The department of “huh”? is the only growth industry round here

by Daniel on March 9, 2008

Via Roger in comments to Chris’s post below, Michael Walzer mounts what can only be regarded as an unprovoked dawn raid on his own reputation.

The topic is the ethics of using mercenaries (or at least, that is the formal topic; at a deeper level, the topic is the same as the topic of everything Walzer’s written in the last ten years; that sadly, oh so sadly, “the left” simply doesn’t believe in its principles with the same seriousness and intellectual depth which Walzer does. It’s frankly the philosophical equivalent of “I was into your favourite band before they started to suck”, and it’s frankly becoming tedious).

And so we churn on; Walzer concludes that yes, indeed it probably isn’t possible or advisable to have rich states going round interfering in other countries via plausibly deniable and unaccountable private sector catspaws, but dammit, why don’t any of you people intellectually engage with the case for doing so? Always poisoning the debate, aren’t you, Beavis? This is all apropos of pouring a bucket of shit over Jeremy Schahill, for writing a history of Blackwater and having the temerity to assume that listing all the things that this corporation had got up to over the last ten years might be condemnation enough, without adding a Walzerian essay about the role of the state.

All of which is en route to the payoff, which is that Michael Walzer is, on the basis of no very obvious understanding of what the hell is going on in Darfur, prepared to write a political blank cheque of support for anyone who wants to pay the bill for Blackwater to go in and “stop the killing” (they said in the Napoleonic era that amateurs talk tactics, generals talk strategy and commanders talk logistics; they didn’t realise that two hundred years later we’d have invented a new category of warrior that didn’t even think about tactics, but was prepared to beat the drum on the basis of empty generalities). Emphasis added.

Speaking at a conference of arms merchants and war contractors in Amman, Jordan, in March 2006, Blackwater vice chairman J. Cofer Black offered to stop the killing in Darfur. “We’ve war-gamed this with professionals,” he said. “We can do this.” Back in the United States, another Blackwater official, Chris Taylor, reiterated the offer.

Since neither the United Nations nor nato has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide, should we send in mercenaries? Scahill quotes Max Boot, the leading neoconservative writer on military affairs, arguing forcefully that there is nothing else to do. Allowing private contractors to secure Darfur “is deemed unacceptable by the moral giants who run the United Nations,” Boot writes. “They claim that it is objectionable to employ—sniff—mercenaries. More objectionable, it seems, than passing empty resolutions, sending ineffectual peace-keeping forces and letting genocide continue.”

Some of us might prefer something like the International Brigade that fought in Spain over a force of Blackwater mercenaries. But the International Brigade was also a private militia, organized by the Comintern and never under the control of the Spanish republic. Does it matter that most of its members fought for ideological rather than commercial reasons? Scahill tells us that Blackwater is run by far-right Christian nationalists—for me, as for him, that doesn’t make things better.

Whatever Blackwater’s motives, I won’t join the “moral giants” who would rather do nothing at all than send mercenaries to Darfur. If the Comintern could field an army and stop the killing, that would be all right with me, too. But we should acknowledge that making this exception would also be a radical indictment of the states that could do what has to be done and, instead, do nothing at all. There should always be public accountability for military action—and sometimes for military inaction as well.

Walzer, if I remember correctly, didn’t support the Iraq War (although of course, he opposed it with the same lugubrious I-thoroughly-condemn-everyone-who-agrees-with-me manner as everything else he’s done of late, and he is basically in favour of lots of equally daft and lethal ideas, so as with so many other Euston Manifesto signatories, I wonder why he bothered). But really, is there any learning going on here? If “intellectual engagement” with these arguments means “taking seriously the unsubstantiated bellicose table talk of a man with a ten year track record of bloody chaos and failure”, then kindly engage me out.

And I see, of course, that those of us who broadly believe that the drafters of the Geneva Conventions got the compromise more or less right in 1948 and there is no pressing need for a redraft of those conventions to make wars of aggression easier to start, don’t get to have our ideas engaged with. One of Walzer’s commenters sums up the view of those paragraphs eminently well, saying:

“doing something is better than doing nothing”

here’s an idea to engage with; no it’s not.

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Das Philoblog » Blog Archive » Diskussion über Walzer
03.18.08 at 7:23 am

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1

Mike 03.09.08 at 9:41 pm

Walzer has, I imagine, been reading just a bit too much Jerry Pournelle, and equates Blackwater’s psychotic thugs with John Christian Falkenberg and his incorruptable mercs who pick up the pieces after the fall of the CoDominium and start the First Empire of Man.

That, or Rambo. Not sure which.

2

Russell Arben Fox 03.09.08 at 10:10 pm

We’ve gone over this (Walzer, the Euston Manifesto, and “decent left,” etc.) before–many times before, in fact. I won’t try to defend Walzer’s position here on mercenaries, which seems weird and which demands some careful though; I’ll just throw out 1) that Walzer’s “I-oppose-this-war-now” position was never as ass-covering or as lugubrious as some people make it out to have been, and 2) that any comparison that puts Michael “Just and Unjust Wars” Walzer and Jerry Pournelle or Rambo in the same sentence is simply bonkers.

3

abb1 03.09.08 at 10:22 pm

Some of us might prefer something like the International Brigade…

Bullshit. If they do, why don’t they ever sign up? Of course they don’t prefer joining “something like the International Brigade”, they definitely prefer using other people’s money to hire some thugs to kill ‘em some ragheads.

4

mijnheer 03.09.08 at 10:22 pm

Shouldn’t that be ‘”huh?”‘, not ‘”huh”?’?

5

roger 03.09.08 at 10:39 pm

Russell Fox, I’m wondering what “careful thought” the Walzer piece deserves. Should we carefully think about the small omission from the piece of Blackwater’s massacre of civilian Iraqis last fall? Or should we carefully think about the U.S. government’s bullying of the Iraq government so that they didn’t crack down on Blackwater’s policy of killing Iraqis for sport, vis a vis Andrew Moonen?

Or is this a tradeoff situation? Yes, Blackwater will kill Sudanese for sport, but they’ll kill less Sudanese, and as long as they receive total immunity, they will certainly cluster around paramilitary leaders of Christian groups and protect them.

