Dolchstolegende

by Henry on June 8, 2004

Pejman Yousefzadeh has a Flack Central Station piece that is quite remarkably at odds with the facts, even by Yousefzadeh’s usual standards. He criticizes Matt Yglesias’ comparison of warbloggers with German purveyors of the “Stab in the Back” legend, arguing that if Matt is not “actually accusing those who are critiquing the media of being Nazis, he is accusing them of stealing a page out of the Nazi playbook.”

Update: German spelling correction following comments

Matt quite reasonably responds that he’s not making any comparisons whatsoever with the Nazis, and is instead

charging people with charging defeatest elements on the home front with being the main cause of American difficulties in Iraq. Since the people in question do, indeed, believe that defeatest elements on the home front are the main cause of difficulties in America’s Iraq policy, I don’t know what wrong with that.

Matt’s right on the facts. According to Detlev Peukert’s classic The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity, the “Stab in the Back” legend didn’t originate with the Nazis. Quoting from p.68

Even before the end of 1918, and especially during the first months of 1919, as the Räte movement was being bloodily put down, the forces of counter-revolution began to regroup, taking up arms as Freikorps and neighbourhood militias. In the course of 1919 the Dolchstoßlegende and the revanchist campaign against the ‘shame of Versailles’ crystallized as the key articles of faith – along with hatred of the revolution – of the movement’s ideology, embraced not only by counter-revolutionary activists but by a very large body of sympathizers. The Dolchstoßlegende, the myth that the Social Democratic, liberal and Catholic Centre politicians and the Räte movement had betrayed the ‘unvanquished’ front-line army, was given additional ideological respectability by inflammatory statements from Hindenburg and Ludendorff, despite the fact that it was the two generals themselves who had told the democratic politicians, virtually overnight, to sue for peace in 1918.

Yousefzadeh doesn’t know his history. The Dolchstoßlegende didn’t originate with the Nazis – it originated with the conservatives who wanted to repeal the Weimar constitutional revolution, and recreate the militaristic, Prussia-dominated political system that Weimar had replaced. The NSDAP later took the idea up – but so too did other elements on the right. As Matt says, this may put Glenn Reynolds and his cronies in some rather disreputable company, but that’s not Matt’s fault. The comparison that Matt draws between the warbloggers’ rhetoric and the myths being touted about in Germany just after WWI is both striking and historically appropriate.

{ 61 comments }

1

Marc Mulholland 06.08.04 at 11:34 am

Friedrich Ebert (SPD Chancellor)foolishly gave inadvertant credit to the myth as he greeted German soldiers at the Brandenburger Tor:

“As you return unconquered from the field of battle, I salute you.”
(11 December 1918).

2

Robert Lyman 06.08.04 at 11:36 am

Are warbloggers really saying that the “main cause of American difficulties in Iraq” is defeatist elements at home? I’ve never understood anyone to be saying that (although a link or two might change my mind). Such a claim is absurd on it’s face; no amount of hot air from Ted Kennedy can cause a bomb to explode in Baghdad (although it might encourage the bombers, but that’s quite different).

What I’ve understood people to be saying is that only defeatism at home can cause cause defeat in Iraq. In other words, the “insurgents” aren’t strong enough, and only domestic pressure leading to an early withdrawal can accomplish it.

That’s a strikingly different claim, and one which doesn’t seem to correspond well with the German example (which was, after all, about literal subversion).

3

Robert Lyman 06.08.04 at 11:37 am

I should add that my argument doesn’t mitigate Pejman’s ignorance or indignation.

4

Scott Martens 06.08.04 at 11:46 am

Robert – I can’t think of a link from the recent unpleasantness off the top of my head – probably because I don’t usually hand around that part of the web – but as a general indication of the thinking of a part of the American right, you’ll find an American restatement of the Dolchenstoßlegende in every single Tom Clancy novel I’ve read.

5

Robert Lyman 06.08.04 at 12:08 pm

Please elaborate scott–Clancy can’t possibly have been making that assertion about Iraq, so it must have been Vietnam, right?

But just because the Germans were wrong about it in 1918 doesn’t automatically make Americans wrong about it in 1973 or after.

6

Raymond 06.08.04 at 12:22 pm

What Pejman is saying is that there’s no perspective or sense of proportionality in the reporting regarding iraq.

Look, Pejman deserves criticism for missing the big picture. This is about class warfare, pure and simple. Those in the american military are primarily middle-class, christian, and hetero. Those on the left (including around %85 of the media) are affluent and effete, the natural class enemy of those serving in the military.

Watch how the leftists get more and more hysterical this week regarding reagan’s death. They know that they were on the wrong side during the cold war and are again on the wrong side in the war on terror. Leftists know that they cannot allow a victory in iraq, no matter what. Therefore the standards for victory keep changing.

Its just about the little rich girls of the west whining as they watch the poor kids change the world for the better.

7

belle 06.08.04 at 12:31 pm

Raymond appears to believe that the Democrats are the party of the rich, and that they are engaged in class warfare against the poor, who are ably represented by Republicans. Glad we cleared that up.

8

Sandals 06.08.04 at 12:34 pm

So Raymond, what’s the standard of victory in Iraq? Let’s tick off some of the standards of victory:

-Defeating a threat to American security. Definitely uncheck- Terrorism is on the rise and no WMDs were found.

-Defeating Islamic fundamentalism. As the spectre of an Iranian-style theocracy looms ever larger, I think I can call this an uncheck.

-Creating a stable Iraq. Need I say more?

-Creating a democratic Iraq which will topple various repressive regimes in the Middle East. Nope, not there, and at this rate, won’t be. Recall that the Admin’s chief democratic hatchet-man for Iraq was Ahmed Chalabi.

Amazing how the incredibly well-funded Republican Party who counts most corporate boardrooms amongst its adherents can still whine about rich liberals. Please. Unless you really think the poor kids are the ones maxing out their contributions.

9

Zak Catem 06.08.04 at 12:35 pm

Raymond, while every word you say is true, it’s all completely irrelevant. As you’ve said, we on the left control all the wealth in America, and we will continue to dominate the government and give ourselves massive tax cuts and arts grants. We will do this at the expense of the honest middle-class Americans who are too dumb to vote against our candidates, and we will send their sons to fight and die in foreign wars so we can drive around in Ford Explorers, mocking them and groping their daughters. What are you going to do about it, tough guy?

10

Sandals 06.08.04 at 12:44 pm

So Raymond, what’s the standard of victory in Iraq? Let’s tick off some of the standards of victory:

-Defeating a threat to American security. Definitely uncheck- Terrorism is on the rise and no WMDs were found.

