April 29th, 2006

Question authority: Part III (Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers)

[Part I]
[Part II]

The initial coverup of My Lai in the late 60s, discussed in Part II, helped make Americans more cynical–more likely to believe the government couldn’t be trusted to uncover wrongdoings through the mechanism of internal investigations. The press came to be seen as the more reliable watchdog, and whistleblowers were now more likely to go directly to the media to report governmental offenses. The media, in turn, felt freer to oblige without fear of negative consequences to itself.

My Lai had some special (perhaps even unique) characteristics that make it the purest example of an event that needed a whistleblower. The offenses involved were of an extraordinarily serious and profound nature, and the initial coverup was virtually complete. Furthermore, the whistleblower was not bound by any vow of secrecy. Whether he needed to go to directly to the media (as Ridenhour eventually did, after the second investigation–sparked by his letters–was already in progress and had led to Calley’s being charged with murder) is unclear, however.

Another seminal case from the 60s, somewhat more analogous to present-day leak situations, is that of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. It is perhaps the most famous example of someone in a national security position leaking classified information to journalists. Far more than My Lai, the Ellsberg case has certain parallels with the present situation involving the CIA detention center leaks.

At the time he gave the Pentagon Papers to the press, Ellsberg was not a CIA employee. But he was an employee of the RAND Corporation, with access to classified information; one can safely assume he had taken an oath to keep those papers secret. His growing disillusionment with the Vietnam war (although, interestingly enough, Ellsberg had been strongly against the war from his earliest exposure to it, way back in 1961) led him to copy the classified documents with the idea of making them public and exposing the cynicism and duplicity with which he felt the Vietnam war had been conducted.

Ellsberg hoped that the publication of the Papers would cause people to become upset on learning they had been lied to by their government, and then to clamor for the war to end. As such, his position was essentially political–although it was not narrowly partisan, since the Pentagon Papers was an equal-opportunity disclosure; the information obtained therein implicated both Democrat and Republican administrations.

Like Ridenhour, at the outset Ellsburg did not release the documents to the press, but sought instead to persuade certain sympathetic antiwar Senators (chief among them J. William Fulbright) to go public with them on the Senate floor. His motivation for this scheme was that he knew he would be liable to prosecution if he went to the press, and he fully expected to be sent to jail as a result, whereas Senators would be immune from such prosecution.

But no Senator would take the bait, not even Fulbright. As a result, Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers to the media. Initially, he made an effort to escape prosecution by hiding out:

Although the Times did not reveal Ellsberg as their source, he knew that the FBI would soon determine that he was the source of the leak. Ellsberg went underground, living secretly among like-minded people. He was not caught by the FBI, even though they were under enormous pressure from the Nixon Administration to find him.

However, Ellsberg surrendered voluntarily to authorities only a few weeks later:

On June 28, Ellsberg publicly surrendered to the US Attorney’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts. He was taken into custody believing he would spend the rest of his life in prison; he was charged with theft, conspiracy, and espionage.

But Ellsberg never went to prison. In a stunningly ironic turn of events, the actions of Nixon’s “plumbers” (who later carried out the Watergate burglary, but whose nickname came from their earlier attempts to fix Ellsberg’s “leaks”) ended up inadvertently freeing Ellsberg. As in a Shakespearean tragedy, Nixon’s wild overreaching against Ellsberg sowed the seeds of Nixon’s own downfall, through the mechanism of those very same plumbers:

In one of Nixon’s actions against Ellsberg, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in September 1971, hoping to find information they could use to discredit him. The revelation of the break-in became part of the Watergate scandal. ..Because of the gross governmental misconduct, all charges against Ellsberg were eventually dropped.

Earlier, the administration had sued the Times to try to stop publication of the Pentagon Papers on the grounds that such publication would threaten national security. The case went to the Supreme Court; here’s an excerpt from a review of a book written about it, “The Day the Pressed Stopped,” by David Rudenstine:

Despite Americans’ constitutional right to a free press, certain government information–particularly that concerning military affairs–has been placed beyond the realm of public access. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1971, however (brought about when the Nixon administration sued the New York Times) knocked a howitzer-sized hole in that theory when the case allowed the New York Times and the Washington Post to print excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000- page document regarding U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

I haven’t read Rudenstine’s book–although I’ve added it to my ever-growing, always-daunting, reading list–but the above quote describes what a watershed event the publication of the Papers was. Before then, newspapers would have been reluctant to print such things–whether out of loyalty to the government or out of fear of repercussions, or both. After the 1971 case, the gloves were off.

[For anyone interested in reading some original sources around that groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling–I confess that I’ve not yet done so, myself–this site looks to be an excellent place to start. And, by the way, on the question of whether the publication of the Pentagon Papers actually did pose any true threat to national security, the Rudenstine book supports the controversial contention that they did).

Fast forward to now. National security officers presently are encouraged to spill information with which they disagree–and are provided with support groups, networking, and free legal advice–organized by none other than Daniel Ellsberg himself.

It’s now almost assumed that the proper course of action for such whistleblowers is his final course of action: going to the press, rather than launching an internal investigation or going to Congress with the information. As I wrote previously, it appears that national security whistleblowers are being encouraged to act as virtual moles within their own organizations, remaining in their jobs in order to gain more of the sensitive material and to reveal it as they see fit, according to the dictates of their individual consciences, and often for political reasons. And the idea that there will be any serious legal consequences for the whistleblowers has been weakened; Ellsberg expected to be charged with treason (and was), but many whistleblowers today seem to consider such possibilities to be idle threats.

I believe that, as in so many things, the pendulum has swung too far in one direction. We would not want go back to the era when something of the scope of a My Lai could be successfully covered up. The exposure of My Lai was a shock, but one of the benefits is that My Lai has been studied in depth and used as teaching tool by the military, which has instituted reforms that make such an event far less likely to ever happen today.

But it hardly seems necessary–or productive–to allow national security employees to leak like sieves to the press, much of the time about matters that are not clearly illegal, and motivated sometimes by pure partisanship. And it hardly seems good to allow the press to be the final arbiter of whether their own disclosures will damage national security or not.

The next post in the series will deal with suggestions as to how the pendulum might swing back to a more evenhanded position, one that balances the public’s need to know with the need to protect national security. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be easy.

50 Responses to “Question authority: Part III (Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers)”

  1. douglas Says:

    It took roughly five Shermans to take out a single Tiger.”

    Had to have the will to LOSE FIVE SHERMANS to get a SINGLE tiger. Not easy stuff.

    Indeed, the Panther (Panzer V) was a response to the T-34 which was, cheaper, faster and sufficiently powerfully armed to defeat the Panther III’s, aided also by superior numbers. That all still makes Spank wrong, Panther (Panzer V) was the best tank in the war. But the Soviets still won the East. Willpower.

