Saturday, April 30, 2005

al asad

Massive Sandstorm

A wall of windswept sand moving at 60 miles an hour bears down on Al Asad, Iraq

Monday, April 11, 2005


"I Pity The Troops"

The feature story of the Sunday New York Times yesterday was about two wounded soldiers who have sacrificed promising athletic careers and some limbs to the misguided wars of the Bush Administration. The big, above the fold, color photos of the two young veterans were chosen to extract the maximum amount of sympathy and compassion.

That this is the story the Times thinks is most important says more about the Times and its readership than about he times we live in.

Iraq and Afghanistan are remarkable success stories with the number of free and politically engaged citizens on the rise, the number of violent attacks on the decline and the vast majority of proto-fascists on the run. This is all possible because of the overthrow of the Taliban and Ba’athist regimes by U.S. led military forces.

But the Times isn’t interested in that story. More comforting is the sentimental tale of young Americans swept up in the confusion and jingoism of the moment only to live a lifetime with the crippling consequences of their unfortunate decision to enlist in the army. To the Times, and no doubt a great number of its readers, these wounded young soldiers are victims worthy of our compassion.

But they are not victims. Wounded, yes. Maimed in battle, yes. Struggling with rehabilitation, yes. But they are soldiers who volunteered for duty not because they were mislead or had no other opportunities. They joined to serve and to fight and put themselves in danger to protect others by achieving discrete military objectives. Objectives, by the way, that were achieved with remarkable professionalism and humanity.

These soldiers are paying a disproportionately high price for their service. But they are not victims. And they deserve more than compassion which, after all, promises nothing more than comforting feelings and well-placed intentions. They deserve our respect and gratitude.

The compassion of the reactionary Left, as articulated in the Times has little to do with respect, and everything to do with sorrow.

Sadly, the soldiers chewed up and spat out my the maw of war are not the children of friends and colleagues but of poor, ignorant, swamp dwellers somewhere off in the hinterlands where people work in Wal-Mart warehouses all week and attend megachurches on Sunday . . . people brainwashed by television, Jesus and Karl Rove . . . people who should know better yet vote against their long-term economic interests every four years . . . people who blindly followed the stampede to war and inevitable got trampled by reality.

These are the “troops” the armies of compassion claim to “support.” But the millions of magnetic yellow ribbons stuck on cars from Montauk to Bolinas are a mild ubiquitous irritation to these folks.

Lately, though, Ms. Green has been thinking a lot about the war. She said she has "never been patriotic" and is conflicted about American involvement in Iraq: she is against the war but supports the troops.

This is the classic Times money quote. Yes, dear readers, never fear, you to can oppose the war and still be patriotic and still support the troops.

Except that they don't support the troops. They pity them.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Clinton Foreign Policy Team

Sandy's Such a Cut-Up!

Imagine for a moment that Paul Wolfowitz was proved to have stolen classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed them by hand late one night in a lobbyist’s office on K Street in Washington. Somehow, I would guess, “honest mistake” would not be an adequate explanation for The New York Times..

Imagine, in fact, YOU getting caught destroying secret documents that you had stolen from the government. Wouldn’t you expect, say, felony charges to be filed? Maybe even treason? How about a 22 month interrogation at Guantanamo?

Yet when “Sandy” Berger, the former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, admits to doing exactly that he is fined a couple of thousand dollars and has his security clearance suspended for a few years. No doubt there is some shame involved with an advisor to the President for national security matters losing his security clearance just as there might be if the nation’s highest law enforcement official were to lose his license to practice law, but the punishment seems a bit half-hearted.

I mean, what do you have to do to lose your security clearance permanently if stealing secret documents from a government facility, sneaking them past security guards and cutting them up into tiny bits with scissors in the darkened privacy of your office as a registered foreign agent doesn’t reach the standard?

No use lamenting Washington’s multiple standards. More interesting even than why a grown man would call himself Sandy, is why would Berger want to alter the historical record regarding the Clinton Administration’s national security activities? Do you suppose that out of modesty he wanted to conceal that fact that he and the Administration were doing an outstanding job of protecting the United States from terrorist attack and were working heroically behind the scenes to capture or kill Osama bin Laden? Was he afraid that some of the good work of his team would make the Bush Administration look bad in comparison and he was eager to save them from embarrassment?

I have no idea what Berger was doing in the office with the scissors. I do know that I’d be looking at some prison time had it been me instead of him. And that’s not just because I am the greater threat to national security.

Friday, April 01, 2005

terri schiavo

Is Everyone Happy Now?

No doubt some may find the death by starvation of Theresa Schiavo with her husband, her husband’s lawyer, and her husband’s girlfriend’s brother by her side to be a happy ending.

After all, she died of dehydration after years of legal acrimony pitting her husband and parents against each other in a global media frenzy just like she wanted, no?

And the legal system worked by upholding her expressed desire to die slowly on national television surrounded by raving partisans shouting that she is either a saint or a “drooling idiot” not worth saving as Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter memorably described her on the Don Imus show one morning.

The Congress acted with courage by trying to trump the judicial branch of government not with legislation that would have established a universal bias in favor of saving an innocent life when ambiguity is present, but by passing a meaningless law that did nothing to ensure that Schivo-esque death dramas won’t occur over and over again.

The enlightened “progressives” carefully examined all the facts of the case and considered every possible dimension and consequence before concluding that they oppose anything advocated by anyone named Bush and thereby affirmed a woman’s right to be put out of her husband’s misery.

The faithful applied such extraordinary political pressure as to distort the fabric of time and space so that conservatives placed their hopes in activist judges and liberals became states rights activists.

Bravo to all involved who, despite all the emotion and anger, managed to maintain their composure and control so that no one got killed . . . well, almost no one.

Is there any redemption to be found in the sacrifice of Terri Schiavo?