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Of All The F**ked-Up S**t I've Read In My Life. Nir Rosen Used His Passport To Help The Taliban

| 60 Comments

I think this takes the cake - God, I certainly hope it does.

I sat down this evening to hand out candy and do a quick post on journalism - in the light of the Nir Rosen Rolling Stone piece - bringing up my usual "journalist vs. citizen" point, and ragging, in a pipe-smoking philosophical way, on Rosen's detachment and belief that he's somehow "more" than a citizen - he's a journalist.

Then I sat down to reread Bing West's attack on Rosen and the comment thread under it, and went ballistic.

Because Rosen didn't just embed with the Taliban on an operation - he used his journalistic credentials to help them get past an Afghan army guard.

i did not say i deceived the afghan soldier. on the contrary, both i and the taliban commanders i was with told the afghan soldiers that i was a journalist and in fact i showed him my passport. of course there is nothing wrong with deceiving anybody if its going to protect you, but it wasnt necessary in this case, and i did not claim to deceive them. i in fact had to persuade them that i was a journalist and not a suicide bomber, which is what they suspected at first.

I'd like to be speechless; instead what comes to mind is a string of invective that will get the blog blocked in corporate firewalls for quite some time.

If I, or the parent of another American soldier, ever meet Mr. Rosen, he'll be lucky to only get the contents of my drink in his face.

Mr. Rosen enjoys the protections of a US passport; he was born in New York City.

I'll let a better man than I have the final word.In the colloquium on journalistic ethics that I frequently cite, after the two leading journalists explained that they would stand by and roll tape as an American force was ambushed, an American soldier stood up. Col. George M. Connell said:

"I feel utter . . . contempt. " Two days after this hypothetical episode, Connell Jennings or Wallace might be back with the American forces--and could be wounded by stray fire, as combat journalists often had been before. The instant that happened he said, they wouldn't be "just journalists" any more. Then they would drag them back, rather than leaving them to bleed to death on the battlefield. "We'll do it!" Connell said. "And that is what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get ... a couple of journalists." The last few words dripped with disgust.

60 Comments

'reread Bing West' link broken.

Yeah, this is horrifying, saw it pop up yesterday in Danger Room . It's one thing entirely to sit with them, interview them. Another thing entirely to travel through checkpoints, especially where you're carrying a US document that likely gave greater credence to the party. Or to accompany them on patrol.

To be fair though - while it's rational to believe it gave credence, it doesn't sound like the Afghan guard bothered to ask 'hey, you wouldn't be Taliban, would you?' Or asked him, either, if he was traveling with Taliban.
I would figure that would be a basic checkpoint question, even if you expect to get lied to. So I don't know how much he helped them get past the guards - if anything, he writes that it may have slowed them down.

Here's another comment from him , though I don't know if it will change anything you wrote, doesn't for me. Probably make it worse.

I don't want to edit Armed Liberal's post, so here is the correct link: (link).

Keep scrolling down, because nirrosen keeps talking. And in my opinion, damning himself.

_ So I don't know how much he helped them get past the guards - if anything, he writes that it may have slowed them down._

I'd say that was properly a question for the jury, #1.

Wow, talk about "aiding an abetting." Holy cow.

Any store of trust that journalism had is tapped, and this has been the case for a while.

This journalist you mention seems like an evil scum, imho. This is to say that he sounds like a journalist.

Journalism has to crash and burn hard before it gains broad credibility again.

Some folks, like me, will never view it today and henceforth with the same trust that we placed into it growing up.

A journalist is a suspect, a member of a corrupted profession. Hilariously, journalists purport to communicate just the facts in cold, hard objective fashion.

Journalists work hard to isolate themselves from the action of bias.

Right.

It's simple, AL: you are a patriot. Your highest value, after the preservation of your loved ones and yourself, is to the ideals of your country. That is not so of Nir Rosen, whose highest value after loved ones and self is to observe and relate events, to the extent that he will facilitate the event's occurrence. It's not that he is anti-American, so much as that he is not in any sense recognizably American. As Eason Jordan, and the colloquium example you give, show, this is becoming widespread among "American" and other Western journalists. And also entertainers and educators and other Western cultural institutions.

