Sometimes, There's a Fish in a Barrel Who Really Needs to Get Plugged

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In the wake of The New York Times' report on torture and murder in Afghanistan, John Cole slams Hugh Hewitt's attempt to dismiss the story—and, by extension, slams all the apologists who use arguments like Hewitt's. Then he attacks the same mob's slimy, silly attempt to conflate the Times piece with Newsweek's Quran article.

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  1. If you have to hide the truth to support your cause, then maybe your cause is not worth supporting.

  2. I suspect that the apologists for these soldiers’ actions think that the public simply can’t handle the truth, and that revealing it will simply lead to hysteria from a public that can’t understand what measures are necessary.
    Oddly enough, I have never heard a service member supporting any of those abuses. The consensus seems to be that a few idiots are making it harder on everyone. When Abu Gahraib came to light, people on my reserve base referred to the accused as “The idiots who lost the war.”
    I think the con’s views can also be attributed to tribal thinking. “Our herd with a flag, right or wrong.”

  3. Number 6-
    I don’t know many folks who support these abuses, but I’ve heard more than one person say that Joseph Darby (the one who first blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib) is a traitor for making the military look bad.

    I live in Connecticut, one of the most laughably corrupt states in the nation, and a few months ago our Governor Rowland left office because of beaucoup corruption scandals. At a press conference heblamed all his problems on the media. Not himself, for accepting kickbacks from contractors; not himself, for accepting bribes from all sorts of people; not himself, for violating just about every ethical guideline on the books; no, no, it’s all the media’s fault.

    A few days ago I was re-reading a World War Two history, talking about how the Germans at the end tried their best to surrender to the Americans, rather than the Russians, because they knew the Americans would treat them properly. I want my country back.

    The benefit of our behavior is that a lot of Germans would surrender to an American where they’d fight to the death against a Russian; better to die in battle than die under torture. Who’d be fool enough to surrender to the modern American army? Better to just die, and take with you as many infidels as you can.

  4. The Japanese citizens who hurled themselves off of cliffs during WWII’s Island Hopping campaign provide a good example of what can happen when the enemy thinks that death is preferable to captivity under an occupying army.
    The blame the media impulse is strong everywhere. I’ve gotten more than one angry call from people whom I’ve done stories about. I’ve been threatened with lawsuits for printing things that are demonstrably true, and threatened more than once. It never seems to occur to people that they would not be in the paper if they didn’t commit crimes.

  5. Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong!

  6. Make that “My man, right or wrong” and you’ve stumbled on the mentality of the gun moll.

  7. “A few days ago I was re-reading a World War Two history, talking about how the Germans at the end tried their best to surrender to the Americans, rather than the Russians, because they knew the Americans would treat them properly. I want my country back.”

    No kidding! I remember listening to right wingers denounce the Soviet Union back in the day. The show trials, the gulags, the torture, the lack of due process, the basic subversion of fundamental human decency in the name of ideology – I used to think that, even if the right was wrong about a lot of things, at bottom they’re decent people.

    I don’t think that any more. It was just a load of bullshit that was convinient for them to say at the time.

  8. I used to think that, even if the right was wrong about a lot of things, at bottom they’re decent people.

    joe, there’s a very big difference between the left and the right:

    The left has no problem spouting information of dubious veracity, even if it means that people die and America’s image overseas suffers. Just look at what happened with the Newsweek debacle.

    The right…oh, wait, never mind.

  9. God damn, Hugh Hewitt is such an idiot…

  10. Jennifer,

    During WW2, American slodiers killed quite a few German soldiers who attempted surrender. And, at Nuremburg, torture was used by Americans to obtain confessions, etc. The current behaviour of American troops is no worse, and may be quite a bit better, than the behaviour of our troops in WW2.

    One thin to keep in mind is the behaviour of the Russians in WW2 was outright barbaric. This was particularly true in East Prussia, and with respect to any German women they siezed.

  11. Don-
    Yes, but torturing German prisoners wasn’t our official, across-the-board policy, whereas torturing the current crop DOES seem to be.

  12. In the navy, madame, we do not have gun molls.

    We have cabin boys.

  13. Feh. Nothing is going to change the attitude of some people that the US military is filled with sadistics jackasses who enjoy torturing people but that the WW2 generation was filled with John Wayne types who would throw down their guns and fistfight an enemy whose rifle jammed.

    War isn’t conducted like that, in any era.

    joe, do you really believe that anyone to the right of you is not a decent person? Or is it just that anyone who denounced the USSR’s tactics (and who falls to the right of you politically) only did it for the sake of political convenience?

    “I remember listening to right wingers denounce the Soviet Union back in the day. The show trials, the gulags, the torture, the lack of due process, the basic subversion of fundamental human decency in the name of ideology – I used to think that, even if the right was wrong about a lot of things, at bottom they’re decent people.”