  2. Spanky Says:

    Oooooooh, just one more, because this is too beautiful to pass up:

    “When Spank makes fun of science fiction and military science fiction writers like David Weber and John Ringo, Spank is showing his prejudice. If you read David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, you would actually learn more about politics, than you would just by watching Fox News. The political machinations are very complex, very detailed, very plausible, and quite Real in the sense that it has happened.”

    In other words, you can learn more from reality by reading made-up stories than you can from actual reality. And you disagree with me that image has replaced reality? Silly little Yammer. You go on right ahead learning about the world via story-time.

  3. Spanky Says:

    Two comments, and then I’m done here:

    Shorter Yammer: “What could have possibly caused me to say something wrong, and then immediately backtrack? Could it be because…I was wrong? I’ll never admit it.”

    Second shorter Yammer: “Willpower is the most important thing – even if you don’t have tanks, you can just will your way to victory.Based on what I know of history, this worked well for Hitler in 1944!”

  4. Ymarsakar Says:

    Another issue I want to bring up, to douglass or anyone else getting the memo, is that Spank is replying to my blog not through commenting there, but by annoying people here.

    For example, you’re little diatribe on your site (Does anyone but me read it? What will you do when I stop finding this amusing and you lose your audience?):

    Not exactly polite of course. Why do people want to read Spank’s abusive conduct towards Ymar, when what he is replying to is on Ymar’s site?

    Not very good conduct in polite company, is it.

    As for the making things up. I do hope people understand me well enough to realize that I don’t attach emotional significance to being “right”. I don’t get my kicks from that, unlike other people. This means, I treat people different. If Neo tells me I got a fact wrong, I might reconsider changing my statements, and in most situations I do, after I look it up.

    People who are my enemies, who hold enmity towards me, who are hostile to my very existence. People like that, don’t deserve to be treated in an honorable and honest fashion. And I don’t, really.

    I don’t actively lie of course, cause that’s too much work to make up stuff about history. But I also don’t take great care to correct my spelling, grammer, or anything else to make it easier for my enemies to read me.

    Spank picked up on it, when he said that the panzers worked well in rural areas, so why did I say they worked well in urban areas and then say the Soviets could not beat them out in the “open” and drew the tanks into the cities?

    Why would I say that the people in WWI did not use tanks because they didn’t travel very far or fast. Then say immediately afterwards, that the exisgencies of war changes strategic thinking? Why would I even bring up WWI after I said that Romans didn’t use heavy armored horse because of the logistics issues it had when out in the hot Syrian desert, and was only forced to use heavy horse to match the Parthian/Persian cataphracts on the field of battle?

    Wouldn’t Spank like to know. But I’m not going to tell him. Why should I give my opponents a better read on my beliefs, when I can get them to overextend?

    Douglass,

    Specifically the Germans had Panzer IIIs I believe, or something close, out on the Eastern Front. When the Russians rolled out the T-34, the weak armor of the Panzer III did not shape up.

    The unusually heavy rear armor of the Panzer III was a weight penalty that was not commensurate with its combat value. Although several tanks of the early war period had heavy rear armor, in general the design trend during the war was to thin the side and rear armor as much as possible, concentrating heavy armor in the frontal quadrant. For example, the Panther tank had very heavy frontal armor but thin side and rear armor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_III

    Presumably if the T-34 has all the armor on the front and a good gun, and a Panzer III tried to fight it, the III would lose. And it probably did.

    If of course did type in urban when I was talking about “rural”. As the logic would point out. Rural is out in the open, while urban is cities. So no, wasn’t really talking about the Tiger tank.

    Concerning willpower, that is a complex subject. You can want something, but if you don’t DO anything, then you’re not going to get it. Thus willpower is not just desire for something.

    Willpower in the military sense, consists of logistics, tactics, and strategy. Because it is inter-weaved with all this stuff. If you lose your discipline and your will to fight, then your entire tactics and logistics and strategy goes to hell in a hand basket. That’s why Napoleon said the moral is to the physical as is 3 is to 1. He understood that if you can break the enemy’s will to fight, it don’t matter what tactics, strategy, or logistics you or the enemy has.

    This applies as much to Vietnam and Hannibal’s invasion of Rome in the 2nd Punic Wars, as it does to WWI and WWII and the current war.

    When Spank makes fun of science fiction and military science fiction writers like David Weber and John Ringo, Spank is showing his prejudice. If you read David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, you would actually learn more about politics, than you would just by watching Fox News. The political machinations are very complex, very detailed, very plausible, and quite Real in the sense that it has happened.

    Besides, it’s just not people like me who read John Ringo. Presumably John Ringo who was part of the 82 nd Airborne also reads John Ringo and David Weber. Then there is Black Five, which claims to read John Ringo because a fellow mil blogger got him onto the wagon.

    So if Spank chooses to smear me with the ad hominem that because I read science fiction, that I’m a cooky nutcase and nobody should pay attention to, he is free to do so. As Spank pointed out, I can’t physically do anything to him, even if I was willing to sully my hands with his kind, douglass.

    The Panther (listen (help·info)) was a tank of Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to end of the war in Europe in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer IV and III, though it served along with them and the heavier Tigers until the end of the war.

    Until 1944 it was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and had the Ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. On 27 February 1944, Hitler ordered that the tank only be known as Panther.

    They didn’t make the Panzer 5s until much later, when the Russian’s tanks were kicking German ass.

    Going back to willpower. Spank advocates that “smart tactics” (presumably stuff he thinks up) will win wars and not just sheer willpower.

    I think most people will realize that if your boss is a hardcase and a genius at the same time, does it really matter then if you just quit the job cause you don’t want to work at it anymore?

    Without willpower, what good are the God general tactics that Spank will output?

    Without people willing to be sent to the furnace, because Spank thought up a good “strategy”, what is the purpose of a commander who has no troops to command?

  5. Spanky Says:

    Setting aside the contradictions inherent in a small government with a massive military, I can only point out that if you actually read the actual writings of actual Neoconservatives – starting with Strauss and working your way down – you’ll notice a strange thing: instead of arguing that the government should interfere as little as possible with individual liberty, the state should focus on the public good and “national greatness.” The Neocons, who descend intellecually from Trotskyists, tend to look favorably on government intervention in the economy.

    Or how else are they going to fund their giant freedom-giving armies?

  6. Spanky Says:

    Douglas,

    The Tiger was probably anything but an urban tank. This is largely beside the point; Soviet equipment for most of the war was superior to or the equal of German equipment, most of the fighting was done by the infantry, most of it was outside urban areas, etc.

    The point is this: that Yammer just does not know history, period.

    But you bring up “willpower,” and perfectly illustrate its uselessness as a measure of military effectiveness. You pick US outproduction of Germany in tanks as evidence that we had superior “willpower.” “Willpower,” then, becomes a meaningless quality. If you simply point to whatever actually won a war – better tactics, greater production, superior equipment, whatever, and assign “willpower” as the cause of this, then “willpower” simply means “that quality by which victory was produced.” It’s sort of like “a dog is a dog because it has the quality of being a dog.”