Aiding the enemy in a time of war- I thought this was why we shot people as traitors.

And now ladies and gentlemen we have an exclusive interview with "Hans", a dedicated German infantryman, as he lays his sight on the Normandy coast, dreaming of a united Europe under his great leader. Edward R. Murrow brings the story home...... "




Depraved.

My favorite part was

“… Those I accompanied knew that they and their families would be killed if anything happened to me,” Rosen wrote, alluding to shadowy Afghan associates who had arranged his trip.

Having cast aside his nationality and citizenship as being beneath him, he is then confronted with the real world problems said nationality and citizenship were created to solve. He promptly then reverts to a form of tribalism that, were the United States to engage in, would undoubtedly result in him writing a Pulitzer winning article condemning it. But a journalist can, of course, behave like a thug because they serve a higher cause. Threatening to kill children in the name of 'objectivity' is apparently a perfectly moral thing to do.

I'd be curious to hear what the Rolling Stone editorial board has to say about their magazine's threats towards women and children.

Spread the word, Grim - I'd like to see this on all the Milblogs.

A.L.

Mark Taibbi is no friend of the US military either.

Needless to say, in the infinitesimal chance that anyone here subscribes to Rolling Stone, please consider discontinuing.

The problem is, most of the people who support Obama would condone Nir Rosen's action.

Armed Lieberman is a man of principle, with the right priorities. Knowing that he exists makes me feel better about the future. The Democratic Party is not worthy of him. His vote for Obama will encourage more Nir Rosens, not less.

As I have said before, America is :

70-72% pro-US
20% Neutral/uninterested
8-10% anti-US, including an active fifth column.

While the GOP is almost fully contained in the first group, the Democratic party is split across all 3 groups, with none of the 3 being dominant.

This was hidden under the age of GOP dominance. By mid-2009, it will be busted open for all to see.

Maybe a cell next to Lynne Stewart, another person who felt her profession justified providing material support to terrorists. Stewart has been disbarred, as well as incarcerated. I guess journalism has lower standards than lawyers.

Ken at #5
Journalists work hard to isolate themselves from the action of bias.
Right.

Actually, this is a near perfect example of a journalist without bias. It was journalism for journalism's sake, regardless of being American, and in the face of what I'm sure he would know would be a negative response. As some of his past writings have been treated.
The very problem in this is that he showed no American bias (let alone right or left), but used documents we supplied him with in order to help it along.

So, little thought experiment - would it be as easy to disdain if he did not identify himself as American? Is the problem what he did, or relied on the safety the nation provides for him? For me, the more the latter than the former (though some of both), and also a bit how he went about it (as Treefrog said).

Just curious.

GK at #11
8-10% anti-US, including an active fifth column.
To believe that the actions of the US impact the world more negative than positive, on balance, does not make someone anti-US, just anti-your views. Even those who believe we should be reduced to an Agrarian society with little military beyond a Coast Guard doesn't - it just means they have a different (and somewhat sad) view of what the nation should be.

But hey, there is Real America and NotReal America, so run with it. If nothing else, continued poisonous divisions can only help us over the next 4 years.

#13: Hey, from my specific little swatch of Real America, I think he was perfectly within his rights to do what he is reported to have actually done. Not 100% clear about the whole family-threatening thing, but leave that for the moment.

I'd be perfectly within my rights to be part of a systematic attempt to drop clues and hints that will get him labeled as a covert CIA operative, and keep that story up for the rest of his life. Not my fault if someone targets him for that. Right?

And I sure won't be the one threatening his family.

I think what we may be witnessing here is a case of system shock. We are so rarely provided examples of actual journalism that when the genuine article appears it can be quite jarring. You see, we're so accustomed to the cheerleading that passes for journalism in the mainstream that Rosen's piece strikes as a bolt of lightning for the uninitiated. An actual journalist doesn't seek to have himself "embedded" with occupying forces for the straight dope, he cultivates his own contacts and makes his own way to the source of his inquiry. Then get this, he writes about what he observes!

