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September 07, 2010

Those Inconvenient Generals And Their Dangerous Opinions!

Here's a question for you:

...is it not highly problematic when a senior military officer warns American citizens against exercising their undoubted First Amendment rights? This situation is different from the Koran-down-the-toilet story. We criticized news outlets at the time for endangering American troops, but that was mostly because the story was false. Presumably we can all agree that newspapers and magazines should not circulate false reports that endanger our troops. But what about accurate stories of Americans exercising their constitutional right to criticize Islam by burning Korans?

... the First Amendment only prohibits the establishment of a religion by government. Which is where we came in--there is a fundamental difference between my telling Terry Jones, senior minister at the Dove World Outreach Center, that a mass Koran-burning is a bad idea, and General Petraeus saying the same thing. Especially when Petraeus, probably the most respected person in the federal government, warns that the likely effect is to endanger our troops. In many contexts, taking actions that endanger the troops would be regarded as giving aid and comfort to the enemy, a concept that Petraeus came uncomfortably close to endorsing.

I'm not sure what is worrying John here, nor do I see how asking a private citizen to voluntarily consider how his words may endanger others constitutes "giving aid and comfort to the enemy". If the Taliban are looking for excuses to stir up trouble then doesn't depriving them of such excuses frustrate rather than aid them?

Public servants shouldn't use the powers we grant them to prohibit or punish lawful speech, but that's not what happened here. This is no "who will rid me of that troublesome priest" moment. Nowhere in Petraeus' remarks does he suggest the military (or any other public official, for that matter) stop Jones from burning those Korans. Nowhere does he suggest that Jones doesn't have the right to sanctimoniously wrap himself in the Constitution whilst making a colossal ass of himself.

What he does do is ask Jones to consider the effect his actions are likely to have on others. It's hard to think of anyone in a better position to assess that effect than the man we've placed in charge of not one but two wars against Islamic extremists. I suspect that's what really bothers Petraeus' detractors - they know he is right, but they don't like being reminded that the true cost of all that defiant "speech" of theirs will be borne by someone else.

Kind of takes all the fun out of being a brave, truth-to-powering First Amendment warrior, doesn't it?

I'll tell you what I find troubling: the suggestion that a military officer (whose responsibilities include winning a war on an impossible timetable and looking out for the welfare of over 63,000 young men and women) has no business commenting on events that substantially impact his mission. Nor am I unduly concerned with the supposed chilling effects of being publicly reminded that in the real world, actions have consequences. Not to put too fine a point on it, but "Duh".

There's nothing overtly political about observing that violent morons are easily provoked to acts of violent moronicism. This well known tendency puts the "violent" and "extreme" in violent extremism. Indeed, the right has often objected to the suggestion that such reminders are unacceptable and intolerant (as opposed to intuitively obvious). I can't help but get the feeling that neither the left nor the right has any problem with military officers expressing professional opinions... so long as those opinions support their respective world views. A few cases in point:

1. Was it problematic when the Joint Chiefs signed a letter objecting to a political cartoon they perceived as disrespectful and demeaning to wounded soldiers?

My recollection is that most the lefty blogs found the incident "scary" and "troubling". Most righty bloggers applauded the move.

2. Was it problematic when General Conway said that setting a deadline for US withdrawal from Afghanistan gives sustenance to the Taliban?

Who objected the most?

3. How about when he stated that he wasn't sure straight Marines should be forced to bunk with gay Marines?

How many folks on the right found that statement problematic? How many on the left objected to it? How often have we seen either side object to uniformed utterances that bolster their world view?

Well alrighty then.

Posted by Cassandra at September 7, 2010 08:43 AM

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Comments

In many contexts, taking actions that endanger the troops would be regarded as giving aid and comfort to the enemy, a concept that Petraeus came uncomfortably close to endorsing.

There's 'way too much overthinking in that last segment. I can't think of any context in which General Petraeus' statement could be construed as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" -- but then, my thinking may be a tad narrower than Mr. Hinderaker's because I live tad closer to the enemy than Mr. Hinderaker...

Posted by: BillT at September 7, 2010 04:57 PM

This was one of those posts that didn't end up at all where I thought it would :p

It caught my eye mostly because I think many people share his feeling that it must be dangerous or wrong for military officers to express opinions. But once I started to think about it and question that assumption, I realized that they do that all the time.

Then I started thinking about how we react when they do. Naturally I began by recalling the anti-war crowd's faithful "listen to the generals!" mantra - you know, the one they couldn't drop fast enough when Petraeus came along?

But then I realized that we're no slouches when it comes to seizing on the pronouncements of various generals as some sort of ultimate appeal to authority. So long as they avoid endorsing a party or candidate, I think most of these pronouncements are harmless.

Anyway, his post was thought provoking.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 7, 2010 05:12 PM

For the life of me I couldn't see why John Hinderaker (who I respect) got his knickers in a knot on this one. I'll just put it down to a bad day at the office.

Posted by: Mike Myers at September 7, 2010 05:22 PM

they know he is right, but they don't like being reminded that the true cost of all that defiant "speech" of theirs will be borne by someone else.

That's untrue.

Every American knows the Muslims will come after them with real beheadings if they step out of line. After all, they got a Muslim culture lover in office right now that will guarantee protections for it.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 7, 2010 05:23 PM

This isn't the Left you're talking about Cassandra, where they leak some names and Americans and Afghans get beheaded.

The strategic context is very different for the entities in question.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 7, 2010 05:23 PM

For the life of me I couldn't see why John Hinderaker (who I respect) got his knickers in a knot on this one.

I'm not sure whether he was upset by it or perhaps only wrestling with the same instinctive feeling I usually have... but oddly enough didn't in this case.

Anyway, I loved this post by Jim Treacher:

I think this is the part where I’m supposed to start bleating about how they have every right to do this, and if you don’t think they should, you hate America. Except that expressing the opinion that it’s the wrong thing to do isn’t infringing on anybody’s rights.

My thoughts exactly. I often get the feeling we paint ourselves into corners and then can't find our way out. But that's probably just the contrarian in me speaking.

http://dailycaller.com/2010/09/07/unless-youre-cold-its-dark-or-you-need-to-cook-something-burning-stuff-is-stupid/#ixzz0yskF05oe

Posted by: Cassandra at September 7, 2010 05:37 PM

Underlying this is the legitimate concept that a military person speaking to the public while in uniform cannot be taken as espousing personal opinions, but rather are too easily presumed to be speaking for the military, and so those individuals are enjoined by regulation from doing that. If they want to express a personal opinion--especially a political one--they must first take off their uniforms (and presumably put on civilian clothing). The expression of organizational opinion is the role of the PAO, who has been given the words to say by the general officer. Oh, yeah, and that's the role of the general officer, too.

This also is a freedom of speech matter under the First Amendment. Book burning, flag burning, etc, are expressions of political speech and so protected. However, so is saying that [saying or doing certain things as free speech actions, or as freedom of religion actions, are dumb things to do] expressions of free speech. Even when expressed by general officers.

There are only two kinds of folks who would mistake a general officer's expression that [this] is stupid to be a government diktat:
a) the ones who themselves are dumber than a rock
b) the ones who are looking for excuses to be offended. And so are dumber than a rock.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 7, 2010 06:21 PM

Neither physical strength nor mental intelligence determines the victor in a death match.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 7, 2010 06:39 PM

PAOs exist for a reason. I remember being chewed out many times for the things I said to the press and were reported later. Good thing I know how to spin things.

Posted by: Smart Grunt at September 7, 2010 09:10 PM

I think Generals Petraeus and Conway, at minimum, were clearly correct. What they said was true, and a commander should speak up in defense of his men, even if it puts his own career in danger.

Posted by: Grim at September 7, 2010 11:23 PM

We were discussing this in the chat room during the You Served show tonight. It wasn't just me who was saying "just because you have the RIGHT to do it, doesn't mean you SHOULD". Kinda one of those "with rights comes responsibilities" things....

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 8, 2010 12:23 AM

Underlying this is the legitimate concept that a military person speaking to the public while in uniform cannot be taken as espousing personal opinions, but rather are too easily presumed to be speaking for the military, and so those individuals are enjoined by regulation from doing that. If they want to express a personal opinion--especially a political one--they must first take off their uniforms (and presumably put on civilian clothing).

In this instance, he was clearly *not* espousing a personal opinion, but reminding people of a tactic Al-Q uses regularly -- using the media to slam the US for any real or imagined slight to Muslims that occurs anywhere in the world. He was saying, "This is what the enemy does. If you take this action, do it knowing the probable consequences the people who are defending you will suffer."

There's plenty of wartime precedent for military members making apolitical statements like that -- and because it was *not* a partisan, political statement, there was no need for him to don civvies to say it.

Posted by: BillT at September 8, 2010 06:03 AM

What I wonder is why is the General focused on this podunk little church in "Nowhere", Florida (apologies to UF alum) and not on the media who is making this an issue for, what I think are, political purposes? To me, this appears to be another "maccacca" story, a story that is being reported far beyond its significance to make a statement. In this case, the media is trying to paint Christians as bigots. In a rational world, Terry Jones, in addition to being beneath contempt, would be beneath notice, but in the political world, he can be used to advance an agenda, and damn the consequences to our troops. Who's really putting our troops in danger in this story, the pastor of a 30 member church or the media reporting on it?