    Morale, as distinct from “willpower,” is certainly a factor in combat. But willpower qua the will is basically meaningless. It’s an excuse to talk about anything but the real causes for victory. America produced more tanks because it could affor to, and because it had the industrial capacity to do so. Germany didn’t. We can either talk about industrial capacity and output, real things that are measurable, or some fantasy concept of “willpower” as being the motivator for production.

    It took roughly five Shermans to take out a single Tiger. The Allies were simply lucky that the Germans could never mass produce the Tiger or Tiger II. We simply outproduced them. If we had lacked the industrial capacity to produce five Shermans for every Tiger, but still had the “will,” how would those Tigers be destroyed? Would they just…will it to happen?

  7. douglas Says:

    It is difficult to reconcile libertarianism with a philosophy that believes the State should, through massive military expenditure, export democracy through the coercive use of force.

    Sure it is. Domestic vs. Foreign policy. Have as small a government as you can, but that might mean a big military…

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    I always thought Spank spelled my name as Yammer because he is attributing yammering to me. Looks like it was the other way around.

  9. douglas Says:

    I hope you’re on your lunch break, Spank.

  10. douglas Says:

    The Mark V Panther was probably the best tank of the war, and on paper was better than the T-34, but numbers matter, as well as results (who won), and on the field the T-34′s won out.
    I suspect Ymar is using panzer in the generic for German Tank, technically, the Tiger was the ultimate Urban tank, and the Mk.V Panther was the ultimate field tank. The T-34 was certainly a good tank, better than anything we or the British had. Of course, the fact that we pushed the Germans back with far inferior tanks (Shermans aka ‘zippos’ as they never faild to light!) should bolster Ymars proposition that it’s willpower, in this case embodied in production and numbers, that win, not technology or better equipment.

  11. Spanky Says:

    Rather, caricature. I always misspell that word.

  12. Spanky Says:

    “JFK and Roosevelt sure believed in the sword. Pay any price, kill any enemy, aid any ally, to pursue liberty.”

    This is what we call a “non-sequitur.”

    “Spank claims to know his history, but there’s always different interpetations, and Spank’s interpretation is colored by his biases.”

    This is what we call “stating the obvious.” Of course different interpretations of anything will exist. The difference isn’t that you and I are interpreting history differently; it’s that I am interpreting history according to my biases, and you are interpreting a simulacrum of history. You really just don’t know the facts.

    For example, you’re little diatribe on your site (Does anyone but me read it? What will you do when I stop finding this amusing and you lose your audience?):

    It’s spelled “Stalingrad,” not “Stalingrade.”

    Stalingrad wasn’t the firs Soviet victory; Moscow in the winter of 1941 was.

    The Soviets didn’t capture a couple of divisions; they captured Paulus’ Sixth Army.

    They didn’t win by sheer force of will; they launched Operation Uranus, in which Soviet reserves punched through the weaker Romanian and Italian forces on Paulus’ flanks and encircled him. It was classic maneouver.

    German Panzers (German nouns are always capitalized) were not ideal for urban operations; where did you get this idea that tanks were ideal in urban operations? Tanks are good on flat, open terrain – which is why they made short work of the Soviets in the plains of the Russian steppe.

    The Soviets did not have inferior equipment; the T-34, which was superior to almost any German tank for most of the war, was in production and use before the war started.

    You also contradict yourself in a rather rediculous manner:

    “the Soviets could not stop the German blitzkrieg in the urban areas, which were perfect for German panzers”

    then

    “when bodies could not face Panzers out in the open, they would face them in the cities”

    Which is it? Were the German Panzers ideal for cities or the country? Were the Soviets unable to stop them in cities, or were they able to stop them in cities? Do you mistype, or is your thinking really so sloppy that you would assert first one thing, and then its opposite shortly thereafter?

    I can only assume that you got the whole, “one rifle to every two men” from “Enemy at the Gates,” which features that in its opening scene. You certainly didn’t get it from a history book, because that idea is a charicature of Soviet capabilities and fighting styles during the war.

    And this is the problem: it’s not just that you get a detail or two wrong, with no ill effect on your general argument. It’s that you make up or get wrong every detail, and then make conclusions on a fantasy version of history. Even if reality worked the way you claim it does, I don’t think your conclusions would be particularly valid, but that’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that you simply do not know what you are talking about. You talk a good game, and someone who doesn’t know history might be fooled into believing you an authority on the subject. The people here should be aware that pretty much anything you say is garbage.

    Sorry, Yammer. I keep telling you to read an actual book or two on the subject, but you instead seem dead-set on making stuff up instead.

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    JFK and Roosevelt sure believed in the sword. Pay any price, kill any enemy, aid any ally, to pursue liberty. Wow.

    Spank claims to know his history, but there’s always different interpetations, and Spank’s interpretation is colored by his biases. He seeks to wage war on the internet, when his arguments are weak, and he’ll appear “reasonable” when he thinks he has one up on you concerning his expertise.

    It’s the pack mentality. Wise old head appears calm and collected, then when he faces someone stronger, he gets nasty and aggressive.

    Which means, Spank is neither truely aggressive nor is he truely collected, in any sane sense.

  14. Spanky Says:

    Douglas,

    It is difficult to reconcile libertarianism with a philosophy that believes the State should, through massive military expenditure, export democracy through the coercive use of force.

  15. douglas Says:

    “Leo Strauss, Fascist Godfather of the Neo-Cons”

    Sure, googling will get you Kristol, but also Fukuyama, and of course Strauss, so it certainly does not confirm your assertion, Spank. So I have to go with Ymar on this one.

    “Sure enough, Douglas, but to conflate neoconservatism with libertarianism is like conflating an eating contest with a weightloss program.”

    Poor analogy. Neocons who’ve been ‘mugged by reality’ tend to move away from their ‘liberal’ position of believing that government is the answer to all problems, and in fact may be the cause of some problems… that’s a move toward libertarian positions. That’s why there was a qualifier in the quote you brought in from Kristol, to clarify the reduced distance to libertarian from a liberal vs. a neocon. it’s a spectrum analysis, instead of your polarized view of things.

  16. Spanky Says:

    Yammer, Yammer, you’re such a sad little case…

    Do a quick google for “Godfather of neoconservatism.”

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    If Pat Robertson and his paleo-conservatives Jerry Falwell and David Duke the KKK wizard quotes something, spank uses it, and the sign off is “Author of Republican Policy”, why wouldn’t we laugh?

    You really believe a movement, neo-con or not, is based upon the writings of some Irving Kristol intellectual? That this is some common day Marxist ideology centered around Marx and Lenin?

    Who are we kidding here.

    The God Father is neo-conservatism is Leo Strauss. Go read it here about him

    (who should be in a better position that you to define what the movement means)

    a movement is defined by the people in it, not the intellectuals opining about it.

    Marx knew this about communism and so should we.

    Using Spank’s logic, horrid as it is, equating Kristol to Neoconservativism is the same as equating David Duke and Pat Robertson to the Bush’s Republican strategies.