"Unbiased" apparently has become a code word for "immoral", by those who think western morality is getting in their way some how.

#13 and #15, I'm talking to you.

Both of you do remember what the Taliban did to Afghanistan? And would presumably do again should they re-gain power?

Learning as much as you can without getting involved? Sure. That's a service to everyone. Providing material support (forget aid and comfort)? Well, that's helping out the gay-stoning, uppity-woman-beheading, art-desecrating religious nutjobs.

And that, frankly, puts Rosen on the other side. And if you think it's just on the other side of the Evil Bush Administration, you've lost too much perspective.

I'd be perfectly within my rights to be part of a systematic attempt to drop clues and hints that will get him labeled as a covert CIA operative, and keep that story up for the rest of his life. Not my fault if someone targets him for that. Right?

First, I thought we were talking about right and wrong, not Rights. Didn't know the subject changed. Or really, where this came from.

Second, not really. If you spread false messages about someone with the knowledge it may get them fired, hurt or killed, I'm pretty sure you can face some punishment. Go as your local prosecutor about if it is your Right to drop hints about a baseball coach being a child molester because you saw him do something that displeased you - say, have a kid take a hard slide.

#13 and #15, I'm talking to you.
Why? In post #1, I made it pretty clear that it's rational that this could have given credence to the people he was traveling with.

I have no problem separating immoral(which I believe his acts were) and unbiased, to the point he chose not to act as an American(which I believe is wrong as well). Criminal, someone else gets to decide - btw AL, it may be an interesting twist to look into Afghan law.

Both of you do remember what the Taliban did to Afghanistan? And would presumably do again should they re-gain power?
Ummmm, given that current leaning seem to include talking to the Taliban, presumably with one of the outcomes being either paying them off (as we did in Iraq) or pacifying them into the government(ditto), perhaps this is better addressed to the Administration and General Petraeus?

I do however like the 'do you remember' remark. I'm glad to see the old standbys come in, assuming that we're not aware of the people we're dealing with, or completely unaware of anything but fluffy clouds in the sky. Definitely haven't seen enough of the 'Libs have forgotten what happened!' this campaign season.

#17 Dave: sorry if I was too oblique (or hyperbolic) for you. Permit me to unpack things:

Tabloid journalists drop lots of false or questionable info purportedly about celebrities all the time. Sometimes they do it to fill pages. I'm not sure why else they might do it, but I have my theories. How many of them get charged with anything beyond the very occasional libel case? Free speech, right?

This journalist just became a celebrity.

I engaged in a gedanken about that.

If what I described were to take place, at a suitably low key, I do not think that the repercussions would be likely to include a local prosecutor. I don't think this would ever rise to a level that a prosecutor would ever hear it as anything beyond trash talk (which, for the record, is all it was).

The example you cite about character assassination of someone by playing the molester card? Dude, all I have to do is say something like, "Well, he worries me. He seems to fit this profile they described in the class I took on 'pedophile warning signs'...as part of my training for becoming a Boy Scout leader. I sure hope I'm wrong!" And say it to everyone who has any contact with the guy. The prosecutor doesn't get to tell anyone anything UNTIL the guy tries to nail me for slander.

But suppose the intimation that this journalist is an operative happened. Suppose, even worse, that someone else got the idea, not even from me, and ran with it.

"Hey, did you hear about how [arguably true thing #1, 2, ..., n]? Man, doesn't it make sense that this journalist is working for the US and feeding information back to them?"

Show me, please, what's facially actionable about that. Especially if most of it took place online in Arabic or Pashto electronic forums hosted overseas.

At absolute worst case, the journalist could possibly (try to) have my family killed. Except -- what if the joke's on him! -- what if, like Kasper Soze in The Usual Suspects, I don't care if he kills my family at this point as much as I care about proving / doing something else?

