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Shakespeare's Sister

Steve can make the case for immediate withdrawl without having to insult or belittle.

Every time there's an issue in the lefty blogosphere that compels people to take sides, Mr. Gilliard's name pops up, and with each new incident, it becomes increasingly clear that he has a difficult time making a case for anything without insults or belittling.

pragmatic_realist

"He is making immediate withdrawl the default coward's position. "I'm too scared to go fight myself, so I'd better be for not fighting.""

He's not making it the coward's position. It is the coward's position.

David Parsons

It's painfully obvious that most of the war supporters won't fight (it's also pretty painfully obvious that most of the war supporters have nothing but contempt for the poor bastards who are in uniform, unless they're doing MANLY things like raping children and beating prisoners to death, but that's another story altogether), and nobody else wants to have familymembers signing up for a 20-year to life sentence in the US Army, so the only choice left (if you care about preserving the US Army as a fighting force) is to put up the white flag and get the out _now_.

There's no cowardice involved if you're part of the armed forces. It's simple force preservation, and who gives a damn about the keyboard kommandos doing their "I'm a mighty chicken hawk" dance from behind their keyboards?

Marco

How you like to be in a crowded market or police roll call in Baghdad in the morning? Would you feel secure? I wouldn't nor do the Iraqi's. The toll on the people of Iraq has been devastating.
The Bushites mention democracy frequently, but do not mention the Iraqi body count. It's enormous. Who the hell are we kidding? Not the rest of the world. Our foreign policy has regressed to neolithic times. Very dangerous for all of us.

Linkmeister

Did you see Frontline the other night? There's no shortage of private contractors working over there.

I don't know what to do either, but I'd sure like a little honesty from our elected leaders about the situation, rather than Cheney and his "last throes" BS, which even Abizaid says is nonsense. I know, that's a pipe dream.

eddie blake

..Gilliard calls it as he sees it...there are men who have been called up in their fifties. If the war is just in your opinion, get off your ass and go fight it. If not, don't quote some dead, bent attourney general and whack a NYCer for not wanting our volunteer force ground into hamburger as part of a crappy neocon theory to starve the beast while projecting influence. The wrong war is on in the wrong place so Bush can score points and we need to get out now before they drop the other shoe. Enlist or shut up....

jim

Gilliard is, I think, wrong. It is not cowardice that drives the people he was attacking. It's an unthinking sense of entitlement. Look at what Farley wrote (in the post "against gilliard i"): I don't have to enlist, we have people for that who can do it better than me. It's an attitude of class superiority, which, if one isn't of their class, enrages. There are people like that on both sides of the left/right divide.

Back in the days of WWI, the people who pushed the young to go die in a ditch in Flanders at least said If I were younger . . . or fitter . . . or a man, I'd go. Nowadays, they don't even make that gesture.

sfmike

What "good" are we doing in Iraq? It's about the oil; the swag that can be laundered through Halliburton, Bechtel and a host of other "contractors"; and the pipe dreams of the Project for a New Century madmen.

We need to get our soldiers out of that country as soon as possible, and let it start healing on its own. It would be lovely if we could give the billions that are being skimmed by our defense contractors to Iraqi hospitals and engineers and bridge builders, but unfortunately that's just not going to happen.

I lived through Vietnam days and it was just plain evil and ugly, and unfortunately this is not that much different. The plainly stated plan by this criminal administration is to have "permanent" American bases there surrounding the largest American embassy in the world. We're the bad guys, the occupiers, the colonial administration that can't even shoot straight. It's very shame-making.

Rob

Jim,

Lower middle class. Two uncles served in Vietnam, one died. Strongly considered both West Point and Annapolis (and both recruited me out of high school), but decided I didn't have what it took to be a military officer. Since that time I've had enough close friends and students in the military to know that I made the right decision.

Sorry, not entitlement. People who have never been near the military don't have any sense of what it is, which is a profession, just like doctor or lawyer, only with more education. People who think that it's all about ideological commitment and glory don't know what they're talking about. Military officers and enlisted personnel, to be perfectly frank, shouldn't be committed to a war. They should approach it dispassionately, with the eye of a professional.