-Defeating Islamic fundamentalism. As the spectre of an Iranian-style theocracy looms ever larger, I think I can call this an uncheck.

-Creating a stable Iraq. Need I say more?

-Creating a democratic Iraq which will topple various repressive regimes in the Middle East. Nope, not there, and at this rate, won’t be. Recall that the Admin’s chief democratic hatchet-man for Iraq was Ahmed Chalabi.

If you have any more, please share them.

And Raymond, Please. Maybe you should check which party has been out-fundraising and pleasing more corporations than the other. Unless you really think the poor kids are the ones maxing out on their contributions.

Anyways… If you were really paranoid, you could find “stab-in-the-back” threads running through most (conservative) fiction. But, I think it’s going a little far. For example, if you were to read John Ringo’s work, you could draw the same conclusions, especially from his Bolo book. But really- a united front is comforting and attractive, but in many ways it makes for poor fiction. Granted, though, the only Clancy books I’ve read lately are the none-fiction ones. Asking writers to completely eliminate such possible controversies is impractical and unreasonable.

11

Scott Martens 06.08.04 at 12:44 pm

Robert, Clancy felt (or perhaps feels) that domestic liberals were betraying America in the Cold War, then in the War on Drugs and finally the War on Terrorism. He actually portrayed them as stooges for Moscow in one novel. I don’t remember if he made comparable complaints about Vietnam, but I stopped reading his novels after I realised that each one was going to end with the hero’s bitter discovery that he can’t shoot the treasonous liberals responsible for America’s weakness.

And Raymond is proof positive that the Tom Clancy worldview has more than enough willing suckers in America. Good lord! Belgian politics is unsavoury enough, but at least it isn’t built on quite such patent falsehoods.

12

Marc 06.08.04 at 12:46 pm

Dolchstoßlegende!!

13

q 06.08.04 at 12:47 pm

Poor old Matthew – a target again!

On a historical note, the USA has not been defeated, whereas Germany in 1918 was defeated.

Is the situation today more like Germany in 1914/1915 when the imperialists were still in power. Maybe the real “stab-in-the-back” campaign will come if the USA is forced out of the Middle East altogether and Israel is made to shrink or disband.

Agadir 1911 was the great humiliation of the German nation which drove the warmongers. Maybe 11 September 2001 was the equivalent step for the USA.

14

Raymond 06.08.04 at 1:17 pm

Well…look at congress. 8 of the 10 richest are democrats. They just generally don’t earn their money. Look, when I refer to liberals as the effete and affluent in our society, I’m not including the basket-case underclass. I’m referring to the elites. Liberals tend to be wealthy, its a fact. Wealth insulates them from the effects of their policies.

I know several soldiers serving over there right now and they deserve soooooooo much better than they are getting from the media. The Iraq invasion will take a couple more years to declare a victory or defeat.

History will reward those with vision and determination. Someday the lefties can tell their grandchildren about how much energy they spent whining about a whole range of issues, accomplishing nothing (except saving some whales).

Why not give it a rest and let things shake out in iraq. Life is good in america and getting better every day. Why not give our soldiers the credit they deserve instead of holding them to impossible standards, a war is not the same thing as an afternoon at the local bathhouse.

15

q 06.08.04 at 1:26 pm

Hmmm … either you are “rich” or “basket-case underclass”

“History will reward those with vision and determination.”

raymond – prove that you are not someone doing a spoof!

16

mg 06.08.04 at 1:28 pm

Look, when I refer to liberals as the effete and affluent in our society, I’m not including the basket-case underclass. I’m referring to the elites.

So, are you saying that rich liberals are rich? Got any evidence? ‘Cause I don’t believe it for a moment.

17

Zak Catem 06.08.04 at 1:33 pm

Actually, I have to pull you up on that “effete” crack, Raymond. Many of the wealthy liberals I know are big hairy men with gruff voices who like to wrestle each other in secret places in the woods. On the other hand, all the young conservatives I’ve ever met have been the sort of boys who cry at the end of Hugh Grant movies, and don’t get sports. And they’re always telling me about all the books they’ve read. Who reads books? Yeesh.

18

bob mcmanus 06.08.04 at 2:16 pm

Look, Conservatives have often used this method of blaming the press and liberal elite for their failures. It goes as far back as Spiro Agnew. As far back as Socrates.

The only interesting difference this time is that this crew are Nazis.

19

jdw 06.08.04 at 2:20 pm

_Well…look at congress. 8 of the 10 richest are democrats. They just generally don’t earn their money._

Damn affirmative action, is what it is.

20

Kriston 06.08.04 at 2:23 pm

Why not give our soldiers the credit they deserve instead of holding them to impossible standards, a war is not the same thing as an afternoon at the local bathhouse.

‘Cause, you know, if you’re not fighting as a soldier, you’re probably a queer.

21

Kriston 06.08.04 at 2:25 pm

…exactly the sort of nefarious leftist elements that are negating our war effort by holding them to impossible standards.

22

bob mcmanus 06.08.04 at 2:43 pm

Jim Henley of “Unqualified Offerings” has an epiphany:

“They represent a deadly danger to the American system and they are multiple. It’s not one guy somewhere, it’s a movement. Until the Republican Party roots them out, that Party is the enemy, not just of libertarians, but of anyone who values individual freedom and republican government.”

Henley

23

Walt Pohl 06.08.04 at 3:37 pm

Raymond, that was the best troll post I’ve seen in months. Kudos to you, my good man, kudos!

24

Matt Weiner 06.08.04 at 5:57 pm

Robert said, “Are warbloggers really saying that the ‘main cause of American difficulties in Iraq’ is defeatist elements at home? I’ve never understood anyone to be saying that (although a link or two might change my mind).”
Glad to oblige. Here’s a link from Instapundit, at the time of the Fallujah battles:
USEFUL FOOLS says that Ted Kennedy is trying for a Tet rerun, with help from the media and Iraqi extremists. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
UPDATE: Dave Johnson says the terrorists have launched a “Ted” offensive.

I think the first one is definitely toying with the idea that Kennedy is the main cause of the problems in Iraq–I mean, first he says that Kennedy is trying for the US’s defeat with help from Iraqi extremists? And the second link directly attributes the Fallujah attacks to Kennedy.

25

pepi 06.08.04 at 6:42 pm

Are warbloggers really saying that the “main cause of American difficulties in Iraq” is defeatist elements at home? I’ve never understood anyone to be saying that (…) What I’ve understood people to be saying is that only defeatism at home can cause cause defeat in Iraq.