However, such, alas, is the kind of sniping you can expect from the ‘moral giants’ crowd (I was delighted to see that Walzer is really stung to the quick by none other than moral giant Max Boot, who – I’m gonna guess – is probably a fellow signatory of the Euston Manifesto with Walzer. A fine, upstanding man that Boot, who wants a good clean bombing war with Iran , too, right quick).

Oops. I’m getting into snark, not careful thought! My god, I better start reading my Walzer again – the chapter in On Just War on “the moral equivalency of the international brigades and corporate thugs”, I think I skipped that one last time.

6

Sk 03.09.08 at 11:06 pm

“Since neither the United Nations nor nato has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide”

Your witticisms aren’t changing this fact, are they?

Keep fiddling, you intellectual giants.

Sk

7

abb1 03.09.08 at 11:35 pm

The thing about NATO is that NATO in particular has nothing whatsoever to do with Darfur, no more than, say, Sam’s Club.

And the UN does perform its main function – to provide a mechanism for all the various states to resolve their conflicts peacefully – quite well; most notably in the Cuban missile crisis.

So, why don’t you, Sk, carry your white man’s burden yourself; get your tin hat, pick up a rifle and off you go.

8

Roy Belmont 03.09.08 at 11:35 pm

“‘Since neither the United Nations nor nato has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide’ ”
That’s “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”, with more actors.
It may not be a genocide, and it may be a more complex situation than simply stopping bad guys and rescuing good guys.

9

dsquared 03.10.08 at 12:05 am

Your witticisms aren’t changing this fact, are they?

well it’s not a fact, so trivially, no.

10

Adam Kotsko 03.10.08 at 12:41 am

Is it the case that “we” know how to stop a genocide, or even how to intervene militarily in order to stop a war (without taking a particular side and winning it for them)? More importantly, does anyone know how a foreign occupying force can set up a legitimate and functioning state? Because if we don’t know how to do any of that stuff — and especially if (since) we don’t know how to do the latter — any intervention is simply going to mean increasing the violence with no assurance of a long-term payoff.

11

P O'Neill 03.10.08 at 1:19 am

Among the alarming things is that he’s citing Max Boot as an authority. Boot only wants mercenaries because he’d have the US and its allies so busy pursuing wars in other places that mercenaries would be all that are left. For instance, he wants the US to team up with the Arab Gulf states to bomb Iran. That could take a while. Meanwhile, Boot’s hero George Bush says he’s against US forces in Darfur not on principle or practicality, but because other people told him that sending US forces into another Muslim country wouldn’t be a good idea. Not sure how Blackwater solves that problem.

12

John 03.10.08 at 1:44 am

I like how your post essentially ignores Walzer’s whole point that he wouldn’t look down his nose at the prospect of Blackwater going into Darfur. In fact, the purpose of saying that is twofold: a) Blackwater is certainly a questionable organization but b) using them would have practical utility in this situation.

You don’t really provide any arguments against the assertion that Blackwater may be useful in stopping the genocide there. Doubtless Walzer would agree that Blackwater has engaged in activities that border upon war crimes. However, in real political situations we naturally deal with all sorts of contingencies and trade-offs. I would rather have a war-crime-committing organization stop a massive genocide (hundreds of thousands of deaths) rather than ignore that genocide on grounds that the force to stop them has potentially killed 100 or fewer innocents.

13

Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.10.08 at 2:11 am

I’m inclined to see things rather like Russell A. Fox above. In any case, Jeremy Waldron has a thoughtful review essay of a recent volume of Walzer’s work, Thinking Politically: Recent Essays in Political Theory (2007), in the March 6, 2008 issue of the NYRB (not freely available online).

14

geo 03.10.08 at 2:52 am

I wonder if disparaging the UN and international law isn’t Walzer’s ultimate purpose here, since both of those are sometimes felt to be inconvenient by the government of Israel.

15

mq 03.10.08 at 3:12 am

Kotsko in 10 has the idea.

Curious what Daniel thinks about the whole crew of “humanitarian hawks”. Prominent example, Samantha Power of recent Obama-advisor fame.

Also, what if some private sector celebrities passed the hat to pay Blackwater to do this themselves? There laws against that, right?

16

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 3:33 am

Roger (#5),

I’m wondering what “careful thought” the Walzer piece deserves.

It deserves careful thought, because it’s a careful article, like just about everything Walzer writes. That doesn’t mean I guarantee it the benefit of the doubt. As I said before, it’s a weird piece; now that I’ve read it a couple of times, I just don’t know what to make of its conclusion. The tentativeness which he responded to the offer by Blackwater to go into Darfur and “stop the killing” there at the end was preceded by a dozen paragraphs firmly opposing any moral justification for using mercenaries. But the fact that I’m unclear on how he went from A to B doesn’t mean I think the exercise worthless or undeserving of any respect. He has an argument–an argument about accountability. Maybe that’s the key–maybe what he’s really going after in those closing lines (“making this exception would also be a radical indictment of the states that could do what has to be done and, instead, do nothing at all…[t]here should always be public accountability for military action—and sometimes for military inaction as well”) is using the fact and/or the threat of Blackwater to shame or indict Western states for failing to be responsibly accountable for those things he believes to be in their power to do something about. If so, I’d have to demur; shrugging ones shoulders at actual mercenaries has way too high a cost–on Walzer’s own terms!–to be worth doing just to get at a lack of state accountability. But at least such a possibility is sensible; it’s constructive, unlike simply dismissing Walzer as having drunk Max Boot’s Kool-Aid.

17

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 3:39 am

Patrick (#12); thanks for the support. For what it’s worth, I excerpt a couple of chunks of Waldron’s very thoughtful NYRB essay in my long blog response to Chris Bertram and others here.

18

Former1L 03.10.08 at 3:53 am

Only tangentially related to the issue at hand, but something I’ve wondered ever since I read Walzer’s _Just and Unjust Wars_:

Has Walzer ever defended his “it would have been OK to nuke the Nazis but it was wrong to nuke the Imperial Japanese” thesis in front of a (non-Japanese) East Asian audience?

19

Former1L 03.10.08 at 3:55 am

D’oh!

For “nuke” in the above question, please substitute “demand unconditional surrender from”.

Sorry about that.

