January 12, 2004

Those Tenured Radicals are at it Again

The Bush administration's doctrinaire view of the war on terror, which lumped together regimes like Saddam Hussein's and al-Qaida as a single undifferentiated threat, led the US on a dangerous 'detour' into an unnecessary war, according to an unusually strong critique from the US army war college.

'The global war on terrorism as presently defined and conducted is strategically unfocused, promises much more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate US military and other resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security,' says the study by Jeffrey Record, a visiting scholar at the Strategic Studies Institute.

-- Suzanne Goldenberg, "Bush Besieged by War College"

Jeffrey Record is a professor in the Department of Strategy and International Security at the US Air Force's Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. Here is his paper [PDF format], which argues that the current administratation has

postulated a multiplicity of enemies, including rogue states; weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferators; terrorist organizations of global, regional, and national scope; and terrorism itself. It also seems to have conflated them into a monolithic threat, and in so doing has subordinated strategic clarity to the moral clarity it strives for in foreign policy and may have set the United States on a course of open-ended and gratuitous conflict with states and nonstate entities that pose no serious threat to the United States.

He also takes issue with the notion that the US can rid the world of evil.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at January 12, 2004 10:56 PM

It just seems like everywhere these days, one can find credible evidence that our emperor has no clothes. Will the American people listen? To give yet another example of a non-leftist critic, Kevin Phillips has just published a book on the Bush family. According to a reviewer in this Sunday's Washington Post, Phillips is not happy.

One can find reasonable criticism from left, center and right? When will the American people listen?

On a related matter, it now seems that the government wants to "investigate" Paul O'Neill, because of certain documents that "may" have been classified. Since the government is so concerned about alleged breaches of security, I wonder how the investigation into the Valerie Plame affair is going.

By the way, if anyone wants to "google" me on this, they are most welcome.

Posted by: DM at January 13, 2004 12:20 AM

Atrios has a fun post up about the "investigation" of O'Neill.

I'm curious to see if there is a serious intellectual of any political persuasion who supports Bush. If the numbers are sufficiently low, would that be a basis for regarding any apparent "serious intellectual" who supports him as a hack?

Posted by: Adam Kotsko at January 13, 2004 09:32 AM

hmm. on the investigation of o'neil: he was waving around a document with a SECRET coversheet on national TV. If I did that, I'd be in jail, not just under investigation. And the administration isn't doing the investigation - its a treasury internal thing, more investigating the internal treasury staffers who gave him research materials. Of course, we can't let facts get in the way of our bush-bashing, can we?

Also, "tenured" radicals is incorrect - according to NPR, this gentleman is a visiting professor at the War College. Maybe he has tenure elsewhere?

In regard to "hacks" and "intellectuals" - its very dangerous to start categorizing people's worth based on their political pursuasion. That is a key right wing critique of the academy in general. Part of a civil discourse is lack of ad hominom attacks.

Posted by: Daniel Golding at January 13, 2004 11:33 AM

And if you leaked the cover of a CIA operative, you would also be in jail. But I guess we can't let facts get in the way of defending this administration, can we?

Posted by: DM at January 13, 2004 01:07 PM

Adam Kotsko: yes, we know. All Democrats have high IQs and Republicans are Republicans because of their stupidity.

IA: I really don't think you should venture into this subject, which isn't linked to your specialty. Also, it gives people like adam and DM the chance to make fools of themselves in public.

Kevin Phillips: this guy is not a Republican in ideology. He's also a hack who has been flying on the coattails of his one book from thirty years ago for a while now but don't let that prevent you from quoting him as an authority.

Posted by: JT at January 13, 2004 01:10 PM

JT seems particularly irritable today. I should think that IA should post on whatever she damn well chooses. Wasn't it Ronald Reagan who told GHWB "I paid for this microphone"? And, really, is JT's post so clever that we can know from it that Adam and DM are fools? I suspect that JT is irritated because the administration is today embarrassed on several fronts by sources unexpected: O'Neill, Phillips, and Record among them.

