Friday, September 07, 2007

Is it a report if there's no report?

Call me crazy, but this whole report-on-the-surge thing that will be presented by Gen. David Petraeus is becoming less and less of a credible analysis of the effect of 'The Surge' in Iraq and more of a twisted and banal exercise in public relations.

Consider now that when Petraeus makes this report to Congress ... he won't actually have a report to present, but rather 'an assessment by testimony.' The latter, of course, will be lacking in statistics, data and other useful things to gauge how this thing has worked out.

Rather convenient since this is the latest in a weird string of events for this report ... particularly coming on the heels of that GAO report found that Iraq had only met five of 18 goals, an oddly testy interview Petraeus gave to The Boston Globe in which he had more caveats and qualifiers for this thing than you'd believe and a fascinating article by Andrew Tilghman, a former military correspondent, that revealed significant exaggeration when it comes to al-Qaida's presence in Iraq.

Of course, a lot of folks are getting upset since some people are calling this President Bush's report ... which, if you read the actual bill requiring this report, you'll see it is President Bush's report ...


(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.

(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress.

(C) If the President's assessment of any of the specific benchmarks established above is unsatisfactory, the President shall include in that report a description of such revisions to the political, economic, regional, and military components of the strategy, as announced by the President on January 10, 2007. In addition, the President shall include in the report, the advisability of implementing such aspects of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, as he deems appropriate.

(D) The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above.

(E) The reporting requirement detailed in section 1227 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 is waived from the date of the enactment of this Act through the period ending September 15, 2007.

(3) TESTIMONY BEFORE CONGRESS- Prior to the submission of the President's second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify:

Are you afraid the surge won't work, or are you afraid it will?

9:44 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Ah yes ... because simplistic calls setting up false choices that evolve around one's support of country are really what's at stake here.

Not, you know, whether or not we're discussing if this is actually a viable tactic in the war (which, arguably, it doesn't appear to be).

You do know what a grown-up conversation is like, right?

10:32 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Or perhaps put best this way ...

Your response to the concerns I raised in this post is as relevant as someone randomly posting 'I like potatoes' as a legitimate answer to my criticisms and questions.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous chuck said...

Support our troops. That includes General Petraeus.

The people who we should trust to make military decisions wear STARS, not SUITS.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Support our troops. That includes General Petraeus.

See previous comments.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

I already saw them. That's why I posted, because I found them woefully insufficient.

Support our Troops = Support Their Mission.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Chuck, does supporting police officers also mean supporting them when they conduct illegal searches of homes on the orders of their supervisors? Does supporting soldiers also mean supporting them when objectively their mission is to exterminate people in an area regardless of those peoples' political affiliations?

You found Johnathan's comments "woefully insufficient," but then sum up your own in a semi-mathematical equation. I am not sure what your standard of sufficiency is, so perhaps you can explain your position? I mean, is support an equivocal term or can it only have one meaning? Is support monetary, filial, veneration, expression, or what?

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Ahh - now the truth comes out. Libbies always like to say that "We do support our troops, just not their mission" or other such bubbe meise. But now here's one finally admitting that he thinks our troops are just mass-murderers and "exterminators."

In a lot of countries you would be shot through the head immediately for such a statement. I'm not passing judgment on whether that would be a bad thing or not, I'm just simply observing the irony in the fact that it is the bravery and sacrifice of those troops whom you are running down that GIVES you the right to say such things about them.

It is also their bravery and sacrifice that gives ME the right to proclaim you a dumbass.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Chuck, it was a question, and not a "rhetorical" one where the answer is obvious or where the question states what I take to be a fact. If you prefer not to answer the questions, simply say so, and do not attribute to me views that I do not have. Why you didn't say that I also think police officers are just criminals and thugs who trespass on the rights of the people leads me to think that you didn't care for nuance, and went for the quick.

Suffice it to say, I don't think that every soldier is "just" a mass-murderer or are exterminators. I do think that it was reprehensible that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed a number of Korean and American citizens who were prisoners or slaves in that city, and such indiscriminate death in any war I find to be unacceptable regardless of who is doing the killing. But Hiroshima was not a decision made by grunts or even NCOs, and it doesn't reflect upon what the soldiers themselves do in warfare.