Exiled in NJ

Drafted and served 66-68 at that South Carolina resort near the state capitol. Do we really want our Army to become what it was back then? No one was fragged at Ft Jaxson, perhaps because no one had live ammo there, but slowly the men were divided into those serving their time like in a prison, and 'effing' lifers. The former would shout out the number of days they had left, when they weren't chanting "FTA" or writing that pithy phrase on walls, or getting drunk or high. Orders would be cut, sending trainees home for thirty days so that they could report to Oakland for shipment across the Pacific. How many never turned up. Fighting for Generals Ky and Thieu just did not hack it.

Will our brave men reach the same point about preserving the lives of Jafari, Allawi, Chalabi and friends? Give them something to fight for, like finding bin Laden and the picture will change. "Hey Shias, Kurds and Sunni's, we're pulling out to fight better fights. Let us know how you make out."

Mithras

All you nice, reasonable people are getting whipsawed by the warlovers. Gilliard at least has a glimmer of an idea of how to fight an ideological battle in which - to put it kindly - you nice, reasonable people have not been doing so well. Rove on down have been kicking your tails since 9/11 and labeling you cowards without compunction, and you sit wringing your hands when someone suggests we return fire. Okay, so he's rude. He's not the issue.

Every time some warlover starts blabbering about how the glorious campaign in Iraq is, we should ask, why are you not part of the biggest moral crusade that you know of? You would be not simply questioning their bravery - although you would be - you would also be questioning the premise of their ideas. Yes, it can be done without resorting to name-calling. But it's not as politically effective.

Lance

Mithras,

Your points would be well-taken, if...one, Steve had been talking to Karl Rove. And two, Karl Rove gave a damn what Steve Gilliard or any liberal bloggers said about him.

Gilliard is a blogger. A popular one, but still just a blogger. He's not even an activist like Kos or John Aravosis. He's a guy on a very tall soapbox. Which is good for him, but not of particular importance to anybody in Washington.

The usefulness of blogs, politically, is that they can help rally the faithful, cheer us up, give us facts and rhetoric for arguments outside the blog world, and motivate people to get involved.

Steve's calling Erik, who is not anywheres nearly as well-known or well-read as Gilliard, a coward, was just chest beating and bullying. It didn't do anything to help his own cause. It didn't do anything to help the Democrats or the Left or the ant-war cause. It wasn't calling 'em as he sees 'em. It was a plain attempt to make sure that somebody else doesn't get to call 'em as they see 'em.

Steve's contributes a lot with his blog, but very often what he's up to is trying to make sure that the only way to think, speak, or act on an issue is the way he thinks, speaks, and acts.

Big difference between being tough minded and being just a bully and a blowhard.

Finally, the situation here is that one group of young men who aren't serving in Iraq are giving themselves the right to feel muy macho simply because they have adopted a political argument that doesn't require them to serve in Iraq. They're saying to others, I'm tougher than you because at least I admit that I'm too scared/busy/old/young/whatever to join the Army.

Like I said, the game of quien is muy macho always opens you up to charges of being poco macho yourself.

Make an argument for immediate withdrawl without resorting to name calling. That's not being too "reasonable." It's just being a grown up.

Mithras

Bully? Really, that's a crock. He got vitriolic - he does that frequently, you might notice - and offended people, called them names. Maybe some people deserve to be called names, maybe they don't. But really, how can he make them stop writing? Can he take away their typepad accounts?

On the substantive side, the argument for immediate withdrawal would be one of two possibilities, as I see it: First, our presence is only delaying the inevitable power struggle - possible civil war - and imposition of some sort of semi-autocratic rule. If that outcome is inevitable then keeping U.S. soldiers there is a waste of blood and treasure. Second, our presence may be making the situation worse than it would be otherwise. Foreign occupation has a tendency to excite certain passions among the occupied (whether you define that as Iraqi or regional). I am not so interested, personally, in the substantive argument because there isn't a snowball's chance of any alternative policy being adopted that comes from our side. Thus, talking about it is a form of mental masturbation that I consider a waste of time. Using the issue as a political tool to bash the warlovers - be they named Rove or be they named Lieberman - is something I can get behind.

jeff Boatright

I agree that there is some gray here. However, I really think that the Young Republicans or the College Republicans or whatever they call themselves AS A GROUP should be asking their members to sign up if they support the President's policy in Iraq. How can they not?