This seems to be the kind of civilization the journalist is willing to operate in. So I say to him: "Well, Q. E. F'ing D., mo********er. You're not impressing me."

Because he's not. And I'd like it if he got that message clearly. His willingness to do that sort of thing, to me, signals much more of a "poisonous division" about what is and isn't Real America. That sentiment is what set me off on this tangent. And I compounded it with easy-to-misinterpret, unlabeled, sarcasm. My bad.

In reality, I do have better things to do with my time than engage in some sort of disinformation vendetta. So I formally declare here that I will not engage in such.

But consider: the number of journalists who actually do feed info to intelligence organizations is far from "zero". He might actually be doing that. Hard to prove a negative, you know.

And if such a thing did happen to him, well, it's just one of those things; a cost of doing the kind of business he does.

[Significant edits]

"I have no problem separating immoral(which I believe his acts were) and unbiased, to the point he chose not to act as an American(which I believe is wrong as well). Criminal, someone else gets to decide - btw AL, it may be an interesting twist to look into Afghan law."

Sorry, it seemed to me you were defending his actions.

"I do however like the 'do you remember' remark. I'm glad to see the old standbys come in, assuming that we're not aware of the people we're dealing with, or completely unaware of anything but fluffy clouds in the sky."

Well, act like it.

"To believe that the actions of the US impact the world more negative than positive, on balance, does not make someone anti-US, just anti-your views. "

Nope. Rooting for bad news in Iraq, while actively minimizing the good news, is anti-American. To claim that 'we deserved 9/11 because of our policies' is both ignorant and anti-American.

And yes, thinking that the US, the country that has benefited humanity more than any other in the last 100 years (Britain being the previous holder of that title), is a net negative influence on the world, is anti-American, as well as ignorant.

It strikes me that what the journalist did was the equivalent of driving the get-away vehicle from an armed robbery, so that he could get the story. The crime here though isn't armed robbery, but providing material support to the enemy. Ask John Walker Lindh

Coldtype!! Welcome back, we've missed your brand of lunacy for a while.

"Genuine journalism"? You mean like Walter Duranty's?

Look, I like the idea of journalists going out and getting their feet dirty. I think interviews with Taliban leaders are great, provided that some effort is made to balance the propaganda they dish out (like our leaders do) with a clear look at facts on the ground.

Embedding with the enemy runs the risk that you'll be in a "Peter Jennings" problem; you'll be standing with them when they attack US troops - and I'd be interested to see what the national reaction would be when you ran that tapeon TV.

But enabling the enemy - using your credentials and status to help them move around - lowers the game to a whole new level. If you don't see that - well, that speaks for itself.

A.L.

"Nope. Rooting for bad news in Iraq, while actively minimizing the good news, is anti-American. To claim that 'we deserved 9/11 because of our policies' is both ignorant and anti-American"
-GK

The bad news in Iraq was the decision to illegally invade in the first place. That the invasion, in truth naked imperial theft, is being successfully resisted by the Iraqi people is cause to celebrate the right of self-determination.

No one responsible has made the claim that the US "deserved" 9/11, however, it can easily be argued that US foreign policy made 9/11 inevitable. In fact our proverbial chickens came home to roost on 9/11 for no one can take greater responsibility for the conditions in Afghanistan prior to that date. Who nurtured and trained the Mujahaden? Who then abandoned Afghanistan to its fate after the Soviet ejection? Who has supported the least democratic nations on earth in the Middle East to the seething resentment of their populations--most notably Saudi Arabia from whence 15 of the 19 hijackers originated?

"And yes, thinking that the US, the country that has benefited humanity more than any other in the last 100 years (Britain being the previous holder of that title), is a net negative influence on the world, is anti-American, as well as ignorant"
-GK

Wow. There's so much wrong with this that I haven't the energy to go through the long and rich history of US invasions, occupations, and destabilizations over the past 150 years. Britain? Try to be serious.

