Monday, January 08, 2007

And While I'm At It ...

Since I've always found Mark's knee-jerk hatred for Michael Ledeen to be one of his more amusing pathologies, I'm not entirely surprised that he's embraced Glenn Greenwald on this one. Alas, no sock puppets are yet to be found.

What is far more interesting, however, is the seemless manner in which Mark manages to transition between the issue of torture and the Iraq war. I've tried to grant him a lot of charity in the past by saying that his opposition to torture is separate from his increasing Bush Derangement Syndrome and creeping paleoconservatism, but this is little more than priceless. Incidentally, if Mark is so certain of Ledeen's mendacity then he should be quite able to read it himself and demonstrate it for his readers in the free copies of War Against the Terror Masters, An End to Evil (which was not written by Ledeen and does support the war in Iraq), and Neoconservatism that I have repeatedly offered him so that he can actually have some idea of the actual arguments of the people he is debating with. That offer, by the way, will remain open indefinitely in the hopes of his eventual enlightenment on this issue.

Mark's comments:
You're getting tangled up in all your kneejerk tropes. You appear to be arguing with some phantom from a FOX news induced fever dream. Wake up. *This* thread is not about Cindy Sheehan. It's about neocon agitprop artists for war who are now trying to leave your hero, Mr. Bush, holding the bag while they slink off and try to pretend they were not the chief drumbeaters for war. If you are going to babble about betrayal, I suggest you look at them first, not at people who have been frankly and openly opposed to the war for years.

Except here's the thing - 70% of the country supported the war in Iraq while it was taking place. A lot of people have turned around since, either due to political opportunism, the absence of WMDs, or a lack of enthusiasm at the administration's conduct of the war, but the idea that it was only the neocons who supported or helped to push for the invasion is a product of anti-war mythology that seeks to excuse the enthusiastic support of a majority of the American population for the invasion while it was occurring in order to blame the situation on a small group of individuals who can be held up as scapegoats. The problem is that the neocons, if Mark were ever allowed himself to actually read what they write, are real people rather than caricatures and the Weekly Standard (which is pure neocon, unlike National Review which actually has a fairly ideologically diverse group of conservative writers, albeit not enough so to satisfy the paleocons) broke with the administration in the summer of 2004 over the issue of Secretary Rumsfeld and the need for more troops and a very different strategy in Iraq. History has proven them correct on both issues IMO and that is an issue of fact rather than spin and at the absolute least Mark might want to recognize this. If he wants to castigate the neocons over at National Review or other publications for continuing to back the administration's strategy in Iraq, then he is of course free to do so, but that would require him to actually be familiar with their arguments instead of throwing up straw men.
It means that in a piece that criticizes neocons for beating the drums for war and then pretending they did no such thing as they attempt to blame Bush, it's stupid to rant as though this was some sort of BushHitler attack thread. Ledeen et al are being complete weasels if they want to now pretend that they did not support the war in Iraq. That's got nothing to do with

Here again, Mark is making a category mistake, one that would be clarified if he actually read Ledeen's book with a clear mind (an extremely unlikely scenario IMO). Ledeen clearly favored confronting Saddam (just as he does confronting Iran), but he does not view a massive military invasion as the appropriate means with which to do so. He wrote a book about just this, Freedom Betrayed (which Mark can also receive free too!) about the missed opportunity that the US retreat into isolationism and narcissism following the 1990s played in preventing the US from facilitating the overthrow of other totalitarian regime.

Mark then shifts from anti-war paleocon to interrogation policy without losing a beat:
Um, Bush did lie. He has said repeatedly that he has never authorized torture. That is as bald faced a lie as he could make. I say that out of respect for the Presidency, because the alternative is to suppose that our Chief Executive is such a simpleton that he honestly does not know that strappado, waterboarding, and cold cells (just to name a few of the techniques he has permitted--and in some cases *still* permits the CIA)are not torture. If he *is* that stupid, then everything his enemies say about what a dolt he is is true.

Surely you aren't going to treat the suggestion that a politician can lie as a species of blasphemy, are you, Syd?

He's a politician. They lie to protect themselves. Bush has indeed lied about torture. And if he lies about something that serious, I don't find it to be prima facie off the scale evidence of Bush hatred to think he might lie about other things to protect himself.

But I will stick to torture because that lie is clearly documented.

... A *stretch*? I think it's debatable. But as somebody who was assured personally (in January 2003) by the White House that they knew for absolutely damn certain that Iraq was bristling with WMDs, I'm afraid I don't think that calling that absolute assurance a "lie" is a "stretch'. The White House, at the very best, mistook a mutually reinforcing sense of cocksureness for "knowledge". But I'm not the only person in the world who would not find it hard to tell the difference between a liar and somebody who says, "The check's in the mail" when they have not really made certain that it is. Given the pattern of mendacity that has characterized the Administration when it comes to torture, I see no particular burden of good faith placed on the skeptic when he looks at other Administration claims.

And now, as we surge toward a "surge" that even Britain isn't buying, I'm finding my trust in Bush weaker than ever. It looks very much like Bush is sending an inadequate force in to save his face for a couple of years until he leaves office. If a bunch of people die in that pointless effort, well too bad. If you have a better reckoning of what this disastrous President is up to, lemme know.

... Sorry, but the calculated and sophisticated mendacity of the Administration regarding prisoner abuse tells against this. Bush is not the only person who has labored to enable torture and prisoner abuse. Most of the Right has. And Bush has surrounded himself with people who, on this and many other issues, have not chosen to confront him but to lie and apologize and excuse for him. If he really is so stupid that he doesn't recognize the torture he has labored to continue, then he is a moron.

I don't think he's a moron. I think he's a politician.