  18. Spanky the Analogy Maker Says:

    Sure enough, Douglas, but to conflate neoconservatism with libertarianism is like conflating an eating contest with a weightloss program.

  19. douglas Says:

    “–though not with those libertarian conservatives who are conservative in economics but unmindful of the culture…”

    Spanky, this clearly does not mean ALL libertarian conservatives. Thus the distinction in Nick’s post about ‘small-l libertarians’, the ones who tend to favor smaller government, but believe in some regulatory capacity for government, and thus are ‘mindful of the culture’, unlike ‘big-L’ Libertarians.

  20. Spanky Says:

    “One of the prime elements at the heart of the neocon movement is the demand for smaller, less intrusive government.”

    - Nick

    “But it is only to a degree that neocons are comfortable in modern America. The steady decline in our democratic culture, sinking to new levels of vulgarity, does unite neocons with traditional conservatives–though not with those libertarian conservatives who are conservative in economics but unmindful of the culture…

    extraordinary events, the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces, external or internal.”

    -Irving Kristol, “The Neoconservative Persuasion”

    Nick, I’m afraid that you have reversed the definition of neoconservatism. Neoconservatism is premised on the idea that America should use force to extend and defend democracies in the world because this is not only in America’s interests, but because it is the moral thing to do.

    Kristol, the “God Father” of Neoconservatism (who should be in a better position that you to define what the movement means), explicitly rejects the notion of a neocon-libertarian alliance.

    Sorry, Nick. If you’re going to sign up for something, it’s usually a good idea to at least take a glance at what you’re signing.

  21. OBloodyHell Says:

    > I find it difficult to understand why you feel that these authorities are always to be trusted

    I can’t speak for neo, and she’s already replied to you, but this is a patently ridiculous assertion.

    I think an awful lot of so-called “neocons” are actually small-l libertarians. What they learned from Watergate, from My Lai, from The Pentagon Papers (and subsequent actions and events, throughout the 70s, or their echoes in the late 80s and 90s, like the SnL scandal and Enron) is that you cannot fully trust government, even less so than that great socialist boogeyman, “Big Business”. Government is certainly necessary — but it, more than anything else, is dangerous. To it alone — and its representatives — is given the power to apply deadly force with measured impunity.

    One of the prime elements at the heart of the neocon movement is the demand for smaller, less intrusive government. A government that, generally, avoids getting involved where there is no need for action. Which devolves the decisionmaking power mostly to those at the core of the problem, rather than invoking it from “on high”. In this, the GOP has failed, of late — and I, for one, would happily repudiate them for this if there was a viable alternative — like the Democrats of the 60s, of Zell Miller. I cannot, in good conscience, EVER vote for the loony left Democrats of today, however.

    Back to the point:

    Iraq, Iran: Action needed.
    The Sudan: No action needed.

    The distinction above is that Iraq and Iran represent a clear, direct threat to the American people, by their government’s support of terrorism.

    The Sudan, although there is a clear moral interest, does not justify action because we are not directly threatened. This IS a case where the UN can and should request action, at which time we may be a part of it.

    I see nothing in neo’s writings which shows a substantial belief in the powers of “authority”. I believe, like most, that she does have faith in the nature of the system in the matter of restraining misuse of power. We have systems and mechanisms for doing such, and the fact that, of all the major nations on earth, we have the oldest continually funtioning government, says that maybe we DO have something here that works. That maybe we SHOULD be careful before we screw with it… like taking “leaking” lightly. That we might instead put more force into the use of our inherently designed systems for dealing with these things before we resort to using outside techniques like public opinion.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    It’s human dynamics. I can criticize Bush all day long, and Jacksonians and Republicans won’t act hostile towards me. The reason why is simple. They know I’m not out to destroy Bush, they know that the reason for my criticism is because I want Bush to do better, not worse.

    When Democrats criticize Bush, it is like Brits criticizing Americans. There is an automatic “I gotta defend my tribe” reaction. Even liberals who go to Germany on vacation or student exchange programs, and voted for Gore or Kerry, find that they defend Bush all the time and America all the time against the criticism of Germans in their house and outside. All the time, and it gets them very tired.

    The lesson is simple. If you want to pass gas and feel good, then attack people and make your hostile intentions known.

    But if you want to understand and change people’s policies, then you have to try to help those people, not try and destroy them. Blair got Bush to go to the UN primarily because Bush knew Blair wasn’t trying to destroy Bush’s policies like Chirac was. Chirac couldn’t have gotten bush to go to the UN, and Chirac knows it. Which pisses him off, but that’s how it goes in human dynamics.

    If david came here and said he wanted to promote American-British relations and to support our alliance, and criticized America for not appreciating the sacrifices of Brit Land or why we don’t devote more energies in selling our policies, that he supports, david wouldn’t get much arguement.

    It’s when you try to have it both ways that you get a problem. You cannot be both for Kerry and against Kerry. You are either for or against, not both at the same time. No, I voted for it before I voted against or whatever.

    Americans, at least, appreciate stands of principle. If you’re with us, then we’ll cover your back. But if you’re not with us, then you’re against us, and we and our brothers will be against you in turn.

    Even I, who hated Bush going t othe UN on the advice of Powell and Blair, recognized that it was the cost of getting the Brits on board. Which means, I am perfectly fine with excluding British help, if we didn’t go to the UN.

    We’re not trying to have our cake and eat it too. I don’t want British support and troops, at no cost, by not going to the UN as Blair wanted.

    Some people have the soul of bandits, I don’t, not quite.

    The above analysis is pretty clear in diplomacy. People who failed their diplomatic courses, may have problems understanding such things as I’ve proposed.

    You get better results with honey, than vinegar. Clear enough?

  23. Terry A. Hoover Says:

    I think what David is really missing out on in his attempt to understand conservative America is his inability to understand America itself. He questions us because we don’t see how the rest o fthe world views us.

    What he misses most of all, I think, is that the very idea of an independent America had as one of its basic beliefs that we don’t care what the rest of the world thinks about us. We are Americans, not Europeans.

    If we had listened to Europeans we never would have picked a fight with the primary military and naval power of the day in 1775. I’m sure the vast majority of Europeans that we had lost our collective minds. We looked really stupid to Europeans holding free elections in the middle of a civil war too.

    We do things the rest of the world thinks we’re nuts for doing for the simple reason that we see ourselves not as the rest of the world.

    As for being called a borderline racist, well, I’ve been called worse things. But it is laughable that an Englishman would have the audacity to point at America and cry “racist”.

  24. grackle Says:

    Surely if the government behaves badly it is the government you should be annoyed at, not the person who tells you about it?

    Yes, the government(or rather individuals comprising the government) occasionally behaves badly, although most of the time it behaves well. Speaking for myself, I really dig it when the government is found behaving badly and the culprits stopped. On the other hand, I feel I can’t stand idly by while someone slanders my government – which is what David does when he states that the US advocates “turning the world democratic by force, particularly the bits with oil.”