20

roger 03.10.08 at 4:29 am

Russel, interesting reading.
Here’s Max Boot’s reading, from his blog on Commentary:

“Walzer Calls for Blackwater
Max Boot – 03.06.2008 – 15:28

Chalk up another recruit for the idea of using mercenaries to stop the killing in Darfur: the liberal political philosopher Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars.

In an essay in The New Republic, he notes that “neither the United Nations nor NATO has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide.” So what’s the alternative? “Some of us might prefer something like the International Brigade that fought in Spain over a force of Blackwater mercenaries,” he writes, but failing another International Brigade, he endorses hiring firms like Blackwater (notwithstanding his aversion to security contractors in general).

This is a cause I’ve been pushing for a while (Walzer describes me in the article as “the leading neoconservative writer on military affairs”–I’m not sure whether that’s intended to be a compliment), and I’m happy to see Walzer lend his support. But the real challenge will be to get policymakers, whether at the UN or in the U.S., to go along, and so far there’s no sign of that. So the killing goes on.”

Between the two of you, I’d say Boot has the clearer reading. And your combing of the Great Walzer paragraphs for the mystic wisdom he’s imparting doesn’t really get around the great omission that he is making – it would be like writing a piece about Bull Connor in 1966 and omitting that little unpleasantness with the civil rights marchers. The man quotes Cofer Black without even casting a comment on the corrupt position of Black as a former Bush official helping Blackwater get sweetheart deals with the State Department. Walzer further says nothing whatsoever about Blackwater’s habit of casually murdering Iraqis, or about evidence that has come to light since the Baghdad massacre about the casualness with which all mercenaries in Iraq murder Iraqis. I know, the great man can’t strain his eyes about such debasing material. He’s juggling world history and his infinite sorrow for Darfur in his gigantic brow.

But I’d say he’s a poopyhead.

It is interesting that your comment referenced the Euston Manifesto festuche, because Walzer is exemplary of the Euston Manifesto culture, that insider, liberal hawk club that he is careful to keep his ties to. One of the odd things about that Manifesto from the beginning was the eagerness of its creators to say that people who were opposed to the war and people who were for it signed the thing. Objectively, one has to ask what meaning it a manifesto could possibly have if two policy differences so vast could agree to it. What was the point of it in the first place?

But the point was not intellectual – it was closing ranks in the club. Those, like Walzer, who reluctantly opposed the invasion but did all they could to repress opposition to the invasion and clearly find most of their allies among the pro-war group needed to show that they were still reliable. Walzer is, in this sense, a perfect intellectual enabler. Publish as much Paul Berman as anybody can stand in Dissent; publish ambiguous, not to say nonsensical, articles in the New Republic that seem to actually support american mercenaries, but lard the language with enough deniables that you can always shift your position; and hope for the next liberal intervention, the pointless bloodshed of which you will justify in various NYT op eds and the like. That is what it means to be part of the club – it is an extension of the Village culture Atrios talks about.

21

dsquared 03.10.08 at 4:48 am

It deserves careful thought, because it’s a careful article

I really don’t think it is; it looks like a half-thought-out, dashed off, “will this do” piece. In particular, despite all this alleged deep and careful thought going on, it doesn’t look like he’s taken five minutes out for a glance at either a map of Darfur or the latet headlines. I’ve said before that demanding “action” without saying what that action might be is the height of irresponsibility and that’s exactly what Walzer has done here.

Also his claims that a) Schahill does not “intellectually engage” (stupid phrase) with the case for using mercenaries everywhere and b) this is of course because Schahill is part of that most corrupt and decadent of movements, the left, are as far as I can see factually wrong with a) and silly and nasty in b).

22

Bruce Baugh 03.10.08 at 5:45 am

I know it’s a truism that blogging never changes anyone’s mind, but D-Squared and Adam in particular really have changed mine about this: I’ve said before that demanding “action” without saying what that action might be is the height of irresponsibility – they’ve convinced me, through their own arguments and by directing us to others’, that the task of successful humanitarian intervention really is vastly more complicated than I’d ever realized, and that therefore my general bias “don’t push for stuff when you don’t know what it’s going to do” applies very, very strongly indeed. Furthermore, thanks to leads from them, I can trace the places where, in past arguments over intervention, I glossed over important distinctions without even knowing it.

So I learned something important.

23

abb1 03.10.08 at 7:22 am

…the task of successful humanitarian intervention really is vastly more complicated than I’d ever realized…

It’s not really that complicated. It’s next to impossible to successfully intervene in a tribal civil war, but it would be real easy to stop the genocide (according Ilan Pape) taking place in Gaza; the kind that is perpetrated by a modern, economically advanced and integrated state. Economic sanctions – or even just a threat of economic sanctions – would stop it in 5 seconds. Is this complicated?

24

A. Y. Mous 03.10.08 at 8:01 am

I commented earlier (elsewhere) on NATO in Afganisthan. Now, NATO seems to be an acceptable organisation in Darfur.

What on God’s good earth makes the Hindu Kush and the Land of the Blacks anything, even remotely, North Atlantic?

At least, get your names right, even if you can’t get anything else.

25

Chris Bertram 03.10.08 at 8:33 am

I share Russell’s distress at the direction Walzer is taking. Many of us admire his contributions to political philosophy, even when we don’t agree with him. But, of the direction, I’m afraid there’s no doubt. Another recent sign was this

“A final word. I do not like Jerry Slater’s attempt to distinguish me from my friends Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz (I don’t know Abraham Foxman). I have agreements and disagreements with them, but the agreements are far more important.”

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=744

26

Alex 03.10.08 at 9:51 am

Further, what would an organisation with 3,000 truck drivers and securigoons *do* there, other than vanish in the vast spaces? And what do we mean by “do this” anyway? Do what? To what end?

27

Kevin Donoghue 03.10.08 at 10:28 am

And what do we mean by “do this” anyway?

Secure Darfur, apparently. The meaning of the verb “to secure” is notoriously context-dependent. As an old Pentagon joke says: if you ask the marines to secure a building, they surround it with machine-gun nests and put snipers on the roof; if you ask the air force, they get you a three-year lease with an option to purchase.

28

Martin Wisse 03.10.08 at 11:17 am

This silly plan wouldn’t pass the eight year old test; that is, any bright eight year old would immediately see that sending in mercenaries to end “genocide” would be a daft idea. Therefore Waltzer deserves as much respect and consideration as any other idiot.

