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February 01, 2007

Fisking the Arkin-Bot

A few more points on Mr. Arkin:

I was sufficiently steamed this morning, (and I don't read Arkin, having perused his page on two prior occasions and found his condescending tone toward the military thoroughly sick making) that I failed to note that it appears, in fact, to be a blog. I had forgotten that the Post had bloggers now.

Because I could not take on every incoherent aspect of his rant yesterday in my first post, I feel obligated to address a few things I missed:

I can imagine some post-9/11 moment, when the American people say enough already with the wars against terrorism and those in the national security establishment feel these same frustrations. In my little parable, those in leadership positions shake their heads that the people don't get it, that they don't understand that the threat from terrorism, while difficult to defeat, demands commitment and sacrifice and is very real because it is so shadowy, that the very survival of the United States is at stake. Those Hoover's and Nixon's will use these kids in uniform as their soldiers. If I weren't the United States, I'd say the story end with a military coup where those in the know, and those with fire in their bellies, save the nation from the people.

But it is the United States and instead this NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.


What did this man just suggest? Has he read the Constitution lately?

Did he just suggest that the United States military, without our elected representatives having reflected the will of the people by impeaching the President and stopping the war, take it on themselves to subvert the law by taking up arms against their lawful government? Is that really how we want the military to act???

God forbid I should ever live in this country on that awful day. We have civilian control over the military for a very good reason. This man is clearly unbalanced: to him, the end justifies the means, however. He has no problem with setting aside both the Constitution and the rule of law if it gets him and his party into power.

And then he calls our military "mercenaries". Mercenaries, according to Websters, are soldiers who kill solely for money, such as those who will work for any government, anywhere. They owe no allegiance to a nation. Their only allegiance is to a paycheck. If this does not tell you all you need to know about William Arkin, it should.

After the whip, we get the velvet glove:

Iraq is not dirty work: it is not some necessary endeavor; the people just don't believe that anymore.

I'll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that's where their frustrations come in. I'll accept as well that they are young and naïve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.

Wunderbar: it's the "bring our poor confused children home" meme again - they're too stupid to understand how they're being taken advantage of. They've been lied to, but we here at home are so much smarter. We get it.

It, of course, never enters Mr. Arkin's closed mind that the troops, actually being on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, might possibly "grasp" some information he doesn't; such as the nature of the enemy we're fighting, the progress we are making, the likelihood of winning this war. No, Bill Arkin knows far more about war from the vantage point of his keyboard than any mere soldier fighting in Iraq.

He's an expert, you see. A journalist. The go-to guy. How dare they question his expertise, these mindless drones who are actually on the scene? What could they possibly know? Besides, he questions their objectivity. His objectivity may not be questioned, however:

Arkin is a veteran of four years in the Army (he served from 1974 to 1978) and many of his bylines from the past two decades described him as a "military intelligence analyst" during his service (his rank and units are not readily apparent). He received his BS from the University of Maryland.

His employment since leaving the service is easier to trace Arkin cut his teeth with the lefty Institute for Policy Studies, and went from there to positions with Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Human Rights Watch. He has been a regular columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In recent years he has taken more mainstream work as a senior fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (he appears to do most of his writing not from the SAIS campus, but from his home in Vermont).

He is also the regular military affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times (what a surprise that the Times employs a Greenpeace alum as its military guru) and a commentator for MSNBC.

Today he briefly apologizes for the mercenary remark before going on to insult the military yet again:

I was dead wrong in using the word mercenary to describe the American soldier today.

These men and women are not fighting for money with little regard for the nation. The situation might be much worse than that: evidently far too many in uniform believe that they are the one true nation. They hide behind the constitution and the flag and then spew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people.

Mr. Arkin's entire column, as I showed earlier today, demonstrated a "certain contempt" for the United States military. He dishonestly denies this and then is surprised that it, in its turn, generated more than a few intemperate remarks. While not excusing some of the things which were said to Mr. Arkin, it is difficult to be surprised at either the anger his column inspired or his entirely characteristic (and very peevish) response to it.