    I think the problem with David is that he is not used to vigorous debate and a different viewpoint. He watches the BBC and reads the Guardian and it’s very nice because they are feeding his prejudice against the US. He and his friends trade slanders, half-truths and distortions about the US and have a great time feeling morally superior. Then he comes here and keys the same garbage and is quite disturbed when someone confronts him with the facts. Take the generalization below:

    It seems deeply unfair that when things do go wrong it is the lower ranking soldiers, who are already in harms way, who get into trouble.

    The reader has no way of knowing just what David is referring to. There’s no example cited, no names or places given – just a blanket denunciation. Perhaps David has found that facts can be too easily checked and disputed and avoids them whenever possible.

    David finds it ominous that anyone could be “strongly pro the United States.” Frankly, I find that amusing but it’s a perfect example of the viewpoint of most leftists. It’s very upsetting to them that anyone could have a positive viewpoint about the US because they are never exposed to the facts about the US, just the anti-American crap that passes for news in Europe.

    I also find it odd that David would take one “anti-immigration comment,” not written by Neo, as an example of what Neo believes. Of course, there’s no quotes provided by David in this instance, either.

    That the European leftists look upon the US MSM as on the right is not surprising, considering the socialist fairyland that most European lefties live in.

    The general opinion on here is that all Islamic people are terrorists, potential terrorists or quiet supporters of terrorism.

    David evidently believes the majority of Moslems do not tacitly support terrorism against the West. I do. Prove me wrong, David.

    Trying to turn back the tide of change that went through America after Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement.

    Does anyone remember any comments or a Neo post about the Civil Rights Movement? As usual, there’s no quotes whatsoever from David, so we just don’t know what he’s talking about. Smells like another assumption to me.

    Actually David, I am pro-immigration. I do not believe in creating felons out of undocumented workers. I think the workers are beneficial to the US. I don’t even believe they should be required to learn English. But you wouldn’t know this. You are too busy with assumptions.

    I have tried to avoid reaching the conclusion that you are racist but when it comes to your attitudes to Islamic people you are getting very close.

    When you are born and raised in a politically correct hothouse environment there must be a sharp intake of breath when PC is deviated from. It must indeed seem like racism when Moslem attitudes on terrorism against the West are freely and openly discussed. One doesn’t do this in David’s circles. As usual, no quotes, just a snide implication of racism.

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Brits have lower corporation taxes than Americans do, so the propaganda that Americans trust Big Business more than anyone else, is a bit of a lie. Just a bit.

    I do believe i told david to look up Jacksonianism. If he did, he would understand that the great majority of the so called neo-cons are Jacksonians. The voters and grassroots, not the pundits of course.

    Statistically speaking, for every Bill Cristol and Tom “Friedman” there is like 500 other Jacksonians that voted for Clinton and then went for Bush or something. Or Gore to Bush.

    Or even Bush to Bush. A lot of Jacksonians. People who don’t look it up, don’t have the excuse of “I don’t get neo-conism”.

    Jacksonians don’t want to turn the whole world to democracy, just the important pieces like the ME. Oil is funding terrorism, so it is not a coincidence oil is in the ME. Terrorism without funds is like a dog without teeth, it’ll drool over you, but that’s okay.

    If Africa had oil, their warlords wouldn’t just be a local problem, but a global one. People like Libya give up but not Iran, because Iran is in the ME and has oil. Oil is not what we want, Oil is what we want to destroy since it is our enemies that want it.

    The balance of power is always crazy. Shia and Kurd and America vs Saddam. Kurd and America vs Sunni. Sunni Kurd America vs Shia. Shia, Kurd, Sunni, America vs Iran. And on it goes.

    Me and my brother vs our cousin. Me and my brother and our cousin vs the foreign invader. Me and my cousin with my brother and the foreign invader, vs the conquering foreigner.

    Check list

    Oil is wrong.

    It’s not neo cons trusting in big business, independent of SB’s point of why you should or should not trust in big business.

    Germany has a state owned telecommunications company which has a monopoly on teles, I wonder how big that is. The Brits have the BBC, I wonder how big that is. Japan HAD a government owned post office, now they don’t becaus of Koizumi.

    It’s not the neo cons that are fans of big business. We’re fans of competition, which someone might confuse with their goals. It’s not, just because the Demos and the Repubs think government has a job to do, doesn’t mean we or the Euros think it is the same job.

    Neo Cons like a fight, we like to solve things with wars, like all Jacksonians. Don’t start it, but end it. War solved the problem of American independence, war solved slavery, war solved American isolationism, War solved voting rights for women and blacks, War solved fascism and communism and MAD and nuclear holocaust and the question of American supremacy in the world.

    War has solved every single important facet in American history on down through the ages. Even our defeats, Vietnam, has taught us something, and solved (at least in the media’s eye) some fundamental questions of american policy.

    That is why the Euros and the Amis don’t see eye to eye, SB.

    Americans not only use war to solve their problems, but we do it well and with efficiency, as Americans do with any challenge in their path.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Walmart

  27. SB Says:

    I think david needs to re-read Neo’s “conversion” story if he thinks nothing but goodness and light came out of America’s experiences in the 60s – especially Vietnam. What’s the equation, Good America = Chastened, Humbled, Impotent, Jimmy Carter America?

    Please…

    The fact that you have a nice, castrated America to remember must mean that we are capable of changing. So characterizing us one way or another doesn’t make much sense. We are whatever history and our own decisions make us. If you don’t like it, wait a few years.

    As for trusting Big Business – yes, we do, up to a point. Large corporations may be – in some peoples minds – responsible for some human misery. But they are also totally responsible for much human prosperity. Do you seriously think all American businesses are like Enron?

    I work for a Big Business. It pays my salary, provides my health and life insurance, pays for my education, give me several weeks of paid leave each year, provides a safe, quiet, well-lit workplace, and in general makes my life better. I am able to donate as much of my paycheck as I like to a charity of my choice – be it supporting the local animal shelter or sending aid to Darfur. This business was founded by a Korean immigrant who came to America as a teenager, went to college, got a Doctorate degree, and started his company in the basement of his townhouse. We are primarily a government contractor, and the government sets aside certain contracts for small, disadvantaged, and minority-owned businesses. Between this policy and his own considerable talents, he grew his company from just himself and his computer to a world-class IT consulting firm with over 1,000 employees. Now we are too big to qualify for special preferences – and nobody here has a problem with that. It’s called success. I don’t know how you feel about where you work, but I believe I am part of a team of professionals second to none in our industry. They pay me what they owe me, and I work for them accordingly. I’m not sure having the government control my company would improve this arrangement at all.

    Besides, what’s the alternative to Big Business? Without Big Business, where would you get all your cool toys, like that computer on which you are reading and writing on this blog? In the grand Socialist Utopia, will computers be built by peasants in quaint cottages in the Black Forest or something? Or is the opposite of Big Business, Government-Controlled Business?

