Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blog Watch: Glenn Greenwald

This week's "Blog Watch" entry dissects and exposes Glenn Greenwald, a far-left blogger who's actually one of the more interesting Bush-bashers among those of the radical blogosphere.

I say he's interesting because it's hard not to notice Greenwald's strenuous effort to demonstrate scholarly expertise in international politics, found for example in his constant vitriolic barrages against the administration's Iraq policy, and his righteous fulminations against the coterie of Washington's allegedly evil neocons. Unfortunately, for Greenwald, the more he spews against the administration and its supporters, the more of a left-wing lunatic he appears.

Case in point: Greenwald makes himself an easy target for ridicule with
his recent attack on the apparently despicable "Kagan-Kristol" neocon foreign policy cabal.

Greenwald takes issue with the neoconservative foreign policy agenda of Fred and Robert Kagan and William Kristol (and by extension Donald Kagan, Fred and Robert's father, and Kimberly Kagan, Fred's wife). Greenwald excoriates this "Kagan-Kristol" cabal as promoting "endless wars" from the safe confines of their think tank offices. Greenwald lets loose on Fred Kagan
for his criticism of the Webb amendment, the recent failed backdoor Senate attempt to weaken the military and force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. Here's Greenwald on the Kagans, with reference to the Webb proposal, attacking their "illegitimate" armchair strategic advocacy:

None has any military service. They have no need for the troop relief provided by the Webb bill (which Fred opposes) because they are already all sitting at home.

Fred Kagan yesterday went to National Review - home to countless tough guy warriors like him who fight nothing -
to argue against Senator Webb's bill. There is no need to give our troops more time away from the battlefield....

If troops want more time at home, Kagan says, there is an easy way to achieve that: "win the war we're fighting." Of course, that would not even work, because Kagan and his friends at the Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute
have many more wars planned beyond Iraq for other families' sons and daughters to fight. For that reason, Kagan actually had the audacity several months ago to type this:

The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.
That's the history of our country for the last six years at least. The Fred Kagans and his dad and his brother and his wife and his best friend Bill Kristol sit back casually demanding more wars, demanding that our troops be denied any relief, demanding that the President call for other families to volunteer to fight in their wars -- all "as an intellectual or emotional exercise," as Webb put it.

That's all revolting enough... But it is worth forcing oneself to observe it, as unpleasant as it might be, because within this ugly dynamic lies much of the explanation for what has happened to our country since the 9/11 attack, and the personality type that continues to drive it today.
At base, Greenwald's criticism of Kagan-Kristol's war advocacy is nothing more than a rank "chicken hawk" attack, the same type of adolescent, idiotic slur mounted by the most diehard antiwar activists of the unhinged left (see here and here).

Note further though Greenwald's phrasing: Neoconservative foreign policy advocacy is the foundation of the "ugly dynamic" of the administration's "warmongering" of the last six years.

Such language provides a nice glimpse into Greenwald venal antiwar stance. In a recent post, "
The Rigid Pro-War Ideology of the Foreign Policy Community," Greenwald takes on some of the country's top experts on international relations, particularly those of the think tank variety. He accuses them of a uniform program of unrelenting war advocacy, a trait obviously responsible for the "ugly dynamic" in America's international policy since 9/11. Check this out:

The Foreign Policy Community - a term which excludes those in primarily academic positions - is not some apolitical pool of dispassionate experts examining objective evidence and engaging in academic debates. Rather, it is a highly ideological and politicized establishment, and its dominant bipartisan ideology is defined by extreme hawkishness, the casual use of military force as a foreign policy tool, the belief that war is justified not only in self-defense but for any "good result," and most of all, the view that the U.S. is inherently good and therefore ought to rule the world through superior military force.
It's worth reading Greenwald's post in full, but his key point is that America's foreign policy elite forms a monolithic pro-war machine intent to take over the world in some Trotskyite mission of endless conquest, rape, pillage, and imperial plunder. Greenwald's entry is just one attack in a flurry of salvos launched by top antiwar bloggers. But for all of Greenwald's seemingly firm foreign policy acumen, his analysis is deeply flawed by its wholesale generalizations and ferocious enemy-baiting. International relations expert Daniel Drezner, a key participant in this exchange, took exception to Greenwald's wild exaggerations:

Greenwald is conflating an awful lot of disparate but "mainstream" views within his definition of the "foreign policy community." There is a big difference between not taking force off the table as a policy option and vigorously advocating its use. As I said in my previous post, there are vigorous debates about what constitutes a "vital national interest" Greenwald himself acknowledges that force should be an option when other countries "directly threaten your national security" or harbor terrorist groups that will do the same. How does one define direct threats to national security? For the United States, would civil war in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan qualify? Should the use of force be categorically rejected in both cases? Does Iran's links to the Khobar Towers bombing justify the use of force against Teheran, as per Greenwald's criteria?
Read the full post. Drezner cuts to a real problem in Greenwald's writing, which is that Greenwald is so intent to delegitimize the war and its backers that he can't parse out real differences of opinion among foreign policy experts, and he fails to recognize the significant shift in opinion that has taken place on Iraq among the nation's policymaking elite. (Drezner notes, further, the flaws in Greenwald's generalizations by mentioning that Brent Scowcroft, who's among the elite of the foreign policy elite, firmly opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.)

Check out as well Greenwald's recent defense of's attack on General David Petraeus,
captured in Greenwald's denuciation of Brit Hume of FOX News, who hosted a Petraeus broadcast following the general's congressional testimony:

A country with a functioning political press would never pretend that the pro-war, Bush-worshipping Hume could conduct an actual interview with Petraeus, let alone be the only journalist allowed to do so. And a government subject even to minimal levels of accountability would be too embarrassed, or at least deterred, from decreeing that its top general, burdened by a dubious record and making highly precarious claims about an ongoing war, would sit for a television interview with only one "journalist," and that journalist would be Brit Hume.
Notice first the allusions to the Bush administration's dismantling of the rule of law (a common delegitimization technique of the anti-American crowd). But more importantly, see how Greenwald piles on MoveOn's attack campaign to undermine Petraeus, and by implication the war. The MoveOn debacle has been a disaster for the hard-left, and Greenwald's ravings position him far outside of mainstream, intelligent discourse on the future direction of American military policy.

In sum, Greenwald on foreign policy - despite his bookish pretensions - is no better than any other low-level, hate-addled anti-Bush blogger. His work simply feeds the endless appetite for anti-administration fodder among the tasteless surrender-crowd hammering the Democratic Party for its alleged pro-war spinelessness. It's this very pseudo-intellectualism that makes Greenwald worth monitoring. He's got a quick wit, and an even quicker keyboard, pumping out his nasty stuff. Antiwar types digest his swill whole, but the rest of us can see through the balony for what it is: An unexpurgated campaign of antiwar radicalism and anti-Americanism.

Don't believe this guy for a minute.

For more on Greenwald, check his YouTube attacking Washington's prowar "establishment":

See also Greenwald's current post attacking FOX News for its alleged hypocrisy (via Memeorandum).

See also the previous entries from Blog Watch:
The Blue Voice, Firedoglake.

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