Apple, Tree

by Henry on July 29, 2006

Greg Djerejian, who’s definitely one of the more interesting and thoughtful people on the right, “attacks John Podhoretz”:http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2006/07/morality_and_the_warfighting.html for engaging in “amoral” and “outrageous” “speculative dribble” about how US troops didn’t kill enough young Sunni men in the early stages of the war to have put the fear of God into them (only thing they understand is force, you know). Right on. But when he says that:

bq. It’s quite sad that the son of an accomplished, prestigious American intellectual would muse so innocuously about the merits of mass butchery–basically the wholesale slaughter of a broad demographic of an ethnic group writ large–a policy prescription that is quasi-genocidal in nature.

I have to wonder whether he’s read anything that Norman Podhoretz has written in the last decade or so. Take, for example, his February 2005 _Commentary_ piece, where he “claims”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/08/12/trahisons-des-clercs/ to have evidence that realist critics of Bush’s foreign policy are “rooting for an American defeat” (the evidence was, not to put too fine a point on it, lies). Duncan Black’s standard line in response to media criticism of bloggers’ shrillness etc is to ask whether the critics have listened to talk radio recently. But elite journalists don’t need to go that far. I’ve often thought that the folks in the _New Republic_ and others should take a long, hard look at the kind of stuff that people like Podhoretz père publish in _Commentary_, purportedly a serious intellectual magazine, on a regular basis. There may be well known bloggers who are as vicious and mendacious as Podhoretz is, but there aren’t many of them.

{ 19 comments }

1

Neil 07.29.06 at 9:02 pm

muse so innocuously about the merits of mass butchery

Let’s all club together and buy the right a dictionary.

2

greg 07.29.06 at 9:58 pm

apologies neil, written in great haste, like most B.D. posts, I’m afraid!

3

otto 07.30.06 at 5:04 am

I’ve often thought that the folks in the New Republic and others should take a long, hard look at the kind of stuff that people like Podhoretz père publish in Commentary, purportedly a serious intellectual magazine, on a regular basis. There may be well known bloggers who are as vicious and mendacious as Podhoretz is, but there aren’t many of them.

The New Republic does a good line in vicious and mendacious itself, particularly on the subject of Middle East politics. So maybe TNR does take that long, hard look at JPod and co, but not in the way you suggest.

4

John Emerson 07.30.06 at 8:04 am

Up until 2003, the supposed unwarlike and unmurderous character of democracy was thought of as a good thing.

A second threshold which will have to be crossed is even less often mentioned. Basically, if the neocon plan is going to be successful, Americans are going to have to get used to the idea that between the ages of about 18 and about 26, they and their children are obligated to risk death, and sometimes actually die, in the service of geopolitical goals which they are not expected to try to understand.

I now live in the cannonfodder pool I grew up in (70% male Vietnam-era military participation, though around here the National Guard is not regarded as participation). Strategic planning looks different when you ask yourself whether your son, nephew, or neighbor will be among the troops. I realize that the chickenhawk argument has been proven invalid, but too many strategic planners and war ideologues belong to families which have avoided military service for generations.

5

Uncle Kvetch 07.30.06 at 9:24 am

Up until 2003, the supposed unwarlike and unmurderous character of democracy was thought of as a good thing.

Back in the Cold War, hard-nosed conservatives liked to prove their “realist” bona fides and foreign policy “seriousness” by solemnly intoning, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Over the past several years, our Dear Leader (who has all his thinking done for him by Cold War vets) has supplanted this bit of conventional wisdom with something far more radical: “If you want peace, wage war.”

And as time goes on, those at the dynamic forefront of the seriousness industry, like the fearsomely macho Podhoretz fils, are busily laying the groundwork for a new conventional wisdom for the new millenium: “Peace is highly overrated, anyway.”

6

BGN 07.30.06 at 9:37 am

I have to wonder whether he’s read anything that Norman Podhoretz has written in the last decade or so.