Erm, and how exactly are those two statements different? come on..

“no amount of hot air from Ted Kennedy can cause a bomb to explode in Baghdad (although it might encourage the bombers, but that’s quite different)”

Again, I just don’t see the difference.

It’s not just the warbloggers, it’s the mantra of the Bush worshippers. And not just in the US.

I was thinking about that too, whenever I hear of how it’s the “liberal media”, protesters, democrats, Amnesty, you name it that are harming the waronterror, it’s just so the typical dictatorial propaganda mentality. I’m more reminded of Mussolini’s speeches than the nazis actually. Not that there’s a big difference. But the fascists were somehow rather, um, colourful. They had propaganda reels and posters blaming the media (and communists, of course) for whatever military fuckup Mussolini had got the army into, from Africa to Russia…

I’m not making any comparisons either or labelling anyone a fascist. It’s just amazing how, when the patriotism accelerator is pushed with a ton of rhetorical force, the resulting memes can be so similar even in a democracy. At least, at the level of language.

26

Andrew Reeves 06.08.04 at 7:02 pm

Let me speak up in defense of the accusation that negative media coverage damages a war effort. If media coverage of a war has an underlying tone of “We must and will win this war, no matter what the cost,” then when high casualties, a botched operation, etc. are reported, the reporting is made from a perspective of seeking to fight a war more efficiently. If, OTOH, the underlying tone is one of “Maybe there’s a chance that this war is a bad idea,” then a botched operation, things going wrong, etc. are going to be reported not as inspiration to do better in order to win, but to question whether or not we should be fighting the war at all.

If you report on an event like the storming of Tarawa or the Tet Offensive (or any sort of high casualty occurence), the subtext to the story will make a great deal of difference to the overall result of the reporting.

27

pepi 06.08.04 at 7:36 pm

Look, when I refer to liberals as the effete and affluent in our society, I’m not including the basket-case underclass. I’m referring to the elites. Liberals tend to be wealthy, its a fact. Wealth insulates them from the effects of their policies.

One of the fascist posters I saw in a book had a well-dressed man eating a full dinner, with a soldier behind him looking on disapprovingly – and the slogan: “If you eat too much, you’re betraying your country!”. The recurring meme was that the wealthier classes — who indeed for Mussolini were always either Jews or intellectuals or liberals (communists, back then) or all three rolled into one, and who didn’t cheer and clap along to the glorious military adventures of the Duce, as opposed to that hardcore working class fanbase he had successfully fed his propaganda to — weren’t getting that _there was a war going on_. They were too detached and spoilt and well-fed to be truly patriotic and understand the meaning of military sacrifice.

Just saying. No comparison of course. Just one of those things like when a song reminds you of another older one.

… hang on a minute, though. If “wealth insulates” politicians from their policies, what happens to Dick Cheney and George Bush and the rest of them?

Oh I get it. It’s got to be a rule that applies to liberals only. Mais oui. I am so stupid, why do I even ask.

(“Basket-case underclass”, wow. I want that on a car sticker. If I had a car.)

28

DJW 06.08.04 at 8:28 pm

Wow, this guy’s response is something. Many, many words on what an idiot Harry is. And he presents as evidence the media is underreporting good news an editorial written by (I hope you’re sitting down….) a DEMOCRAT! Well if a Democrat says it, it must be true.

29

Dan 06.08.04 at 9:02 pm

If media coverage of a war has an underlying tone of “We must and will win this war, no matter what the cost,” then when high casualties, a botched operation, etc. are reported, the reporting is made from a perspective of seeking to fight a war more efficiently. If, OTOH, the underlying tone is one of “Maybe there’s a chance that this war is a bad idea,” then a botched operation, things going wrong, etc. are going to be reported not as inspiration to do better in order to win, but to question whether or not we should be fighting the war at all.

Well there you have it. It’s perfectly clear to me now. The role of the media in any war, even if that war is opposed by a significant portion of the population, and even if there are justifiable reasons to question the rationale for the war, is to wave the flag and chant “We must win this war at all costs.” Journalists of the world, take note of your new role: propagandist for the war makers. After all, who needs facts?

30

Norm Jenson 06.08.04 at 9:03 pm

A typical Pejman response another straw man, and of course the predictable you’re dumb I’m smart rhetoric.

31

Andrew Reeves 06.08.04 at 9:17 pm

No, Dan, I did not say that it is the duty of the press to get behind a war. What I said in response to the assertion that media coverage has little to do with how a war turns out was that if the media is questioning the war’s essential rightness or winability (whether or not the war in actuality is right or wrong, winnable or unwinnable), then reporting *can* influence the outcome of a war. There was no recommendation for one approach or the other. I take it from your impassioned response that you do believe the media can (and has a duty to) convince the public in a democracy to end a war in progress.

32

Matthew Ryan 06.08.04 at 9:30 pm

Are warbloggers really saying that the “main cause of American difficulties in Iraq” is defeatist elements at home? I’ve never understood anyone to be saying that (…) What I’ve understood people to be saying is that only defeatism at home can cause cause defeat in Iraq.

Erm, and how exactly are those two statements different? come on..

————————

You don’t see any difference between “day to day difficulties” and “defeat in Iraq”? Come on ;-)

Day to day difficulties in Iraq can be overcome but what cannot be overcome is a loss of faith in the mission at home.

The press never had faith in the mission (34% self described liberals afterall) so the bad news-good news balance should hardly be a surprise.

33

JP 06.08.04 at 10:15 pm

Heh. Liberals are the party of wealth because eight of the ten richest Congressmen are Democrats. Anyone ever heard of sample size? Do we need to bring Rob Neyer on to regulate these boards for statistical idiocy?

The funniest thing is that, if anything, the reason why the Democrats have had to run so many millionaires is that the party has been so poor in comparison to the corporate-funded GOP. So the DNC has actively had to root around for rich individual Dems who don’t need party assistance. Hopefully, internet donations will change all of that in the near future, but there it is. Obviously, sample size is a factor here too so it isn’t conclusive, but if anything, Raymond’s own data suggests that it’s the GOP that is the party of the rich, as we knew all along.

34

JP 06.08.04 at 10:30 pm

To add to Matthew Ryan’s comment:

Are warbloggers really saying that the “main cause of American difficulties in Iraq” is defeatist elements at home? I’ve never understood anyone to be saying that (…) What I’ve understood people to be saying is that only defeatism at home can cause cause defeat in Iraq.

Well, that second thing is exactly what the German right was saying back in the 1920s too, so what’s your point?