KathyF

Mithras, us "nice, reasonable people" are doing quite as well as the mean, unreasonable ones, I would guess. Funny how it works--you actually do catch more bees with honey!

Rob, you were dead right about the military being a profession, and most officers don't give a fig for politics. They do their jobs, period. The last thing we want is Jonas et al. signing up. They'd totally wreck the atmosphere at the Officers' Club Mongolian BBQ anyways.

And if we stipulate that in order to support a war you must join up, what do we do when there's another Rwanda? Croatia? Both areas us liberals would advocate for military intervention, I think, yet I certainly am not going to join up, or send my daughters.

I remember when our military went into Somalia. I cried with pride when I saw those jets screaming overhead, laying the ground for trucks of food to come in. (Oh, god, I still get teary eyed.)

As for what to do in Iraq, first we need to get rid of the financial incentive for us to be there. Open up the contracts to other nation's corporations, including the very capable Iraqis, and see how fast the Republicans decide it's time to withdraw. We do need to foot the bill for the massive peace keeping operation that will be needed. Personally, I would propose the Saudis jack up the price of oil and use the profits to pay the bill.

Okay, do I get to be president next? Please?

Mithras

Mithras, us "nice, reasonable people" are doing quite as well as the mean, unreasonable ones, I would guess. Funny how it works--you actually do catch more bees with honey!

Last time I checked, mean people controlled all three branches of the federal government and a majority of the state governments. The other side isn't playing nice, and they don't care about your honey.

KathyF

You misunderstood...when I said "mean" I was referring to a**holes like Steve. (Sorry Lance, I'm trying.)

And yeah, I think I do as well as he does in persuading people--real people, I mean, not the rabid already-convinced folks who visit his website--that maybe they should vote for someone other than a raving Republican lunatic.

Robert Daseler

All of this talk about cowards and cowardice smacks of barroom bravado and an overflow of testosterone. There are many ways of being cowardly, just as there are many ways of being courageous, and I suppose most of us, over a period of time, display both qualities. Talking about cowardice only muddies the issues we face in whether or not to cut and run in Iraq.

Robert Kennedy's advice to young men who opposed the War in Vietnam didn't make a lot of sense to me then, and it still doesn't. Oppose the war but go and fight it? I opposed the War in Vietnam, but I didn't enlist. I did go to Mississippi as a civil rights volunteer, and I was shot at while I was there. I also saw real courage in action there, though not particularly in myself. One definition of courage is doing what you think is right even when that exposes you to contumely or injury, or when doing what you think is right involves personal sacrifice. It takes courage to wear a U.S. Army uniform now and walk the streets of Iraq. It also may take courage to stand up in some parts of this country and say that the war is wrong and wasteful and that you're not going to serve in it.

Political liberalism is grounded on respect for differences between people: differences of opinion, religion, conviction, loyalty, sexual orientation, and so on. This inclination to respect others should stop us from labelling others cowards. If somebody supports the war in Iraq but doesn't want to fight it, let's either argue with him or not, but calling him a coward doesn't advance our cause and only increases personal bitterness.

The question is: do we cut and run? As Mr. Mannion points out, it's a very difficult issue to decide. In arguing for or opposing a quick pullout from Iraq, there is no reason to raise cowardice as germane to the central issue. The conservatives will certainly call us cowards if we decide to advocate an immediate pullout. That's what conservative do. They call people cowards and commmies and faggots. They don't respect differences of opinion. They have had everything going their way for a long time. That doesn't mean that in order to beat them we have to be like them.

Mithras

Political liberalism is grounded on respect for differences between people: differences of opinion, religion, conviction, loyalty, sexual orientation, and so on. This inclination to respect others should stop us from labelling others cowards.

Huh? Liberalism respects differences based on condition and outlook. It's not a standardless acceptance of any kind of behavior. Cowardice is a behavior. I am not arguing whether there is cowardice in anyone in particular, I am simply saying your argument doesn't exactly stand up.

Tilli (Mojave Desert)

How do we get out?