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 08:01 AM

What I wonder is why is the General focused on this podunk little church in "Nowhere", Florida (apologies to UF alum) and not on the media who is making this an issue for, what I think are, political purposes? Who's the general most likely to be able to influence, the pastor in question, or an amorphous media? And if the pastor, as the source/object of the story, is influenced, the story disappears. Further, if the general decries the media, his message just gets distorted by that same media.

Economy of force.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 8, 2010 08:19 AM

Eric, I think you over state the "amorphousness" of the press. If the NYT and Washington Post decided not to report on this story, it wouldn't be a significant story, certainly not one that would put troops at risk. Is it unreasonable to hope that editors at the major US news organizations would be more responsive to protecting the lives of our troops than some "Fred Phelps"-wannabe in Gainesville?

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 09:02 AM

The more I think about this, the harder it is to give the General a pass on not including the press in his criticism. By reporting on this, the media has put the General in a no-win situation (the General didn't help the situation by commenting on it). Either the Korans burn and alienate Afghani Muslims, including some of our allies, or the Korans don't burn and AQ and its allies can claim a victory over the "Great Satan". Some folks may dismiss this concern, but I would argue that AQ's ascendency in the late 1990s was due in large part to the perception that the US was the "weak horse". The second scenario would serve to reinforce that view.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 09:46 AM

Is it unreasonable to hope that editors at the major US news organizations would be more responsive to protecting the lives of our troops than some "Fred Phelps"-wannabe in Gainesville?

Yes.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 8, 2010 11:27 AM

@Rob Smith

Re: the media's "responsibility" for the potential consequences of the good pastor's plans, one must always be wary of blaming the messenger for the message. Especially when the news is so obviously newsworthy.

Clearly, the pastor's plans were newsworthy - by themselves, but all the more so given the recent hub-bub re: the Cordoba House plans (& popular/political reaction thereto), and the issue of islamophobia in America. In such a context, it is all-but inconceivable that Mr. Jones' folly would not be widely reported. Even had the NYT and WaPo abstained (though why they "should" abstain is, frankly, wholly unclear to me).

And as to Gen. Petreus including the press in his comments, well (a) see the preceding para., and (b) even if such would, somehow, have been "proper" (highly doubtful), it seems mightily ill-advised. Amongst other issues, the General's comments were made towards changing the future (don't burn, please) and not changing the past; and one does, after all, have to choose one's battles - especially if one is a general.

Posted by: pond at September 8, 2010 11:40 AM

The media likes inciting race riots and what not. It's happened before.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 8, 2010 12:09 PM

Clearly, the pastor's plans were newsworthy - by themselves, but all the more so given the recent hub-bub re: the Cordoba House plans (& popular/political reaction thereto), and the issue of islamophobia in America.

Islamophobia in America is pretty much an issue manufactured by Muslims wishing to construct a straw man to deflect attention from the fact that *very* few imams in the US have condemned the terrorist excesses Al-Q and the Taliban. And the MSM is complicit in that it continues to harp in US Islamophobia when there is no evidence that US Islamophobia exists, except in isolated instances such as this one.

In such a context, it is all-but inconceivable that Mr. Jones' folly would not be widely reported.

Thus "proving" to the world that Islamophobia is rampant in the US, because if it weren't, it wouldn't be worth reporting?

Amongst other issues, the General's comments were made towards changing the future (don't burn, please) and not changing the past...

And why do you consider that someone reminding someone else that there are consequences to his actions, and that he might regret those consequences more than any satisfaction he might receive from the immediate results of his actions to be "ill-advised"?

Posted by: BillT at September 8, 2010 12:32 PM

Eric, the question was rhetorical. One doesn't have to be very observant to notice that protecting the lives of our troops seems very low on the priority list of the major new organizations.

Pond, what's particularly newsworthy about, what in essence, is a publicity stunt by a small church on the fringes of Christianity? Do you think the NYT or WP would find a small mosque in Idaho burning a bunch of Bibles on 9/11 equally newsworthy (another rhetorical question, we all know the answer, don't we?)? My supposition is that the reason the major news orgs find this story newsworthy is because it allows them to craft their narrative that people opposed to the GZM are a bunch of book burning idiots, and if a few extra troops get killed along the way, well it's all good because we don't particularly care for the military either.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 12:38 PM

@BillT

Islamophobia in America is pretty much an issue manufactured by Muslims . . . no evidence that US Islamophobia exists, except in isolated instances such as this one.

On this we disagree, you and I.


And why do you consider that someone reminding someone else that there are consequences to his actions, and that he might regret those consequences more than any satisfaction he might receive from the immediate results of his actions to be "ill-advised"?

I confess to not understanding your point/question, especially in relationship to the portion of my earlier post which you are referring to.

Cheers.

Posted by: pond at September 8, 2010 12:43 PM

On this we disagree, you and I.

So you hold that Islamophobia is epidemic in the US?

I confess to not understanding your point/question, especially in relationship to the portion of my earlier post which you are referring to.

It's all from the same paragraph, in which you said his remarks seemed ill-advised, in light of the fact that his "comments were made towards changing the future (don't burn, please) and not changing the past." Re-wording my point: why do you consider it ill-advised of someone to remind someone else that his planned actions will result in injuries to a third party?

Posted by: BillT at September 8, 2010 01:06 PM

Pond, since you brought up the GZM, let's explore it for a moment. As far as I can tell, the proposed builders of the GMZ are a group of people with no money, a history of shady real estate deals, and associations with groups that, at best, aren't particularly troubled by Islamic terroism, and at worst support it. Oh, and BTW they seem to have some connection to the US Govt. Now, what is the narrative coming out of this story? People opposed to the mosque are a bunch of anti-Muslim bigots. A less partisan news organization might spend at least some time wondering how such a group got what looks a lot like priviledged treatment by the various NYC zoning organization. It certainly smells funny to me, but then, I never went to J-school.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 01:07 PM

Oh, and BTW they seem to have some connection to the US Govt.

Imam Faisel is on a "goodwill tour" sponsored by the State Department. Yet he has no speaking engagements, no media interviews, and no "meet-and-greets" on his schedule. What he *does* have on his schedule are private meetings with the people who can write him that check for $100 million that he needs, and the first stop on his trip was to his office in Kuala Lumpur -- where he spent most of two days making phone calls.

Posted by: BillT at September 8, 2010 01:18 PM

@BillT

So you hold that Islamophobia is epidemic in the US?

No, I wouldn't say "epidemic".

As to your re-wording, thanks, but that didn't help. You may want to try a more radical (and more "specific") reformulation, but feel free not to as well. I'd answer if I could, but have no desire to speculate on exactly what it is that you mean, nor to talk merely for the point of talking. (Sorry if I'm dense.)

Cheers.

Posted by: pond at September 8, 2010 01:36 PM

@Rob Smith

Now, what is the narrative coming out of this story? People opposed to the mosque are a bunch of anti-Muslim bigots.

I'm not sure that there is "one" "narrative" coming out of this story - if you mean "agenda" by the MSM (or the NYT ? or WaPo ? ??). Indeed (at least as far as the MSM generally), there seem to be reporting on many aspects - one of which is that there is a fair amount of anti-Islam feeling out-and-about in this country. May I assume that you don't disagree with this last point, at least (whether or not all who harbor such feelings could properly be labelled "bigots")?

Posted by: pond at September 8, 2010 02:08 PM

@Bill T

btw, in re-reading your post of September 8, 2010 01:06 PM you wrote: [pond] said [Petreus'] remarks seemed ill-advised

I just noticed that.

I don't believe that my post-in-question can fairly be read to say Petreus' remarks-as-made were in fact ill-advised, and in any event I certainly did not intend to convey that assertion or implication. Perhaps that clears up this issue (?)

Posted by: pond at September 8, 2010 02:23 PM

...there seem to be reporting on many aspects - one of which is that there is a fair amount of anti-Islam feeling out-and-about in this country. May I assume that you don't disagree with this last point, at least (whether or not all who harbor such feelings could properly be labelled "bigots")?

I can't speak for the others, but yes, I do disagree with this last point--if I understand you aright, that you think there is a fair amount of anti-Islam feeling in this country (I'm eliding a definition of "fair amount" and whether the anti-Islam feelings represent bigotry).

I've not seen any anti-Islam feelings, other than the occasional book-burners, which no one should be taking as seriously representing any group other than their own narrow cliques. What I have seen, whether it's agenda, or merely driven by world-view, and taking the GZM as an example, is this: those who oppose the mosque, where it's proposed to be built, oppose its being built _there_ on grounds of rightness and sensitivity to the survivors and their associates, while on the other hand, those who support the mosque, those who report on the opposition, and the liberal leadership who decry that opposition support the mosque both do so on the legal ground of it being the builders' right to build there, and further go on to criticize the opposers as being anti-Islam and outright anti-Islam bigots. They do not even acknowledge that the opposers agree on the legality with their opposition centered on rightness and sensitivity.