35

Robert Lyman 06.08.04 at 10:43 pm

Matt, I think you’re reaching a little with the Reynolds quote–Kennedy is using, not causing, the difficulties. And the other quote seems to say that Iraqi bombers are relying on Ted to hype their deeds, not that Ted is literally responsible. But there’s some room for different interpretations.

Scott, I understand what you mean now. But you still haven’t explained why you think Clancy is obviously wrong. From where I sit, domestic liberals were a major obstacle to fighting the Cold War; maybe that’s true of the other wars you mention. There is no principle of logic that says it is impossible for a “stab in the back” hypothisis to be correct.

And Dan, once we’re at war, the only goal for the nation should be to win it. I was lukewarm on action in Bosnia and Kosovo, but I think the obsessive Republican focus on “exit strategies” was stupid. You leave after you win. Period. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the domestic press adopt that attitude rather than a defeatist, hyperperfectionist, goal-post-moving attitude.

36

Dan 06.09.04 at 12:04 am

Andrew: Can media coverage influence the outcome of a war? Yes. Vietnam proved that. I read the underlying premise of your argument to be that “negative media coverage damages a war effort.” You then argue that positive coverage of a war effort causes us “to fight a war more efficiently.” I conclude that you are arguing this is a good thing. Am I correct? By contrast, negative coverage of a war effort fails to inspire us “to do better in order to win” (winning being a good thing) but causes us “to question whether or not we should be fighting the war at all.” Given the juxtaposition, it would seem that questioning whether we should be fighting at all is not as good as winning. Isn’t this how you see negative media coverage “damag[ing] the war effort”?

Do I “believe the media can (and has a duty to) convince the public in a democracy to end a war in progress”? To answer your question as phrased, no. Can the media convince the public to end a war in progress? I have my doubts. The media can convince the public that a particular war is (or is not) worth fighting, and public opinion may influence the politicians who make the ultimate decisions. Does the media have a duty to (try to) do that? Perhaps. It depends on whether the war is just or not. In a free democracy, the media have a duty to truthfully report the facts related to a war. Hopefully, that causes the public to consider, among other things, “whether or not we should be fighting the war at all.” This seems preferable to media coverage that simply inspires us to win.

Robert: I respectfully disagree. Once you’re in a war, you have two options: to continue it or not. There are lots of reasons for doing one or the other. “Winning,” however you define it, is just one reason. While I would like to see some “exit strategy,” I’m not hung up on that. When the politicians decide that it’s time to beat a retreat, and only then, will we devise one. And speaking of moving goalposts, who has been doing most of the goalpost moving in this war? The media or the Administration? Once the media stops reporting and starts to “adopt” an attitute, it becomes little more than a public relations agency for those on whose behalf it has adopted the attitude. Which leads us back to the original topic (I think) of this post.

37

Dan Simon 06.09.04 at 12:13 am

Folks, this isn’t terribly difficult stuff. Yousefzadeh’s complaint is perfectly legitimate.

Of course, Yglesias’ analogy can be defended in purely historical terms, because, like the Germans who promulgated the “stabbed in the back” theory about Germany’s loss in World War I, some warbloggers are suggesting that the antiwar press is bringing about an American defeat in Iraq by undermining domestic support for the war. But there are innumerable other historical analogies that Yglesias could have used to express that point. He could have–as several commenters have already pointed out–invoked the complaints of Vietnam or Cold-War hawks. (As American examples, these would obviously have been more apt.) Or he could have talked about French Imperialists blaming internal treason for the defeat of their emperor–both in 1815 and 1870. I frankly doubt that there’s been a military defeat in history that hasn’t been accompanied by this sort of talk.

But the one example Yglesias chose as his analogy just happened to be the one closely linked with Nazism.

It’s a true but unappreciated fact about Neville Chamberlain that he advocated a policy of appeasement not out of pacifism or naivete, but because he believed that Britain needed some breathing space to devote to rearmament, and couldn’t afford the distraction of an early war. So no doubt if warbloggers compared Ted Kennedy and other critics of US military involvement in Iraq to Neville Chamberlain, Henry and the rest of the folks at Crooked Timber would nod sagely at their fine, historically accurate analogy.

Right?

38

Robert Lyman 06.09.04 at 12:18 am

Once the media stops reporting and starts to “adopt” an attitute…”

I think it is impossible to avoid injecting attitude into news coverage. There is no such thing as just “reporting” facts, since there is such a deluge of information and a wealth of facts. It would be easy to produce a 24-hour news channel which reported only positive, sunny, and entirely truthful news from Iraq (I’m not endorsing this, just saying that the quantity of information is great enough that it is possible). Decisions about which facts to report and which to ignore, even if unaccompanied by literal commentary, constitutes bias one way or another.

Better that the bias should tend toward encouraging victory than surrender even if the war is “unjust” (I should point out that I am a hard-hearted realist–I don’t think “justice” is a consideration in war, merely national interest). Surrender (or retreat) will only rarely be beneficial, and in Iraq it would be catastrophic.

39

Walt Pohl 06.09.04 at 2:24 am

There’s a possibility that surprisingly many people are ignoring: that the war is going badly, and that the media, which has actual people on the ground in Iraq, is providing a more-accurate representation of events than a bunch of warbloggers sitting on their asses and typing away.

The idea that a war, once begun, _must_ be won at all costs, with the inevitable exhortations to the national will, and the demands that individuals surrender their autonomy to the aims of the state, is a fascist idea — perhaps even _the_ fascist idea. War, like anything else, must be judged with an eye to its future costs. A war where the US is forced to ignominiously retreat from Iraq is a bad outcome, but so is a war where the US subjugates Iraq after killing a million Iraqis. Which one is the worse outcome, even when based purely on the interests of the United States? The second would probably lead to more terrorism and the deaths of more Americans than the first.

And the national will is never infinite. If a war is pushed beyond a citizenry’s breaking point, then the very credibility of the system is destroyed, with consequences often more terrible than defeat. In Russia in 1917 the Karenski government continued to fight a war beyond the point where the citizenry was willing to follow. Where did that lead? The Russian Revolution.

40

pepi 06.09.04 at 6:30 am

matthew

You don’t see any difference between “day to day difficulties” and “defeat in Iraq”?

NO. What I don’t see the difference between is these two statements, exactly as Robert wrote them and as I quoted them and will now proceed to quote again – I’d draw a chart if I could, but I hope using a list will be an equally valid visual aid for you:

a) saying that the “main cause of American difficulties in Iraq” is defeatist elements at home

b) saying that only defeatism at home can cause cause defeat in Iraq.

