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November 16, 2006

TNR: Was Wrong, Is Wrong.

I was going to write a response to TNR's breathtakingly bad "We Were Wrong" editorial, but I couldn't possibly better what their former employee Spackerman says:

Please believe me when I say that this makes me want to cry, since I used to love working for TNR. But the magazine is setting itself up for making the same mistake over and over and over again. This is the emptiest of evasions -- a fetishization of "seriousness" without ever actually being serious. In one of my last pieces for them, I wrote that "Faced with a disastrous war, the most important consideration is not 'Were we wrong?' but 'Why were we wrong?' and 'How can we avoid being so wrong in the future?'" I begged TNR during my time there to address these last questions. But now it's dawned on me that my former friends never will.

Read the whole thing. For TNR, it should be no surprise that "We Were Wrong" actually equates to "They are wrong." The magazine only admits error as a way to sucker punch those they believe are even wronger than they -- "the realists," whose understanding that "American power may not be capable of transforming ancient cultures or deep hatreds...does not absolve us of the duty to conduct a foreign policy that takes its moral obligations seriously." This comes in an editorial explaining that the magazine's attempt to "take its moral obligations seriously" led it to commit a great and grave misjudgment.

To limn that sentence would be an actual exploration of why the magazine was wrong. To let it languish as platitude, however, is to seek credit for an apology that denies the actual utility of regret: Learning. This is an apology to all "whom might have been offended by the magazine's actions." It is not an admission of wrongdoing, nor evidence of change. And so it is worthless. There is no growth here, only an admission of defeat that denies all implication of systemic error. The magazine wasn't wrong, reality was. And TNR deeply regrets that.

November 16, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink


Yeah, kick them in the nads, again, harder. Faux-apologies for a real fuckups.

Meanwhile, I'm sure TNR will join in the 'kick the can down the alley' game for another six months or so, as the SOCOM commander did yesterday in Congressional testimony.

The DC-meme now seems to be emerging that 20,000 MORE troops is what we need in Iraq - to lend 'credibility' to some phony 'negotiations' with interested parties. We can expect TNR and Joe Lieberfreak to join that chorus. The new story will be that DC hears the voice of the people, but the people don't understand how complicated this is, and we must escalate to de-escalate and that takes time.....

TNR has learned nothing because they didn't want to learn anything on Iraq misjudgments. Ackerman is surely far more effective and surely less frustrated by being free of TNR doublethink, although it seems as if his heart is broken by the experience.

Bush is not going to change actual policy and strategy. He made it clear months ago that the next President gets to sort this out, quite likely in an atmosphere where things are even more FUBAR than today.

I think the Dems made a huge mistake by stating that a Dem. congress will not use the only weapon they have to bring BushCo under control: funding authority (not to mention impeachment). The Dems. have unilaterally disarmed before the first shot has been fired in the battle to bring accountability to our Iraq policy.

It took actual budget cuts to bring the Vietnam conflict to an end. It will probably take that same action to end this insanity in the media, opinion leaders and the Bush administration.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 16, 2006 11:49:19 AM

a fetishization of "seriousness" without ever actually being serious.

What a perfect way to sum up the last 6 years.

Posted by: tim | Nov 16, 2006 11:51:54 AM

"I don't need a lecture on where we went wrong. I need to deal with where we are now."

-- President Lyndon Johnson on Vietnam to Senator George McGovern, as quoted in McGovern's biography Grassroots, from a meeting at the White House in 1965

Posted by: darrelplant | Nov 16, 2006 12:36:52 PM

Turned out well for LBJ, didn't it? Perhaps he did need a lecture on where he went wrong. Because he kept making the same mistake at least three more years.

Posted by: Rick | Nov 16, 2006 12:42:59 PM

Well-dissected, sir. This is just a new twist on the old "I accept responsibility for _______," which means, exactly, "I will not accept any consequences for ______."

Posted by: calling all toasters | Nov 16, 2006 12:56:26 PM

It's John Kerry's fault...


Posted by: Typical Media Whore | Nov 16, 2006 1:21:21 PM

"Moral seriousness is not moral responsibility. Manners are not actions."

Posted by: Ignatz maus | Nov 16, 2006 1:22:10 PM

Dude, you made me look up "limn" in the dictionary. Reading a blog post, I had to reference a dictionary... looks like the medium is growing up already. ;-)

Great post.

Posted by: Sujal | Nov 16, 2006 1:33:54 PM

The Dems. have unilaterally disarmed before the first shot has been fired in the battle to bring accountability to our Iraq policy.

No they haven't, and folks need to quit saying this. Impeachment, and de-funding a war, are extremely serious issues, and shouldn't be talked seriously by officials holding office about except in a very serious manner. (It's hard to remember what serious government looks like, what with 12 years of Republicans in the House and six years of a Republican president, I know, but we must try to remember).

That time would not come until Democrats were actually in power, and had real data to support both (data gathered via the oversight process).