Posted by: Ralph E. Luker at January 13, 2004 01:31 PM

So I am a fool for expecting a serious investigation, and not a coverup of the illegal outing of a CIA operative? We all know that if this had happened under Clinton, the Republicans would have formed a lynch mob. But again, I guess I am fool to expect anything from this administration and its supporters.

Kevin Phillips, by the way, is NOT a lefty or a hack, or anything close to this. I am sorry it upsets you that even some Republicans would dare criticize our fearless leader. I guess they are also fools.

Face it, the emperor has no clothes.

Posted by: DM at January 13, 2004 01:32 PM

The emperor has no clothes, but unfortunately he doesn't need them. He has a compliant, sycophantic media, an apathetic, fearful public, and those opinion polls to mask his nakedness. All he has to do for the next 10 months is run down the clock (apologies to those who hate sports metaphors) until the election.

Posted by: cwd at January 13, 2004 01:41 PM

Ralph: I'm not particularly irritable today but adam and DM's silly posts irritated me anyway.

To state the obvious: of course, IA can post about any subject she pleases, but I advised her not to, since IA is not really political forum.

And if you can't appreciate the stupidity of adam's post on the face of it, I don't know what to say. Do I have to prove that there are "serious intellectuals" who actually support a substantial part of the Republican agenda?

Posted by: JT at January 13, 2004 01:49 PM


Here we go again with the old Republican/Democrat dualism.

I'm talking about a particular person, George W. Bush, and his particular policies. They don't even seem to fit with the "Republican agenda" in general -- do you remember how a few years ago, the entire federal government was shut down because we had to balance the budget? And now, apparently, record budget deficits are the "Republican agenda." Weird. Also, apparently now expanding entitlement programs is part of the "Republican agenda."

I think Republicans should be opposed to Bush -- I long for the days of George Sr. or Bob Dole or even Reagan over the current president. It's not just a Republican/Democrat thing. Stop acting like a persecuted minority just because you're a Republican.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko at January 13, 2004 02:03 PM

You may not be that irritable, but you are still unwilling to explain what is so silly about expecting a serious investigation of the outing of a CIA operative. I'd also love to see how silly it is that serious criticism of the Bushies is coming not just from leftist/liberal ideologues. Face it, moderates and even conservatives can tell that our emperor is buck naked.

Posted by: DM at January 13, 2004 02:03 PM

Some blogs are obviously mainly or exclusively concerned with current events and politics, and this blog obviously isn't one of them. Nor would I want it to be mainly or exclusively focused on politics.

However, occasionally I do want to say something about politics here on my blog (which people can take or leave as they see fit).

The main reason why I don't post more often about politics is that I don't want to have to police the comments.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at January 13, 2004 02:30 PM

DM: The Bush administration policies originate from a mix of political expediency and ideology, just like all administrations. Neither of us may agree with it but that doesn't mean it "has no clothes." Yes, the Plame leak needs to be investigated but the issue is not an overriding US policy concern. Finally, Phillips is a hack and he doesn't add any weight to criticisms of the administration.

Adam: "I'm curious to see if there is a serious intellectual of any political persuasion who supports Bush." That sentence in your first post provoked me. Your second post is much more reasonable. I'm displeased with many of the administrations actions, probably just like you, and would actually vote for the right Democratic candidate if I had the choice. But the alternatives are more dispiriting than Dubya himself. If you're post is actually about how actual politics always seems to pervert the purer ideological basis behind it, then I agree with you.

Posted by: JT at January 13, 2004 02:37 PM

Yeah, politics brings out the worst in people -- for example, Mr. Golding and JT.

JT sternly invites you to forget about politics (young lady!) whereas I would prefer for you to dispense with JT himself and Mr. Golding too. But then, it's really none of my business, is it?

Posted by: zizka at January 13, 2004 02:39 PM

Yeah, not only is Phillips a hack, but he also makes ad hominem comments.

Posted by: zizka at January 13, 2004 02:41 PM

I was being rude but what exactly did Golding say that was objectionable? zizka -- this is probably one of the few chances you have to communicate with non-leftists so you should treasure the opportunity.