It's like those who support the mosque in its proposed location do not even listen to the reasons offered by the opposition and the supporters cannot even distinguish between what's legal and what's right. Further, lacking coherent argument either for their position or against the position of others, they are left with the nakedness of ad hominem attacks.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 8, 2010 02:27 PM

I'm not sure that there is "one" "narrative" coming out of this story - if you mean "agenda" by the MSM (or the NYT ? or WaPo ? ??). Indeed (at least as far as the MSM generally), there seem to be reporting on many aspects

What are the other narratives, Pond? I don't spend a lot of time reading the NYT, but the Post is my local paper. I don't see a lot of other narratives. I guess it's possible, that if I read all the way into Section E, page 12, bottom of the fold, I might find a brief mention of something else, but the news section is pretty much all about how opposition to the GZM is anti-Moslem bigotry.

- one of which is that there is a fair amount of anti-Islam feeling out-and-about in this country.

What does the mean, objectively? Are you using a Anti-Islam Feeling-o-meter to measure this "fair amount of anti-Islam feeling"? Or is it that you have deteremined based on your own prejudices that opposition to the mosque is Anti-Islam in nature?

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 03:05 PM

@Rob Smith

What are the other narratives, Pond? . . ." ". . .Are you using a Anti-Islam Feeling-o-meter to measure this "fair amount of anti-Islam feeling"?

Taking the second (set) of questions, first, let me say that a "fair amount of anti-Islam feeling [being out there]" is my impression, having read more than a few articles and more than a few posts thread comments on various websites (news and blogs), plus the odd tv or radio account. My unscientific impression.

Probably much like your impression that the Washington Post has a monolithic narrative "how [all] opposition to the GZM is anti-Moslem bigotry."

Perhaps you're right about the Post, and perhaps not. As for myself, I know I've seen polls (and news accounts reporting same) which tend to support a more diverse narrative than what you have suggested; I've read newspaper accounts by Muslim Americans opposed to the center being built at Park51, and news reports of foreign muslims (religious leaders and otherwise) some of whom support the Park51 project and some of whom oppose it; etc. etc. As to my impression (first para., above) it is formed, no doubt, by what I've read/heard (including reports concerning the Tenn. and California mosque/cc cases), basted in my own peculiar prejudices and assumptions, and clarified (and hopefully improved) through some reflection on the matter.

Posted by: pond at September 8, 2010 03:51 PM

It's newsworthy because it's unusual and improper.

Conversation with a Reader's Representative, years ago: Me: You didn't publish a story about X's use of a firearm in self-defense. The attempted rapist ran away, even though no shot was fired. RR: Yes, that's true. A good use of a firearm. Me: So why no story? RR: That's not news. News is "man bites dog". This is "bad dog runs away from woman with gun." That's not news, that's what is supposed to happen.

In this case, threatening to burn Korans is not what we expect to happen, it's unusual and improper, hence it's news.

"News of the Stupid", I submit, but I can understand how a journalist would think it news.

The General speaking out about it falls in the same category; unusual, unexpected, perhaps improper.

This is also why not burning the Korans will get so little press; this is the correct and expected behavior, hence, not news.

Posted by: htom at September 8, 2010 05:35 PM

I have to laugh at the suggestion that it's "improper" for the area commander to make it crystal clear that he disapproves of burning Korans.

Christ on a skateboard... the man's job is to work with Muslims - to form alliances and win support for ISAF and all its unholy doings. OF COURSE he's going to say he doesn't think Americans (or anyone) should be going around burning Korans!

It's kind of like when some jackwagon politician says something racist - if you don't immediately condemn the sentiment, you're guilty of racism by proxy :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 8, 2010 06:24 PM

The minds of the press are not for me to understand. "Improper" has a strange meaning to them, very different than the way we seem to use it.

Posted by: htom at September 8, 2010 10:14 PM

Cass, OTOH, doesn't Petraeus officially mentioning it give the real "jackwagon" in this scenario (aka Terry Jones) more of what he wants? An alternative would have been for the General to talk to Afghani officials in private and explain the situation to them. Perhaps he could have even gotten some sort of official statement condemning the action while praising the US for it's religious tolerance.....I know, I know, but a guy can dream right?

What Terry Jones is doing is a publicity stunt. IAW, an outrageous act designed to gain attention for the "jackwagon" performing the act. By the press and Petraeus giving this so much attention, their just dancing to Jones' tune. A better response to this would have been to officially ignore it. But the press is dying for some anti-Islam bigotry, especially from a "Christian", no matter how insignificant, so it's easy to see why they report it. What's more difficult to understand is why the General wants to draw even more attention to the Gainesville "jackwagon".

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 8, 2010 10:39 PM

If Obama was in charge, Petraeus wouldn't have to do the Muslim pr policy issues.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 8, 2010 11:49 PM

I don't believe that my post-in-question can fairly be read to say Petreus' remarks-as-made were in fact ill-advised, and in any event I certainly did not intend to convey that assertion or implication.

Then you should have composed your paragraph differently, oui?

Posted by: BillT at September 9, 2010 04:01 AM

@BillT, who wrote:

"Then you should have composed your paragraph differently, oui?

No. I don't believe so. As I said. But you know that. Ja?

Cheers.

Posted by: pond at September 9, 2010 06:17 AM

Bill, it's a dog that won't fight. Woof woof, and it's over or so they say.

Not much use for a dog that won't fight in certain parts of the world.

Btw, it's not just Obama.

and one does, after all, have to choose one's battles

So after choosing to fight in Islam's stead, whose side do you think you are on, kimi.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 9, 2010 07:03 AM

The media are already hyping the story, Rob, and it's not as though no one would know about it if Petraeus hadn't said anything.

The idea that he can just gather "the Afghan officials" together and sort it all out in private doesn't make sense. Afghanistan is a large country with not a whole lot of roads. Traveling is difficult. It makes no sense to think he could get the word out in private, and even if he did they would interpret such a statement as insincere.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 07:51 AM

...doesn't Petraeus officially mentioning it give the real "jackwagon" in this scenario (aka Terry Jones) more of what he wants?

No, I don't think it does at all.

What Jones wants is to deliver an insult that will provoke Muslims to violence so he can say, "Aha! See? They're violent". Islam is an honor culture - insults must be responded to.

What Petraeus did was give them an excuse NOT to be provoked. If they can say, "Ah, that American is clearly crazy and who pays attention to the ravings of a crazy man?" and "See? American officials understand that this is offensive and have publicly said he shouldn't do it", then it becomes harder to blame "America" or "the American military" in general.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 07:55 AM

Afghanistan is a large country with not a whole lot of roads. Traveling is difficult.

It takes five months just to spread the word and set the travel arrangements for a jirga over there, and the clan leaders are in on the planning...

Posted by: BillT at September 9, 2010 09:42 AM

It occurs to me that if Terry Jones moved to NYC, took some European sounding name (Vlad or Henri, for example), started sporting a beret & smoking Gauloises, and instead of burning Korans, burned Bibles, he'd probably qualify for an NEA grant. Just saying....

Regarding Petaeus responding, I think him responding, along with the President and the Sercretary of State, has served to make this a bigger story than it warrants. If this stunt actually does put our troops in greater risk, drawing even more attention to it, I think increases the risk. I think he would have been better served by publically ignoring it and if pressed saying something to the effect of "I don't respond to juvenille ass-hattery, next question".

Regarding the logistical difficulty of gettng Afghani leaders together, I suspect if it would take Petraeus 5 months (or 5 weeks) to get a hold of of a particular leader or two, they probably haven't heard about the "Koran burning" either and can be safely ignored.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 10:34 AM

You can think that all you want, but the fact of the matter is that Muslims in several countries (including Afghanistan) were already rioting over this days before Petraeus chose to issue a statement.

So clearly, the story had already spread.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 10:48 AM

I think the thing I find most frustrating about this is when some "jackwagon" dips a Crucifix in urine or paints the Virgin Mary with elephant dung (with a government grant, mind you), the State Department doesn't feel they need to call up the Vatican and apologize or worry that our troops overseas will be at risk of attack by rogue priests or nuns, but let some insignificant douche-bag threaten to fire up a Koran and the government, from the President down, goes into full kowtow mode, prostrate with fear over possible responses from the "Religion of Peace". I'm reminded of a a quote by General Grant when upon taking the field with the Army of the Potomac was confronted with officers worrying about what General Lee was going to do to them. Grant supposedly snapped, "Stop worrying what Bobby Lee is going to do to you and start making him worry what you are going to do to him!". I wish a few of our leaders shared that sentiment with respect to our current conflict.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 10:50 AM

...let some insignificant douche-bag threaten to fire up a Koran and the government, from the President down, goes into full kowtow mode, prostrate with fear over possible responses from the "Religion of Peace".

So you think it would be helpful to our mission over there to allow the extremists to claim that Jones is acting with the approval of the U.S. government and military?

I get your frustration but given that it can only help Muslim extremists to link nut jobs like Jones with official U.S. policies, I can't understand why on earth you would think we should help them do that.

Or is it your contention that two wrongs make a right here? Yes, it's wrong (and offensive) to desecrate the symbols of any religion. The answer to that isn't to say, "Well gee... once we've done something wrong we can never, ever do the right thing."

Did you ever stop to think that perhaps this episode might be helpful in changing the minds of asshats who think it's "ok" to smear feces on Christian symbols?

Your "let them worry about what we'll do to them" would make sense if the enemy were the Afghan people, but we happen to need their help to win this war. Pissing people off (and they are right to be pissed off just as you are right to be pissed off about NEA grants that fund desecration of Christian religious symbols) is a poor way to get people on your side. Let's not forget that a lot of these folks risk their lives and the lives of their families when they decide to help us against the Taliban.