He cannot not admit that he was wrong - that it was not just the mercenary remark that was insulting, but the entire column. Like John Kerry before him, he proceeds to add more insult to the initial injury:

I'm not saying that this makes people in the military automatons, or that they are stupid.

Wait for it... he's getting ready to insert foot in mouth...he won't be able to stop himself...

But this unanimity of thought and this absolute allegiance to a hierarchy of ideas is and should be foreign in the civilian world.

So civilians don't practice unanimity of thought or adhere rigidly to an absolute hierarchy of ideas...

That's what makes the two different.

Unlike those... gosh... what's the word I'm searching for? If only I were a civilian... Oooh! I know! those AUTOMATONS in the military!!!! Dang! I feel really, really smart!

I hesitate to describe the military "attitude" about the world,

...because that might give the appearance that I was biased against the military...

or to even apply some negative connotation to the assertion that the military, from the Pentagon on down to the lowest platoon assumes a singular worldview.

...hey, some of my best friends are automatons!

The Major asks a terrific question as to what it says about our society that 3,000 lives are not considered "worth it" and I'll develop some thoughts on this in the future.

sometimes, they even ask really neat questions that result in teachable moments! Unfortunately, like Susan Sarandon and Jane Fonda at the anti-war rally the other weekend, I don't really have a pat answer to this question so I'm gonna have to think about it and get back to ya.

The notion then that we should defer to the military to fight when and how and where they want is absurd.

I hear Bill Keller has some great ideas on military strategy. Anyway who's to say who is and is not an "expert" on tactics? My opinion is as good as anyone else's you know.

As the debate about the Iraq war demonstrates, war-making is a shared endeavor and the arrogant and intolerant few who think they are above the people seem those wearing the uniform.

Yes, it really is the height of arrogance for a few idjuts to think that just because their lives happen to be on the line or they have made a career of the combat arms that they ought to have any more say than your average McDonald's hamburger flipper. And while we're at it, let's invite al Qaeda and even the Iranians to the table. We should be talking to our enemies as the Baker commission suggested.

After all, war-making ought to be a shared endeavor.

Just ask the New York Times.

Posted by Cassandra at February 1, 2007 08:31 AM

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Posted by: RICHARD DAUGHERTY at February 1, 2007 12:13 PM

"The state which separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools," Thucydides.

We're on the way! Just give a few more years, and we'll be just like the French.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 1, 2007 12:16 PM

Strangely, your link to Arkin's "apology" still works, but the post is not on his mainpage.

Posted by: FbL at February 1, 2007 12:31 PM

These people exhibit a deep hatred and, more importantly, a profound ignorance of those whom choose , willingly, to risk all to defend their homes and life. In addition ,these fools have no grasp on the threat to our homes and to our values by these evil terrorists, and evil they are. They cannot fathom women and men who do see the threat and whom volunteer to hold at bay and ultimately defeat the hatred of a perverted religion and it's purveyers. These are people whom are unable to see the value in what they have ,in the life that they are able to experience and enjoy , are unable, or unwilling, to accept the sacrifices that must be made to secure that life and lifestyle that they are so comfortably enscounced in. Unfortunately ,they likely will live out their lives blissfully and ignorantly unaware ,and incapable of the respect due those responsible for their comforts and safety.

Posted by: Edward Lunny at February 1, 2007 01:08 PM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at February 1, 2007 02:16 PM

To start with, if this fellow spent four years in the military during that timeframe, and since they were overloaded with Captains and NCOs, would have been lucky if he came out as a very, very junior Captain or, if enlisted, an equally junior Spec4. Not that there is anything wrong with either, but as a rule, you do not go to either for any earth shattering revelations.

"They hide behind the constitution and the flag..." Well, they're not hiding behind either - each and every member of the uniformed services to uphold and defend the constitution. As to the flag, it represents all that is noble and good about this country. That constitution allows the witless to display just how witless they can be and still earn a very good income while they're at it.