Posted by: JT at January 13, 2004 02:47 PM

"Yes, the Plame leak needs to be investigated but the issue is not an overriding US policy concern."

This policy concern is, in my not so humble opinion, at least as overriding as any investigation into the documents that O'Neill may have not properly used. It is also as overriding as any investigation into a president's sex life. Sigh... All you are showing me, the author of such silly comments, is that politics, and not any overriding concerns of anything else, drive our investigations. That is pretty sad. Lie about sex, and get impeached. Out a CIA operative, something far more serious, and what happens? Not much from what I can tell.

Posted by: DM at January 13, 2004 02:54 PM

I'd like to take what both IA and JT have said quite seriously. I happen to be a birthright Republican who is pretty hostile to the Bush administration for many, many reasons. But the extremely hostile polarization of contemporary American politics cannot be healthy for the American republic. If we love her, can we speak carefully, respectfully to each other? And, as importantly, can we listen empathetically to each other?

Posted by: Ralph E. Luker at January 13, 2004 03:01 PM

I agree with you Ralph, and I will try to do my part. I would also like to reaffirm that my attack is NOT on Republicans, but on the president and his administration.

Posted by: DM at January 13, 2004 03:07 PM

I might also note that my definition of a "hack" in the political context is someone who has, for whatever reason, given up on any principles aside from promoting a particular politician or group of politicians (not necessarily a party -- both parties are generally broad enough that being a "Republican" or "Democratic" hack allows some leeway in policy proposals, etc.). These principles include the basic conventions of reasoned argument.

We might also call such a person a "hired gun" or a "sell-out" or something. It's not simply a personal attack (F. Scott Fitzgerald said it takes real talent to be a hack), and it does seem like it is objectively identifiable, within certain broad limits.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko at January 13, 2004 03:18 PM

I also agree with you, Ralph. The political discourse in this country is becoming increasingly hostile and uncivil, and both sides are to blame for it. In fact, I think this trend in uncivil discourse is dangerous for our democracy because eventually it may escalate into violence (probably not anytime soon, but over the next several years).

Posted by: cwd at January 13, 2004 03:31 PM

The incivility has been there in full force for ten years. (Example at my URL, together with my own nasty-but-accurate counterattack). Now that Democrats are fighting back, it has become a bad thing. What a load of crap!

Criticisms of Bush are far better grounded than comparable criticisms of Clinton. They are based on disagreement with his long-term fiscal policies, his military activities and long-term plans, his attitude toward civil liberties, his environmental policies, and the partisanship and nastiness of his administration (together with Delay's Congressional leadership). It's my judgment and that of several others on this site that Bush's failings deserve harsh opposition.

JT -- I am not a university guy. I live out in the general population and have ample opportunity to talk to people who call themselves conservatives and who support the Bush administration for reasons that they claim are conservative. These are not opportunities I delight in. I actually would rather talk to a brick wall. But far too often, I end up being blessed with my share of their load of ignorance and meanness.

Posted by: zizka at January 13, 2004 03:49 PM

Daniel Golding:

Your argument that O'Neill is not being singled out by the administration would be weak even without the information that you can get from this URL:

Apparently the documents had already been made public.

IA's use of the phrase "tenured radicals" was a little throwaway piece of snark. Sweet Jesus, don't tell me we're going to have to factcheck all our snarky comments in the future.

All in all, your tone was excessively stiff for someone who is wrong.

Posted by: zizka at January 13, 2004 04:32 PM

Well, obviously Volokh isn't a complete Republican (he's a libertarian who disagrees a lot with Bush), but his site links to a number of those who do find something to support the current president.


What is interesting is that many of the praises and many of the criticisms of President Bush both appear to be true.

Myself, well ... http://ethesis7.blogspot.com/ has my comments.

I need to get something written about IA and link to here.

Posted by: Steve at January 13, 2004 08:51 PM


Wow, you need to cut down on the coffee. "stiff"? You have stated that politics brings out the worst in me, which is a pretty personal sort of attack. I was merely commenting on the post.