Reality isn't fair. It's just reality. And ignoring reality strikes me as a very poor basis for policy decisions.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 11:02 AM

You can think that all you want, but the fact of the matter is that Muslims in several countries (including Afghanistan) were already rioting over this days before Petraeus chose to issue a statement.

Has Petraeus's statement served to quell the riots? Have Clinton's? Have Obama's? Have there been fewer chants of "Death to America"? I'm doubtful that statments from these people have done anything other than stir the pot some more. I'm seeing a stupidity two-fer here. Not only does Mr. Jones get more publicity for his two-bit church, we get to see our nation's leaders try to appease a bunch of barbarians.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 11:04 AM

Accusing Petraeus of appeasement just boggles the mind.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 11:06 AM

So you think it would be helpful to our mission over there to allow the extremists to claim that Jones is acting with the approval of the U.S. government and military?

How do you propose to prevent extremists from doing that anyway, short of having the feds raid the "Jones compound" (all female agents in burkas, of course), save the Korans, arrest the infidels, and show the video of the whole mess on Al-Jazera? I mean really, how much should we do to win the approval of extremsists?

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 11:15 AM

"Accusing Petraeus of appeasement just boggles the mind."

I was thinking more of Clinton and Obama when talking about appeasement, just for the record. I confess to being less enamoured of Petraeus since his posting to Afghanistan, but I'm not that much less. I mean really, Clinton talking about the "Holy Koran". I'm finding it hard to envision either talking about the Bible with such reverence.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 11:21 AM

No one can prevent them. We can make their job more difficult, though. You appear to saying that if we can't accomplish the perfect (that no one, anywhere, will believe the US approves of this sort of thing) then we shouldn't try to accomplish the good (that some Afghans, having been reassured that civilized people think it's stupid and counterproductive to use their freedom to desecrate religious symbols, won't conflate Jones with America in general).

It's pretty stunning that you are deeply offended by the desecration of Christian symbols but have a problem with saying that the desecration of Muslim symbols is offensive.

And wildly exaggerating my argument is a straw man tactic, but then I suspect you know that already.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 11:26 AM

@Rob Smith

You misunderstand things considerably, I think, if you believe that responsible parties are concerned with "win[ning] the approval of extremists" The first goal is not to encourage movement among the populace from the "wholly non-extremist and wholly helpful" side of the population towards the "wholly extremist and wholly unhelpful" side. While the second goal is to encourage movement in the opposite direction, one does not reasonably expect to change the belief and behavior patterns of the more dedicated "extreme believers" (absent highly kinetic means).

Posted by: pond at September 9, 2010 11:29 AM

I should put in a plug for Dollars in Protest, a group raising funding in protest of the Koran burning. Story and furious discussion here; a group I belong to. I expect that they'll do public good with the funds collected.

Posted by: htom at September 9, 2010 11:48 AM

It's pretty stunning that you are deeply offended by the desecration of Christian symbols but have a problem with saying that the desecration of Muslim symbols is offensive.

Let's see, in various posts I've called Terry Jones (the desecrator in question), a "jackwagon", a "douch-bag", and "insignificant". On what planet would anyone assume that I don't find his proposed "Koran-a-que" offensive? Do I actually have to say I find his proposed desecration of the Koran offensive? Do I have to prostrate myself towards Mecca while doing so? Accompanied by some self-flaggelation, perhaps? It should be noted, that the desecration of Christian symbols was funded by the US government, while the proposed desecration of Muslim symbols is strictly a private endeavor. So I guess I can assert that the US government is only selectively opposed to the desecration of religious symbols.

You appear to saying that if we can't accomplish the perfect (that no one, anywhere, will believe the US approves of this sort of thing) then we shouldn't try to accomplish the good (that some Afghans, having been reassured that civilized people think it's stupid and counterproductive to use their freedom to desecrate religious symbols, won't conflate Jones with America in general).

Did you read any of my posts? Where did I say that Petraeus or any member of the government shouldn't respond to this "jackwagon"? What I said was that they should respond privately to avoid giving the "jackwagon" more publicity and to avoid the appearance of appeasing the extremists.

Slightly off topic, but it sure would be nice if Obama, Clinton, Petraeus, et. al. would get one tenth as publically worked up about a story in the Sunday UK Times reporting that Iran is paying AQ to kill US troops in Afghanistan as they did about this idiot pastor and his dinky little church. They report that "Iranian companies have been established with the intention of winning contracts funded by foreign aid so that donors’ cash could be channeled into the insurgency". IAW, Iran is paying AQ to kill US troops with money US aid to Afghanistan.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 12:16 PM

Where did I say that Petraeus or any member of the government shouldn't respond to this "jackwagon"? What I said was that they should respond privately to avoid giving the "jackwagon" more publicity and to avoid the appearance of appeasing the extremists.

You said he shouldn't respond publicly. That makes no sense, given that both Bill and I have pointed out that there is no easy way for him to respond privately. Your position appears to be that reality doesn't matter - he should do it anyway?

You have yet to explain what damage is done by saying that Koran burning is offensive (as opposed to the damage done when Muslims hear an American church is going to going to desecrate Korans and American officials say nothing about it one way or the other).

There are a finite number of possibilities here:

1. Afghans have already heard about Jones and the Koran burning idiocy (so many are already offended), and we say nothing (some will be even more offended at the lack of protest from us).

2. Afghans have already heard about Jones and the Koran burning idiocy (so many are already offended) but they also hear that our leaders PUBLICLY saying that's offensive and wrong (they'll still be offended at Jones but will be less likely to conflate Jones' actions with official US policy since several US leaders have openly stated as much).

3. Afghans have not heard about Jones and the Koran burning idiocy (so they weren't already offended). By the time they hear of it, they also hear our leaders saying it's offensive and wrong (if they find the news offensive, they also learn that we do, too).

4. Afghans have not heard about Jones and the Koran burning idiocy (and thus there's no possibility of them being offended) and they also never hear our leaders saying it's offensive and wrong (not harmful since they weren't offended in the first place).


Who cares whether we are "giving the appearance of appeasing extremists"? Clearly you do, but you don't seem to be able to explain why that's so horrible (other than the fact that it clearly offends you).

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 12:32 PM

Let's see, in various posts I've called Terry Jones (the desecrator in question), a "jackwagon", a "douch-bag", and "insignificant". On what planet would anyone assume that I don't find his proposed "Koran-a-que" offensive?

Try reading what I actually wrote:

It's pretty stunning that you are deeply offended by the desecration of Christian symbols but have a problem with saying that the desecration of Muslim symbols is offensive.

You DO have a problem with saying that. You don't want it said publicly.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 12:34 PM

Right out of Mao's playbook and other insurgencies, you get the "blowback" whatever effect from controlling occupations that can't control what goes on in their territories. Thus targeting the population and turning the population against the occupation, should the rebels launch attacks that provoke reprisals.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 9, 2010 12:42 PM

Course, Mao's playbook was working for his times.

Islam is never going to be a neutral or playful or friendly religion to work with until they learn not to try to solve religious issues with violence.

Until they do learn, testing them every few years is a good thing in gaining intel on the enemy. Besides this is in America. Until the Afghans or Taliban can invade and occupy America with Sharia law, we go by what the Constitution says is a valid law not by what God or Shariah says is so.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 9, 2010 12:47 PM

That makes no sense, given that both Bill and I have pointed out that there is no easy way for him to respond privately.Your position appears to be that reality doesn't matter - he should do it anyway?

Are you and Bill really saying that the head of the most powerful, technogically advanced, and best equipped military force in the history of man can't get a couple freaking messages out to prominent Afghans? I mean, Petraeus is the theatre commander in Afghanistan isn't he? That would lead one to assume his HQ might be at least near Afghanistan, right? Maybe we need logistics to work on getting the General a helicopter or two and maybe a couple sat-phones. /eyeroll.

Who cares whether we are "giving the appearance of appeasing extremists"? Clearly you do, but you don't seem to be able to explain why that's so horrible (other than the fact that it clearly offends you).

From my 8 Sept - 9:46 AM post: "AQ and its allies can claim a victory over the "Great Satan". Some folks may dismiss this concern, but I would argue that AQ's ascendency in the late 1990s was due in large part to the perception that the US was the 'weak horse'." Does that sufficiently explain my concern about appeasing the extremists?

You DO have a problem with saying that. You don't want it said publicly.

My problem is with giving this nutbag preacher any more stature and publicity than he's already been given. I also think the appeasement of, or even the appearence of appeasment of the extremists has more potential for harming our troops than long term, than simply ignoring this idiot's publicity stunt. Regarding Muslim propensity to riot, Muslims appear to be the Rosanne Rosannadanna of rioters, "Well, (Cass), it just goes to show you, it's always something! If it's not one thing, it's another!"


Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 01:22 PM

Forgot to close italics. Last part should read:

You DO have a problem with saying that. You don't want it said publicly.

My problem is with giving this nutbag preacher any more stature and publicity than he's already been given. I also think the appeasement of, or even the appearence of appeasment of the extremists has more potential for harming our troops than long term, than simply ignoring this idiot's publicity stunt. Regarding Muslim propensity to riot, Muslims appear to be the Rosanne Rosannadanna of rioters, "Well, (Cass), it just goes to show you, it's always something! If it's not one thing, it's another!"