If that time comes, and Dems still do nothing, then they will have disarmed. Right now, it's just smart to say those things are off the table. It makes it a tiny bit harder for Republicans to whine and cry about partisanship (read, Democratic Partisanship), and if Republicans truly believe they are now in the clear, it makes it that much easier to catch them off guard.

Unilaterally disarming is putting your weapon down; what's happened here is simply keeping the weapon holstered, rather than waving it around like an idiot.

Very big difference.

TNR is such a joke.

Posted by: teece | Nov 16, 2006 1:41:57 PM

The reason they so value "seriousness" is that its hard to keep a straight face when you hear what they're proposing.

Posted by: dan | Nov 16, 2006 1:46:10 PM

Bush said two more Friedmans and it's all good.

Posted by: darby1936 | Nov 16, 2006 1:49:46 PM

Any time someone says "six months" you say... six hundred more dead Americans.

So we only need four to six hundred more dead Americans before we see what can be done.

Who's going to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Posted by: FullRaidersAlchemist | Nov 16, 2006 2:09:37 PM

For future reference:

When you sign off on a war of choice based on the premise that a guy might be planning, at some future date, to load down remote-controlled model airplanes with anthrax, fly them 6,000 miles across the ocean, and then disperse the anthrax over your house in a scheme reminiscent of Dr. Evil's sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads, you aren't being serious. There's no need to ask "why were we wrong?" because the question answers itself. And the obvious answer to "how can we avoid being so wrong in the future?" is the quite obvious "by using your frickin' brain."

When your sum total of "evidence" of bad things afoot is a few corroded aluminum tubes, al-Quaeda associates in a region of a country well-known to be not under the control of its evil leader - because your country is controlling it through aerial patrol, the aforementioned model planes, satellite images of buildings claimed to be weapons factories that could just as easily be the Baghdad Wal-Mart (who can tell from 30 miles up? Certainly not Colin Powell.), mobile weapons labs (seriously...mobile weapons labs for cooking up anthrax? Oh yeah, that's exactly the sterile and secure environment you'd want for that...army trucks with canvas sides. That's a sure winner.), a cribbed grad student thesis written 12 years previously, and obviously forged documents "proving" attempts to obtain raw material precursors for nuclear weapons....then you don't have a case. When you have a case, you bring your best evidence. The above, embarrassingly, constituted the "best evidence" for this war of choice. Your county prosecutor would be embarrassed to go into a courtroom with no more than this.

I can understand why people who were all in favor of the war have a hard time just admitting that they were wrong. Because in this case, being wrong means being a complete moron who swallowed every tiny crumb of rationalization offered without bothering to ask if any of it made any sense.

Posted by: Jennifer | Nov 16, 2006 8:34:51 PM

The "fetishization of "seriousness" without ever actually being serious"; that about says it all.

The tough talk about the absolute necessity of winning the war without fielding an army capable of securing the border, protecting ordinary Iraqis from harm or enabling effective reconstruction; the nauseating invocations of Winston Churchill by incompetents and profiteers; the pious blowhards crowing endlessly Saddam's horrors and the glorious end to his reign, long after Iraq sank into chaos, the puffed-up guardians of American morality on the Conservative Mainstream Media, demonizing anyone whe dared question the war - in the end it was all just empty, pathetic rhetoric.

The bastards still talk of cutting and running, but they persist in running away from the big question they absolutely refuse to face: Why didn't you win your war, if it was so damned necessary? With total control of the government, a compliant citizenry and the most powerful army in history, why didn't you win?

Posted by: DonnyOsmond | Nov 16, 2006 9:35:50 PM

Huh. These guys are in the same building as my office. I've half a mind to print this out and stick it on their front door.

Posted by: Anonymous | Nov 16, 2006 9:36:23 PM

Who's going to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Don't know, but he won't be an American.

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 16, 2006 9:52:43 PM

You go, Ezra.

Posted by: Boynton | Nov 16, 2006 11:05:24 PM

"Why didn't you win your war, if it was so damned necessary? With total control of the government, a compliant citizenry and the most powerful army in history, why didn't you win?"

G*DDAMNED RIGHT! Could it be because this Iraq 'adventure' was a neocon fantasy managed by a corrupt and incompetent administration?

and as we wait for the Study Group to solve the problem more people die.

Posted by: SuperKey | Nov 16, 2006 11:25:30 PM

About "seriousness"... anyone who was serious in 2003 about invading Iraq, really serious, would also have to be in favor of tripling the size of the Army, possibly with a draft, and building it up for years before the invasion.

And no one was in favor of that. Absolutely no one. So they went to war with the Army we had, which was way to small to win the war, not even close.

Posted by: grytpype | Nov 17, 2006 1:38:23 AM

The whole past 6 years has been about avoiding responsibility. I cannot imagine a more serious issue than whether or not to advocate the use of military force... yet these COWARDS at TNR, AEI and PNAC did it enthuastically!