Again, if you'd rather not answer the questions as posed, and rather call me a dumbass (even though some time ago you praised my comments and thought me open-minded), feel free. However, in doing so, please note that I am a leftist in the Leninist-Althusserian vein, not a liberal. There is a substantial difference, and any measure of charity should respect that.

If charity means anything in the Church anymore.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Because being a lawyer who practices in Athens Clarke County, I might at least somewhat agree with you about police.

You are right that I'm not interested in nuance. Do you remember who the Bible says was the most subtle, or 'nuanced' of God's creation?

There has not been any member who regularly posts here that has treated me with any measure of respect or charity, so I'm not sure you have standing to criticize me for that. I am not a doormat, I give as good as I get.

(And I know that you, the big Christian scholar will try to screech that Christianity means being a doormat, taking one or two Bible verses to support your point. Forget it, it's not going to work with me. Your warped version of Christianity is not relevant to me.)

Leftist, liberal, to-may-to, to-mah-to, Who cares? I'm not interested in Leninist-Stalinist-Althuswhoeverian, or any other such nonsense. Go on top of a mountain and discuss it with someone interested in that kind of stuff.

What I'm interested in is supporting our troops, which means supporting their mission. End of story.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

"You are right that I'm not interested in nuance. Do you remember who the Bible says was the most subtle, or 'nuanced' of God's creation?"

Hmmm...a LAWYER you say?

How'd you do on the LSAT? B/c I'm pretty sure the sort of logical analysis employed in the above quote would not have garnered a very high score on the logical reasoning section.

First of all, just conceding your contention that the Bible speaks of Satan as being 'subtle,' this does not mean that subtlety is bad. The bible also speaks of Satan as being 'beautiful' and an 'angel of light.' Are these things bad, in principle, simply b/c they share something in common with the great Accuser?

See, you seem to be arguing that "if subtle, then bad" in order to justify your own very un-nuanced approach to online debate (or life in general, or whatever). But in order to prove that "if subtle, then bad" is a true proposition, you appeal to one particular person who is both subtle and bad (Satan).

So, I could reasons like this and we would be on equal logical footing:

"I have no interest in loving my mother. Hitler loved his mother."

Showing that one particular instantiation of subtlety in the world (Satan) also has the characteristic of being bad/wicked/evil/undesirable of emulation fails to support your claim that subtlety is something to be avoided. To show that, you need to somehow show that subtlety is inherently wicked. But that, of course, would be absurd. And I'll bet you know that, Chuck.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

"What I'm interested in is supporting our troops, which means supporting their mission. End of story."

If a young Berliner in 1943 had reasoned in precisely the same way, where would his reasoning go wrong?

Or, for a less emotionally charged historical example, what about a GOP partisan who opposed Clinton's intervention in Bosnia? Does that mean that they didn't "support the troops"? This is a sincere question, and I am genuinely curious to hear your answer. I am sitting patiently and my ears are open to LISTEN to what you have to say.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

The principle is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not do unto others as they have done unto you. If God did things your way, woe unto us all. I do think that you get a bum account from anonymous folks all too often, though not on account of your positions. Personally, I think Xon takes the more outlandish positions—he and I, I think, both respect this about one another—but Xon is noways as vilified for them. I also notice that you came here initially with a chip on your shoulder and a foul way of arguing with people. I say this honestly, with no intention to cut you. Your method was the kind of internet debate I also engaged in when I was very conservative and a Reagan Republican at Georgia Tech (where their minority status as Republican conservatives lead them to take further and further positions of extremity and audacity in order to rise above the apathy of that student body), so I don't think it is that unusual, and the internet is replete with examples far worse than your own. Over the years, though, your attitude has gradually diminished to posting short, incendiary comments with little more than the flame to them, although it is obvious from your own posted items on your website that you can and do produce a reasonable argument. Either Johnathan's blog is not worth reasonable arguments (and there are many who differ from that assessment, including those of us who lead busy-enough lives) or you've reached a point of exasperation where all you can give is the fire that motivates you, and it has nothing to do particularly with Johnathan's blog. I don't know, but you know.