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 01:24 PM

Are you and Bill really saying that the head of the most powerful, technogically advanced, and best equipped military force in the history of man can't get a couple freaking messages out to prominent Afghans? I mean, Petraeus is the theatre commander in Afghanistan isn't he? That would lead one to assume his HQ might be at least near Afghanistan, right? Maybe we need logistics to work on getting the General a helicopter or two and maybe a couple sat-phones. /eyeroll.

Are you seriously suggesting that the area commander should spend days and tie up extremely scarce resources doing something that could be done quickly and easily by simply issuing a public statement?

Wow.

I also think the appeasement of, or even the appearence of appeasment of the extremists has more potential for harming our troops than long term, than simply ignoring this idiot's publicity stunt.

That's your opinion from where you sit. You'll forgive me if I have more confidence in Petraeus' judgment.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 01:40 PM

Are you seriously suggesting that the area commander should spend days and tie up extremely scarce resources doing something that could be done quickly and easily by simply issuing a public statement?

I was suggesting that he ignore it, but if he absolutly feels me must, I think doing it in public is the wrong way to go.

That's your opinion from where you sit. You'll forgive me if I have more confidence in Petraeus' judgment.

History is full of brilliant combat generals who sucked at public relations, Sherman and Patton spring immediately to mind. General Petraeus has certainly earned his reputation as a combat leader and strategist, but diplomatically, at least in this instance, he agrees with Obama and Clinton, two people whose judgment I have very little confidence in. In this particular case I'm wary of accepting his judgement.

My opinion, is giving this nutbag preacher an international platform to spew his hate does more harm than good. I'm not defending him, and if anything offends me, its the implication from you and some others that I am. Truthfully, if this were a prominent Christian, a Billy Graham (God-forbid) for example, I would agree with you that Petraeus needed to address this in public, but for some guy with a 30 member church in Floria, I just don't see it. It gives Jones more prominence than he deserves for the US President, the Secretary of State, and the most important US military leader to address it.


Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 02:17 PM

Are you and Bill really saying that the head of the most powerful, technogically advanced, and best equipped military force in the history of man can't get a couple freaking messages out to prominent Afghans?...Maybe we need logistics to work on getting the General a helicopter or two and maybe a couple sat-phones. /eyeroll.

Well, it'd take more than a helicopter or two and a couple of satphones -- since Afghanistan's roughly the size of Texas, and there are at least sixty different Pashtun tribes (each with its own equally-influential headman) sub-divided into about 400 clans (each with its own equally-influential headman) just in the eastern half. Then, he'd have to visit each of the clans of the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, Hazaras, Turkmans, Qizilbash, and Baluchis -- each with its own equally-important headman, and each speaking a separate language.

I figure that if he got started today, worked a 16-hour shift, didn't take any days off, and did *nothing* else -- he might get face time with all the people he needed to get the message to by mid-July of next year.

Ain't no such thing as mass media in Afghanistan, Rob.

Posted by: BillT at September 9, 2010 02:19 PM

Over the past few years Petraeus has proved himself extremely adept at public relations. Simply pointing out that there have been generals who weren't doesn't eclipse his record.

He's on the ground, he's the one who has been working with these folks, and he knows far more about the military situation than you or I. Furthermore, his record provides ample evidence of his proven ability to get diverse groups with conflicting agendas to cooperate and work towards a common goal.

Comparing him to Sherman (who would have done exactly as you suggest) or Patton (who I have no difficulty imagining doing the same) only undermines your point.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 02:26 PM

Rob also ignores the obvious point that by taking a position against Jones, Petraeus has given moderate Afghan leaders ammunition they can use to urge their fellow Afghans not to conflate Jones with America.

If he ignored the story, they could only say "trust me - the Americans don't approve of this".... to which the obvious rejoinder is, "Then why haven't they said so?"

Now they can say, "You don't have to just trust me - the President of the United States, the Sec. of State and the commanding general have ALL said this is wrong."

That's what we like to call a force multiplier.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 02:29 PM

Well, it'd take more than a helicopter or two and a couple of satphones -- since Afghanistan's roughly the size of Texas, and there are at least sixty different Pashtun tribes (each with its own equally-influential headman) sub-divided into about 400 clans (each with its own equally-influential headman) just in the eastern half. Then, he'd have to visit each of the clans of the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, Hazaras, Turkmans, Qizilbash, and Baluchis -- each with its own equally-important headman, and each speaking a separate language.

Come on, Bill. I really don't accept the premise that the choice is a world wide public statement or privately visiting every mud hut in Afghanistan. I think there's a sane medium in there that would allow us to avoid giving the nutjob pastor international recognition while at the same time privately reassuring Afghan leaders that we don't endorse or approve of his actions. But, if we accept your premise, since most of those mudhuts don't have CNN, wouldn't he have to make trip to every one just to make sure nobody got missed? Again, this is not some world recognized religious leader, he's the pastor of an obscure church. No need to make more of it than it is.

Comparing him to Sherman (who would have done exactly as you suggest)

No, Sherman would likely have strung up the nearest reporter as a spy. Patton probably would have slapped him around a bit and then sent him home on the nearest boat, wishing he'd strung him up after the story hit the papers.

Okay, maybe I'm not seeing the whole freaking picture here, but this whole discussion makes me wonder what the hell we're doing in a country where the people are so stupid that the President of the US of A, his Secretary of State, and his leading General have to make public proclamations against a 30 member church in BFE or the whole freaking Afghan nation is going to go AQ on us. It's really ridiculous, nobody in the government feels the need to disassociate from Act-Up when their throwing condoms in Catholic churches, or from the Lord of the Rings Movies when Ian McKellan claims to tear out pages of Bibles that offend him, but somehow Muslims are such delicate little flowers, that some podunk pastor in a podunk church might set the whole lot of them off if the President doesn't give em a little of the old kowtow. Maybe we should wash our hands of the whole mess and adopt the "more rubble, less trouble" philosophy, and bomb the place back to the stone age (admittedly, not a very far trip) and use it as an object lesson to anyone else who finds the AQ message attractive.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 04:58 PM

But, if we accept your premise, since most of those mudhuts don't have CNN, wouldn't he have to make trip to every one just to make sure nobody got missed?

Most of the "mudhuts" are two stories high, made of stone, then finished with adobe, then surrounded by 8-foot stone walls -- but when the village chief sets the time for a meeting, everybody shows up. Don' need no steenkeen' CNN...

Posted by: BillT at September 9, 2010 05:18 PM

Maybe we need logistics to work on getting the General a helicopter or two and maybe a couple sat-phones. /eyeroll.

maybe you need to actually study logistics before using the word. Cause you don't know what it is and you sort of have to, to properly use it.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 9, 2010 05:20 PM

Rob, it's still too early in your life to understand the finer points on how to act in different socio-economic spheres, let alone different cultural backgrounds.

That can't be fixed any time soon at the moment.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 9, 2010 05:24 PM

I've not gotten to the comments, yet... but I hit this statement,

"I suspect that's what really bothers Petraeus' detractors - they know he is right, but they don't like being reminded that the true cost of all that defiant "speech" of theirs will be borne by someone else."
and just wanted to call

STEEERIKE! Right down the middle of the plate!

Now I'll return to my spot upstream and finish the post and comments.

Posted by: bthun at September 9, 2010 06:30 PM

Most of the "mudhuts" are two stories high, made of stone, then finished with adobe, then surrounded by 8-foot stone walls -- but when the village chief sets the time for a meeting, everybody shows up. Don' need no steenkeen' CNN...

So, now you're saying it's easy for the chief to get all the Indians together? Earlier you said it takes months and months of organization, which is it?


maybe you need to actually study logistics before using the word. Cause you don't know what it is and you sort of have to, to properly use it.

Rob, it's still too early in your life to understand the finer points on how to act in different socio-economic spheres, let alone different cultural backgrounds.

Hmm, nothing like a little uninformed condescension to end the day...it smells like...Bite me. Sorry, but self important priggery doesn't impress me. Are you a Harvard man, or Yale? Fancy yourself pretty worldly and wise, don't you? I bet that rube, Sarah Palin really bugs you doesn't she? With her Midwest accent and state school "ed-you-mu-cation".

You know, I find it amusing that there exists a group of seemingly intelligent people who accept the possibility, nay, the probability that a 30 member church in a Florida college town has the power to upset our strategic situation in Afghanistan, perhaps even the entire Muslim world.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 9, 2010 06:57 PM

Posted by: bthun at September 9, 2010 07:20 PM

*snort*

We missed you, bthun. I'm heading off to bed with the world's biggest smile on my face :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 9, 2010 08:56 PM

No, he's canceled the cancellation. Stay tuned for more, but I'd wager you'll hear about it even if you don't.

Posted by: htom at September 9, 2010 10:07 PM

So, now you're saying it's easy for the chief to get all the Indians together? Earlier you said it takes months and months of organization, which is it?

Which is what?

In the first instance, I was referring to how long it took to get the word out and make the arrangements for a Pashtun jirga, which involves only the "eminent leaders" of 400 or so clans, at a single location. Think of the logistics involved in getting the mayors of all the towns in Texas together for a confab in Corpus Christi -- and you have to use messengers.

In the second instance, I was referring to the fact that when the headman of an individual village calls a town meeting, everybody shows up.