29

Barry 03.10.08 at 12:42 pm

But Martin – we’ve been reassured that he’s ‘decent’, and ‘thoughtful’ :)

30

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 1:55 pm

Dsquared (#18),

I really don’t think it is; it looks like a half-thought-out, dashed off, “will this do” piece. In particular, despite all this alleged deep and careful thought going on, it doesn’t look like he’s taken five minutes out for a glance at either a map of Darfur or the latet headlines.

You may be right; his apparent contentment with “stopping the killing” as a rationale for doing something military-wise in Darfur and proceding directly on to high-level questions about who should do that something, bypassing the “how” questions entirely, is frustrating and disappointing. I’m not willing to dismiss the piece entirely, but it definitely sits weirdly out of place among quite a few other things Walzer has written.

31

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 1:59 pm

Chris (#22),

But, of the direction, I’m afraid there’s no doubt. Another recent sign was this [from Dissent]: “A final word. I do not like Jerry Slater’s attempt to distinguish me from my friends Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz (I don’t know Abraham Foxman). I have agreements and disagreements with them, but the agreements are far more important.”

Walzer has becoming increasingly Zionist (in the broadest sense of the word) in recent years; his avowal of friendship with Martin Petetz doesn’t surprise me. His avowal of friendship and lack-of-serious-distinction between himeself and Alan “Torture-As-Necessary” Dershowitz does. Thanks for the link Chris; I hadn’t read that piece. You and dsquared and Roger may be correct that the delicate and (I think, at least) intelligent “oppose-this-war-now” balance which Walzer struck back in 2002 and 2003 has given way to something else.

32

ehj2 03.10.08 at 2:48 pm

Agree with Mr. Wisse at comment #25, “This doesn’t pass the 8-yr-old test.”

Corporations have to pay the bills, and if we start accepting corporations as legitimate military powers, they’ll “find” profitable things to do in the absence of any nation’s strategic desires — even if this requires starting wars that they will then be “invited” to enter. And they’ll be on both sides — just as the United States has been on both sides of the Iraq/Iran conflict in substantive ways.

As nation states become less important in a more-and-more corporate-dominated world, the “real” wars will be between corporations.

Does even the most uninformed right-wing nut want to live in a world where Toyota and Ford are hiring mercenaries behind laundered (untraceable) money to take our each other’s plants? Or your block, because the patent someone is about to acquire will damage their business?

No non-state militaries. No Blackwater. No mercs. No.

Just no.

33

Katherine 03.10.08 at 3:22 pm

I just read that Scahill book, & it’s terrific. They wrapped the Iraq invasion in the flag of human rights too; we all know how that turned out. Anyone buying that line from Cofer “after 9/11 the gloves came off” Black & from Blackwater is a complete idiot.

34

John M 03.10.08 at 3:25 pm

“Walzer has becoming increasingly Zionist (in the broadest sense of the word) in recent years;”

Russell, I don’t think it is possible to become more ‘Zionist’ in the Crooked Timber sense. You’re as Zionist as your folks are (or is it just your mum?). Walzer is anyway a suspiciously Zionist name, don’t you think?

35

Chris Bertram 03.10.08 at 3:51 pm

#31 – This is Daniel’s thread, but if it were mine, a gratuitous accusation of anti-semitism against the entire CT collective would result in disemvowelling or deletion. As it is, I can at least use my powers to reveal that the person making such slurs is John Meredith of CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. I hope he’s proud of himself.

36

John M 03.10.08 at 3:58 pm

Don’t get in a tizzy Chris, I realise that there are some members of the ‘CT collective’ who are not anti-semites, just as there are some who are unenthusiatic about dictatorship. But the whiff of anti-semitism nonetheless hangs unmistakeably about the place when certain tiopics are under discussion. Ex-CABE, by the way, but thanks for caring.

37

Steve LaBonne 03.10.08 at 4:17 pm

By the way, accusations of antisemitism against anybody who dares to express opinions of which Benjamin Netanyahu would disapprove don’t pass the 8-year-old test either (or else there must be a hell of a lot of antisemitic Israelis). Just saying.

And do tell us, John, which of them are unenthusiastic about dictatorship? After all, I come here primarily to revel with them in our mutual love of dictators, so I need to know which traitors to our pro-dictator cause I should shun in the future.

38

John M 03.10.08 at 4:24 pm

Steve, I dislike Benjamin Netanyahu every bit as much as I assume you do, and I am just as implacably opposed to illegal settlements and the greater Israel movement. I know the difference. But CT, it seems to me, is very indulgent of the modish new anti-semitism that hides behind honourable anti-Likudniks like you (and me).

I am sure you can find some CT-commentators who are unambiguously opposed to dictatorship of all kinds without my help, but let me know if you are still struggling.

39

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 4:28 pm

John (#31)

I don’t think it is possible to become more ‘Zionist’ in the Crooked Timber sense. You’re as Zionist as your folks are (or is it just your mum?). Walzer is anyway a suspiciously Zionist name, don’t you think?

I don’t understand this comment. Honestly, I don’t get it. Is it equating Zionism with Jewishness? Or the reverse? It has never occured to me to think of Crooked Timber as a Jewish blog, or a non-Jewish blog. Who is accusing whom of being antisemitic here? And what does that have to do with Walzer’s friendship with Martin Peretz, if that is what this is actually about? I’m confused (but then, I’m just a white Mormon from Kansas; what do I know about these deep matters?).

40

geo 03.10.08 at 4:39 pm

Here’s another relevant cite: Walzer’s op-ed in the NYT on 9/21/01: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E05E3DB113BF932A1575AC0A9679C8B63&st=cse&sq=michael+walzer+throckmorton&scp=1
At a critical moment, with probably the largest readership he ever had or will have, the first thing he chooses to say (see the second paragraph)is that terrorists are motivated by “hatred of the values that sometimes guide the exercise of [American] power” — ie, democracy, liberty, human rights. They hate us, in other words, because we’re good, not because American foreign policy causes or contributes to a great deal of human misery, and particularly not because of American complicity in Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Very philosophical, Russell.

41

harry b 03.10.08 at 4:48 pm

john — get serious. Tell whoever it is you think is antisemitic that they are so, and explain (for the rest of us) what they have said that is anti-semitic. Or, if the accusation is of indulging others in (modish?) anti-semitism, call us on that, and explain in what ways we indulge it.