(In other words, the “insurgents” aren’t strong enough, and only domestic pressure leading to an early withdrawal can accomplish it.)

Actually, in b) the “defeatism at home” is given an even stronger direct relation to defeat in Iraq than in a).

In b), “defeatist” attitudes are given more power than the “insurgents” – who are killing, bombing and kidnapping people.

Robert Lyman was denying warbloggers were saying a), while admitting they were saying b).

I don’t know how he pulled that, but since b) goes a lot further than a), if he acknowledges b), he cannot be denying a).

Basically he himself, right after denying it, admits the warbloggers are even bolder in their stab-in-the-back statements than what he’d denied one sentence before.

I was merely pointing that out.

Subtitles also available at page 777.

41

pepi 06.09.04 at 7:02 am

dan simon –

Of course, Yglesias’ analogy can be defended in purely historical terms, because, like the Germans who promulgated the “stabbed in the back” theory about Germany’s loss in World War I, some warbloggers are suggesting that the antiwar press is bringing about an American defeat in Iraq by undermining domestic support for the war.

Ah. So it is a valid comparison. Not “crooked logic”, right? Ok, good of you to have cleared that up.

But there are innumerable other historical analogies that Yglesias could have used to express that point. (…) But the one example Yglesias chose as his analogy just happened to be the one closely linked with Nazism.

I see. In other words, a perfectly legitimate and historically accurate parallel should be discarded solely on the basis of Godwin’s law.

Because it is offensive to bring up any comparison remotely involving nazi Germany. Even when the point being made is not an equivalence with nazis, but a specific and accurate one. Interesting.

It’s a true but unappreciated fact about Neville Chamberlain that he advocated a policy of appeasement not out of pacifism or naivete, but because he believed that Britain needed some breathing space to devote to rearmament, and couldn’t afford the distraction of an early war. So no doubt if warbloggers compared Ted Kennedy and other critics of US military involvement in Iraq to Neville Chamberlain, Henry and the rest of the folks at Crooked Timber would nod sagely at their fine, historically accurate analogy.

I don’t know, speaking only for myself, I’ll merely note that there is no “if” there – that comparison has been made abundantly in the period leading up to the Iraqi war and during and after, not just in warblogs but in media and by politicians as well. I recall the Chamberlain moniker being thrown around quite a lot at anyone opposed to the war.

I’ll also note what strikes me as a difference between a) the comparison of today’s stab-in-the-back reaction about Iraq to that German historical precedent, and b) (aren’t lists soo sexy) a comparison of the opposition to war in Iraq to Chamberlain.

In case a), the comparison is again very precise. It’s not about the context, or who was fighting who, who were the good guys, or the bad guys. It’s about the _rhetorics_ used. The argument itself. In b), the comparison was done merely on the terms of opposition to a war against a dictatorship. Not on the actual arguments, many and different, at the basis of that opposition. Which surely weren’t all that similar to Chamberlain’s position.

I don’t recall anyone opposed to war in Iraq saying they were opposed on the grounds that Britain/the US “needed some breathing space to devote to rearmament, and couldn’t afford the distraction of an early war”.

I do recall several arguments such as: no evidence Iraq poses a direct threat as the pro-war side was arguing; no evidence of WMD possession, the argument used to go to war; no evidence of the urgency and necessity of a war in Iraq in relation to the war against terrorism; no evidence that all other means of controlling Iraq’s disarmament had been exhausted; no idea of there being a convincing plan for how to deal with Iraq after it was toppled; fear of exacerbating terrorism instead of fighting it; perception of extreme incosistency in pro-war arguments; and so on.

Most importantly, it should be noted that the opposition to war in Iraq had none of the effects of delaying the war itself or interfering with any policies or decisions which were being taken anyway. Because none of those opposed to the war were in a position of power as Chamberlain was. That’s another huge area of difference.

So, even in doing entirely away with the contexts in both cases, comparison a) remains accurate, while comparison b) is not really.

42

pepi 06.09.04 at 7:06 am

Actually, comparing the anti-war to Chamberlain is another variation of the stab-in-the-back meme. As in, see, see what you’re doing, with your criticism you’re supporting a dictator! Except unlike Chamberlain, none of the protesters signed a pact with the dictator in question…

43

DaveC 06.09.04 at 7:24 am

From WSJ via Roger L Simon:

First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that “I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led international coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq.” In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: “Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq.” Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing….

I would suggest that people read some of the Iraqi bloggers. Not all of them are as optimistic as the doctors and dentists in Iraq The Model; in fact, Zeyad (Healing Iraq) has specific grievances against some of our military, but there is actually good news that is ignored. And there is bad news that is welcomed by some.

—————–

From what I can tell, the opposition to our actions in Iraq and Afganistan is that people like those in Crooked Timber assume that our intentions are bad. There seems to be an underlying message that the folks that support what we are doing there are supporting it or malevolent reasons, possibly in support of some sort of Zionist conspiracy. I have to confess that I am a non-Jewish Zionist. After 9/11 I used to write letters to some of the opinion writers for online Pakistani newspapers, In one letter I pointed out that the state of Israel was formed after a similar bloody struggle, and for similar fear of persecution for religious afffiliation reasons that Pakistan had used as a argument for the bloody war that led to the establishment of that state.

In the week after, he wrote an editorial that suggested that maybe the Israel/Palestinian problems weremore of a political issue than a good versus evil scenario. This did not seem to go over so well, as his next editorial blamed all the middle east’s problems on Sharon.

———————
I remember the first time I was called a Nazi. It was on the Mike Malloy radio show. The subject was school vouchers. I had complained that at my son’s elementary school, a social worker had pressured us to put him on Ritalin because he was disrupting the class. The truth however was that he was bored.

We had a psychologist test him and he scored 90% on his attention to task, but 99% on the general intelligence. Their response was that this difference was over 2 standard deviations and that he had A.D.D., etc. They said that he could help out by tutoring the the slower kids. This was in 2nd grade. My wife and I made the judgement that the only thing to do was put him in a private school. We still paid all the taxes for the public school, but in addition to that, we were paying the private school tuition. In this case a voucher system would really help us out.

The next caller stated that I was probably a rich Nazi that didn’t care about the children, and Mike agreed that that probably was the case. I was beside myself. Here I was spending like 10-15% of our after tax income for tuition, our finances were tough because my wife was staying at home with my daughter, and I was a rich Nazi. At that time I considered myself a liberal, but this experience started a change in my way of thinking.