IOW, apples and hammers: the first instance illustrated logistical problems in an agrarian society covering a wide area, and the second instance illustrated the fact that the village headman is the center of gravity in each individual village.

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 04:07 AM

logistical problems

Don't talk about those problems to those that don't have the pay grade to handle it. Nothing good comes from it.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 07:46 AM

Are you a Harvard man, or Yale?

They would be sub-idiots, not even normal idiots, in logistical matters. Look at Obama. Hell, look at John Fing Kerry.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 07:48 AM

that a 30 member church in a Florida college town has the power to upset our strategic situation in Afghanistan, perhaps even the entire Muslim world.

A dozen or so hijackers did on 9/11. Or did you forget.

Belief is the most powerful WMD, bar none. The strength of one is the strength of 10, for their heart is pure.

That does remind me. Given recent tumors or news or confirmation that the Florida test on Muslims have caved due to federal, legal, law enforcement, and Muslim death threat pressure, this is a good incidence to say this.

The test wasn't just for Muslims, but also for the rest of you all, here and in all of America. And America just failed. Petraeus may indeed win in Afghanistan, due to some criteria or what not, but he will come back to the States and it will be Islamistan light.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 07:53 AM

That's only as a given. Recent rumors and all. If it is given otherwise, then it shall be otherwise.

The pendulum swings twice.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 08:43 AM

A dozen or so hijackers did on 9/11. Or did you forget.

I tried to get away from this, but seriously. Do you really want to make the case that burning a couple Korans = flying jumbo jets into the Pentagon and WTC? Come on, Y. Dude....you're getting silly in your defence of Obama, et.al.

In any case, here's what Victor David Hanson said today about the Reverend Jones at NR:

"But all that said, our political and military leaders — whether a general, a secretary of defense, or a president — are making a grave mistake by commenting directly on this pathetic figure. If a gesture is needed by our leaders, a simple “The United States ensures freedom of speech, even disturbing expressions of it, and has always paid the subsequent price for ill-manners” would have been enough.

We are at war with radical Islam, from the battlefield in Afghanistan to stealthy terrorists here at home, and we are struggling to win the hearts and minds of Muslim populations in general. But we can’t offer 24/7 exegeses of 300 million Americans’ free speech. No such we-must-be-perfect-to-be-good burden was thought to accompany past wars, even though zealots at home often misinterpreted our efforts against Japanese militarism, German Nazism, or Communism, and despite the fact that our silence sometimes aided and abetted our enemies, both directly and indirectly.

We are reaching the point where the damage done to America’s image by 50 book-burners is outweighed by the damage done by hypersensitivity on the part of the United States government, which hopes to assuage the hurt feelings of those abroad who equate that tiny number with our culture at large — often in an abjectly hypocritical fashion. We know where this leads — to endless efforts to micromanage all elements of American life to protect the sensitivities of those who, by act and deed, are far more intolerant of different religions and cultures.

I'm happy to be in his company on this issue.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 01:08 PM

Just to explore this for a few more lines, the military lost my presumptive benefit of the doubt on issues related Islam and terrorism in the wake of the Ft Hood shootings. First thing, LTG Cone (II Corps Commander) initially said terroism wasn't suspected. Yeah, who could possibly suspect that some Arab shooting up an Army base while shouting Allah Ackbar would be terrorism, that's just silly. Then GEN Casey said on CNN "I’m concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I’ve asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that" and "Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse,". Wow, GEN Casey's biggest concerns were a "Muslim backlash" (that somehow never materializes) and "diversity". And then when you look at the shooters record it just screams "not suitable for miliatry service", but somehow he managed to get promoted to Major. I suspect if he'd waited a year or two, we'd have been hearing about LTC Nidal instead of MAJ, or maybe even Full Bird Nidal. One gets the impression that this guy could have been signing all his Rx's with "Death to America" and nobody would have noticed. For all his other virtues, this the culture that GEN Petraeus lives in. There are a lot of areas would I would presume him right, but not this one. There's just too much evidence of massive disfunction the military on this issue.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 01:28 PM

First of all, though I enjoy his writing Victor Davis Hansen is a professor. He has never run a company or a battalion, much less an entire war so I'm not willing to accept that he is better informed or more experienced than Petraeus.

Secondly, extending one incident to characterize an entire organization borders on the ridiculous. If your argument is your judgment (or Hanson's) is superior to Petraeus' on this matter, go ahead and make that argument.

You're not making it now.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 01:44 PM

In the first instance, I was referring to how long it took to get the word out and make the arrangements for a Pashtun jirga, which involves only the "eminent leaders" of 400 or so clans, at a single location. Think of the logistics involved in getting the mayors of all the towns in Texas together for a confab in Corpus Christi -- and you have to use messengers.

In the second instance, I was referring to the fact that when the headman of an individual village calls a town meeting, everybody shows up.

So, it's easy to get everybody together, except when it's hard. I get that, but what you don't seem to get is that I don't accept the premise that Petraeus addressing this requires either a public statement or visiting every junior sub chief in every one goat town, or even every high exalted chief in every two goat town.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 01:46 PM

First of all, though I enjoy his writing Victor Davis Hansen is a professor. He has never run a company or a battalion, much less an entire war so I'm not willing to accept that he is better informed or more experienced than Petraeus.

I think its reasonable to look at Hanson's area of study and his prior writings and conclude that his opinion is as valid as Petraeus' or Obama's.

Secondly, extending one incident to characterize an entire organization borders on the ridiculous.

Did you see the names of the people I cited in stating my case? These aren't junior platoon leaders, these are the senior leadership of the entire organization. I think charactarizing an organization based on the response of their leadership to a rather significant single incident is appropriate. Most people didn't have a problem charactarizing the Bush administration based on its response to 9/11 (or Katrina) or BP's based on its response to the gulf oil spill.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 02:09 PM

"But all that said, our political and military leaders — whether a general, a secretary of defense, or a president — are making a grave mistake by commenting directly on this pathetic figure."

If he had remained merely a pathetic figure sitting offstage instead of becoming a pathetic figure illuminated by the media, I'd agree.

"If a gesture is needed by our leaders, a simple 'The United States ensures freedom of speech, even disturbing expressions of it, and has always paid the subsequent price for ill-manners' would have been enough."

Okay, here's where we diverge. GEN Petraeus has a bigger stake in this than Victor David Hanson does -- hell, *I* have a bigger stake in it -- because in this instance, the "subsequent price" is different for Petraeus, Hanson, and the United States as a nation.

GEN Petraeus has to anticipate an enemy propaganda offensive in conjunction with a military one, and his troops are the ones who will pay a blood price -- Victor David Hanson may only suffer a moment's upset at reading a casualty list.

...but what you don't seem to get is that I don't accept the premise that Petraeus addressing this requires either a public statement or visiting every junior sub chief in every one goat town, or even every high exalted chief in every two goat town.

In other words, you don't believe it. Tell me, have you ever lived or worked in SouthWest Asia, or the Middle East, for an extended period?

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 02:12 PM

I think its reasonable to look at Hanson's area of study and his prior writings and conclude that his opinion is as valid as Petraeus' or Obama's.

And I don't. Reading books is not the same as running a large organization (much less a war in a complex multinational environment). This is no slight to Hanson. He simply doesn't have ANY of the experience Petraeus has.

I also refuse to accept your substituting the judgment of other officers for this officer. Casey also does not have as much experience (nor has he performed his job as well) as Petraeus.

I get that you want all these things to be the same because that's your personal opinion but your personal opinion does not a compelling argument make.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 02:28 PM

. Most people didn't have a problem charactarizing the Bush administration based on its response to 9/11 (or Katrina) or BP's based on its response to the gulf oil spill.

The fact that "most people" don't have any problem with uninformed judgments on subjects they know nothing about isn't a compelling argument for more of the same.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 02:30 PM

And I don't. Reading books is not the same as running a large organization (much less a war in a complex multinational environment). This is no slight to Hanson. He simply doesn't have ANY of the experience Petraeus has.

Cass, I'm kind of disappointed here. As you well know, Hanson doesn't just read books, he writes them too, specifically on military history. He's written quite a few books on the subject,. In addition, he was the Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy. You may not agree with him, but your dismissal of his qualifications to make a judgment on this matter is starting to look dishonest and, quite frankly, a little desparate. As I've said before, I think Petraeus has earned his reputation as a good general, but I, unlike you apparently, don't think him infallible.

I also refuse to accept your substituting the judgment of other officers for this officer. Casey also does not have as much experience (nor has he performed his job as well) as Petraeus.

Where did I do that? The only mention I made of Casey was in reference to his (and other senior leaders) response to the Ft Hood terror attack and how I thought the handling of that shooting, and, for that matter, MAJ Nidel's career, showed some serious dysfunction in the military and how it views Islam and Islamic terrorism. The Ft Hood terror attack wasn't a single incident, the reality is that it was an entire pattern of the military ignoring Islamic extremism before and after the attack.

The fact that "most people" don't have any problem with uninformed judgments on subjects they know nothing about isn't a compelling argument for more of the same.

Where, pray tell, am I inaccurate in my assessment of the Ft Hood terror attack. Did I misquote the senior leadership involved? Did I misstate their rank? Am I wrong in my description of MAJ Nidal's military career?