"...[S]pew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people." I have to be pro-Democrat, pro-liberal and pro-journalist to be a true American? I was living under the assumption that the constitution I was hiding behind gave me some freedom of thought. Apparently, I was wrong. I'm not anti-citizen. Though, admittedly, I'm not all that fond of the Democrats, liberals and journalist slithering around amongst us. As for the dissenters, it all depends on what they are dissenting. Once again, Jane Fonda is out their mouthing off, and she still hasn't figured out the results of our pulling out of Vietnam and cutting off all supplies to the South Vietnamese government. Millions died, but as usual, none of it was the fault of the Left.

Yes, we who chose the military as a career are not the brightest bulbs out there. The brightness belongs to people like Al Gore - a man who never was able to find a graduate school he couldn't flunk out of. Find a couple, amid hundreds of thousands in uniform, who dissent, and you have what the Left considers to be the intellect of the military world.

I could sound off forever, but by exercising my rights, I would somehow, in his feeble mind, be denying his. Yet, allowing him to put his mindless drivel into print is one of the reasons I was very proud to wear the uniform I wore for a very long time. If defending his right to be a mindless idiot is the cost, so be it.

Posted by: RIslander at February 1, 2007 05:08 PM

Tsk, tsk, tsk RIslander.

You can't help it can you? After all, you are stoopid.

The First Amendment only includes the right to say things Mr. Arkin and his leftist friends agree with. Ideas he doesn't like will *not* be tolerated - doesn't matter whether they're protected under the Constitution or not.

Dumb ass.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 1, 2007 06:23 PM

I usually don't comment on military matters, being not the expert myself, but couldn't help wondering about this misleading statement,

"Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them"

Don't a lot of soldiers have access to the internet, wasn't there just a miliblog contest? Is this statement accurate? Are soldiers really "out of touch" with the debate?

I have a problem with this statement. He accuses soldiers of being "anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen" All but the last if fine by me.

Posted by: baberuth at February 1, 2007 06:34 PM

Anyone know off hand if Benedict Arnold wan an ancestor of Arkin? To RIslander, I appreciate your service to the country, but please don't forget that while defending Arkin's "right" to express near treason, Arkin and that ilk are hard at work to deprive Conservatives and Republicans of the right to express our patriotism, economic theory, 2nd Amendment Rights, right to life issues, and the desire to drive a wooden stake through the "heart" of multiculturalism". At some point in the near future, America is going to have to decide where the line if drawn while advocating a viewpoint while simultaneously supressing the free speech rights of the other viewpoint. The Looney Liberals trying to resurrect the grossly misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" to silence talk radio. This gives me the cold shivers with the dhimmicrats in power. By the way, does anyone happen to have a barely used strait-jacket for russ feingold of (d) Wisconsin. This moron wants to ban racial profiling forever. Who among us shall take all the joy out of life for the wheelchair bound Mennonite Grandmothers that fly airplanes into skyscrapers after indoctrination at the local Elks Club on Bingo Night. This sort of garbage does nothing but encourage America's enemies, both domestic and foreign.

Posted by: Rich at February 1, 2007 06:42 PM

By the way, linked off LGF to an audio that explains the article at www.hotair.com.

The superior officers (I guess these are the adults not the kids) "indoctrinate these troops, teach them about the american goverment, about the war, about the struggle their involved in" Arkin said this is what their superiors do. The soldiers should "tread very lightly" when criticising the --- because "they are our servants".

"conundrum that I raised in my article and how it struck me was this uh this religious mantra we have in our society that we have to support the troops. It is almost unacceptable that somebody would say anything else" So, I guess what he meant to say is that he doesn't support the troops either, really. Especially if they believe that the mission, the war, what they are doing in Iraq is the thing to do.

Forbidding the criticizing the troops he says (paraphrasing now) is the right being politically correct. I imagine, in his relativistic world there is only political correctness not right and wrong.