"Coldtype!! Welcome back, we've missed your brand of lunacy for a while"
-A.L

It's good to be back. Really.

Embedding with the enemy runs the risk that you'll be in a "Peter Jennings" problem; you'll be standing with them when they attack US troops - and I'd be interested to see what the national reaction would be when you ran that tapeon TV
-A.L

Do you want journalism or cheerleading A.L? You can't have both.

Why, precisely, can we not have both?

We've got our journalists, and they've got theirs. Ours engage in "real" dirty journalism, digging up and uncovering problems wherever they go, even if exposing those problems makes us look bad (it's better in the long run) right up until the point that it gets our people killed (and this guy was playing as close to that line as you can, if he didn't indeed go over it.)

And then their journalists can do the same for their side, and they can look at our journalists' reports while we look at theirs.

Except, er... they don't have that kind of journalism. Because when a journalist attempts to dig up and uncover problems on their side of the fence, the journalist has a history of getting silenced or killed. Hell, even this guy could only trust his fellow-travelers to the extent that his threat to kill their families was credible; and a significant amount of that credibility originated with the fact that he was, er, one of us.

So, to a degree, both is a requirement; the values that make "real" journalism even possible are not universally practiced, and we certainly practice them to an extent simply not matched elsewhere. Nor is "tolerance of nosy journalists" something that can be grafted onto other value systems in the absence of other Western values...

Coldtype, I addressed your point some time ago, and nothing has changed in my answer.

But ... there is a point where criticism, even offered in the guise of love, moves past the point of correction and to the point of destruction. It's a subtle line, but it exists. And my friend (who is less of a friend because I can't begin to deal with her fundamentally abusive parenting) is destroying her child. And there are liberals who have adopted an uncritically critical view of America. Who believe it to have been founded in genocide and theft, made wealthy on slave labor and mercantilist expropriation, to be a destroyer of minorities, women, the environment and ultimately they argue, itself. I'm sorry but their profession of love for America is as hollow to me as that mother's profession of love for her son. Are those things true? As facts, they are an incomplete account of this country's history. As a worldview, they are destructive and self-consuming.

A.L.

"however, it can easily be argued that US foreign policy made 9/11 inevitable. "

Typical US-centric worldview (odd that America-haters are also US-centric, eh?). You may want to read of the terrorist attacks in Bali (twice), London, Madrid, Bombay, Beslan in Russia, Jodran, Tyrkey, Egypt, Morocco, etc. that have happened after 9/11. Some of these are other Western countries, others are Muslim countries. Yet, all of these are because of America? You haven't even thought this far, have you?

To hold your worldview, one has to believe that 9/11 was the only Islamic terrorist attack ever.

"Wow. There's so much wrong with this that I haven't the energy to go through the long and rich history of US invasions, occupations, and destabilizations over the past 150 years. "

Yawn... another 'blame America first' loser with extremely limited knowledge of history, economics, or democracy. I suppose you think America was the villain in WW2 and the Cold War as well.

I repeat : America is exceptional, and has benefited humanity more than any other nation in the last 100 years. Your very existence is proof of America's noble largesse. If you combine Britain and America, they have caused virtually all human progress in the last 350 years.

I'd like to see you locked in a room with Tito the Builder for 5 minutes. He is an immigrant from Colombia who is (gasp) pro-US.

I agree with the quote in #27 to a table-pounding degree.

It is surprising how US-centric even the anti-Americans like Coldtype are. When one views the actions of Islamic terror groups across Europe, the ME, Asia, and Africa, the pattern is clear, and it becomes impossible for a logical thinker to conclude that 'if not for US meddling, Islamic terror would not occur.'

Is stoning of women, genital mutilation, and the execution of gays in Islam also the result of 'US foreign policy'? Or are some strands of Islam just violent in nature?

That being said, the likes of Coldtype hate America for reasons that are no more complex than when a rich 17-year-old brat who has everything hates his parents. It is nothing more than that.