42

Martin Wisse 03.10.08 at 5:00 pm

Russell: John M, in his queer little way is saying that the Crooked Timberites are all a bunch of Jewhaters.

It might be because of these sort of attacks he’s now ex-CABE, as he himself admits, as no responsible organisation would want to keep somebody as a member prone to slinging around potentially slanderous (or is it libelous? I always forget) accusations around.

43

John M 03.10.08 at 5:01 pm

“Honestly, I don’t get it. Is it equating Zionism with Jewishness?”

Well yes, sort of. At least it is referring to the commonplace tactic (in the UK anyway) of using ‘Zionist’ as a codeword for ‘Jew’, when you want your anti-semitism to be admitted to polite company. Some people never do this (Harry Brighouse, for example) but some others do. Quite a lot of them. It bothers me. But I don’t want to get too trolly about this or to (further) derail the thread (although I see the attraction now – all this attention! – the internet life of dsquared begins to make sense).

44

John M 03.10.08 at 5:04 pm

“It might be because of these sort of attacks he’s now ex-CABE, as he himself admits, as no responsible organisation would want to keep somebody as a member prone to slinging around potentially slanderous (or is it libelous? I always forget) accusations around.”

Having said I should lay off, I find I can’t resist. No, I am ex-CABE because other offers have come along. CABE has never expressed any concern about any tendency to the defamatory. It would be libellous, by the way, if it was either, which it isn’t.

45

Righteous Bubba 03.10.08 at 5:15 pm

Russell: John M, in his queer little way

Sensitivity-to-slur alert.

46

Chris Bertram 03.10.08 at 5:29 pm

So, to review matters:

John Meredith

#31 Made snide remarks to the effect that CT is anti-semitic.

#33 Conceded (!) that there are “some members” of the CT collective who are not anti-semites.

Was invited by Harry to say which of us are anti-semites, and what we might have said which would justify such a claim.

Failed, nay, refused to do so. But insisted (#41) that his statements are not libellous.

What an arsehole.

47

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 5:35 pm

John (#40),

At least it is referring to the commonplace tactic (in the UK anyway) of using ‘Zionist’ as a codeword for ‘Jew’, when you want your anti-semitism to be admitted to polite company.

So…since I was the one who originally used the term in this thread (in order to, clumsily I suppose, refer to Walzer’s willingness to defend Israel’s military and defensive actions on moral grounds), does that mean you were suggesting that I was being anitsemitic while defending Walzer? Or am I missing a step here?

48

abb1 03.10.08 at 6:01 pm

My mom is a Zionist. Seriously, she is, has been for years now. It’s very sad, I was very upset when it happened.

49

geo 03.10.08 at 6:17 pm

Can we leave off bashing John, who is (fortunately) not very influential, and resume bashing Walzer, who (unfortunately) is?

50

abb1 03.10.08 at 6:32 pm

It would be interesting, though, to get an idea of where he’s coming from. I’ve been reading this blog for years, don’t remember seeing a single antisemitic comment here. I’d like him to link or post some quotes he finds offensive.

51

Kevin Donoghue 03.10.08 at 6:35 pm

geo,

Why do you regard Walzer’s influence as unfortunate? I don’t know much about the man; AFAIK his main achievement has been to revive interest in Just War theory, which is more-or-less harmless, in the sense that the people who start wars didn’t give a shit about JWT before Walzer came along and they don’t give a shit about it now either.

He’s just a philosopher who influences other philosophers and that’s about it, surely? Where’s the harm? To be clear, I’m not saying ideas in general don’t matter, only ideas that are not acted on. Or has some idea of Walzer’s been acted on?

52

Bruce Baugh 03.10.08 at 6:53 pm

Kevin, Walzer’s criticisms of the anti-war effort in 2002 were widely quoted and cited in efforts to build a liberal/left justification for Bush’s folly. (I remember them being widely influential among friends of mine, at least, precisely because Walzer wasn’t obviously batshit crazy the way so many war enthusiasts were.) They remain in circulation whenever there’s an effort to provide intellectual justification for the ensuing tragedies.

53

geo 03.10.08 at 7:06 pm

Walzer wrote a splendid book about equality called Spheres of Justice and some wonderful essays, collected in Radical Principles. All honor to him for those.

His writings on international affairs, however, are another matter. Like you, I think just-war theory is pretty much harmless. But Walzer has long been an — admittedly subtle and skillful — apologist for Israel policy, and this has involved disparaging others (notably Noam Chomsky) who have criticized it, as well as making Dissent into a forum for trashing such “irresponsibles.” A few years back he wrote a regrettably influential essay called “Can There Be a Decent Left?”, which, as you may imagine, identified decency with a sympathetic understanding of Israel’s vulnerability, frank recognition that Islamic radicals were motivated by hatred of freedom and of Jews rather than resentment of the consequences of particular American and Israeli policies, and an unsemtimental willingness to countenance the use of military force in circumstances, and under auspices, other than those provided for by international law. More recently, he wrote a deplorably weak and equivocal essay in the New Republic about the bombing of Lebanese civilians and infrastructure in the summer of 2006.

54

roger 03.10.08 at 7:48 pm

So, I’m trying to get this straight. Opposition to Blackwater is now a de facto sign of anti-semitism?

Wow. The loonies have not only taken over the asylum, they are now devising a comprehensive theory, Hegel for paranoids, as to why loonyism has always been the invisible force for justice through all of human history. In the end, I think it is plain for all to see, you cannot oppose Bush and Cheney without – let’s put our cards on the table here – longing for a return to Hitler.

Jonah Goldberg, this is your epoch!

55

Pär 03.10.08 at 8:02 pm

Roger,
of course we (the indecents) are all longing for the return of Hitler, because nazism was, as we all know, a left-wing ideology.
Seriously, some right wingers (among others a swedish right wing think tank) claim that.

56

Russell Arben Fox 03.10.08 at 8:09 pm

Roger (#51),

…they are now devising a comprehensive theory, Hegel for paranoids…

I like the sound of that. I want to know more. There’ll be some bit about the chicken that squawks at dawn, or something like that, I’m sure.

57

Pär 03.10.08 at 8:14 pm

The think tank i mentioned in my last comment have said that nazism is a left wing ideology, they havent said anything about the left being pro-hitler.