Either way, Johnathan can very easily delete your comments, yet despite your own statements assuming and declaring that he will, all too often they are left to stand just as much as the comments insulting or mocking you. I don't think we should overlook the fact that there are assholes out there, but I still say, from my warped view of the Gospel message, that the measure of a man or a woman is seen best when such a person is faced with oppression, whether legitimated by social pressure or created by individual arrogance. We can still read that people called Jesus a servant of Satan and a blasphemer, afterall, and it's what he does afterwards that makes him stand out as Jesus. Yes, people do insult you, some of them probably because they do not care about your particular dignity, and even hate you, and of course that is going to hurt. It hurts, even when it is a lie, because we are all fragile humans whose matter is as clay to the steel of hubris and pride. God made us this way, for his reasons, but he has also made us a clay that carries something. Our value is in what we are vessels for, when the value of steel is only that it is hard, enduring, and dead. But we can pour, we can hold, we can grow within ourselves a fertile life producing fruit, and it's the potter who delights in that true power masquerading as fragile weakness. The symbol of Christianity is not the Cross—the moment where omnipotent God in all his glory is made sin and killed as a common criminal—for nothing.

I don't know if I can convince you that there is beauty and glory in being meek, that power truly is perfected in weakness, that we can be knocked down but never destroyed. I do think that you don't like for me to preach absurdity, and you probably grow tired of what I have to say about this or that. I hope not, though. I'm being a little foolish, usually when I'm provoked to be, so bear with my foolishness, my burdens.

I hope that, soon, you can see me as not only a brother, but as a friend you can trust. I have mentioned here two people whom I feel that way about, and so it should be clear that politics stands as no enemy to such love that is true among men.

Nevertheless, to the point, I never said that police officers, including the ones here in Athens, are thugs and criminals, so don't agree with me if your insinuation is that they are. Again, I just want to know if you think that because supporting troops or police means supporting their mission or orders this also means supporting those missions or orders when they are patently illegal, unethical, or immoral. If you are saying that police in Athens-Clarke County are thugs or criminals themselves, then no doubt you already accept the reality that, occasionally, there are those police who do wrong. As you noted, the very profession you have engaged in constantly and importantly challenges the activities of police and the state in order to preserve the civil rights and due process afforded to all citizens regardless of innocence or conviction, so it can't be that police never do wrong. Likewise, the UCMJ exists precisely because it is apparent that soldiers are no more virtuous than the rest of us, and are just as capable of crime or incompetence or frailty or misunderstanding as we are. Thus, it can't be that they never do wrong, as well.

The question then is: does our support of a soldier necessitating our support of their mission mean also supporting everything about their mission, given that we know, without any doubt, that sometimes accomplishment of the mission resulted from illegal, unethical, or immoral actions?

It cannot be that the end of the story is Yes, nor can it be that the end of the story is No. I am actually not sure what your answer is, but I want to know. I want to know in order to do your own position justice. While you may not think that charity means being a doormat, I do think, and so I do act, that charity means getting the other person fairly, means at least attempting to take the other person at their word.

As I have said before to you, I don't know anything more about you than what you present to me. If this is too invasive, and you'd rather I not give a shit anymore, please let me know and I'll apologize and keep things as simple and end of story as you would prefer.

Is this agreeable, or tiresome? Let me know, please, Chuck.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Since Xon started out with personal attacks, I am forced to dismiss him at this time.

Polus, however, actually made sense. I think you hit on the reason I put on the public face of the acid-tongued fire breather on this blog. (It is indeed an act a lot of the time; anyone who has actually taken the time to get to know me personally knows this.) I already KNOW that people here are not going to treat me fairly, that they have pre-judged me and will twist anything and everything that I say - so why should I try to discuss with them? Why not just have fun with them? My more cutting remarks are not based in offense but rather are based in having fun with people who I know are against me no matter what I do.

But I dont think I've posted anything particularly acidic in this thread. So what difference does that make? (Except for the statement that you being shot might not be a bad thing - ok I will admit that was mean. Peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere - mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)

Nevertheless I do not think that being a Christian means being a doormat. There is a reason I chose the great and glorious Michael - God's General - as my patron saint. I believe in the approach of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who was described as God's Rottweiler.

Regarding my support the troops position, by which I stand firmly, is that too often people believe what they read in the New York al-Times, and that the public face of the left is, and their "General Betray Us" ads.

