your wife when she says something is "the most important thing in the world" to her, less of a moral obligation than being loyal to your squad?

Tougher of course, but there is no evidence that was what happened. I can tell you truthfully that I have blown off my wife for my squad. There was hell to pay.

However, if you do judge that he stepped up to his moral obligations to his squadmates, and to serving, by what measure do you fail to evaluate how he did or did not step up to his moral obligations to ethical journalism, his editors, and his wife?

“do you fail to evaluate”

Hmm. Isn’t that a bit loaded?

He was playing at journalism. I can’t question his marriage, nor would I. TNR screwed up here.

I thought he was done for. Instead the Army apparently did great by him. He sucked it up and soldiered on. That sounds quaint. That means a LOT.

Essay questions? That’s rough dude.

"On the topic of his employer: I’ve always had a problem with what they did. They were wrong, wrong, and wrong again."

Forgive me, but I'm not sure you understand what I'm asking. I'm not even sure what you're referring to, but I'm sure it wasn't what I was asking about.

Writers and their editors, editors and their writers, have obligations to each other. I don't know how much or little you know about this, as I'm not under the impression you have any experience with professional writing or editing, or the ethics thereof, or of journalism and publishing.

Perhaps I should first ask how much or little you do know about this subject: so, consider yourself asked.

Then I'd ask what you know about the obligations a journalist or nonfiction writer owes to their editor and publisher to be: a) honest in dealing with their editor/publisher about their work; b) to fulfil their contract, which called for them to supply such and such work of such and such nature?

Then I'd ask how seriously you: a) weigh these ethics and obligations yourself; b) believe non-fiction writers/journalists, and editors, weigh them themselves; and c) both questions again in relation to how soldiers weigh their obligations to each other and their service.

Then we can come back to this.

"Journalism ethics? I don’t think they ever applied here."

See, that makes no sense whatever to me. Journalistic ethics apply wherever there is journalism, of course. Either the people involved fulfill their various, sometimes conflicting, ethical obligations, or they do not. They're never not present. That makes no sense to me.

"Him, his wife, or his employer. All wrong."

Sorry, I need a verb. What does "Him, his wife, or his employer" mean"? What's "all wrong"?

"To be honest -squad comes first, no doubt."

Ah. Then don't ever agree to be a journalist. If you do, you need to take it exactly as seriously, to do a truly respectable job.

"Tougher of course, but there is no evidence that was what happened."

I don't follow: all you and know here is what was said in those transcripts. That's the only "evidence." We know that he didn't do what his wife said, according to the transcript, according to Foer, was "the most important thing in the world to me."

That thing was to defend the accuracy of his writing. He didn't do that. What "evidence" that he didn't do that do you feel is not in evidence?

As I said, I'm not judging: I know far too little. I can ask logical questions about how we can evaluate what we know, though, and the answers have to be consistent to make sense.

That's very easy, given how short the transcripts are, fortunately.

"Hmm. Isn’t that a bit loaded?"

Not that I can see. I'm simply asking you to be consistent in what you choose to evaluate.

"He was playing at journalism. I can’t question his marriage, nor would I."

But didn't you just say you were questioning all sorts of other stuff (I'm kinda vague what) he allegedly did by writing? I completely don't understand what algorithim you're using to say what you do and don't judge, do and don't evaluate. What's the consistent standard?

Not, mind, that you have to explain yourself to me, of course. But I am just trying to make sense of what you're saying, you know, and that's all.

Anyway, you seem to have been praising him unreservedly for his "character," and my tentative point was that "character" consists of more than how one behaves with one's squadmates and one's buddies, and one's service obligations, important as those all are. It equally consists of how you behave in regard to your professional ethics -- in this case, as a journalist, which he was trying to be -- your obligations in regards to your professional colleagues in your profession (the folks at TNR), and how you behave to your spouse.

I don't know anything about the latter, beyond the quoted statement of the wife, and Beauchamp's obvious non-fulfillment of it, but it seems clear that he completely screwed the folks at TNR. I don't know the details, so it's possible that they were guilty of worse than being screwed by someone they offered a big opportunity to, but I'm not familiar with such guilt. You're welcome to point me to a sane and credible account of such guilt, from someone who knows what they're talking about in regard to how magazines function. Or you can try to explain yourself, if you prefer. Or not at all, of course. I really should watch a couple of these movies here. :-)

I understand your questions Gary – but:

This was my apology to Beauchamp, and to those who thought I was slandering him a few months ago.

Can we leave it at this?

I am sorry Pvt. Beauchamp. I was wrong.

End.

I'd be curious what you think of this, OCSteve, actually, since you seem to be critical of TNR, if you might care to say at your leisure. And if not, not.

Otherwise, sure, I won't repeat what I already asked.

I was somewhat amused, though unsurprised, by the way, to see Matt Yglesias (not-the-only-Matt ;-)) make the same observation I made above (not including his last clause):

[...] I continue to be baffled by the way the conservative press and blogosphere, along with some elements of the Army, seem determined to treat TNR as driven by some kind of hardline anti-war ideology. The magazine supported the war, as best I can tell supports continuing the war, and in the one instance where clear and direct evidence has emerged that one aspect of the story was false, they issued a correction promptly.
That's what's so hilarious: watching all these people going on about the "liberal New Republica."

Poor TNR; they're kinda out there alone, in the past decade or two, regarded mostly as extremists of the other side by much of both sides.

But as Matt notes, it's still a more pro-war magazine than not, so if Malkin and co. want to discredit Marty Peretz's vehicle, really, who am I to object? Why would any anti-war person do anything other than cheer?

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