    Sorry, but on this side of the Atlantic labor unions no longer represent the needs nor the will of the majority of American workers. We recognize that the unions did us a great service in the days of the robber barons, but today’s big business at least try to maintain a team-like relationship with their workers. Certain industries are exceptions, but for the most part collective bargaining is simply not necessary in our economy. Company prospers, workers prosper.

    This must be a perception problem. Probably works both ways – we’d have to live in each others’ countries and remember each others’ histories to really understand why we think about things so differently.

    Just keep Neo’s pendulum in mind. If it swings too far to the right, the American people will give it another shove to the left – just like we did in the 1930s and the 1960s. It’s a crazy motion, but it seems to be working. So far, anyway…

  28. Harry Mallory Says:

    It’d be nice if I bothered to review my posts first.

    Ah, maybe just one. If Islamic peoples are not all involved in terrorism, (and no, they’re not), then neocons cannot be all evil oil grabbing racists and may even be horribly mis-understood.

  29. Harry Mallory Says:

    Well David, as for this necon, anyone starting a debate with the talking point:

    1. Advocating turning the world democratic by force, particularly the bits with oil.

    Is unwilling to debate from a point of honesty. You already know our stated reasons for invading Afghanistan & Iraq, non of that included “Advocating turning the world democratic by force”.

    It seems to me that you have already made up your mind about “this neocon thing”, therefore, Im not sure what it is you seek to understand. Im not sure there’s anything we could say that would change your mind or give you pause to consider.

    Ah, maybe just one. If Islamic peoples are not involved in terrorism, (and no, they’re not), then neocons cannot be all evil oil grabbing racists and may even be horribly mis-understood.

    What do ya think Dave?

    Peace out!

  30. Anonymous Says:

    You can tell a troll by the way they can dish it out but not take it. After getting called on their abuses and illogic, they slink off, whining about how “nobody ‘preciates me.”

    People attack me, anonymous, all the time, and do I object? No. They demand I use a pseudonym, but do I slink off with my tail between my legs? No. As long as our kind and enlightened host neo allows me, anonymous, to post here, I will do so as my mood strikes me at the moment. Not intelligent, perhaps. Not wise, perhaps. But ever steadfast, ever resilient, yours, anonymous.

  31. david Says:

    sigh…..neo con you need to learn not to read everything literally. Also need to learn to debate rather than accuse. I comprehend. I am not a troll. I am genuinely puzzled by the way in which you are so trusting of some organisations; government and big business yet hyper critical of what you term the MSM. I also wonder about the way you consistently side with more powerful groups in the face of the powerless.

    What you think of as “balance and common sense” I perceive as right wing nonsense. Sorry but we do have different opinions.

    If you want to cease debating with me that is fine. As I said before if you interpret my posts as trolling I will go elsewhere. God knows there is no shortage of these neo con sites full of posts all knowingly agreeing with each other about some weird global plot that I still can’t understand.

    I kept saying that I am genuinely interested in what this Neo-Con thing is and I still don’t really get it. I think part of this is my being English and not really understanding American political culture – although I have studied US politics. I have to say that comments like “I don’t think our politics in America has much of an extreme anything” from one comment show me how unaware of global opinion America has become. In many places the policies of Bush et al are seen as very extreme and cause a great deal of trepidation.

    As far as I can see you are;

    1. Advocating turning the world democratic by force, particularly the bits with oil.

    2. Anti-Trade Unions and very strongly pro free markets and business.

    3. Strongly pro the United States but deeply suspicious of all other countries and international organisations.

    4. Very strongly in favour of military action and quite willing to tolerate the death and destruction for all concerned.

    5. Trying to turn back the tide of change that went through America after Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement. Why this is I really can’t see as change was needed. I have tried to avoid reaching the conclusion that you are racist but when it comes to your attitudes to Islamic people you are getting very close. The general opinion on here is that all Islamic people are terrorists, potential terrorists or quiet supporters of terrorism. This is rubbish.

    6. Arguing that Hollywood and the MSM are sources of liberal misinformation. In the rest of the world Hollywood is seen as an advertising vehicle for US capitalism and the US media is perceived as largely right wing.

    7. Maybe anti-immigration which, in a country built on migrants, is pretty funny. That may have been gleaned from one commentator, so I may be wrong.

    There is a constant theme that you have changed and that other people have not the flexibility of mind to assess their opinions and change. I would like to suggest that in a real sense many of you have not changed. You were forceful in your opinions as liberals and are equally forceful as neo-cons. So, in your overwhelming feeling of being right you have not really changed. What has changed is that you have done the old fashioned slide rightwards as you have got older. Only you have to dress it up as epiphany.

    The quality of your arguments is laughably poor. Long, and sometimes violent right wing rants are tolerated but critical approaches soon get a withering neo comment. Sources of information quoted are invariably from some other right wing site and anyone who has the temerity to disagree with you is a troll, bigoted or plain stupid.

    So I suppose that is the end of me on this blog.

    Love and Peace

    david

  32. Promethea Says:

    Ymarsakar . . .

    “What separates us from the Hollywood pack is our belief that government is there for a purpose, and that purpose is to protect us from internal and external threats.”

    Great summary of everything. Unfortunately so much discussion and name-calling derives from the fact that people like David don’t know what they’re talking about. They fling around names for people they disagree with, but they are clueless when it comes to understanding the basic principles of government and society.

  33. Harry Mallory Says:

    Ymar:
    “The theme of “Do as I say, not as I Do”, which details the fake liberal hypocrisies of people like Michael Moore, Chomsky, and so on so.

    Funny you should mention that. I’m reading that now. That Barbara Streisand is terrible. You know she owned stock in Haliburton?

    These people dont believe half of what they espouse and the likes of Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi make laws they themselves have no intention of following.

    If you want to question someones authority, well, there you go.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    One thing I have noticed about the neo con position that differs markedly from some other recent strands of right wing thinking is a real faith in the centres of power. I find it difficult to understand why you feel that these authorities are always to be trusted and that anybody who uses their inside knowledge to point out their failings is a traitor.

    A common occurence is a person collecting all the bad traits of those he supports, and accussing the other side of having those bad traits. Case in point. When the Democrats had their Plame, they weren’t very tolerant of those who “resisted” Congressional authority. When Rove and Cheney uses their inside knowledge to point out the failings of Plame and her husband, it’s now the “rebels” that are the problem. In essence, nobody likes it when people challenge their authority, and Democrats are rather worse in their personal foibles than anyone or anything else. Look at Cynthia for example, when she said that “Do you Understand Me, anything that is said when I am “standing” remains off the record (a little smile, with big buggedy eyes), is that CLEAR? (Eyes get buggier, and smile goes into a frown and a look of pain).

    Surely if the government behaves badly it is the government you should be annoyed at, not the person who tells you about it?

    If the Democrats wanted to play the “fair” game, they wouldn’t have pulled off the gloves concerning Plame and the violation of “national security”. Don’t play hardball and then come talking about not shooting the messenger.