KathyF

As long as there are American corporate interests there, we don't.

jim

Four brief notes and then I'm done:

1. Rob Farley denies being motivated by entitlement. I am certainly willing to accept this. I cited his paragraph because Lance had linked to it, but I'm willing to accept it doesn't mean what I thought it meant. (I'm a little more dubious about Rob's claim to Lower Middle Classdom: sipping gin and tonic in First Class on the way to grade AP exams doesn't strike me as a particularly Lower Middle Class practice :).) The larger point remains. Andrew Sullivan had a more striking version a year or so back, but I didn't--don't--want to go grubbing in his archives.

2. I spent 25 years in DoD and will wholeheartedly agree with Rob that "People who have never been near the military don't have any sense of what it is."

3. Gilliard is a propagandist. And increaingly successful: he has managed to get the cowardice meme into the main stream media attached to the College Republicans meeting. The right is his main target; Loomis and Farley, merely collateral damage. One of the keys to successful propaganda is to pretend to even-handedness.

4. On the main point: It doesn't much matter what we think. For the next three and a half years the decision on whether to stay in Iraq or withdraw will be made by George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. They aren't going to consult me. They aren't going to consult you. Even if the Democrats were to retake control of Congress in 2006, Congress will not move to stop the war. Stopping a war is a very difficult thing to bring off. For the rest of us, it's an interesting debate. We must be patient and remember Herb Stein's Aphorism: "If something can't go on forever, it will stop."

francesangeles

Steve Gilliard isn't going to win any etiquette awards, and if bloggers had editors and I got the job I'd suggest maybe a little less repeating himself in individual posts would be a fine thing. But that's a quibble, and I read him regularly.

Hats off to the all-volunteer, fully professional army-- I'm glad they're there, and, if I had my way, as a lifelong liberal, they'd all be better paid and better cared for. Which brings me to my first point: if Republicans backed raising taxes to help our troops, then I'd be able to take their perspective more seriously. C'mon, it's basic Adam Smith-- people doing the crappiest work should get paid the best. Given the danger of being in the military, how can the Republicans justify not breaking the bank to reward them? That we ask these men and women to risk the ultimate sacrifice and sacrifice nothing ourselves is revolting. So, I'm not sure it's exactly entitlement that is the problem-- I'd have to call it sheer, unqualified selfishness.

About cowardice: I have never wanted to join the military, both because I don't think I have the right disposition, but also because, hell, yes, I am a coward when it comes to this. I may not understand the military because I'm not a member but I think I can say that getting shot at would be, uhmm, really scary. It would also be scary to be away from my family, lose my job, you name it. I don't like being scared, and I'm going to avoid it when I can. I'm not ashamed to say it, and I don't think the Jonah Goldbergs of the world should be, either. Let's give the military their due: they do have more of a cerain kind of bravery than the rest of us. Part of the way I can support them in their God-awful task is to admit that. (And, again, submit happily to higher taxes to get them good armor and benefits.)

But what I don't think anyone else has mentioned is this: Gilliard didn't start using the c-word (the other one: coward) until we starting running into recruitment problems. Recruitment problems DO change the dynamic. Temporarily discounting our country's dependence on the poor and people of color to fill the military, let's say that as long as there were people willing to do the job, we all had equal moral standing to say whatever we wanted in this discussion. But you can't say he doesn't have a point now. He's not saying that all women and men over 40 can't have opinions-- he knows, as does anyone who reads the news, that women and older men are in harm's way in Iraq. But when it comes to sending people to die, there really is something to stepping up. If I believed, as the pro-war folks do, that this is an essential battle for the future of the world and the only way to get the necessary job done, I would hope that, even though I am a coward, I would join up. That's how you face your children, that's how you love your country, that's how you make belief more than rhetoric. I hope I never have to face that decision, but I also hope I would make the right decision if I did. And if I did face that decision, I would never be flip about it, never avoid measuring the choice I was making with all the depth and soul-searching I could muster. To not take the question seriously is yet another act of disrespect to those who have given their lives in service to this country.

I suppose if I were Steve Gilliard's editor, I would ask him to think about this: maybe it's not cowardice. Maybe it's moral failing.

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