Let me mess with Coldtype even more by disclosing that : I am someone who is not white. I am Indian, and my parents were immigrants. I still think the US is the greatest country ever.

Is there any circumstance under which a person who is not white is justified in thinking the US is a good country?

And there are liberals who have adopted an uncritically critical view of America. Who believe it to have been founded in genocide and theft, made wealthy on slave labor and mercantilist expropriation, to be a destroyer of minorities, women, the environment and ultimately they argue, itself
-A.L.

It will not die. You can shank it, toss it in a 15 foot pit, douse it with lye, then seal it in reinforced concrete, but American Exceptionalism WILL NOT DIE!

A.L. It pains me to have to do this but the fairy tales they told us about our nation's founding and development back in 2nd grade was mostly bullshit. Western expansion was largely about the business of killing off the millions who occupied these regions so that they could be properly "settled". The people who had been here for millennia before the European arrived were wiped out--deliberately. Those remnants that remained were then shunted off to reservations. Ever wonder how the Cherokee, a people from "Georgia", found themselves in a place called "Oklahoma"? What’s the word I’m, looking for? Oh yes, g-e-n-o-c-i-d-e

The nation (or at least those who owned it) grew filthy rich from three centuries of slavery A.L. Need we really debate this? This obscene institution was considered so critical that allowances were made for it in the Constitution.

So, to briefly review; the US can wipe out nine tenths of the continent’s original population, enslave ten million Africans over three centuries, occupy one third of Mexico and call it Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, reverse the achievements of the first successful slave revolt in history (Haiti), crush the Cuban revolution (thanks Teddy), envelop Puerto Rico with its “protection”, slaughter 200,000 Filipinos who thought their independence was assured after overthrowing their Spanish oppressors (silly rabbits), stand in diametric opposition to virtually every post-colonialist independence movement following the the Second World War--culminating in the slaughter of perhaps 3 million Indochinese during the Vietnam War, and STILL despite all of this sordid history we remain the Shining City on the Hill? How this is so escapes me I'm afraid.

GK, feel free to chime in. Oh, and I'm of the tinted variety as well.

Coldtype, just to pick one thing out of the pile, I'm not sure Haiti is all the US's fault.

I think part of the problem is that sugar crops and slavery go together like peas and carrots. It's rotten work cutting cane, so rotten I don't even have an adequate adjective for it. What I've read of the history of Haiti leads me to suspect that nobody could run that place on a single cash crop of sugar without horrible oppression and injustice.

Now, did American financial interests play into that? Yes, certainly.

I'm less unsympathetic to your views than you might think; I just think there might still be something to this thing you want shanked, tossed in a 15 foot pit, doused with lye, and sealed in reinforced concrete.

You're a cop, I've seen you say. If you can take this as sincere, I thank you for your service. And -- I think US law enforcement and jurisprudence, when accurately applied, is one of the things that makes the US at least somewhat exceptional. So in a sense, as I see it, your doing your job buttresses my case against your claim. Weird, huh?

Uh, Coldtype, some of the ones who got killed were my kin, and with all due respect, I'll match my American history against anyones. And you know what? I still believe in American exceptionalism.

I could give you a long diatribe about why your view is factually wrong, shallow philosophically, and useless as a guide for going forward - but it's what I've been writing about on the blog for the last six years.

Start at the bottom and read up.

A.L.

Coldtype-

If the US is so bad and criminal, why do you remain? Why not just leave? I mean, I am a naturalized citizen born in a foreign nation. I have lived in other countries in Europe and the ME. I know that should I not wish to remain I could leave. It takes some doing but it can be done.

Answer the question honestly. If this place is so bad and based upon lies as you say, why do you remain?

"Answer the question honestly. If this place is so bad and based upon lies as you say, why do you remain?"

Because he doesn't actually know anything about the outside world. In his view, Texas and Wyoming are worse places to live than Zimbabwe or Haiti.

Again, the likes of Coldtype hate America for the same reason a spoiled 17-year-old brat with rich parents who gave him everything still hates those parents. It is nothing more complicated/mature/profound than that.