    Government and big business should be trusted in an unquestioning way. I find it hard to know why this is.

    Hollywood sure. European governments, sure sure. What do they have in common with neo-cons? Both Hollywood and Europe hates Neo-Cons, which is part of the reason why. They hate Neo-Cons because neo-cons are what they can never be, which is people who openly are able to question government and get away with it. Neo-cons have no political correctness. No hate speech legislation to criminalize free speech, and so on.

    It reads like you have a great admiration for the rich and powerful and believe that less powerful individuals should simply accept what they are told.

    The theme of “Do as I say, not as I Do”, which details the fake liberal hypocrisies of people like Michael Moore, Chomsky, and so on so.

    But being clever people have to dress it up as some great moral debate, or do the usual ad hominem argument that is so popular on here.

    That’s what I’m talking about. It’s a good lesson. People who project, or otherwise known as pulling an old trick, take all the bad stuff on their side and that they themselves do, and accuse the other side of it.

    David here presents a good example of that because if you take his pravda without double checking, you’d believe he never engaged in an ad hominem first strike. But you’d be wrong, for all of david’s decrying of the “usual ad hominem argument”, it was david himself who first started calling people here “loonies”. This was way before anyone knew him, so it wasn’t as if people were reinstituting old arguments.

    So, he takes all the bad, and makes it your problem, not his. It’s your problem that the usual ad hominem arguments of people being loonies and recruits for terroist camps exist, not because he types them out because it makes him feel good.

    Here’s a classic example of a david vs goliath strategy. David says the jihadists would love to have me in his camps. I point out that I would tend to agree that people who believe in different philosophies fervently, can have an affinity based upon the strength of their belief compared to people like david in Europe who don’t believe in anything they’d die or kill for, I did not point out that it was an ad hominem to say that I’m a potential jihadist or something like that, because it wouldn’t work and it would not entail the correct response. His response when I pointed out his ad hominem later, is to say that I agreed. It’s the classic, “I beat on little kittens cause they deserve it” justification. If you fight back and say it’s wrong of david to call people names, david will say that you deserved it cause you either agreed or you advocated violent policies or some such, making you part of X Y, Z david specified groups. If you don’t fight back, and talk about the issues, david will feel vindicated in his “opinion”.

    The projection trick is pretty old. I think I got tired of it by the time when the Democrats stopped calling Bush a unilateralist. Lying about Bush being a unilateralist when you know he is a multilateralist just doesn’t pass the smell test. And neither is david’s refusal to recognize that neo-cons, defined as people like me, perhaps talkin, and neo-neocon don’t really like the government all is said and done. What separates us from the Hollywood pack is our belief that government is there for a purpose, and that purpose is to protect us from internal and external threats. Hollywood and Europe believes the role of government is to babysit people and make them into children.

    David won’t rail against the democratic socialism eating Europe from the inside out as a wasp larvae devours its host before final flight. But he will rail against the neo-cons, who he sees as beholden to a government that he doesn’t like. Unsaid is all the people who are beholden to the governments that he does like, for those people, david says and does nothing about.

  35. Buffy Says:

    If they’re going to blow the whistle on a powerful government agency, they’d better be ready to put in the prison time. If they don’t have the courage of their convictions, then they’re just weasle partisans, like McCarthy.

    As for media publishers of classified information, there have to be high level hearings to decide on each individual case what to do with the reporters and the publishers. You can’t assume they get off scot-free via the first amendment. If what they publish results in grievous consequences, the media can be liable like anyone.

  36. aarmchair pessimist Says:

    There’s an interesting connection to the Mohammad (peeboh) cartoons. The outraged followers of that faith took to the streets and, apparantly, very effectively explained to our brave press why they had better not publish. I throw this out as one way to deal with the problem that doesn’t require long and laborious agonizings over morality, the 1st amendment and the obligations of a citizen.
    You can hang more than a pendulum, right Neo?

  37. Holmes Says:

    Off the topic but related to the above post, I don’t think our politics in America has much of an extreme anything. The balance that Neo describes above is a balance desired by most Americans.

  38. nyomythus Says:

    This is why I shifted from being a liberal to a neoconservative. Before I said it is Conservatism that now champions what Liberalism once championed. Neo, your pendulum analogy and post and the discussions here wash more of the murk from the window of reason. I suspect if Conservatism is hijacked by an extreme Right, I’ll shift again. It’s not about the label. Of an extreme Right, presently I don’t see one with any power to influence policy on any level so it would seem we have a long way to go.

  39. SB Says:

    It sounds like dave subscribes to the idealistic “speaking truth to power” vision of the American news industry. Could be wrong – I’m not a mind-reader.

    Yeah, the MSM tell me lots of stuff I “don’t want to hear.” Whether it comprises unpleasant bits of reality that I must acknowledge for my own good, or just plain bullshit – is hard to tell anymore.

    And I agree with maryatexitzero – Why should I trust the media any more than I trust any other powerful institution? Am I not supposed to “question authority?”

    Interesting to contrast the public’s attitudes toward the media in the 60s with those of today. As Neo pointed out, then they were crusaders of Truth; today – who knows?

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    david:

    That you can read this post (and perhaps the first two in the series as well), and come up with the following extraordinarily off-base sentence to describe it (and my way of thinking), reflects either a profound failure of reading comprehension on your part, or the purposeful setting up of a strawman:

    I find it difficult to understand why you feel that these authorities are always to be trusted and that anybody who uses their inside knowledge to point out their failings is a traitor.

    Whether you are unable to comprehend what I’ve actually said, or whether you are a true troll I do not know for sure. I tend to believe it’s the former rather than the latter, and I also tend to think your lack of comprehension is not a failure of intelligence, but simply that your preconceived notions are getting in the way.

    But whichever is operating, I cannot possibly explain myself over and over to a person who continues to misread what I’ve already clearly stated. Authorities “always to be trusted?” After the terrible initial coverup of My Lai? I think not! Ridenhour “a traitor?” I’ve said absolutely nothing that would indicate that; on the contrary.

    This may be my last attempt to engage with you, because such engagement seems futile. But I’ll close by reminding you of the following sentence that ended this post:

    The next post in the series will deal with suggestions as to how the pendulum might swing back to a more evenhanded position, one that balances the public’s need to know with the need to protect national security.

    I advocate balance and a return to common sense about these things. If you haven’t learned that yet from reading my blog, I’m afraid you never will.

  41. maryatexitzero Says:

    David, the MSM is ‘big business’. It’s not clear that they have any agenda other than making money, but why should you trust the talking heads who sell you TomKat and Dan Rather more than you trust Exxon? The MSM is selling something that you want, and maybe need, to buy.

  42. david Says:

    This is Big Brother msm world. This is paranoid nonsense

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Why is it assumed that Fox News serves only the rich and powerful yet CNN, NY Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR etc., seem to serve the poor unwashed masses.

    I question the msm’s authority to determine who is or isn’t considered a ‘whistleblower’, since it is the law which determines whistleblower.