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 03:47 PM

Do you really want to make the case that burning a couple Korans = flying jumbo jets into the Pentagon and WTC?

Both have a strategic effect on the world's denizens. Did you forget that this was the point you were trying to argue? Let's keep on subject here. At least, somewhat.

In any case, here's what Victor David Hanson said today about the Reverend Jones at NR:

Reference. You need a reference link so your source can be checked for inconsistencies or misquotations.

Just to explore this for a few more lines, the military lost my presumptive benefit of the doubt on issues related Islam and terrorism in the wake of the Ft Hood shootings.

No, Casey and all officers like him lost credibility and presumption of innocence after that. Petraeus was not accounted for in those ranks.

The next time one of your family gets charged for a crime, are you going to the police and make them jail you for the same crime? If not, then don't talk about collective guilt for the military as if such guilt exists.

I get that

No, you don't.

Casey also does not have as much experience (nor has he performed his job as well)

Casey's a head case and a screw up. But that goes the same for most politicians, so be that as it may.

Btw, Rob, you should have read my comments on Sarah Palin before trying a leap through the dark. You wouldn't have landed on that stake, otherwise.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 03:47 PM

"...I think its reasonable to look at Hanson's area of study and his prior writings and conclude that his opinion is as valid..."

Ahhhh, but did he stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night? Hmmmm?
I didn't think so!
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at September 10, 2010 03:48 PM

Tell me, have you ever lived or worked in SouthWest Asia, or the Middle East, for an extended period?

Yes.

GEN Petraeus has to anticipate an enemy propaganda offensive in conjunction with a military one, and his troops are the ones who will pay a blood price -- Victor David Hanson may only suffer a moment's upset at reading a casualty list.

Using this logic, I guess we can shortly expect a proclamation from the General regarding how the Ground Zero Mosque must be built. After all, we've just heard from Iman Rauf:

"If we move from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse," and

"The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack, followed by,

"There is a certain anger here [in America], no doubt, but if we don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world. If we don't do things correctly, this crisis could become much bigger than the Danish cartoon crisis [over images depicting the Prophet Mohammed], which resulted in attacks on Danish embassies in various parts of the Muslim world. And we have a much bigger footprint in the Muslim world."

Perhaps GEN Petraeus could talk to Secretary Gibbs about funding the project from the Defense Budget, since the group appears to have had trouble raising the money. It seems building this mosque will provide more safety and security to our troops than a couple Global Hawks or F/A-18s.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 03:58 PM

your dismissal of his qualifications to make a judgment on this matter is starting to look dishonest and, quite frankly, a little desparate

Because I don't agree with you, I'm dishonest and desperate?

I think you need to take a big step back from that ledge. I have not argued that Petraeus is infallible. I have argued that he is both more experienced with running wars and more knowledgeable about Afghanistan than Hanson. I stand by that argument.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 04:00 PM

Reference. You need a reference link so your source can be checked for inconsistencies or misquotations.

I provided the source, NR (National Review, if you haven't heard of it, perhaps you've heard of Google). I tend not to provide links because of potential spam filters.

No, Casey and all officers like him lost credibility and presumption of innocence after that. Petraeus was not accounted for in those ranks.

I'm sorry, is Petaeus in a different Army with a different culture? Did Petraeus have to toady up to a different set of politicians to get his position? Petraeus didn't get his 4 stars by "Immaculate Conception", he had do same political BS that every General has to go through.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 04:10 PM

Because I don't agree with you, I'm dishonest and desperate?

No, because of your very incomplete description of Hanson's curriculum vitae. Perhaps you didn't know that he'd written, not just read, books on military history and that he was a professor of military history at the Naval Academy, but I'd be surprised. Describing him as a "professor" (in what, General Studies? Journalism?) who's experience is "reading books" (Which books? Dan Brown? Vince Flynn?) certainly looks very misleading, misleading in a way to support your position.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 04:18 PM

Tell me, have you ever lived or worked in SouthWest Asia, or the Middle East, for an extended period?
Yes.

Then you obviously spent all your time in a city, otherwise you'd have learned more than you've revealed in your statements.

Using this logic, I guess we can shortly expect a proclamation from the General regarding how the Ground Zero Mosque must be built. After all, we've just heard from Iman Rauf...

False analogy, sport. You're conflating a publicity stunt from an attention-seeker with a veiled threat from a Wahabbi in sheep's clothing, and anyone with an ounce of military background knows the difference.

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 04:36 PM

Regarding the merits of Generals vs. college professor, I would argue that if it hadn't been for a certain college professor from Maine, we wouldn't have a United States, certainly not as we know it.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 04:37 PM

Rob, your arguments are all over the place.

I know exactly who Hanson is and assumed you did too. So what?

John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. He has written many books on the Cold War but I doubt anyone would have thought him qualified to run a war :p

The correct analogy (provided you accept that running a civil war in the 1860s is the same as running a multinational war in Afghanistan in the 21st century, which I don't for a single second) would be between Petraeus and Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant.

Both were career soldiers, not university professors.

I'm done arguing with you. You are just throwing out silly stuff. Professors are not career soldiers and career soldiers aren't interchangeable.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 04:52 PM

Then you obviously spent all your time in a city, otherwise you'd have learned more than you've revealed in your statements.

Yawn. If I only I was as half as smart as you fancy yourself.

False analogy, sport. You're conflating a publicity stunt from an attention-seeker with a veiled threat from a Wahabbi in sheep's clothing, and anyone with an ounce of military background knows the difference.


Okay, maybe you can help me here, but why is addressing a "publicity stunt from an attention seeker" more worthy of the General's (and President's, and Secretaries of Defense & State) time than a addressing "Wahabbi in sheep's clothing" building a $100M monument to 9/11?

"Wahabbi in sheep's clothing" building a $100M monument to 9/11 - response: move along, nothing to see here.

"Publicity stunt from an attention seeker" - response - OMG!!!!! STOP THE PRESSES, CALL GENERAL PETAEUS, CALL THE PRESIDENT, CALL SUPERMAN!!!! WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING!!!GAHHHHH!!!OH THE HUMANITY!!!!


Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 04:52 PM

Perhaps you didn't know that he'd written, not just read, books on military history and that he was a professor of military history at the Naval Academy, but I'd be surprised.

Hanson's a very prolific author, and an expert in his field -- which is infantry warfare in ancient Greece. He's written seventeen books, thirteen of which deal with tactics and campaigns of ancient Greece.

He has published two collections of essays on the GWOT -- An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism, which is a collection of essays covering events occurring between September 11, 2001 and January 2002, and Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq, Random House, 2004.

Professor Hanson is a theorist, and a very good one, but he's still only a theorist -- and theorists look at things in the abstract. GEN Petraeus has to deal with the concrete.

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 04:53 PM

John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. He has written many books on the Cold War but I doubt anyone would have thought him qualified to run a war :p

I wasn't nominating Hanson for 4 stars, only saying that he has the background to speak knowledgeably on this matter. Quite honestly, from your postings here, it seems you think Petraeus the only person qualified to offer an opinion.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:02 PM

GEN Petraeus has to deal with the concrete.

OTOH perhaps he is too close to the situation, can't see the forest for the trees, if you will. Not able to look at the global perspective because of his focus on his particular command. Just a thought.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:06 PM

Okay, maybe you can help me here, but why is addressing a "publicity stunt from an attention seeker" more worthy of the General's (and President's, and Secretaries of Defense & State) time than a addressing "Wahabbi in sheep's clothing" building a $100M monument to 9/11?

Dirt simple. Reminding the attention-seeker that his actions would have unintended -- but predictable -- consequences and you have given him both attention and a way out without making him an enemy. Reminding everyone that Imam Feisal is playing them like a Stradivarius serves no purpose other than to make Feisal an *active* political enemy and get slammed by the MSM as an "Islamophobe," to boot.

In the first instance, GEN Petraeus might win by saying something -- in the second, he can only lose.

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 05:07 PM

If you want Petraeus to do it your way, you're just going to have to give him a better alternative plan, Rob.

Why should Petraeus drop what he has worked on, just to pick up your idea? Especially when your idea is fraught full of holes and is based upon inadequate planning, execution, and logistics.

Btw, on Victor Hanson, I wouldn't be so quick to associate VDH with Rob's position. We only have a single claim that VDH said something.

I'm sorry, is Petaeus in a different Army with a different culture?

It's called "different units". And oh, there's also different branches of the US military as well.

Do you really want to make the case that burning a couple Korans = flying jumbo jets into the Pentagon and WTC?

Both have a strategic effect on the world's denizens. Did you forget that this was the point you were trying to argue? Let's keep on subject here. At least, somewhat.

In any case, here's what Victor David Hanson said today about the Reverend Jones at NR:

Reference. You need a reference link so your source can be checked for inconsistencies or misquotations.

Just to explore this for a few more lines, the military lost my presumptive benefit of the doubt on issues related Islam and terrorism in the wake of the Ft Hood shootings.

No, Casey and all officers like him lost credibility and presumption of innocence after that. Petraeus was not accounted for in those ranks.

The next time one of your family gets charged for a crime, are you going to the police and make them jail you for the same crime? If not, then don't talk about collective guilt for the military as if such guilt exists.

I get that

No, you don't.

Casey also does not have as much experience (nor has he performed his job as well)

Casey's a head case and a screw up. But that goes the same for most politicians, so be that as it may.