58

c.l. ball 03.10.08 at 9:13 pm

I’m a bit confused over the opposition to mercenaries as such. What do people think a UN force under Chap. VII is? Troops operating under a foreign flag for pay — the very definition of a mercenary.

Pakistani forces don’t join PKOs out of blind humanitarianism any more than the US proposes such forces for that motive. Developing world forces are reimbursed on developed world scales, and those reimbursements don’t get pocketed by the grunts; the governments pocket it.

Many UN contingents have a rather rotten record on excessive force, especially MONUC in Congo — not that the situation there has been conducive to judicious action. There a few journalists around to notice, however.

59

Kalkin 03.10.08 at 9:51 pm

c.l. ball – well that would be why some of us don’t view UN interventions with any more sympathy, intrinsically, than we view great power interventions, seeing as how the troops on the ground in UN interventions consist of mercenary armies from poor countries operating under the direction (or at the very least with logistical dependence on) the forces of one or more great power countries – the US, France, or whomever.

60

abb1 03.10.08 at 10:04 pm

What is this “UN force”? Peacekeepers? They are not a military force, they are observers, they don’t kill anybody. Sometimes there’s a military operation authorized by the UN, but that, of course, wouldn’t be a “UN force”.

61

Ragout 03.10.08 at 11:18 pm

accusation of anti-semitism against the entire CT collective would result in disemvowelling or deletion.

I’m not surprised that a rather mild suggestion that lots of folks on CT use “Zionist” as a euphemism for “Jew” generates such a heated reaction. But it is a little disheartening that Abb1’s wild charges of racism pass without comment. I wonder what evidence Abb1 has that Walzer wants to “kill ‘em some ragheads.” I wonder why he thinks Sk is a racist advocate of “White Man’s Burden?”

Similarly, it’s too bad geo’s accusation of dual loyalty goes unchallenged. Geo, what evidence do you have that Walzer’s “ultimate purpose” is disparaging institutions “felt to be inconvenient by the government of Israel” ? Israel wasn’t mentioned at all in Walzer’s article.

62

Ragout 03.10.08 at 11:27 pm

Roger writes the small omission from the piece of Blackwater’s massacre of civilian Iraqis last fall?

Roger has apparently failed to make it to the second paragraph of the Walzer piece, so let me quote the relevant parts:

In September, one of these private entities–a North Carolina-based company called Blackwater USA–became the subject of scrutiny when its guards fired into a crowd and killed 17 Iraqi civilians…Blackwater and similar firms are private in another sense, too: The U.S. government keeps no record of the security guards who have died or been wounded–nor, needless to say, of the Iraqi civilians the guards have killed.

Nor has Roger noticed that much of Walzer’s article is devoted to complaining that mercenaries are not held unaccountable for murdering civilians and other crimes.

63

roger 03.11.08 at 1:10 am

Ragout, you are right, I should have noted that Walzer briefly notes the massacre in Baghdad. On the other hand, he notes nothing about, say, the relationship of Cofer Black to the state department, and this is how he summarizes Scahill’s history of Blackwater:

“Mercenaries like Blackwater have a bad reputation. But is that reputation really deserved? Two books published in the last several years have examined the role of private security firms in Iraq–one from the left, one from the right. Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army is informative but written as if readers already know the argument and so it is necessary only to present Blackwater’s history in appropriately indignant tones.”

This is rich coming from a man who can calmly note that Blackwater kills Iraqis for sport, but thinks it outre to get hot under the collar about it.

In other words, Walzer introduces the massacre committed by Blackwater as if it were an aberration, he ignores evidence that Blackwater has often committed crimes that are similar – see this NYT story, or this one, he mentions mercenary success in Croatia and neglects to mention Dyncorps record of rapes , and of course utters not word one about the Iraqi point of view – as we all know, they are merely stage props for our moral American crusaders.

No mention of Fallujah. No mention of the abysmal record of private security companies hired to guard logistics into Iraq, or causing the cost of projects in Iraq to skyrocket. No mention of the personal, often recruited from former dictatorships – Pinochet’s secret service people have found a nice niche with Blackwater.

So, what, really, is the difference between Walzer advocating for Blackwater and Walzer advocating for the mafia? In essence, what was scandalous in the seventies – the revelations that the Kennedies dealt with the mob to assassinate Castro – is now normalized by this moral paragon of the “left.”

At least Max Boot, the Podhoretzes and the rest of that crew have the simple honesty to say they are of the right. It is this oligarchy of disgruntled old New Leftist, who’ve long seized the power of the few notable ‘leftist’ magazines and turned them into things indistinguishable from the Weekly Standard which is truly shabby. If you are going to advocate for thugs, compare Blackwater to the International Brigades, and pour scorn on muckrakers who’ve delved into the seedy corporations who sell murder, at least have the honesty to not to fly a false flag.

I can’t resist quoting a paragraph from the Chicago Tribune story on Dyncorps:

“A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records.”

Mercenaries – the scum of the earth.

64

W. Kiernan 03.11.08 at 1:19 am

Has Blackwater ever won a war?

Even if Blackwater could win a war, why would they do so?

65

geo 03.11.08 at 1:57 am

Ragout: “Dual loyalty” is a much harsher judgment than excessive partisanship. It implies an actual or potential conflict between two allegiances. Of course I suggested nothing of the sort about Walzer. (Nor did Walt and Mearsheimer suggest anything of the sort about the Israel lobby, although Gabriel Schoenfeld, the perfervid managing editor of Commentary, naturally accused them of doing just that.) Rather, I said that Walzer’s zeal to defend Israel against criticism has repeatedly led him to disparage, not always straightforwardly, people (usually on the left) and institutions with whom he differs on that issue. The essay I mentioned, “Can There Be a Decent Left?”, is a vintage example of that tendency; many other examples are to be found in Dissent, for which Walzer shares editorial responsibility with a far less subtle defender of the faith, Mitchell Cohen. Further examples are to be found in Walzer’s contributions to the New Republic over the years, one of which I mentioned.

Russell Fox expressed his puzzlement at the seeming incoherence of the post by Walzer that Chris cited originally. I think it’s possible that, from Walzer’s point of view, the real message of that post is the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations, a frequent (though muted) theme of his and a much more emphatic and explicit theme of his fellow New Republic editors. The United Nations has earned their hostility by repeatedly condemning Israeli illegality and brutality.