As you likely know, I counter-protest a group called the Biddies In Black; they have anti-war signs at the Arch every Tuesday and I go counterprotest them with my sign (except tomorrow because I will be at the beach). They try to crowd me out and stick their signs in front of mine, and more, but I am still there. I have at least one soldier (sailor, airman, etc.) come up to me each week and thank me for being there. I had someone whom I send care packages to ask me not to send newspapers or anything because it just offends them when they read anti-war stuff. I had an Army NCO tell me that "I want to thank you for supporting us, we know that there are a lot of people over here who don't." An Army officer told me, when I offered to send him a package, not to send anything for him but instead send things he could give to the Afghanistan kids. An enlisted Marine told me that "My unit received humanitarian commendation medals, but all we ever hear from the media over here is how we are murderers and all that." I had a Marine officer tell me one time that he was walking downtow in his uniform after coming back from Iraq and an anti-war person threw hot coffee on him.

That is the background from where I am coming with my position. I am willing to admit that soldiers (etc.) are not Immaculate Conceptions, but I'm absolutely prepared to give them every benefit of the doubt in every respect whatsoever, without exception.

To answer your final question, I find you generally agreeable.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Do you think people treat you unfairly because you are conservative and Catholic or because you are Chuck Jones or for other reasons? They are against you, you wrote, but you or the you of your positions and beliefs?

I am evangelical, so I know nothing of choosing patron saints, but by Michael, do you mean the archangel? If so, how do you square your "having fun" with the account given in Jude?

I don't see Xon as using personal attacks, but instead points out that you exhibited some poor reasoning and also explained why it was poor. To me, that is not a personal attack. A reproof, sure, but it seems to me calling someone a dumbass when you've misunderstood what that person said is worse and more personal than what Xon did.

I see how Xon and Garland, whose philosophical positions are distinct and different from Johnathan's and most centrists', are treated, and they don't seem tarred. Although the anonymous crowd occasionally chimes in with insults directed towards you and fellow conservatives, I do see more anonymous comments attacking Johnathan or "the libs" or "the leftists" than supposedly leftist or liberal anonymous commentors. My perception is that, ultimately given the authorial power Johnathan has over his own weblog, the field is not so overburdened one way or the other, this way or that, so that no one is excluded from presenting their case. Miscommunication and misunderstanding are normal with the internet, so not all cases of poor responses are the result of someone twisting another's comment. So, I don't buy that your voice will be automatically mocked: the conservatives and libertarians who do post here regularly demonstrate otherwise. What I can accept is that you do feel mocked and you do feel insulted, because that is true. But I also know that you have done some things on the internet that were curious, at the least, and embarrassing, at the most. If a few anonymous shucksters want to hold that against you, what is that to you, if you're innocent or wiser? The position of having fun by poking at people is just what the anonymous folk are doing when they mock you, so what gratification does that give you to be no more or less virtuous than they are? If we accept this whole image of the tough sunuvabich Man of Swagger, how petty is it for him to whine about what lies those anonymous people write about him?

It seems to me that it does take some courage and resolve to stand in public and hold up a sign proclaiming one's political allegiance and solidarity with others, without pay and without constant thanks and support. I don't think whatever virtue there is gained in that is worth sacrificing over what some bastards or guttersnipes say about you on the internet.

I don't know if the coffeetosser was anti-war or just another asshole: Athens is full of deadbeats, some who drive very expensive cars and have very deep pockets, who don't give a whit about other people and wear out their misanthropy, regardless of who it is receiving the piss end of the stick. No doubt there are soldiers who appreciate what you do, just as there are soldiers who appreciate what the Women in Black do. For every Jeff Emanuel there is an Army of Dude. And our society can only be the better for that diversity, where dissent and objection is not met with bullets in the head. But with this diversity come the irrepressible miscreants, those who fail to believe in the noble idea of a democracy of respect and dignity, and such people are always going to poop on whatever seems admirable.

So, yes, I can see why you support the troops, but let's not be sidetracked from the truth that the people who shit on them are uniformly liberals or leftists or anti-war (impotent, girly, or gay) conservatives. A news report of the failure of the military's projects works just as much as a call to increase support for the military in the hands of a capable administration. A movie of the determination and raw animal masculinity one small group of heroes defending democracy against the Eastern theocratic hordes serves as so much counterweight not to be ignored. Culture is a complex thing, and not tapped out by news.

