Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Speaking of which ...

In Mark's bizarre condemnation of Norman Podhoretz, he makes this very interesting claim about the rationale for the Iraq war:
However, due to the influence of people like Podhoretz, that war got derailed into a Grand End to Evil scheme in which men were sent to die for a delusional vision of a democratic capitalist Iraq animated by a postmodern secular vision of the human person as a fornicating multicultural consumer who sees religion in pagan Roman terms: as a form of crowd control.

I would like to respond by first asking the question of who "people like Podhoretz" are supposed to be. If it is neocons to whom he is referring, then this simply is demonstrably untrue unless Mark wants to assert that Father Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and George Wiegel only view religion in terms of crowd control. It is far more likely that he is referring to Jewish neocons (though why they should be singled out more than anyone else is beyond me), in which case I think again some citations would be in order from somewhere other than the American Conservative before he takes off on one of these sweeping indictments.

If anything, it seems to me that Mark is referring to the pro-war libertarians best embodied by Instapundit or (at the time) Andrew Sullivan and those atheists who hate Islam more than they do Christianity, i.e. Christopher Hitchens. Anyone who believes that either class of people were more instrumental at to getting the US into Iraq rather than far more serious actors like Ken Pollack or Kanan Makiya needs to get their head examined. In this case, that apparently includes Mark Shea. But since he is making the insinuation that this was Podhoretz's view, it might be nice for him to include some actual evidence to back up his charges. The same might also be said for his assertion that Podhoretz is somehow supposed to be more morally responsible for the death of Andrew Bacevich's son than all the other pundits who supported the war in Iraq. The relevant quote he cited from Pope John Paul II was a reference to political leaders, not pundits, but if we're going down that road then it is important to note that Mark himself reluctantly supported the war in Iraq. By the same standard he applies to Podhoretz, would that not make he himself equally responsible for the death of Andrew Bacevich's son? I certainly don't think so, but if he wants to call the tune on that one then I am more than willing to pay the piper under the Scriptural standard of Matthew 7:1-2.

Moreover, Mark's moral theology is incredibly muddled here. The United States government, including General Petraeus, have stated that Iran is helping to murder American troops:
The Iranian involvement has really become much clearer to us and brought into much more focus during the interrogation of the members -- the heads of the Qazali network and some of the key members of that network that have been in detention now for a month or more.

This is the head of the secret cell network, the extremist secret cells. They were provided substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies as well as run of the mill arms and ammunition, in some cases advice and in some cases even a degree of direction.

When we captured these individuals -- the initial capture, and then there have been a number of others since then -- we discovered, for example, a 22-page memorandum on a computer that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process and conduct of the operation that resulted in five of our soldiers being killed in Karbala.

It also detailed -- there are numerous documents which detailed a number of different attacks on coalition forces, and our sense is that these records were kept so that they could be handed in to whoever it is that is financing them. And there's no question, again, that Iranian financing is taking place through the Quds force of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps.

As you know, there are seven Quds Force members in detention as well. This involvement, again, we learned more about with the detention of an individual named Sheibani, who is one of the heads of the Sheibani network, which brings explosively formed projectiles into Iraq from Iran. His brother is the Iranian connection. He is -- was in Iraq. And that has been the conduit that then distributes these among the extremist elements again of these secret cells and so forth.

Those munitions, as you know, have been particularly lethal against some of our armored vehicles and responsible for some of the casualties, the more tragic casualties in attacks on our vehicles.

Now Mark has previously characterized Petraeus as a brave truth-teller willing to defy the evils of the Bush administration on torture. Does he now call him a liar? If so, on what basis other than that he doesn't want any action taken against Iran? And if Iran is engaging in these types of activities that have led to the murder of American soldiers, would not the United States be justified in taking part in some kind of reciprocal action? If not, then perhaps Mark can use his knowledge of Catholic Just War Doctrine explain why without foaming at the mouth against the Bush administration. I doubt it, but it would be interesting to see.

Mark is also continued his journey to being a functional pacifist (at least when it comes to Iran) as more than one commenter noted here. I would also note that he was more than willing to exploit the death of Andrew Bacevich's son in order to slip in an anti-war message. I assume the latter because given his position that the war is lost, I can only assume that he like Rod now favors withdrawl as the only viable option. If this is in fact the case, then here again he needs to come out and say so rather than tap-dancing around it and crying crocodile tears about the sufferings of the Chaldean Christian community. Because on a day when he has accused Podhoretz of wanting to sacrifice the lives of other Americans, it seems entirely fair to me to return the favor and say that he has (likely unwittingly) placed himself in a position of apathy at best on the fate of the Chaldean Christian community so he can have the satisfaction of defeating domestic political opponents and some short-term peace. Like I said, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.


Anonymous said...

The Blackadder says:

Mark has a bad habit of simply stringing together slogans when talking about these issues, which is what seems to have happened here. It makes for tedious writing, among other things.

Anonymous said...

Shea's arguments are almost totally emotion-based, which is one of the reasons he is so unconvincing. Let's just say that his argumentation is not exactly in the tradition of Augustine, Aquinas, or even Chesterton. Shea seems to subscribe to the modern Leftist fallacy that anger is a sign of authenticity and rightiousness, that strength of emotion validates one's position. To say that this is outside the Western Intellectual Tradition is an understatement. Shea's positions on torture or Iraq may or may not be right, but the strength of his feeling has nothing to do with the matter - after all, those on the other side have feelings just as strong...

Christopher said...

Mark has a bad habit of simply stringing together slogans when talking about these issues, which is what seems to have happened here. It makes for tedious writing, among other things.

You mean like "War Zealots and Master Planners with big ideas for a New American Century based on 'creative destruction' and other Machiavellian schemes"? (Shea, circa August 2006).

Bubba said...

I'm not sure how much credit I'm willing to give Rod for wanting to protect the allies we would otherwise abandon by pulling out of Iraq. I'm not sure it's politically feasible, it wouldn't protect all those were implicit allies -- that is, those common Iraqis who voted in their elections and are trying to build a peaceful existence in their own "little platoons" (to use a phrase Rod's fond of) -- much less all the innocent lives who would face murder and oppression in our absense. And, he doesn't seem capable of grasping the negative consequences of withdrawal, not to our allies, but to ourselves, as if we could withdraw and pay no price on the world stage.

Oh, and Rod's "quote of the day" last Thursday was of Larison essentially calling war supporters chicken-hawks, and now he's coming dangerously close to the smear that we're no better than Saddam Hussein.

I get no sense that there's any awareness of how this exactly the wrong way to run a successful counterinsurgency, or that there's a caustic irony in their wanting the US to essentially run Iraq like Saddam Hussein did. They want to win at all costs, period. The mildest form of this is proposing to continue the occupation in Iraq for another year, two years, etc. Mostly, though, I'm hearing exponents of the "winning is everything, it's losing that's immoral" school.

This is sick stuff coming, not only from a so-called conservative, but one who paints himself as one of the annointed few authentic conservatives. That he isn't quite as visibly demented as Mark Shea on this issue isn't something all that commendable.

torquemada05 said...

I'll gladly admit that Rod is heading off the reservation, Bubba. But at least he has the good sense not to conflate his opinions with fidelity to the Catholic Church.

Bubba said...

Good point.