"From Hell's Heart, I Stab At Thee!"
On Not-So-Moderate Voices
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in National Security — Comments (6) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
The So-Called Moderate Voice (hereinafter referred to as "TSCMV") has a post which takes as its starting point this story stating that Donald Rumsfeld needed help getting on an escalator, needed to have his elbow held and "looked old." By TSCMV's own admission, this is a "gossipy" report, but never mind that; TSCMV takes the report at face value and argues that the "stress" Rumsfeld has been under after having planned the Iraq war might have "crippled" him. From this, TSCMV fully embraces a non sequitur of its own choosing and wonders whether Rumsfeld will have "a [Robert] McNamara moment" in which he regrets the war, weeps "bitter tears" and becomes "haunted" by his legacy, the specifics of which TSCMV is more than happy to define for the former Secretary of Defense.
Well. When we consider that TSCMV's post was inspired by a "gossipy" report that featured a statement from one anonymous source, we have every reason to wonder why on Earth it is that TSCMV felt a need to write the screed that he did. No one is immune to criticism, of course and one can take issue with actions the Administration undertook in Iraq. Indeed, no healthy society can be maintained without this kind of self-examination. And just so that I can put my money where my mouth is, I believe that even though it was and is clear that the effort to topple Saddam Hussein could be managed with the number of troops that were sent into Iraq, it is clear that more troops were needed to keep the peace. Thus the surge, among other policy changes. And it should be noted that contrary to popular opinion, there was evidently a great deal of debate regarding this issue at the highest levels of government; among the many things that we learn from Stephen Hayes's recent biography of Vice President Cheney is that the Vice President advocated having more troops in Iraq. I agree. Perhaps it is at least in part an ex post facto agreement that is driven to some extent by hindsight bias, but it is agreement nonetheless.
These are serious and substantive critiques of the war and ones worth discussing. But TSCMV eschews seriousness and substance and goes instead for pure mawkishness. Why engage in the kind of dispassionate analysis that will improve policymaking when you can instead speculate about an "old" and "crippled" former Secretary of Defense who might have been led by "Ebenezer Scrooge" to have a "McNamara moment" that will cause him to "weep bitter tears"? The former is responsible. The latter will get you Sitemeter hits. And as far as TSCMV appears to be concerned, Sitemeter hits are ever-so-much-more important at the end of the day.
So I don't doubt that TSCMV rejoices in blog posts like mine that serve to enhance his Sitemeter statistics. And I don't doubt that TSCMV rejoices in the smug, self-satisfied feeling of literary superiority that must course through his veins after having written about the Tragedy of
Othello Hamlet Rumsfeld. Very poetic indeed, if baseless speculation, leaping to conclusions and using clichés like they are going out of style constitute one's idea of poetry.
But poetry ain't serious policy analysis. Bad poetry even less so. And while TSCMV may have added to the mawkishness factor, he contributed nothing else to the national debate. As a personality piece, TSCMV's post doesn't rank; he only takes the time to set up a blogospheric straw man about an old, addled Secretary of Defense whose supposed physical ailments are the consequence of Salieriesque remorse. Perhaps if TSCMV would have forsaken melodrama for more tough-minded and intellectually interesting fare, we might have some genuinely important matters to debate about. Instead, TSCMV chose to disguise condescension as analysis. He cannot be surprised, then, to receive undisguised scorn in response.