Thursday, December 07, 2006
I heard and read that the only love is lost love, and if it's true, then people like me and you, we get our share of love:
Wow, I didn't expect to be so angry -- like, hands-quivering angry -- when I read this week's TNR lede, which I gather was written by Leon. But here it is:
But at least it is no longer defeatist or heretical or treasonous or (the most absurd muzzle of all) cruel to the troops to articulate lucidly the magnitude of the mess in Iraq and the steady dwindling of America's power to achieve its goals.
How many times, guys? How many times did you intimate to me that I was in league with the terrorists when I told you to get out of Iraq? Hey, Leon, do you remember the editorial meeting after the Blackwater lynching in late March 2004? That was the first time I said I thought the war was unwinnable, and that was the first time you told me ("joking," of course) that I was fired. Yeah, it was funny the first time, I guess, but after the next hundred, the joke gets kind of old

And I notice you stop short of giving your blessing of seriousness to the idea of withdrawal
, "which is politically the most sensational question." Guys, if you don't know what you think about the issue, just say so. It's a bit rich to chastise Baker et. al. for evasiveness while committing your own evasions. Of course, Leon writes these ledes on the late afternoons of the day (Wednesday) that the magazine closes, so you can't really expect much depth. How tragic that they believe it's better to mean nothing than to say nothing.
--Spencer Ackerman

I used to think as the staff at TNR did, that withdrawal was not an option. Not because I believed in “victory at all costs,” but because I felt that we as a nation owed the Iraqi people the basic human courtesy of replacing what we had so badly broken. While I never derided calls for disengagement as “cut and run” - and would never, for I believe it is a very principled position premised on a deep care for our soldiers - I respectfully felt that our continued presence was the only moral choice. Yesterday, your piece in The American Prospect - combined in part with listening to military analysts over the last few days, but principally your writing - convinced me that I was wrong. Any moral good that would be derived from our continued presence is simply not worth the cost. I once wrote that we, as Americans, needed to accept that we either needed to commit to a full national mobilization or accept the blood on our hands and withdraw; all other solutions were wishful thinking or outright falsities. And I picked the former. I was wrong to do so.

I first started reading your work at TNR and thought to myself, “This guy is one of the best foreign affairs analysts I’ve read yet.” You remain a passionate and above all effective voice of much-needed criticism. TNR’s loss was our gain.


Blogger James F. Elliott | 10:53 AM

James, this is the greatest accolade I could receive, and thank you greatly for offering it. I only hope I haven't led you into a darker alley.
Blogger spencerackerman | 2:05 PM

Isn't there some trite phrase about it being darkest before sunrise, or something? Seems apropos, if vomit-inducing.
Blogger James F. Elliott | 2:29 PM

Spencer, I read your article about how this is 1968.

I remember 1968. We took to the streets & forced the bastards in power to listen.

This situation is crazy. I'm looking at the Prez & Blair on TV and
nothing has sunk in, nothing. So I'm saying we have to take to the
streets and tell the bastards that there's been an election (here) and
the party's over. Get my drift?
Blogger Diana | 5:12 PM

Late March 2004? How brave of you, to raise these issues at a TNR meeting, and then continue taking a paycheck from them for another year and a half.
Blogger who knows | 7:23 PM

Oh, sorry, Who Knows! I had no idea you were willing to offer me a job and pay my health insurance!
Blogger spencerackerman | 3:06 PM

Christ. Get a pair of balls Ackerman, and learn how to fill out a job application at Starbucks. Spare me the put-on sympathy - "who the fuck gave you the right..." - the poseur punk posturing, and the sad-sack ankle biting at a former employer.

I will give you this: your principles may be on sale for a $40k/year salary and some health insurance, but at least no one has yet accused you of plagiarism. It's a step up for TNR in that regard.
Blogger who knows | 4:18 PM