I'm not sure Coldtype "hates" the US. I do think he's got a huge desire to knock down the notion that the US is any great shakes, all that different from any other country.

I disagree with him there, but since he's the first person I've encountered at close virtual hand who can espouse these sorts of views and not step way over the line into foaming mania, I'm glad he drops by.

I certainly agree with him, and others, that some folks do drape American Exceptionalism tightly around their shoulders so it'll catch any fresh blood (or spittle, or dung) that might otherwise fall on them directly.

But that doesn't prove the notion of A.E. wrong; it just shows the A.E.-swaddlers to be mendacious or self-deceiving poltroons.

There's a distinction there that doesn't seem to cut any ice with Coldtype. Still I persist in wondering.

Hey, Coldtype, I hear Reverend Wright is coming out with a brand new DVD in HD. You can pre-order a copy of the collectors edition.

Anyway, let me educate this nut briefly.

1) Yes, America killed many Native Americans. But today, the native Americans in the US are much better off than any other Aboriginal Americans, whether in Canada, Guatemala, Bolivia, etc.

2) You claim that America 'enslaved blacks for 200 years'. America hasn't been around for 300 years, you know. Even I thought you knew this much.

At any rate, blacks in America today are the wealthiest blacks in the world. They are so wealthy that they never even consider leaving America to go to ANY other country in the world. Canada,, Sweden, Britain, South Africa, Liberia. None of them can attract US-born blacks to go move there.

So blacks have it better in America than anywhere else.

3) Indochina : er... they killed each other. Vietnam invaded Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge (which your probably are a fan of) killed millions, etc.

In Iraq, America has bestowed the Iraqis with the greatest gift possible : freedom and democracy. It is Al-Qaeda that bombs markets and schools, not the US (but I don't think you can admit that).

4) You can't bring yourself to mention that millions of people come to the US each year to seek a better life, and millions more are on a waitlist that is years long. This inconvenient fact is very troubling to you.

The true measure of a country is the NET difference between the number of people who want in, and the number who want out. By that measure, America is the best country in the world.

Your own existence proves it (again, the 17-year-old rich kid example).

Folks, I'm going to ask that the snark be dialed down a notch or two. Please.

Let's make it even easier for Coldtype.

Coldtype, which of the following tragic recent events are NOT the fault of the United States :

1) London subway bombing by Al-Qaeda 7/7/05

2) Madrid train bombing by Al-Qaeda 3/11/04

3) Bombay train blast by Islamic terrorists 7/11/06 (250 killed)

4) Russia's invasion of Georgia

5) Burmese Junta refuses aid after hurricane, lets several hundred thousand die in deliberate act of democide.

6) 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. 300,000 die despite major aid being delivered.

7) Genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Again, which of the above are NOT the fault of the United States? A very simple question.

"..US is any great shakes, all that different from any other country. "

I don't know. I don't think he'll openly state that China, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, etc. are as bad as the US. I have yet to see evidence of that.

There are more Native Americans alive today than when Columbus came. They have access to the world today, if they want it; and if that is not what they want, another way is available. They are widely honored by all Americans. I have Cherokee blood, as all Southerners seem to have; my wife is a quarter Lakota. Our son is both.

If you ever go to a pow wow, you will see the dance they have for veterans, to honor their service. I have been asked to dance in it, all other things put aside. They are proud of the nation they have fought for, as did Marine Ira Hayes of the Pima Indians. And so do we honor them, in return: look to the Apache, which watches over our troops in Iraq. Look to the Kiowa Warrior. There are many such seals set upon our military.

This is a story as old as the world. Two warrior peoples met. One won; but the other was welcomed and honored for their valor. It is not the first time. The Irish rant against English invasions, but the legends speak of the Irish clearing out the Tuatha De Danann, and of the Tuatha clearing the Fir Bolg. The Lakota cleared the plains before them, when they adopted the horse and became such fine light cavalry. The Apache did the same. We did likewise, and they have since fought for us. The Shadow Wolves of our Border Patrol have served in Afghanistan. We are brothers, and honor the remembered fight.