I love the, "We were wrong but our intentions were moral." I saw a bumper sticker that said, "The Road to Hell is Paved by Liberals." I guess if you want good wages, health care for your family, overtime, disability insurance and all the other "Liberal" ideas which are now pretty much mainstream, then I am paving a road to hell.

If you lead a nation into war where almost 3,000 Americans are killed, 10's of thousands wounded, $billions of dollars wasted and God knows how many innocent Iraqis we were supposed to be "liberating" then there is a reward waiting in heaven?

These types of mistakes calls into question the intelligence, motivation, morality and sanity of the participants... not to mention public condemnation and possibly prison.

I went to see Flags of Our Fathers with my son's class and a bunch of other vets. EVERY Vet, from WWII, Korea and the Cold War agreed that those who advocate war are the ones who have never, and will never be the ones fighting! A grizzled old Vet from Iwo Jima who's picture is in the closing credits said that!

These people are amoral cowards. They pushed for war for profit, power and the belief that just because you can do something, that you should do it. Those who let themselves be lead by the nose are COWARDS who, like children when pissed or scared struck out at the first convenient people that they could.

Well, they woke up from their blood lust with an emotional hangover and now a wondering what the hell they did!


Posted by: Darren7160 | Nov 17, 2006 5:18:06 AM

Heh...I like the Lyndon Johnson references.

Hmmm..I guess GWB's statement would be "I will not change nor will I seek a change to the Constitution, to allow me to serve another term as your President".

Posted by: Liberal AND Proud | Nov 17, 2006 8:30:21 AM

Nixon will de-criminalize smoking pot .... conservatives/line_Item_veto will balance the budget .... the halocaust never happened .... God gave Judea and Sumaria to the Jews .... "Christianizing" the heatherns is our manifest destiny ... I did not have sexual relations with that woman .... conservatives are better at national defence/security ... Africans are decendents of Ham and it is Gods choice/punishment that they be slaves ... the American civil war was fought to free the slaves ... F911 was about GWB .... Hillary (or any woman for that matter) could be elected prez in 2008 ... the '06 election signaleed a change in course ... John McCain is a moderate ... James Baker is a voice for reason ... Dracula had an overbite ... Honest Joe puts Amereica 1st .... Oil prices are driven by 'market forces' ... global warming is caused by trees ... John Kerry has/had a clue ... Honest Joe is not a secret neocon ... GWB sits at the far right hand of God ... the NYT is a liberal publication ... Electing conservative Republicans will stop the murdering of the unborn - er I mean nominating socially conservative judges will stop the murdering of the unborn - er I mean re-electing conservative Republicans will stop ... Alito/Roberts/Scalia etal were nominated because they were social conservatives .... liberals are more moral than conservatives who are more moral than liberals ... competition is good for America ... Ted Haggart can be cured by a few years of 'intense counseling' (just the faggotry - it will take a few more years for the hypocracy) ... Your vote can make a difference ... ... the Pope talks to God ... etc ... etc ...etc ...
Everyone reading this comment will find at least one "truth" that they think is true. Many will find one that they know/suspect isn't true but it pisses them off that it is included/exposed here.
Obviously I could go on and on with these facts/truths (or maybe just link the a transcript of any Faux new broadcast)
the only real truth is that the VICTORS WRITE THE HISTORY (truth).
Neocons are writing the history today - liberals don't have a clue - and conservatives (idealogical and social) are slaves who are so pathetic that their greatest hope is to enslave their own children to the 'truth' that the neocons are writing.
The other victors are the real conservatives, which, for bevity, I'll define as those whose grand children will be born wealthy. These people (about 3000 famillies in the US and 2000 more worldwide). These people are the ones who truely want to mantain the satus quo or want change to come very very very slowly. And of course, the neo-robber barrons who are trying to get to that status.
Together, the neocons, the real conservatives and the neo-robber barrons make up the new world order which equals neo-feudalism.
If you think I'm wrong then why, after your '06 victory aren't any of your 'truths' making it to CNN, WaPo, NYT, MSNBC, ABC, etc. You know - Conventional Wisdom. aka History/Truth.
I have hope that the blogshere will provide some deconstruction, but can it be broad enough to overcome the widespread distribution of the 'conventional wisdom' the propogandist produce and the serfs believe - probably not.
The only effective solution would be a worldwide French style revolution . Not likely.

Posted by: Nicollo MacPlato | Nov 17, 2006 10:08:28 AM

With total control of the government, a compliant citizenry and the most powerful army in history, why didn't you win?

Fred's inevitable "Its All The Liberal's Fault©" argument should show up any minute now.

Posted by: Adrock | Nov 17, 2006 11:08:36 AM

a worldwide french style revolution.
nice sounding, that.

Posted by: bernadene | Nov 17, 2006 10:50:50 PM

[email protected]

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