So now I take it with a grain of salt that Matt Y has made some sly comparisons of people who think like I do to militaristic Germans. This is much the same as pepi says “Just saying. No comparison of course. Just one of those things like when a song reminds you of another older one.” after discussing the fascists, or JP says “Well, that second thing is exactly what the German right was saying back in the 1920s too, so what’s your point?”, or bob mcmanus says “The only interesting difference this time is that this crew are Nazis.”, or q says “Maybe the real “stab-in-the-back” campaign will come if the USA is forced out of the Middle East altogether and Israel is made to shrink or disband. Agadir 1911 was the great humiliation of the German nation which drove the warmongers. Maybe 11 September 2001 was the equivalent step for the USA.”

I hear similar stuff in the Unitarian church that I financially support so that my kids get some religious education. I hear it from my son for whom I paid all that tuition and for whom moved to a smaller house in order to be close to a good high school. (He clapped when he heard that Ronald Regan had died.) We live in the “lower income” area for the high school and there is more support for the liberation of Iraq than there is in the richer areas.

—————-

The UU Sunday School curriculum states that Jesus lived in a “Palestinian village” rather than in, say Galilee. No mention of Judea either, where he did most of his teaching,and I as an atheist / Deist wanted to point this out, but this would jeopardize our standing in the church (even though we are friends, not members)

When Bush became President, my daughter after church was inconsolable because as she said, she would not be able to have an abortion.

—————

I think that the Democrats predominantly live on the coasts where people are more wealthy. The “fly-over country” seems to support our efforts to bring freredom to the Middle East more than the elite. My son was applying to college this year, and I can tell you from the online forums that the wealthy priviledged kids seem to be more liberal/leftist. It really hurts me to send my son to an exclusive school where he will be taught to hate me and all I believe, but waht can I do?

——————

I have worked with high-school educated people who escaped from Hungary, Poland, Russia, Iraq (Assyrian – I know Christians don’t count), Yugoslavia, and Cuba (Marielistas), and though they are not as well educated as the people on this blog, they love America more. (They certainly wouldn’t clap for the death of Reagan). One of my coworkers married an Indonesian Buddhist, and is trying to get the family out of there before something bad happens. Also a coworker from Thailand is concerned about what is going on there. I personally like the idea that there is a predominately Buddhist country (Thailand), but it is opposed by Muslim extremists in a similar way as Israel.

I wish that my children could learn from the people from other countries the same way I have, but I guess it is not to be. Unfortunately most of the teachers around today are America-haters.

—————–

I am a real person. Everything I said is true. My given email address is fake, so don’t bother flaming me.

DaveC

44

Dan Simon 06.09.04 at 7:30 am

In other words, a perfectly legitimate and historically accurate parallel should be discarded solely on the basis of Godwin’s law.

If it’s gratuitous, then yes, certainly. If I referred to “my opponent, who, like Hitler, has a mustache”, when I could have compared him with anyone else in the world who has a mustache, then I would be guilty of a gratuitous comparison to Hitler–rather obviously for emotional effect–and should be upbraided for my cheap shot.

I recall the Chamberlain moniker being thrown around quite a lot at anyone opposed to the war.

So do I. And in the overwhelming majority of cases I recall, the Chamberlain parallel was employed casually, for emotional effect, with no substantial argument beyond crude “guilt by analogy”. It was shorthand for, “people who disagree with me are soft on Hitler”, and it did little credit to the side that employed it. Its use certainly seems to have (quite understandably) annoyed the heck out of you, for one. Why, then, are you defending it (only) when it’s being used by those with whom you agree?

(Yes, yes, I know–your opponents really are Nazis, while your friends aren’t. Of course–silly me.)

45

pepi 06.09.04 at 7:35 am

“Can media coverage influence the outcome of a war? Yes. Vietnam proved that.”

Oh yes, because “negative” coverage of a war is like an a-priori, it’s not like it follows from negative (unsuccessful, bad, disastrous, etc.) events and facts occurring in that war, nah… [*]

Even the oil embargo did not have as much power to influence war in Vietnam as the coverage in US media.

Even the fact the military strategy itself was going nowhere did not have as much influence.

Even thousands of casualties were not as relevant to the war as the media coverage. (Or perhaps, it was the media coverage and protests that caused those deaths…)

The very situation in Vietnam did not have as much bearing on the situation in Vietnam.

It’s so flattering to the power-of-the-people to think that opposition to war, or even just reports about a war that was not going well, would be more powerful than the enemy’s own resistance to being defeated. It’s also a handy way to detour the criticism. And we’re back to the point about Dolchstoßlegende again…

[*] I find it fantastic that Pejman is saying the problem is he’s not hearing as much good news as bad news from Iraq. Why, it doesn’t occur to him that maybe the news tend to be bad because there are more bad things going on than good ones. Could it be _that_ simple?

If day in day out there’s some terrorist attack that killed a few soldiers or civilians, what should the media do, not report it? Report with a smile? Or report it, by by mentioning in the same news feed that electricity is working in this or that city, the price of aubergines in the Bagdad market has gone down, and subscriptions to satellite tv are increasing?

When even Rumsfeld is saying “it’s quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this”, how is it the media’s fault?

Ok, I’ll shut up now, because the enemy is listening, and I don’t my words to cause a bomb to go off in Baghdad today. You never know with criticism, it’s got these powerful wireless connections that can activate explosives before you’ve even finished uttering the words “the fucking nerve”.

46

nick 06.09.04 at 7:41 am

But the one example Yglesias chose as his analogy just happened to be the one closely linked with Nazism.

And just happened to be the most appropriate.

That the warfloggers go all limp and cry ‘Godwin!’ shows not only that they can’t take an accurate historical comparison, but they also know shit about history. Wunderbar!

47

pepi 06.09.04 at 7:44 am

… at the risk of causing massive carnage in Iraq and single-handedly destroying any prospect of democracy, I have to add one last reply to this pearl by Robert Lyman:

Better that the bias should tend toward encouraging victory than surrender even if the war is “unjust” (I should point out that I am a hard-hearted realist—I don’t think “justice” is a consideration in war, merely national interest). Surrender (or retreat) will only rarely be beneficial, and in Iraq it would be catastrophic.

Ok, now, even if _all_ the ones who are not biased in that desirable optimistic way were indeed arguing for withdrawal, fact 1: a UN resolution on Iraq has just been passed that will require things to proceed until it’s time for gradual withdrawal of troops, something that had been envisaged from the beginning (actually, the prediction was the occupation would be much shorter); fact 2: even if Kerry should become President later this year, he not only will be bound by that resolution and developments of current situation, but he himself has made it clear he is not for immediate total withdrawal.