Still, is your answer that, even if the mission our soldiers are fighting is objectively wrong, we should still support it, because we must support them? Or, rather, is it that because we give them the benefit of the doubt and trust them, given all that they have accomplished thanklessly, and support them, we must therefore approve and support the mission they are on, regardless of whether or not the mission is objectively wrong?

8:44 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

But giving the troops the 'benefit of the doubt' is something we all do, Chuck. I don't think badly of the troops, in fact just the opposite. The troops are, as a general rule, brave folks who do something I could not fathom doing.

But why does this mean I have to support the war that the neoconservatives have gotten them into? Suppose I somehow came into a position of power, and I order a bunch of righteous men to start digging a hole to nowhere. These are righteous men, and they were raised to respect the authority of their political leaders, and so they do as they are told. They dig valiantly and with great vigor. You come along and see them, digging as nobody has ever dug before. And you get angry. "Who is it that put these great men to such a menial and pointless task? I demand answers!"

Now, in your indignation are you actually undermining these righteous men? I would say that you are supporting them. Yet you don't support their 'mission.'

And, as a preemptive strike (which I do endorse in rhetoric if not in war), let me point out that I'm NOT equating the Iraq War with "digging a ditch." I am being more general than that; I am comparing the Iraq War with any quesitonable task that honorable people are sometimes forced to do (questionable morally, politically, spiritually, economically, or whatever else).

9:24 PM  
Anonymous chuck said...

I would just like to first observe that I am typing this message while lying on the beach in South Carolina - I hope I don't get sand in my keyboard.

I don't know why people attack me, but it doesn't really seem to be relevant - or any of my business - why people attack me. When they do, I feel free to have fun with them.

"Man of Swagger" - I like that.

While I am weird enough to carry my laptop on the beach, I am not weird enough to carry a laptop and Bible on the beach, so I'm not familiar with the "account" you reference. In any case I'm not inclined to get into a religious debate.

Regarding patron saints - people who are born Catholic have them selected by their godparents usually. People who convert, like I, select them for themselves. I chose Michael (yes, the Archangel, the military leader of heaven) and Joseph.

People like you and Xon say "We support the troops," but then Xon calls the mission that they are risking their lives EVERY DAY for, the mission that they have relatives and friends who DIED for, is meaningless. You are in essence saying that these people died for nothing, that their lives meant nothing. That is not support.

And anti-war people certainly do not support General Petraeus (see the recent ad), who is a Soldier, or General Pace, who is a Marine, who they effectively put out of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff position because of their partisanship.

What do the troops themselves think? Scripsit the Associated Press:

Standing before troops cheering "hooah," Bush said decisions on force levels "will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground — not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media.

The troops' reaction to that is absolutely all I need to hear.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Can you cut&paste the exact sentence where Xon calls the war meaningless, or where I wrote, in essence, that the loss of a soldier or marine in Iraq or Afghanistan means nothing? Please stop attributing views to me that I do not have, and definitely do not do so to my friend Xon.

It suffices to point out that does not represent all anti-war people, in the same way that the Log Cabin Republicans do not represent all conservative people or the AARP represents all senior people. I have no sympathies with the practice of vilifying General Petraeus, so don't pin that on me.

Still, since you'd rather not address my questions, Chuck, all I'll say is that you should enjoy the beach. Hopefully the jellyfish are no longer breeding as they have been recently, and that your sunscreen is current and well-covering.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't know why people attack me"


11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You are in essence saying that these people died for nothing, that their lives meant nothing."

That is a serious elision of two quite different things --one can die for nothing without one's life having meant nothing. People get killed in car accidents all the time and yet have led meaningful lives. By eliding these two things you are essentially saying that more troops should continue to die in a war that may or may not be winnable (personally I don't think it is) just because some troops already have. That is hardly supporting the troops! If you're in a hole, the best lesson sometimes is to stop digging.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Anonymous Al Davison is dismissed. I would tell him to go gaze lovingly into his wife's eyes, but I think that would be too cruel a sentence for even ME to impose on anyone, even him. While the idea of Al going blind and/or turning to stone appeals to me, I still told JMac that I'd be nicer to people :)

(Ok ok ok that was one of my last instances of gratuitous meanness - you can't expect me to quit cold turkey.)