The reason I made the tenured radical comment was because the visiting status of the individual in question has been under-reported, and because tenure or the lack there of seemed in some way on topic for IA :)

If O'Neil's info was publically available - which is a claim, not an established fact, as of yet, I'm ok with it. In that case, his waiving around of a SECRET coversheet on national TV was just grandstanding and a little dishonest, rather than criminal. I agree that the Plame affair needs to be investigated and, if it turns out to be criminal (which we dont know - the length of her time in country is not public, so we can't know if this was illegal), the leaker needs to be jailed. Not fired, imprisoned.

Oh darn! I'm not a doctrinare GOP stiff for you to reflexively condemn! I'm just a libertarian stiff who distrusts extremists on both sides. The "hates bush" crowd is as bad as the "impeach clinton" crowd, IMHO

Posted by: Daniel Golding at January 14, 2004 02:29 PM

It's true I was being a bit snarky with the tenured radical bit. Point being, obviously, that concerns are being raised by those at the War College -- which can hardly been seen as a hotbed of radicalism or a haven for wild-eyed Marxist utopians or dangerously naive peaceniks or what have you.

Jeffrey Record is a Professor at the US Air Force's Air War College, but is currently visiting at the Stragetic Studies Insitute at the Army War College. He probably does have tenure, and he's almost certainly not a radical.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at January 14, 2004 02:49 PM

For what it's worth, Jeffry Record is a distinguished scholar whatever his particular academic affiliation. He has previously published an important scholarly work on the Vietnam War titled The Wrong War & published, I believe, by the Navel Institute Press. In the context of this particular argument, his status as a visitor at the war college is a red herring.

Posted by: chujoe at January 14, 2004 03:52 PM

Here is a link to Record's bio. As you can see, he is both a distinguished academic & a political moderate.


Posted by: chujoe at January 14, 2004 03:57 PM

Daniel Golding,

Just so I understand you correctly, you argue that those of us who have serious problems with the Bush administration are extremists. If this is your argument, please explain why we are "extremists", and not just individuals who strongly disagree with the actions of our current leadership. I believe the point of this thread is that there is broader criticism of the president, and that it can not be simply dismissed as the ravings of left-wing ideologues. Whatever you may think of Paul O'Neill, Kevin Phillips or Jeffery Record, you won't find them passing out young spartacist leaflets anytime soon. With each passing day the criticism is becoming more and more "respectable" and from more moderate and even conservative circles.

My understanding of the Valerie Plame affair is that blowing the cover of a CIA operative is grossly illegal, and that the question of how long she was "in country" is irrelevant.

Posted by: DM at January 14, 2004 04:36 PM

Daniel Golding: I reflexively condemn doctrinaire libertarians too. But Max Sawicky convinced me to stop calling them "Republicans on drugs".

The idea that the two sides are just the same is not a stunningly original insight.

One of the problems with your post was that it combined inaccuracy with a tone of superiority.

Posted by: zizka at January 14, 2004 08:01 PM

"My understanding of the Valerie Plame affair is that blowing the cover of a CIA operative is grossly illegal, and that the question of how long she was "in country" is irrelevant."

Actually its a little more complicated than that. In order for the revelation of her identity to be criminal, rather than just terribly bad behavior, she would have had to have been in an overseas posting in the last 5 years. (disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, just a grad student). My understanding of this provision is that it essentially "sunsets" the restriction on distribution of information, like many other declassification regulations.

DM: I am not calling you an extremist because you have political differences with the current administration. However, I do consider those who's primary "difference" with the administration is that they "hate bush" to be extremist, not to mention somewhat irrational. If you don't like a politician based on issues, more power to you, thats democracy. If you don't like a politician because of a visceral hatred, thats somewhat problematic. Much has been written about this phenomenon in various publications - discourse is becoming less civil. This started some years ago. Shouldn't we all be concerned about this?