(by the way, listened to the whole snibit and I think when he says troops he sometimes means the 18 year old private and sometimes means the general planning the war. I think the word "troops" for him is a bit to broad to mean anything)

Soldiers he says are "self-selected individuals" a "tiny portion of our population". Like journalists? Like other minorities?

Another great snibit, "the american military deserves some of the blame" for how the war is going. I think he's also trying to say that the military is a philosophical minority (like journalists and college professors) and he's probably afraid that unlike journalists and college professors (who like the military might not represent society as a whole) the military have a lot of guns and high explosives and might someday come gunning for him.

(okay, my transcription isn't perfect . . )

For the record, been teaching my kids ancient history and about the warlike Spartans (everyone is a soldier) and democratic, erudite, peaceful Athens. I pointed out to my kids that if you want democracy and the people to rule you have to be able to defend your country militarily. Athens didn't, Sparta flattened them, end of the great self-rule experiment.

Posted by: baberuth at February 1, 2007 07:10 PM

Note to the Blog Princess: Your reply to RIslander was a lot better than mine.

Posted by: Rich at February 1, 2007 08:24 PM

Just to clarify things, I am talking from the military perspective, and I believe that Cassandra is aware of that. If they want to deny rights to others, than the others should exercise their rights. We are a republic and use a representative form of government - no great secret there. There are very few great communicators in elective office, and unfortunately, the President makes my point all too well. The most rudimentary study of those we are now fighting would paint a very clear picture of the importance of the, essentially, global war we are now fighting. Again, the President is not the greatest of communicators, and even more importantly, he forgot just what and who got him elected in the first place. Here, I am speaking of the total package of what he is attempting to sell.

The media did not love the military more during the Reagan error, and the same media did not have heart throbs about Gingrich either. But, the people knew exactly what these men believed, and overall, the people agreed. When the Republicans stop worrying about what the Democrats think of them, the rest of us won't have to worry about what rights the Left like denying the rest of us. This country has gone through far greater political trials - Lincoln would, I believe, have considered it a cake walk when you think of how he was vilified - than it is going through today, and we are still here. I have little respect for the Left, but trust me, I am, most certainly, not afraid of them.

Posted by: RIslander at February 2, 2007 09:27 AM

Correct that to Reagan "era."

Posted by: RIslander at February 2, 2007 09:31 AM

They hide behind the constitution and the flag and then spew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people.

This is very telling. They hide behind the Constitution (our rule of law) and the flag (our shared American tradition) to anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism (same as anti-Democrat and anti-liberal), anti-dissent and (anti-citizen?) message.

It is not an anti-citizen message, or contempt for the American people. It is contempt for the latte-drinking, limousine-riding, pointy-headed pussies, who if they were confronted with a real terrorist (or even a mugger) would be pissing in their panties.

People like this ungrateful moron sleep soundly in their beds at night because brave men (and women) stand ready to do violence on their behalf (as George Orwell so eloquently stated).

He is able to swill his double-latte-mocha-pussy-ccino drink while spewing his garbage because these same men and women are protecting the Constitution that he disdains. That same Constitution that gives the brave soldiers the right to speak their mind and guys like Arkin the right to make as big a jackass of themselves as they'd like.

Next time he meets a member of the armed services, who are sworn to protect the citizens of this great country, he should buy them a large coffee (strong, hot and black) and say: "thank you".

If I were in a tight situation, I'd rather have a marine at my back than a "journalist".

Posted by: Tony at February 2, 2007 02:18 PM

American servicemembers do not stand behind anything. They stand in front of the flag and the Constitution, protecting them (and us) against all enemies foreign and domestic, just like they promised to do. To those of us standing behind them, it may look like they are "behind" the flag and Constitution, when in fact it is us that are "behind" these things.
That sounded a whole lot better in my head. I hope you smart civilian types can decipher the meaning.
With that said, addressing the "cut off from society" bit, I once watched my carrier steam through the Suez. Live. On CNN. While I was on it. Then I emailed my wife to tell her I was on TV. Sort of.
Cut off indeed.

Posted by: Larry at February 4, 2007 03:54 AM

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