For an elegant demonstration of Walzer’s difficulty in holding Israel to the same moral and political standards as the rest of the world, see (if you can find it) Noam Chomsky’s review of Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars in Inquiry, April 17, 1978. (Not, as far as I know, available online.)

66

geo 03.11.08 at 2:01 am

Sorry, should be “that Daniel cited originally,” not Chris.

67

Ragout 03.11.08 at 2:28 am

Geo, you wrote, “I wonder if disparaging the UN and international law isn’t Walzer’s ultimate purpose here, since both of those are sometimes felt to be inconvenient by the government of Israel.” And now you make the bizarre claim this is merely an accusation of “excessive partisanship?” What party do you think Walzer supports excessively?

Like Walzer’s article about mercenaries, “Can There Be a Decent Left?” is another essay that has very little to do with Israel, mentioning it only in passing In that essay, Walzer criticizes the anti-American left and supports the war in Afghanistan, the war against Al Quada, and patriotism. And you see this as another example of his “zeal to defend Israel?”

I’ll take your word for it that Walzer is a defender of Israel. But it’s truly strange to claim that in everything he writes, supporting Israel is an ulterior motive. How can you be so sure of his motives?

68

Ragout 03.11.08 at 2:50 am

Roger writes, “I should have noted that Walzer briefly notes the massacre in Baghdad.”

No need to mention it. It would have been good enough to avoid the false claim that Walzer doesn’t mention the massacre.

Roger also writes, “Walzer introduces the massacre committed by Blackwater as if it were an aberration.” But actually, Walzer argues — at great length — that the massacre he mentions at the beginning of the article is not an abberation. Walzer sums up his claim: “Not a single prosecution. That means mercenaries in Iraq are radically unaccountable; their fire is free.”

69

geo 03.11.08 at 3:06 am

I’ll take your word for it that Walzer is a defender of Israel. But it’s truly strange to claim that in everything he writes, supporting Israel is an ulterior motive. How can you be so sure of his motives?
No need to take my word for it. There are plenty of examples in Dissent and the New Republic, as I mentioned. And I wasn’t criticizing him simply for defending Israel, but rather for frequently imputing irresponsibility to those who just happen to be critical of Israel while neglecting his own responsibility (considerably greater, I would think, since he has far more influence with Israelis than Noam Chomsky does among Islamists, and since Walzer is a citizen of a country whose foreign policy lopsidedly favors Israel) to criticize Israeli policy sharply and straightforwardly enough.

As for “Decent Left,” what I said was not that it’s all, or fundamentally, about Israel but that, there as elsewhere, he takes — actually, makes — opportunities to disparage critics of Israeli policy even when Israel is not the main subject. Eg, from that essay: “Even the oppressed have obligations, and surely the first among these is not to murder innocent people, not to make terrorism their politics. Leftists who cannot insist upon this point, even to people poorer and weaker than themselves, have abandoned both politics and morality for something else. They are radical only in their abjection.” Walzer knows perfectly well that Chomsky, Zinn, the Nation, Z, and other “leftists” have condemned terrorism repeatedly. But it’s convenient for him to lump them in (not explicitly, of course) with George Galloway in the abject, irresponsible “left.”

Earlier I singled out two of Walzer’s books for high praise, and I also admire The Company of Critics, Interpretation and Social Criticism, and others. But I think his writings about international affairs fall well below that standard, and I speculated that his partisanship with respect to Middle East politics might explain that.

70

John Quiggin 03.11.08 at 7:30 am

“I’m not surprised that a rather mild suggestion that lots of folks on CT use “Zionist” as a euphemism for “Jew” generates such a heated reaction.”

Why? It’s a flat-out lie as has already been pointed out, and your weaselly endorsement of it (please don’t try to wriggle out of it) puts you in the same company as Meredith.

71

abb1 03.11.08 at 8:00 am

Um, Ragout, with all due respect, I don’t think my little rhetorical excesses (not unusual for a comment thread) are exactly in the same league with John M’s dark insinuation. And, unlike John, I could easily provide evidence supporting my basic point. And as far as as Sk is concerned, my rhetoric pales in comparison to his/her own.

72

MFB 03.11.08 at 9:21 am

Returning to the actual topic, I think it should be pointed out that having a bunch of demented corporate Ramboes scampering around in the Sahara would at least get them out of everybody else’s hair. And a fair number of them would probably die of thirst, so it’s all gravy.

73

John M 03.11.08 at 11:14 am

Late in the day, but for what it’s worth, Russell, no I didn’t mean that you are an anti-semite and, yes, I do realise that the splatter caused by that sort of comment is indiscriminate and that the comment was, therefore, a little bit intemperate. The sort of posting that does strike me as coded anti-semitism, though, and which CT-ers are generally indulgent of is something like:

“I wonder if disparaging the UN and international law isn’t Walzer’s ultimate purpose here, since both of those are sometimes felt to be inconvenient by the government of Israel.”

I know the commentator has given himself lots of wriggle room (I am talking about Israel and the conspiracy to silence all criticism of it, not Jews! It’s entirely coincidental that Israel is the world’s only Jewish majority state! I would be equally critical of non-Jewish, I mean Zionist, conspiracies, there just don’t seem to be any!) but I think that most people smell a bit of ‘rootless cosmopolitanism’ going on here, and that is why some of us find CT a bit whiffy when it comes to international affairs.

But I need to take a moment to recover from being called an ‘arsehole’ by that panting cheerleader for dictatorship Chris Bertram. How will I ever regain my equilibrium?

74

John M 03.11.08 at 11:21 am

“Failed, nay, refused to do so. “

Oh and I’ve just noticed this outrageous slur from the scrupulous Chris B. I failed, Chris, but I did not refuse. You could inscribe that on my tombstone.

75

Ragout 03.11.08 at 1:06 pm

Why? It’s a flat-out lie as has already been pointed out, and your weaselly endorsement of it (please don’t try to wriggle out of it) puts you in the same company as Meredith.

You’re right, I’ve argued at length in this thread that it’s not a flat-out lie, just a little “rhetorical excess.” John M, above, makes a similar argument.