Shorter reply: straw man.

Now I’ll really shut up. Apologies for putting the troops at such peril with reckless words.

48

nick 06.09.04 at 7:45 am

Why, it doesn’t occur to him that maybe the news tend to be bad because there are more bad things going on than good ones. Could it be that simple?

Warfloggers + Occam’s Razor = styptic pencil.

49

pepi 06.09.04 at 7:58 am

Dan Simon: if the comparison is historically accurate and precise, like you recognised yourself, then it cannot be “gratuitous”. We were not talking about moustaches and silly Hilter comparisons. Doh.

Really, how do people manage to acknowledge and deny something in the same breath? It’s amazing.

And NO, I’m NOT defending the use of the Chamberlain slur “when used by those you agree with” – _pointing out_ that there’s a rhetorical use of that stab-in-the-back meme is not the same as, to use your own words, the Chamberlain parallel being employed casually, for emotional effect, with no substantial argument beyond crude “guilt by analogy” and as shorthand for, “people who disagree with me are soft on Hitler” (or Saddam), which is most definitely NOT the point Yglesias was making in noticing that stab-in-the-back mentality.

Again, you yourself acknowledge Yglesias parallel was accurate, while the Chamberlain parallel is not, and then you go back to arguing they’re equivalent?

It’s an impressive talent, his deny-admit-deny roller-coasting.

And I thought the visual aid would be helpful, how naive of me. Well, I guess you can’t see it if you don’t want to see it.

Incidentally, I haven’t even said whose position I agree with in block. I only have a problem with rhetorics trumpling things like oh, facts, principles of democracy, and basic logic.

50

pepi 06.09.04 at 8:33 am

… DaveC: my “just saying” was indeed sarcastic. And I’m only speaking for myself, don’t attribute my sarcasm to Yglesias, ok?

And yes, I did directly and explicitely compare _that specific_ reasoning, mentality, reaction, whatever (of blaming an unsuccessful military/political campaign on the media or critics) to the one that the fascist regime used to hammer into the heads of its own subjects, via regime media, reels, posters, speeches, etc. I specifically said I am not calling anyone a fascist for that – the context being entirely different, _obviously_. What’s unclear about:
“I’m not making any comparisons either or labelling anyone a fascist. It’s just amazing how, when the patriotism accelerator is pushed with a ton of rhetorical force, the resulting memes can be so similar even in a democracy. At least, at the level of language.” The warbloggers and the pro-war media pundits can go on all they like about how the critics are damaging the war, they’re not suggesting they get arrested or tortured or shipped to confinement so obviously it’s NOT fascism.

The point is, it doesn’t take a dictatorship to cause such stab-in-the-back memes to spread. It’s also a basic psychological reaction, when you don’t want to acknowledge harsh facts but only push a rhetorical line of defense.

It’s almost like the only options being given are to decree the situation in Iraq as irredeemably BAD or absolutely GOOD, with no chance of an analysis that will see both the fuckups and the possibility for remedying them. I would think the latter approach is not only healhty but necessary for any policy. Even the harshest criticism is beneficial because it will highlight problems that NEED to be addressed. It’s completely pathetic to accuse critics of wanting “surrender” or defeat while at the same time chanting the mantra that ok some things are bad, BUT etc. etc.. It’s no good hiding one’s head in the sand, precisely if you want the plan to have some democracy and peace Iraq to succeed. I for one definitely want that.

51

q 06.09.04 at 8:35 am

Davec-
You covered a lot of ground. Do want a reply to any specific points you have made in your extra-long comment, or is it just a statement of your belief?

52

pepi 06.09.04 at 8:39 am

… and of course, fascism didn’t even allow for any media to report anything but the hyper-optimistic, patriotic line, or they were silenced. So the critics were clandestine.

I don’t think that’s what’s being suggested except maybe by the most rabid warbloggers, but even they don’t get to enforce a thing. In a democracy. Such as the one we all want to work in Iraq.

Something for masters of contradiction like Pejman to ponder on a bit, if possible at all.

53

Robert Lyman 06.09.04 at 12:45 pm

Pepi, I think you’re being willfully obtuse here. First off, no one is accusing you of “causing bombs to go off in Baghdad” or any such thing.

In b), “defeatist” attitudes are given more power than the “insurgents” – who are killing, bombing and kidnapping people.

Yes, of course. Ted Kennedy, who is a member of the Senate and a very influential politician, has more power to cause US defeat than the insurgents in Iraq. We can’t just jail or shoot him, after all (not that I’m endorsing any attempts). The pen, or in this case the TV camera, is substantially more mighty than the undereducated teenager with an AK.

Pepi, day-to-day violence and voluntary withdrawal are two different things. One is not the necessary extension of the other. It’s not like I said “Officer, of course I wasn’t going 90 mph, I was going 100!” Rather, I said “Bloggers are saying B, not A.”

This is not difficult to understand: I think we can win in Iraq militarily and politically if we are willing to stick with it. I do not think the insurgents can defeat us on the ground. I think the only path to defeat is surrender, and that some politicians and war critics seem to be advocating surrender (or “immediate withdrawal,” as they like to call it.)

I also think that on obsessive focus on “exit strategies” and fixed withdrawal dates–even if they are years down the road–are deeply mistaken and increase the odds of defeat. I further think that while the media certainly has an obligation to report bad news, they have an obligation to report good news, too–and that the soldier’s blogs, the word from friends serving, and the published emails home show that there is plenty of good news to report.

And finally, I think that criticism of the war effort is essential. I have my differences with the folks at CT, but they produce good-quality stuff for debate. The same is not true of many of our elected officials, who are more interested in scoring off of Bush.

54

pepi 06.09.04 at 2:14 pm

Pepi, I think you’re being willfully obtuse here. First off, no one is accusing you of “causing bombs to go off in Baghdad” or any such thing.

Well yeah of course I meant that literally. You know, I was seriously worried. I’m glad my words didn’t kill anyone today. Thanks for clearing that up!

(talk about obtuse…)

Ted Kennedy, who is a member of the Senate and a very influential politician, has more power to cause US defeat than the insurgents in Iraq.

Oh-kay…. if you say so… I’m sure the prisoners who were freed today would agree Ted Kenney (who they’ve probably never even seen or heard that much, not being American)) is more dangerous than the men who kept them captive for two months and slaughtered their friend. Yep.