Btw, Rob, you should have read my comments on Sarah Palin before trying a leap through the dark. You wouldn't have landed on that stake, otherwise.

he had do same political BS that every General has to go through.

Like who, Generals McChrystal and Mattis? Your flawed judgment is showing here when you attempt to group those individuals plus Petraeus, with Casey. What's next, putting General Lee in the "same army" as Generals McClellan and Benedict Arnold.

There are generalities that can be made for flag officers. This isn't one of em since it is a specific case of competence over a direct security issue or incident.

In January 2007, Casey implied his opposition to a troop surge, "the longer we in the U.S. forces continue to bear the main burden of Iraq’s security, it lengthens the time that the government of Iraq has to take the hard decisions about reconciliation and dealing with the militias. And the other thing is that they can continue to blame us for all of Iraq’s problems, which are at base their problems. It’s always been my view that a heavy and sustained American military presence was not going to solve the problems in Iraq over the long term."-Casey

Bush believed in that BS execution, for awhile. Until Dick Cheney brought in a name, General Petraeus, and Petraeus had some time to explain to the President workable alternatives. Real workable alternatives.

And then we have you, Rob, talking about how Casey and Petraeus are the "same generals" because of the political background effect of flag officers. A generality that need not imply congruence or equality amongst disparate parameters.

No, because of your very incomplete description of Hanson's curriculum vitae.

This is all a side issue regardless. Victor Davis Hanson did not make a statement concerning Petraeus' competence to judge and act in the interests of America's war in Afghanistan. VDH made statements concerning the domestic political situation of a weakened American culture against radical Islam and sharia here in the States and in the eyes of the world.

Those, in case you didn't know, Rob, aren't the same things and not even you can make them the same.

If you want to second guess Petraeus concerning his actions vis a vis the security situation in Afghanistan's tribal regions, you're just going to have to do it without relying upon VDH. Cause he ain't going to prop you up.

misleading in a way to support your position.

Might want to check that at the door. It's on your doorstep.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:10 PM

Quite honestly, from your postings here, it seems you think Petraeus the only person qualified to offer an opinion.

Quite honestly, from your postings here, your reading comprehension skillset needs work.

A limited discussion of the relative merits of *two* individuals does not necessitate the exclusion of all other individuals.

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 05:10 PM

OTOH perhaps he is too close to the situation, can't see the forest for the trees

Ever hear the phrase "general staff"?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:11 PM

In the first instance, GEN Petraeus might win by saying something -- in the second, he can only lose.

OTOH, giving this the "attention-seeker" what he wants only encourages other attention seekers. Does the General have time to issue 50 more statements to the various other "attention seekers" that pop up in his wake? Now Westboro Baptist is threatening to burn a Koran, will the General be making a statement on that too. What about when some small college paper publishes those Muhammed cartoons that caused all that rioting? See where I'm going here?

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:13 PM

Do you really want to make the case that burning a couple Korans = flying jumbo jets into the Pentagon and WTC?

Btw, Rob, you should have read my comments on Sarah Palin before trying a leap through the dark. You wouldn't have landed on that stake, otherwise.

Those are the beginning and last duplicates from the clipboard copy and paste process. The rest are originals.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:14 PM

Hanson's a very prolific author, and an expert in his field -- which is infantry warfare in ancient Greece.

Woah, Bill. You're bringing out the nuclear weapons on Rob here. Take it easy man.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:16 PM

Quite honestly, from your postings here, your reading comprehension skillset needs work.

Well dang, Bill...if you want to call me stupid, come right out and say it. No need to use veiled insults here. Go ahead and elevate the discussion. Get drunk and be somebody...

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:17 PM

OTOH perhaps he is too close to the situation, can't see the forest for the trees, if you will. Not able to look at the global perspective because of his focus on his particular command. Just a thought.

His *job* is working close to the situation. The *local* perspective is what he has to worry about -- global doesn't even enter into it. Jihadis aren't about to come pouring into Afghanistan from Finland, but they'll be coming in from Pakistan and Iran.

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 05:18 PM

I wasn't nominating Hanson for 4 stars, only saying that he has the background to speak knowledgeably on this matter.

Hanson never spoke, in the article linked here on whether Petraeus' actions helped or hindered the war in the Afghanistan theater.


http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/246212/enough-already-right-reverend-jones-victor-davis-hanson

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:18 PM

Quite honestly, from your postings here, it seems you think Petraeus the only person qualified to offer an opinion.

Again, I never said that.

So far you've accused me of arguing that Petraeus is infallible (not even close) and that he's the only one qualified to offer an opinion (again, not even close).

I am not interested in defending arguments I didn't make.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 05:21 PM

Well dang, Bill...if you want to call me stupid, come right out and say it. No need to use veiled insults here. Go ahead and elevate the discussion. Get drunk and be somebody...

You fired the first shot, boyo.

Yawn. If I only I was as half as smart as you fancy yourself.
Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 04:52 PM

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 05:23 PM

This is all a side issue regardless. Victor Davis Hanson did not make a statement concerning Petraeus' competence to judge and act in the interests of America's war in Afghanistan.

Nor did I. All I've been arguing is that Petraeus...and the President...and the Secretaries of Defense & State are wrong to elevate this jerkwad into a global player in thw War on Terror. Wow, the power the pastor of a 30 member church in Florida wields. What happens when a 50 member church in Idaho decides to do the same thing? And yes, I saw your post about 11 Muslims on 9/11, call me when 11 members of and Christian church hijack several planes and fly them into the Pentagon, White House, Empire State Building, etc. Until then, one of these things is not like the other.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:27 PM

Perhaps you didn't know that he'd written...books on military history and that he was a professor of military history....

Hmm, wrote books and is a teacher vs did actual work in the field; wrote books, did work--which to choose.... So difficult. Umm, I choose did actual work.

Even your own college professor from Maine did actual work in the field, not just sat on the sidelines writing about others doing actual work in the field.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 10, 2010 05:31 PM

You fired the first shot, boyo.

I considered this the first shot, "boyo":

Then you obviously spent all your time in a city, otherwise you'd have learned more than you've revealed in your statements.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:33 PM

Guys:

There comes a time in many discussions when things begin to jump the shark. I think we're there.

It's Friday and I'm exhausted, as I'm sure many of you are. Can we just agree to disagree here? The sun is over the yardarm somewhere (if it's not in your neck of the woods).

*Cheers*

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 05:34 PM

But this is fun!

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:36 PM

Heh

Petraeus and Casey. One of these things is not like the other.

Petraeus and VDH. One of these things is not like the other.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:39 PM

Final post, but I really didn't think that the idea that it's counter productive to reward bad behavior was that controversial. In essence, the extremists on both sides have been rewarded, and I think at some point we'll have to pay for it. I just hope that all we've kicked down the road is a can, and not a snowball.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 05:44 PM

OK, I realize that you boys like to fight, but it really upsets me when things get personal. So I'm bowing out, OK? It's a female thing.

I am going off to have a glass of wine with The Unit and lick my wounds from a week spent slaving away for The Man :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 10, 2010 05:45 PM

I'm sorry, is Petaeus in a different Army with a different culture? Did Petraeus have to toady up to a different set of politicians to get his position? Petraeus didn't get his 4 stars by "Immaculate Conception", he had do same political BS that every General has to go through.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 10, 2010 04:10 PM

I think it is wise to question GEN Petraeus, RE: his understanding of Islam, when he has advisors such as Akbar Ahmed, who has been consistently spouting lies about Islam and its history.

Posted by: Michael in MI at September 10, 2010 05:46 PM

So I'm bowing out, OK?

That's not a problem.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 05:54 PM

I just hope that all we've kicked down the road is a can, and not a snowball.

Yeah, and hopefully the can isn't full of worms.

And open...

Posted by: BillT at September 10, 2010 06:07 PM

Soon the "Man" will be replaced by the Deus Ex AI Machine God.

It will be called, Utopia.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 10, 2010 10:42 PM

When its "convenient" you'll read my comments and decide whether or not you want to post them, eh???

LOL, yeah, right, like you weren't already reading my comments as I was typing them. Do you think that I just fell off of a turnip truck?

Lighten up, Casandra. You're too uptight, and it shows in the leads to your threads.

It appears that you're one of those feminists who doesn't have ANY sense of humor, and who takes herself so seriously that she is utterly incapable of laughing at herself, which could lead one to suspect that you're probably a Palin supporter, too.

Get a grip and get a life, Cassandra. (chuckling here)

Posted by: S.P.Q.R. at September 12, 2010 11:06 AM

Clearly I need to change the text on my comments template. I don't think I have ever edited it.

No, I have a script that closes the comments 5 days after the post was published (it puts comments in moderation until I approve them). The vast majority of comments on older posts are SPAM and the script cuts way down on the amount of Viagra and penis enlargement ads I have to delete manually :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 12, 2010 11:10 AM

Is SPQR that thin skinned or is he taking on a role?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 12, 2010 03:19 PM

If SPQR is taking on a role, they haven't done a very good job. Feminists-with-no-sense-of-humor and Palin Supporters are pretty much mutually exclusive groups.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 13, 2010 12:24 PM

I didn't take the comment seriously.

Frankly the suggestion that anyone who reads VC would seriously conclude that I can't laugh at myself made me... ummm... laugh :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 13, 2010 12:47 PM

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