Posted by: Daniel Golding at January 15, 2004 12:55 AM

Mr. Golding: Discourse **has become** less civil. It's a done deal. It's been that way for at least ten years. The nastiness originates with high-level people, e.g. Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich. It's something that we have to learn to deal with over on this (left) side of the line. My belief is that we should respond to the sons-of-bitches in kind.

Libertarians can sit and snipe at both sides in complete freedom and innocence. It must be fun to be irrelevant.

"Much has been written about this phenomenon in various publications". No shit, Sherlock. As soon as the center-left started getting mad at the hard right, you and the media picked up on it.

Posted by: zizka at January 15, 2004 02:49 AM

"The "hates bush" crowd is as bad as the "impeach clinton" crowd, IMHO"

Oh really?

Has anyone accused G.W. Bush of murder?

Has anyone accused G.W. Bush of rape?

Has anyone accused G.W. Bush of running drugs out of a small airport in Arkansas?

All those charges were made against Bill Clinton.

The anger (not hatred) directed toward G.W. Bush is directed toward his policies--the unncessary war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, the evisceration of civil liberties, the irresponsible budget deficits, etc. There is nothing wrong with being angry at politicians who subvert one's cherished values. (As I recall, Republicans even made angry statements about the policies of the saintly Jimmy Carter back in the 70s, and nobody accused them of "irrational hatred").

But that anger will end when (if) Bush is defeated in November. By contrast, the right-wing frothing at the mouth over the mere mention of Bill Clinton's name continues even today, fully three years after the man went into retirement. And, of course, that same very visceral hatred also extends to his wife, "Hitlery", leader of the "feminazis".

It is simply disingenuous to compare the vicious, personal, relentless assault against Bill Clinton with the anger (however strong) currently being expressed toward the Bush administration and its policies.

Posted by: Mr. X at January 15, 2004 08:50 AM

Daniel Golding,

This is what I don't get. How many on the left "hate Bush" simply because he is a spoiled rich kid or whatever, and pay no attention to the awful policies of his administration? In my not so humble opinion, this interpretation of the "hate Bush" crowd is itself irrational. I know many people who "hate Bush." None of this is based upon visceral hatred; all of it is based upon the policies of his administration these past three years.

And back to Valerie Plame: obviously I do not know where she has been these past five years. One would hope that if she had not been overseas during this time, then this affair would have been officially and openly closed, instead of simply brushed aside.

And here is a suggestion for improving our current political discourses. Those at the top and in power, could actually do their part. When a certain Mr. Bush went to the White House back in 2001, if I recall correctly, he promised to improve the civil climate in DC. Maybe he should actually try to keep this promise.

Posted by: DM at January 15, 2004 12:43 PM

Actually, "hatred" isn't really a stretch. I agree with what you say, Zizka! The centrist notion of "civility" has gone far enough. Isn't it strange that as soon as people raise legitimate concerns such as a living wage, health care, unnecessary wars, etc., they are suddenly not being "civil?" Well, don't know about the rest of you, but I can't remain "civil" and detached from these important issues. They matter. I notice that throughout history, people didn't "sit and talk" when the time came for action, they collectively made changes. Imagine if the labor or civil rights movements of the past only sought to "be reasonable" with those who were oppressing them. Even the so-called "passive resistance" tactics of Martin Luther King, Jr. were not in the least wimpy...they called 'em as they saw 'em. Frankly, I'd like to see the same thing happening on the left side of the lot, so to speak.

Posted by: Cat at January 15, 2004 12:45 PM

Another point Daniel Golding keeps dodging is that this thread is about broader criticism of the president, and not just what comes from leftist circles. I can give another example. The other day, a letter to the editor of my local paper expressed serious displeasure with our current leadership. The writer was not a leftist, a doctrinaire Bushie or whatever; he was a libertarian whose only crime was consistency. Fascinating.

I once remember a Republican party that was dedicated to states' rights, smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and the opposition of unfunded federal mandates. I miss that party. Whatever happened to it?

Posted by: DM at January 15, 2004 03:07 PM


Posted by: politics at February 19, 2004 03:01 AM