(hey! that was some good news today wasn’t it? it was the headline everywhere, just like the UN resolution yesterday, and I heard the exact words “good news” in a couple of reports too – but ah, these sly defeatist media were probably just trying to cover up their dangerous agenda)

We can’t just jail or shoot him, after all (not that I’m endorsing any attempts).

Well I am! if he’s more dangerous than people who slash throats, then, by all means, we should have _his_ throat cut. Live. On Fox News.

The pen, or in this case the TV camera, is substantially more mighty than the undereducated teenager with an AK.

Absolutely. With a pen, or a Tv camera, it’s also a lot easier to slice throats. If you explode a pen, you can kill ten people in one go. Ten pens, you’ve got a serious-sized attack. A whole writing set can destroy oil infrastructure. A laptop can successfully maim ten children. If it’s a Pentium, twenty. We should all stop writing now.

I think the only path to defeat is surrender, and that some politicians and war critics seem to be advocating surrender (or “immediate withdrawal,” as they like to call it.)

I am advocating Tony Blair gives me £150,000 to buy me a house in Mallorca.

Is he going to do it?

“Some” politicians and critics – who, how many, what proportion, what influence? most importantly, how likely is “immediate withdrawal” to happen when _a new UN resolution has just been passed_ and even the only opponent to Bush running in elections has made it clear he won’t be doing any “immediate” withdrawal at all (besides it would be no longer immediate by the time he gets to the White House, if he gets there at all)?

Like, hello, warbloggers, meet reality…

55

pepi 06.09.04 at 2:38 pm

I only have to add one thing regarding that characterisation of terrorists and militias in Iraq as “undereducated teenagers with an AK”: … No, I can’t put it in words. Language fails me when confronted with such amazing intellect.

I’m just glad that’s not the view of those in charge of matters in Iraq. See, you’ve inadvertently given me a reason to have faith in the coalition. Because whatever fuckups they may yet incur in, at least they’re not some warblogger moron talking out of their comfortably seated arse. Small consolation, but anything reassuring is precious, as all true non-defeatists know.

56

q 06.09.04 at 3:28 pm

Robert Lyman: _I think we can win in Iraq militarily and politically if we are willing to stick with it._

militarily: I agree. This is not a problem.

politically: I would need to see some workable proposals before I agree we can win this part.

57

DaveC 06.09.04 at 4:08 pm

q.

Wow, it was late at night and I don’t know what got into me. Yeah, I suppose that was just a statement of my beliefs. I am typically just a lurker and enjoy watching the debate, especially on sites like Crooked Timber and Tacitus where both sides are well represented. I don’t really even object to people calling each other names, but sometimes we need to realize that we do not necessarily know the other side’s intentions. And words sometimes do hurt.

If you want to respond to any part of my post, I think that the comparison of Israel to Pakistan probably would be the best thing to discuss. Both countries were recognized by the UN in 1948 after a bloody struggles, and both were established in part to protect people of a minority religion. (This should be right up your alley.)

Sorry, I am not real good with the dialog like you all have here. I think that it is good to have a heated discussion, but I am not very skilled at it. That is the reason for the long rambling post and why I probably will not respond to other comments.

Thanks, Dave

58

q 06.09.04 at 4:37 pm

Well… the bit you mention about the “a similar bloody struggle, and for similar fear of persecution for religious affiliation reasons” well, a lot of that persecution happened in Europe. So it doesn’t surprise me that the Arabs are annoyed.

As for 1948, I am not too keen on sponsoring the setting up of religiously based states … seems a bad precedent – this goes for Pakistan too … many people died for the principles of rights and liberty for all, which basically meant that governments shouldn’t be run to prejudice particular groups of people.

59

Dan Simon 06.09.04 at 6:47 pm

Pepi, both historical analogies are broadly accurate, and both are full of minor holes that one could use to pick them apart. You’ve spent an enormous (I would say inordinate) amount of effort picking apart the one that you don’t like. If you had a shred of intellectual honesty, you’d at least have paused to consider the many ways in which the analogy you prefer could also have been picked apart. (I’ll leave the details as an exercise for the reader.) Instead, you’ve chosen to tout it as a superbly apt comparison, to brag that I’ve conceded its accuracy–in short, to insist, as I summarized your position, that “your opponents really are Nazis.”

If those obeying Godwin’s Law were capable of recognizing their culpability, the Law would cease to be applicable. Sadly, it shows no sign of losing its relevance.

60

pepi 06.09.04 at 7:19 pm

Dan – any analogy to past, different historical situations stops working at some point on the sheer grounds of there being entirely different contexts. Because no two historical events or situations are identical.

But when the analogy is on a specific, precise kind of behaviour that is exactly identical even in those widely different contexts and historical periods, then it does stand – even if the first instane occurred in a dictatorship, the second in a democracy.

The difference between dictatorship and democracy also stills stands. They’re not the term of comparison. The precise behaviour is – blaming critics for failures (anticipated or not) and for the military strategy being messy, or, in the very words of the Defense Secretary, “incoherent”.

That’s what I have been saying. No “touting as superb” anything.

If that precise analogy can be picked apart, why ask me to do it? Do the work yourself. You don’t expect in a discussion the other person to argue his own opinions _and_ yours too, right?

No one has picked it apart, there’s just been derailing and straw men, like the “you said they’re really all nazis”. Which, no, I didn’t. Read again. It’s really tiresome. Childish, too.

I may indeed have wasted an inordinate amount of words, because I’m seeing an inordinate amount of misleading assumptions and contradictions in the statements I took issue with.

(Of course if everyone shut up, then things would go really smoothly in Iraq. They would go even more smoothly if we didn’t hear any news from Iraq at all.)

Care to at least add a comment on the media coverage of the UN resolution? Or was that defeatist and negative too?

61

Robert Lyman 06.09.04 at 8:15 pm

(My last post here)

I said: “Ted Kennedy, who is a member of the Senate and a very influential politician, has more power to cause US defeat than the insurgents in Iraq.”

Pepi characterizes this as: Ted Kenney is more dangerous than the men who kept [the recently freed hostages] captive for two months and slaughtered their friend.

These are two entirely different statements. I do not know of any reason to think Sen. Kennedy is literally dangerous to human life so long as he is sober while behind the wheel.

However, the fact that he isn’t a murderer doesn’t detract from the fact that he is indeed a very powerful man. Gary Ridgeway, although a mass-murderer, is not nearly as powerful as even the most junior of senators.

Pepi, you aren’t even trying to understand what I’m saying. Or maybe you’re just being sarcastic, I don’t know. In any case, you do not seem interested in a serious discussion, so I will give up trying.

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