My subsequent discussion is limited to Polus only.

Polus - I assure you that the jellyfish are in season. Thing is, they're the clear variety, so I don't even notice them until the next morning when I wake up and have a thousand jellyfish stings.

Anyway, wtf do you want from me! :) I thought I responded fairly to your long post.

I also don't give much weight to the dodge that "I don't personally agree with the attack ads." I'm not criticizing you PERSONALLY, but rather I am criticizing the anti-war left in general. And, like it or not, those ads and those kind of people are the face of the anti-war left. At least to the soldiers.

Your claims are that the war is 'questionable' - I don't think that is an acceptable view when there are soldiers over there. We need to support them whether we think they're right or wrong - because they're THERE. Xon said it was at least comparable to digging a hole to nowhere. Digging a hole to nowhere is a meaningless act.

As long as there are soldiers (etc.) over there, they need to know that we are all behind them regardless of politics. As the Marines say, "Cowards cut and run. Marines never will."

12:29 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Sorry about the jellyfish.

You ask what I want from you and say that you've answered fairly. Perhaps, but what I want is an answer to the question I have been asking. You have responded that supporting the troops, for you, means giving them the benefit of the doubt. You later responded that the soldiers gave Bush a "hooah," and that is all that you need to hear. None of this answers what is a more abstract question, not directly tied into the present events as they currently stand.

If you do intend your responses to be your answer, then is it for me to take your answer that Yes, we should support a mission or operation that is objectively immoral, unethical, or illegal because otherwise we will fail to support the troops? Again, that seems different, to me, from an answer that Yes, whenever we support the troops we also support them doing any mission or operation which is objectively immoral, unethical, or illegal. You simplified the connection between the two forms of support with an equality, but it's not clear to me if that's meant to capture necessity, material implication, absolute equality, equivocation, or various other modal possibilities.

Which is why I further asked how I should understand your use of 'support' across the equality, whether it is support of the same kind, support of a general nature, and in what sense of support—prayer, budgeting, giving blood, providing homes, sending dolls, driving with a bumper sticker, &tc—you were talking about. Again, learning that you only need the troops, at a photo-op where dissension results in severe punishments, to say "hooah" explains nothing about how I should support both those soldiers forced to stand beside and behind Bush and the operation that keeps them in that theatre.

Does this make sense? Help me out here.

Chuck, why don't you have a blog of your own? Just curious.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

There was a time when Tennyson was my favorite poet. I think he captures well both the absurdity of what soldiers must sometimes do and the nobility with which they do it. I think there are others who do this and have done this and are going to do this, and that, I think, is demonstration enough that it is quite common for people to make (or else it wouldn't be such a significant theme in poetry and prose).

I agree that there are men and women serving, privately and on behalf of the nation, in Iraq and Afghanistan (and in other related capacities in the area and throughout the world). Yeah, they are there, but as I had written in a recent letter to the editor, they are also returning and being integrated, if at all, into the here, and it is here where there are those who love them, work with them, miss them, adore them, struggle for them. War is shit to the survivor, regardless of where, and hell on those who do not receive the survivors, so I don't place much weight on the division that enjoys security here and havoc there. Perhaps this is too fine a point to make, but I still take your point to be that we need to support those who are fighting on our behalf. Okay, support them, but by not registering our disapproval of why they are there? By not recognizing that our military is little equipped to care for those soldiers and marines who return missing brain matter, limbs, livers, &tc? By not demanding more secure pay for them and more secure benefits for their dependents? By not applying pressure to our government to ensure that the diplomatic arm of the state is being used to lessen the need for armed diplomacy (the left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing)?

I am not sure what you think should not be done. Nor am I sure what you think should be done. All I know is, we must support them, and that equals supporting the mission.

This is not helpful, nor does it seem to be how poets and writers, whether Greek or Japanese or British or post-postmodern American, have captured the pursuit of glory on the battlefield and the reception of the victorious in the homes.