    I think we’ve hit an all-new low when the USA is compared to the USSR with a sense that it’s essentially a wash as to which is the worse form of gov’t for its people. I’m hoping that’s not what you’re saying here.

    The way we are going about some things in this confllict makes me nervous, admittedly. But I still have no doubt that the US is more of a force for good than for bad – even when we are baldly and selfishly pursuing our own national interests.

    It just works out that way, somehow. Mostly for reasons of national character, IMO…

  14. Or maybe the US is so good because historically it has refrained from being a force for everything, which is what the USSR attempted to be.

    I don’t love my country because our military is involved in war games across the world for varying causes. Not because we fight to make people free, or give humanitarian aid, or even because the world has benefited from our capitalism and liberalism far more than it gives the US credit for. I love my country because I am left alone by my government most of the time.

    If we talk about the US being a force for good, then we might suffer the same deceit that the left (a force for equality) and the right (a force for morality) are guilty of.

  15. national character?

    You mean, like the eagle? Or Uncle Sam?

    Or are you trying to indicate that there is some collective unconscious that you, I, Clinton, Bush and Jeffrey Dahmer share?

  16. QB – No, I’m referring to that oddity in our national character that leads us to decisively win wars and yet return captured territory to those we’ve technically conquered, rebuild their countries to be free democracies, help them get their economies back up and running… That sort of thing.

    DR – I think in many ways you have hit the nail on the head. But I ascribe to the idea that a sovereign nation’s gov’t should be treated by other nations in about the same fashion as an individual in a law-abiding society. Neither scenario should allow for consistently committing crimes and getting away with it.

    But the way nations interact (and the expense of mounting an actual war) means that you’re much more likely to find yourself at war if there’s another country whose self-interest leans towards deposing that nation’s gov’t.

  17. Again, what is this national character you speak of? Your discussion provides an example of something that was done in the past, but does not identify where this “character” comes from, or what constitutes it.

    As far as giving land back and all – the Apache never got theirs back, Cuba ain’t no democracy (for that matter, we didn’t leave the Phillipines one either). Is this the same national character that enslaved people based on the color of their skin? If so, please count me out of being a part of whatever collectivist identity you are trying to forge…such thinking didn’t work for the Nazis, nor the Soviets, and I have no doubt that it would fail for us, too…

    Individuals accomplish objectives. Groups are useful fictions for organizing individual objectives. But don’t ever confuse the two. For example, a human rights organization that is run by one of two people – everything else (mission statement, staff, etc.) is the same.

    One, Saddam Hussein. The other, the Pope. Which one are you going to trust?

  18. QB – I didn’t say I could specify it down to a GPS location. And IMO means “in my opinion” – that’s all it is. You don’t have to agree with me. I’m not a fan of collectivism, either, but there is something unique to the national character of the US just as there is to most nations.

    “As far as giving land back and all – the Apache never got theirs back, Cuba ain’t no democracy (for that matter, we didn’t leave the Phillipines one either). Is this the same national character that enslaved people based on the color of their skin? If so, please count me out of being a part of whatever collectivist identity you are trying to forge…such thinking didn’t work for the Nazis, nor the Soviets, and I have no doubt that it would fail for us, too…”

    I’m looking at your laundry list of U.S. sins. Think about the examples you list because there’s obviously a few things you fail to recognize.

    When was the last time a conquered and nearly eradicated people like the Apache were given a chunk of land back? I seem to still see reservations marked on our maps for Native Americans. Yes, conquest is bad for the conquered, but it seems to almost always be better to be conquered by the U.S. (Ever see “The Mouse That Roared”?) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6302783968/reasonfoundation-20/

    Last I checked, the US was opposed to Castro, so I’m not sure how Cuba makes its way onto the list of U.S. sins. And yeah, this IS the country that fought a brutal Civil War that (among other things) ended slavery based upon skin color.

    “Individuals accomplish objectives. Groups are useful fictions for organizing individual objectives. But don’t ever confuse the two. For example, a human rights organization that is run by one of two people – everything else (mission statement, staff, etc.) is the same.”

    As I said earlier, I don’t need a lecture on the evils of collectivism. But since we’re on the subject, what did I say that gave you the misconception that I did need such a lecture? Particularly one so pompous and patronizing?

    Since we’re lecturing one another: I think you’re out of your gourd if you think that groups are strictly for “organizing individual goals.” That way lies tyranny – you seem to be familiar with the concept. Check into the concept of democracy, in which group goals are voted for individually, yet carried out by… not surprisingly… a group.

    “One, Saddam Hussein. The other, the Pope. Which one are you going to trust?”

    Depends on what I have to trust them to do. If my interests coincide with either of them (not bloody likely!) I’m going to choose (individually, no less!) to side with the guy most likely to help me.

    Besides, it’s not like the history of the people who have held the office of Pope or the Catholic church as an organization has been without stain. Some of the antics they got up to were about as bloodthirsty as Saddam and his sons.

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