But suppose it was a flat-out lie? Other flat-out lies like “Walzer wants to kill the ragheads” (a far worse slur) and “Walzer doesn’t mention Blackwaters’s massacres” generate no response. Certainly nothing as heated as a comparison to Meredith (whatever that means).

Anyway, to answer your question, I’m not surprised because it’s common for even vague and mild accusations of antisemitism to generate a heated response on CT, while outright accusations of racism and genocidal intent against Arabs rarely get criticized, especially when the topic is Israel. I don’t claim to know why that is, it’s just a pattern I’ve noticed. Perhaps you have more insight into the causes.

76

magistra 03.11.08 at 1:06 pm

The sort of posting that does strike me as coded anti-semitism, though, and which CT-ers are generally indulgent of is something like:

“I wonder if disparaging the UN and international law isn’t Walzer’s ultimate purpose here, since both of those are sometimes felt to be inconvenient by the government of Israel.”

But suppose someone posted, talking, say, about a conservative intellectual: “I wonder if disparaging the UN and international law isn’t X’s ultimate purpose here, since both of those are sometimes felt to be inconvenient by the government of the USA.”?

I would take that to be a fair comment about a certain kind of enthusiast for US policy regardless of whether or not X was American. So I don’t see how the same comment becomes offensive just because it is used about an American supporting Israel’s policy, unless you’re going to suggest it is wrong to point out that a non-Israeli is enthusiastic about Israel’s policies.

77

Ragout 03.11.08 at 1:24 pm

Magistra, I think the point you’re missing is that the Walzer article had almost nothing to do with Israel. So, claiming that Walzer’s underlying motives actually involve Israel isn’t a “fair comment.” At best, it’s an ad hominem argument.

78

jholbo 03.11.08 at 1:24 pm

“I know the commentator has given himself lots of wriggle room”

May I suggest that this would be a more appropriate sentiment for your tombstone, john m? The other one doesn’t seem to suit.

“a bit whiffy when it comes to international affairs”

might do as well.

79

John M 03.11.08 at 1:41 pm

“unless you’re going to suggest it is wrong to point out that a non-Israeli is enthusiastic about Israel’s policies.”

Not wrong, but suggestive, when the discussion is not on the topic of Israel or in any way connected to the topic of Israel.

80

abb1 03.11.08 at 3:45 pm

It certainly is connected to the topic of Israel. Israel has been perpetratoring ethnic cleansing (and now, arguably, genocide) for many decades. And when a friend of Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz starts performing his ‘STOP THE DARFUR GENOCIDE NOW!!!’ act, I’m afraid one has gotta be willfully obtuse not to see the elephant in the living room.

81

John M 03.11.08 at 4:47 pm

“It certainly is connected to the topic of Israel. “

No, it isn’t. And the fact that the non-existent ‘connection’ strikes you as so obvious and important should tell you something about your prejudices, in my opinion.

82

c.l. ball 03.11.08 at 5:12 pm

Re 60

MONUC has over 16,000 troops in addition to other observers, police, and civilian personnel. MONUC has its own “force commander” and is authorized to “to support operations to disarm foreign combatants led by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” It has killed people and will continue to do so both in self-defense, defense of others, and to disarm combatants. It engages in fire-fights. The forces are organized into national contingent, but the command is UN based and they wear UN insignia.

This is not like the initial intervention in Somalia (MNF) or operations in Afghanistan, which receive UNSC authorization, but do not report to the Secretariat’s DPKO. Similarly, France has had a separate national contingent in Côte d’Ivoire (Force Unicorn) in addition to the UNOCI.

83

abb1 03.11.08 at 5:45 pm

What prejudices, what are you talking about? That’s just silly; nobody here needs your Bill O’Reilly-style faux-psychoanalysis. You’re trolling, man; either that or you’re insane. In any case, you’re embarrassing yourself.

84

geo 03.11.08 at 5:53 pm

I’ve tried several times now (in #s 53, 65, and 69) to explain the sentence that offends Ragout, John M, and (according to John M), “most people.” A final supplement: in the great controversy between Charles Kingsley and Cardinal Newman that led to Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Kingsley remarks on Newman’s practice of “writing a whole sermon, not for the sake of the text or of the matter, but for the sake of one single passing hint — one phrase, one epithet, one little barbed arrow which, as he swept magnificently past on the stream of his calm eloquence, seemingly unconscious of all presences, save those unseen, he delivered unheeded, as with his finger-tip, to the very heart of an initiated hearer, never to be withdrawn again.” Significantly, Kingsley adds: “I do not blame him for that. It is one of the highest triumphs of oratoric power, and may be employed honestly and fairly, by any person who has the skill to do it honestly and fairly.”

I hope the application is clear. I was drawing attention to what seems to me Walzer’s frequent rhetorical practice of working in digs at “irresponsible” leftists and international institutions, even when they are not, in fact, “the text or the matter.” Like Kingsley, I admit that this sort of thing is not always objectionable. But it’s a little ambiguous, especially in a revered moral philosopher. I just wanted to draw attention to it.

85

Beryl 03.11.08 at 7:34 pm

And when a friend of Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz

I thought the formulation was that being (best) ‘friends’ with some people is inoculative?

86

abb1 03.11.08 at 7:34 pm

@82, I don’t know what the deal is with this MONUC, but this must be some kind of exception; typically they try real hard not to get involved into military activities. And I hope they’ll have enough sense to keep it that way.

87

abb1 03.11.08 at 7:40 pm

“friend” in a sense of “comrade”, “ally”, or, rather, “sidekick”.

88

dsquared 03.11.08 at 7:44 pm

Coo crikey! Off on a business trip for two days and called an anti-Semite on my own thread, on the strength of something somebody else wrote! What an honour.

Of course, I couldn’t have achieved this without a lot of help. So in many ways, this accolade isn’t just for me, it’s also for Russell, who made a quite intelligent comment in support of Walzer, which I for one (and seemingly the only one) understood. It’s also of course for John M, who managed to not only misunderstand Russell’s point, but also to use it as the basis for an attempt to smear everyone at CT (presumably including Eszter and Micah?) as anti-Semites, on the basis of our regularly posting about Israel (except that we don’t) and never censoring anti-Semitic comments (except that we do). Ragout, I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with a Best Supporting award of some kind.

Oh, I do love the internets.

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