Hell, we live in the South. Supporting the confederate soldiers while disapproving of the right to own slaves is an accomplishment of the highest sort for those who switched fromthe Dixiecrats to the Republican party. If we are to take them at their word of this ability to render both honor and dissent, I do not see why the "anti-war left" cannot do both.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Hm - a blog of my own. That's not a bad idea actually. I am kind of busy with work and preparing for the Army (if you see a guy on the track panting and wheezing and crawling that's probably me), but I could maybe do it.

To be a more direct answer to your underlying question - I do not find this war to be "objectively immoral, unethical, or illegal." I think to call it that in this case is itself an act of disrespect to the troops. They believe in what they are fighting for, and thus so should we.

I do believe there should be better pay and benefits and care for servicemen.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Once again, and this is altogether unnecessarily repetitive, it is irrelevant for my question whether or not this war is objectively immoral, unethical, or illegal. I already know the answer to your so-called "underlying" question, so asking for such an obvious answer is pointless. I am, and should be taken as, asking what it is I asked. I am, and should be taken as, trying to learn how it is you arrive at this obvious answer, going through the inobvious and opaque to get there.

But, if your most recent response is that on the basis of their belief in the war we should believe in this war, then I suppose your answer is that even if the mission or operation or war is objectively immoral, unethical, or illegal, just as the soldiers themselves do believe in it and desire it then we should also believe in it and desire it.

1) You have equated generals with the grunts, which anyone who has actually served in the military can tell you is extremely problematic. The cultural differences separating the enlisted and the officers should not be easily ignored, particularly as it relates to their political beliefs and practices. Even then, just supposing that they are equal, does the fact that one gives orders and the other follows them have any significance for understanding the manner in which either believes in the order?
1b) Is a President, a man in a suit, as Commander in Chief analogous to a general, a man with stars? And, thus, is a President also a soldier?

2) In your latest response, we now see that "support" translates into "believe in," as in I demonstrate my support for the soldiers in what they are doing by believing in the war they are fighting. But, is this the case only if the soldiers themselves believe in the war, or can it be that if the soldiers no longer wish to fight in the war, but out of a sense of service or necessity continue to fight in the war, then we must still believe in the war even as they do not? Or should we no longer believe in the war even as they no longer believe in the war?

3) You say that we should believe in the war because they believe in the war. Is there unanimity among the soldiers about whether or not they want to fight in the war or believe in the war? Do all of the soldiers believe in the war, or is it a majority, or is it the dedicated and authentic minority who believes?

4) Let's assume a soldier believes in the war:
4a) The soldier believes in the war because he believes that fighting the war will rid the world of Arabs and brown-colored people, giving more space to the pure, white race. Should we believe in the war in the same way as this soldier?
4b) The soldier believes in the war because he believes that by doing his tour of duty, only then can he escape the only alternative of imprisonment for trying to go AWOL in trying to get away from all of the miserable absurdity of the battlefield. Should we believe in the war in the same way as this soldier?
4c) The soldier believes in the war because he believes that service to one's country means making no particular political or moral judgment about the war itself, but in all cases choose to fight the war no matter the political or moral cost, for service to one's country means complete devotion and commitment. Should we believe in the war in the same way as this soldier?

5) Why is support for something the same as believing in that something? Is it possible to support someone's right to develop their property as they see fit without believing that the exact manner in which they develop it is the better? Is it possible to support someone's right to associate with groups without also believing that this group they choose to associate with is the better? Is it possible to support a friend in getting married without also believing the friend's future spouse is the better (ie., do I also have to marry that person, too?)?

These are further reasons why I do not think saying two things are "=" is that helpful of a response or an explanation.

What is your opinion of soldiers who fight in the war but did not believe in the war? Or, soldiers who have fought, have since left the military honorably, and now express their disapproval of the war, to include generals and officers? What is your opinion of soliders who fight in the war but are really quite apathetic about whether the war is just or not?

When it comes to blogs, if you have enough time to post on other people's blogs, you have enough time for your own. And, being that it is your own, you have total authorial control over that blog, and needn't worry about someone deleting the posts because that person thinks they "go too far." You can set the tone as much or as little as you want. You can write about what you want, and there is no sense of one being a guest in one's own home. What else could you want?

3:08 AM  

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