    Further, the msm gives a picture of the world as they intend their audience to see not the world as it is. For example, between 1998 and 2000 the NY Times printed five editorials based upon The Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 issued by a Democrat President demanding that Saddam be removed because he was a threat to the free world, had WMDs, and supported Jihadist terrorism. Now that a Republican is president they decided that the audience should believe without question Joe Wilson’s fabricated lie created by the shadow government operating inside the CIA. Perhaps the NY Times does not want the unwashed masses to recognize that they really are tools for Big Brother (and it’s not Bush)

    That said, by today’s standards no doubt John F.’we shall bare any burden, pay any price’ Kennedy would have been labeled a neo-con. This is how far American Liberalism has been eaten alive by Collectivist Statism. This is Big Brother msm world.

  44. david Says:

    One thing I have noticed about the neo con position that differs markedly from some other recent strands of right wing thinking is a real faith in the centres of power. I find it difficult to understand why you feel that these authorities are always to be trusted and that anybody who uses their inside knowledge to point out their failings is a traitor.

    Surely if the government behaves badly it is the government you should be annoyed at, not the person who tells you about it? But not neo-cons. Government and big business should be trusted in an unquestioning way. I find it hard to know why this is.

    As for the issue of soldiers disobeying illegal orders it is arguably those controlling the military action who are responsible. It seems deeply unfair that when things do go wrong it is the lower ranking soldiers, who are already in harms way, who get into trouble.

    It reads like you have a great admiration for the rich and powerful and believe that less powerful individuals should simply accept what they are told.

    The only powerful institution you criticise is the media (MSM) which you constantly denigrate. From where I sit Fox News is a laughably right wing institution that supports the interests of its owner first and those of the rich and powerful straight after. But for neo-cons they are a treacherous bunch of leftie/liberal/bid laden worshipping cowards who keep putting these awful stories about Iraq being a shambles in the public eye.

    How about this for an idea;

    The reason you don’t like whistleblowers and the MSM is because they give us a picture of the world which is very different from the neo-con fantasy of measured American lead process of democratising the world.

    And you don’t like it.

    But being clever people have to dress it up as some great moral debate, or do the usual ad hominem argument that is so popular on here. Think about it. Would you be critical of “whistleblowers” in Venezuela? Or in European countries? Or is it just the ones who tell you the things you don’t want to know in your own country?

  45. nyomythus Says:

    As I alluded to before [part II] in a very broad sense, what were the consequences to the endeavor of [Human Freedom] by the actions of the few? Leaking sensitive information can have unseen consequences. Distraught over an unsuccessful job promotion, Mark Felt leaked the petty business of Watergate [which he helped instigate] to the Washington Post, which led to the demise of Nixon, which lead directly to the tortured and slaughtered of untold numbers of Cambodians and Vietnamese. Mark Felt worry about this? Are you nuts, he was still eating steak and potatoes – those poor people were no concern of his. What ushered next after Watergate? Say hello to the father of modern Islamic Terror, Jimmy Carter. Felt should have been exiled and handed over to the Khmer Rouge, no no no, they would have made him a General. He should have been handed over to the people in the re-education camps. I feel the same way about U.S. Soldiers who engaged in the My Lai massacre, and those who participated in the mistreatment at Abu Ghraib. These actions, in vastly varying degree, nevertheless have degraded the endeavor of people struggling for freedom from terror. Leftist hung-over malaise murmurs, “Those filthy Asians [Arabs] should be happy they can suffer for our political games. Exile, capital punishment, or jail time must be re-instituted for these disasters. Ultimately there should be substantial ‘consequences’ no matter what the intensions were. The next question is martyrdom of the villain by the Left and our other enemies. Propaganda is an impressionable media – which is why Leftist ideologies begin with the young and stupid. Okay I’ll shut up now.

  46. Ymarsakar Says:

    It’s funny. To the Democrats, war is the final option.
    Why is it not surprising that those who advocate that extreme measures not be the final measure, don’t pay attention to their own advice in their own personal matters.

    It can be give people heartburn how out of balanced the status quo is in terms of Ph.

    “They HAVE TO BE RIGHT.” — but there is no objective “right”; the issue involves what are military secrets that should be kept from the public, when it is THAT public which selects the civilian leaders who control the military.

    When they leak NSA taps and the public says 60+ % approves of taps, that means you are wrong and not right.

  47. Tom Grey Says:

    Oh my, Neo, your part II & now part III are great.

    “They HAVE TO BE RIGHT.” — but there is no objective “right”; the issue involves what are military secrets that should be kept from the public, when it is THAT public which selects the civilian leaders who control the military.

    If the military lies to the public, the public may well be manipulated into choosing a civilian boss of the military who doesn’t represent the “true” will of the people, because the people didn’t know the “truth”.

    Of course, an estimate that the war will end in 6 months, if believed, is not a “lie” when it drags on for years, it’s just wrong. Incompetent even, but not lies.

    It’s no more a lie than Kerry’s 1971 claim that the US leaving would result in only 2 – 3,000 deaths. Stupidly incompetent; possibly self-deluding wishful thinking. Wrong, but not quite a lie (not like Christmas in Cambodia — a clear lie.)

    Ellsberg was ready to go to prison in civil disobedience — and the “court of public opinion” said him going to prison was wrong. Therefore, his leak was “RIGHT”.

    The need for speedy resolution, in days and weeks, not years, is really bothersome. I’m afraid America’s impatience lost the war in Vietnam (for the S. Vietnamese — America didn’t lose, didn’t get a foreign gov’t, didn’t have thousands rounded up and murdered by the victors.)

    I’m afraid America’s impatience can lose in Iraq. It should be a 10 year target — clealy more than any one President’s term.

  48. gcotharn Says:

    A soldier who disobeys an order, or an someone who leaks sensitive info to the media, simply MUST be correct that they are fighting to overturn or expose an IMMORAL ACTION – or they should face appropriately long prison sentences – or even death. They cannot simply believe, according to their own ideology, or their own magical thinking, they are overturning an immoral action – for an incorrect judgment may put large numbers of people into peril. It’s surely a tricky decision for them. They are making a subjective judgment, which is likely based upon the deepest principles and standards undergirding their society. Someone has maybe made a subjective judgment in the other direction. Making an opposite decision cannot be easy. They HAVE TO BE RIGHT. That is the only standard. If they are wrong, some of them may deserve to be hanged.

    In my mind, Ridenhour stands apart from Daniel Ellsberg and Mary McCarthy. Ridenhour stood on solid moral ground. Ellsberg and McCarthy did not. Based on the bit I know, I think Ellsberg and McCarthy were both in the wrong. Regardless, they were both standing on shifty, sandy ground. Neither was on firm enough, certain enough moral ground to have justified taking the actions they did.

  49. SB Says:

    Great article, and thanks for the links! Looking forward to the next installment.

  50. advertising Says:

    make money…

    [...]neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Question authority: Part III (Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers)[...]…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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