Last decade? At least since 1980 or thereabouts. The man is the most overrated American since at least Billy the Kid. He has always been a bloody-minded pompous twit–a failed poet turned failed literary critic–whose intellectual horizons gave out somewhere east of the Hudson around 1957, and whose writings show no sign of scholarship on any level above that of a randonly selected Beltway pundit. His intellectual “accomplishments” are a total mystery to me; but you’d think the man were Daniel f*ck*ng Bell twenty times over the way people at the New Republic and the NYT suck up to him.

(Then again, I suppose as a gay man I would be prejudiced against the male half of Manhattan’s most homophobic power couple. This is a man who back in the 1980s, in his book The Present Danger about resurgent Soviet Communism, blamed British appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s entirely on those evil fag pacifists like W.H. Auden & E.M. Forster.)

7

John Emerson 07.30.06 at 10:05 am

Podhoretz’s oeuvre consists entirely of the kind of book that normal authors publish only after they’ve established their reputations — memoirs, occasional essays. He’s emeritus without the prior merit.

8

Steve 07.30.06 at 11:41 am

Josh Marshall said the same thing-

http://www.hillnews.com/marshall/031903.aspx

Is Josh an immoral right winger too?

Steve

9

John Emerson 07.30.06 at 12:37 pm

Steve, if you’re not a troll, check up on what JMM’s been saying over the next few days, and get back to us.

Here’s Josh’s last line (emphasis added) at the link you provided:

Doing that in a foreign country may require a mauling of the civilian population that we are rightly unwilling to undertake.

10

John Emerson 07.30.06 at 12:53 pm

“last few days”

11

roger 07.30.06 at 1:11 pm

BGN, Billy the kid, overrated? John Wesley Hardin was overrated. Billy the Kid deserves his legend. Among outlaws, he still remains the Rimbaud of the bunch, and what a death! Robert Utley renders the best judgment on the Kid in his bio:

“Until near the end of his life, he could thank the newspapers for this standing [as a peerless outlaw]. His actual exploits did not support the reputation. Then a sensational capture, trial and escape gave validity to the newspaper portrait, and a violent death, publicized to the entire nation, fixed it indelibly in the public memory for all time.”

Cummings was mistaken about the object of his poem — it wasn’t buffalo bill. It was the Kid: “and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death”

Obviously, you, BGN, are not from Lincoln County.

12

nick s 07.30.06 at 1:45 pm

Josh Marshall said the same thing-

It’s an Instaparrot! And since Greg Djerejian pointed out exactly how disingenuous and sneaky Reynold’s misreading was, one can only presume that ‘steve’ either didn’t read the linked piece, or didn’t understand it. Are you Glenn Reynolds in disguise?

13

Barry 07.30.06 at 1:48 pm

IIRC, Glenn ‘InstaBS’ Reynolds was the source of at least quote from Josh, which, when ripped out of context, made Josh look bloodthirsty. Showing that the U Tenn Law School won’t concede the title for ‘Most full of lying wh*reson law professors’ to Harvard any time soon, even though Harvard has Alan ‘It sounded better in the original German’ Derschowitz.

14

Uncle Kvetch 07.30.06 at 2:00 pm

It’s an Instaparrot!

Heh.

15

Matt 07.30.06 at 3:19 pm

I’ve always considered the Podhoretz’s the Joan and Melissa Rivers of right-wing punditry, the elder having turned in some moderately interesting work in the (far) past, the younger completely devoid of anything resembling talent.

16

derrida derider 07.30.06 at 6:34 pm

He’s emeritus without the prior merit.

What a wonderful put-down, john – I’ll tuck that one away in the memory banks.

17

Randy Paul 07.30.06 at 6:35 pm

It’s an Instaparrot!

Indeed.

18

Randy Paul 07.30.06 at 6:36 pm

Steve appears to have disappeared, by the way.

19

Kevin Donoghue 07.31.06 at 4:56 am

It is usual for Steve to appear and quickly disappear. He’s a drive-by troll. I suspect he thinks of himself as leaving the room with silent dignity.

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