Only to have him shift right back on cue:
... If we are now reduced to simply propping up the Shiites in a civil war (which was the clear message of the Saddam execution as even Krauthammer acknowledged), then it's time for us to leave. So, in answer to your question: "decrease a lot, right now." Sending our troops to die for Moqtada al-Sadr is not why went to Iraq.

Now there's quite a lot to address here, some of it an anachronistic. Mark had already determined that Bush was lying/misleading/whatever on WMDs before he came to his current view on interrogation. Indeed, the absence of WMDs and the belief that he had been personally deceived by the White House were among the main reasons that he has cited in his determination that Iraq does not the criteria of Just War.

One of the things that also needs to be taken into account with regard to Mark's view of the administration is that the practice of rendition that I assume is being referenced concerning the CIA predates the Bush administration by some time. Now one might argue that it has not been utilized nearly as much (it certainly wasn't under the Clinton administration), but in most cases this is because the United States wasn't seriously interested in fighting international terrorism. Bush is, and I tend to attribute many of the oddities that have surrounded US detention policies (al-Qaeda fighters captured in the US are criminals to be prosecuted, al-Qaeda fighters captured overseas are enemy combatants) over the last several years to the fact that he is trying to fight the enemy the way that the world really is rather than the way that the Hague and the Davos crowd wish that it could be. Ultimately, I think that we will have to standardize new procedures for dealing with our enemies - Alan Dershowitz has tried to do just that, but I'm agnostic as to whether or not his methodology is sound or would be accepted. I don't think that this is all that revolutionary either, as the Geneva Conventions have been revised on multiple occasions since their inception.

As far as Iraq goes, I continue to think that the United States has an obligation to continue our efforts there. So does the Vatican, whose prudential political views on this issue Mark seems to feel a lot less apt to quote on such matters. Rather than sneering in self-righteousness that the continuing violence only serves to demonstrate the impracticality of the venture, I think we have an obligation to try that much harder to succeed. Unlike Mark, I don't see this as a trendy exercise in nation-building but rather a key front in the war against al-Qaeda and the Iranians' proxy Muqtada al-Sadr. Maybe it's because I'm reading too much of Bill Roggio or the Washington Times, but I don't think that war is like a TV show where it gets canceled if too many people change the channel. Instead, I think that a lot of political class does not regard itself as being at war or in any real jeopardy, otherwise they would not consider the West's culpability in any violence that occurs as the primary question to be asked following its outbreak. They have made no effort over the last 5 years to inform the American people and as I said after the elections, a lot of innocent people are going to die as a result. But during the interlude, I'm sure Mark can go back to fighting the real enemies ... the neocons and local libraries.


Christopher Fotos said...


Um, Bush did lie. He has said repeatedly that he has never authorized torture. That is as bald faced a lie as he could make. I say that out of respect for the Presidency, because the alternative is to suppose that our Chief Executive is such a simpleton that he honestly does not know that strappado, waterboarding, and cold cells (just to name a few of the techniques he has permitted--and in some cases *still* permits the CIA)are not torture. If he *is* that stupid, then everything his enemies say about what a dolt he is is true.

There is at least one other man I know of who proposes that waterboarding is not necessarily torture. His name is Jimmy Akin, and Mark is acquainted with him, although until now I was unaware he regarded the Director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers as a dolt and a simpleton and stupid. No doubt he will have the opportunity to point this out to Akin the next time they arrange a speaking engagement.

And, um, Mark has lied, repeatedly, about many things including his White Whale Michael Ledeen. Hurling accusations about lies is an approach Mark may wish to reconsider.

JAMAWG said...

I honestly don't know why you guys bother. First, let me say that I despise Shea, who is an insufferable blowhard, an egomaniacal poseur, and a self-righteous prig.

Surely you all must know by now that in the particularly peculiar world that Shea inhabits he has never been wrong, will never be wrong, simply can not be wrong. Oh, he is willing to admit to being wrong if it allows him to make an oh-so-witty sarcastic point. But the reality of such admissions is that Shea can not conceptualize being incorrect about anything, he's merely scoring points.

If you don't subscribe to his positions in their entirety, without dissent or discussion, then you are of the unclean caste and must be cast our from his sight. Sure does make interesting reading, however.

Anonymous said...


I'll tell you why I bother, jamawg.

I spent four years not only being insulted by the man but being pursued by him in an obsessive, harrassing fashion on seemingly every Catholic blog known to mankind (and probably a couple that weren't).

If you want specifics, ask Victor; I won't bore the readership with the details.

I'm not the only one, either, who has been personally attacked by this dumb bastard.

Mark has never been disciplined by anybody within St. Blog's (which, admittedly, is a loose confederation at best) nor, more importantly, by the apologetics associations with which he afflliates, such as Catholic Answers.

Mark views himself as the 800-pound gorilla of the Catholic Blog Asylum. Many of his correspondents view him with a respect that's completely unwarranted. It's about time people take action.

Andy Nowicki said...

Damn, you summarized the odium of Mark Shea as good in three short paragraphs as I've ever seen his particular brand of odium summarized. The only thing I take issue with is the "interesting reading" part. Other than that, well done! Look forward to hearing more from you...

Anonymous said...

I've come to think Mark is not so much anti-Iraq war as he is anti-neocon. If he were anti-war, then the fact that these neocons have supposed soured on the war would be a point against the war, rather than a point against the neocons. The irony is that Mark used to support the war too


Anonymous said...

Also, on the whole lying issue. A liar is someone who lies. Everybody lies. I therefore don't quite understand why the accusation liar gets hurled around with such vehemence.

Not all lies are created equal, of course. Mark's argument seems to be that since we know Bush has lied on occasion, it's reasonable to suppose that he lied about WMDs. This is a little like saying that since we know a person has had lustful thoughts, it's reasonable to suppose that he's a child-rapist.


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