NM I suspect you don't really mean to imply that the arduous nature of the sugarcane trade justified slavery so I'll focus on your curious statement regarding US influence upon Haiti's development or, more accurately, the lack thereof

The two most devastating catastrophes to befall Haiti after gaining its independence was the 21 billion dollar indemnity it paid to France for having the temerity to break its own chains, and its tragic proximity to the US which culminated in our 18 year occupation of the island (1916-1934).

The Haitian revolt set a terrifying "threat of a good example" to the US which worked actively to undermine from the start. Only British dominance of the Caribbean served as a deterrent to direct US intervention at the time. Not to worry, we were patient. By 1916 the US was sufficiently powerful (the British Fleet abandoned the Caribbean by 1905) to impose its will on the Island and did so. First was the savage 1916 invasion and occupation in which the US Marine Corp helped reintroduce Haitians to slavery via the corvee system. US sugar and textile corporations (with US Marine Corp administrators) then ran the island directly as a virtual plantation through 1934. Thereafter, the Island would be run for US capital by a series of dictators of whom Papa Doc was merely the most notable. At no point was the US willing to allow self-determination to take root and thrive in Haiti. Our destruction of the Lavalas movement under Aristide is but the latest shameful example of this.

I'm less unsympathetic to your views than you might think; I just think there might still be something to this thing you want shanked, tossed in a 15 foot pit, doused with lye, and sealed in reinforced concrete
-N.M

What I find objectionable about the curse of American Exceptionalism NM is how sexy and seductive this belief is to those incline to impose themselves upon others. When combined with outsized military power the impulse to "help" others (who often as not didn't request assistance) becomes irresistible and before you know it you're dropping 500 pound bombs on wedding parties in a country 6000 miles from your own borders.

I could give you a long diatribe about why your view is factually wrong, shallow philosophically, and useless as a guide for going forward - but it's what I've been writing about on the blog for the last six years
-A.L.

Thanks for the tip A.L. but I'm familiar with the arguments. George Will, Andrew Sullivan, and Christopher Hitchens (post conversion) among other desk warriors have provided me with many hours of very entertaining reading on how the US is the bestest ever. There are great people in this nation, of that I don't question, however, our government is unworthy of them.

Ah, the desk warriors backhand, one step across from the old "chickenhawk" meme. Well - as a serving LEO - you'll be sad to know that those of us on the outside of the blue line matter as well. It's an interesting psychological adaptation; I know and am friends with more LEO's than military, but can say with some comfort that suiting up in kevlar has nothing at all to do with love of place or country - although it does correlate with it.

And if you don't like reading what we have to say about how the US is the "bestest ever", let me suggest John Schaar or Page Smith.

I don't mean this to be personal, but your attitude is exactly what I try and write about when I talk about "Bad Philosophy".

A.L.

Coldtype #42:

[T]he 21 billion dollar indemnity it paid to France for having the temerity to break its own chains

Spot on. And as a consequence, the newly-"independent" state had only one crop that could make the payments: one that required back-breaking labor in the killingly-hot sun. So the new leader of Haiti found himself forced to force the labor needed.

This was, on the evidence, slavery at one remove. It has nothing to do with justification of that institution, and thank you for not thinking that it did.

And that part of Haiti's history, effectively enslavement of Haitians by Haitians to keep France from reconquering the island(!), is part of what I was talking about not having much to do with the US.

As an aside, there is an interesting minority viewpoint (link) that the specific "and their issue" subjugation of negroes, and indeed the label "Black", as found in American history, are both things that can be credited to certain wealthy landed families in Virginia and possibly Georgia who paid a great deal of attention to how France treated the people of Haiti -- that they were, in American terms, inventions imposed along with other myths that got folded into American Exceptionalism, in part to keep poor whites from making common cause with blacks.

But that's OT.

The rest of your comment to me seems to have already been replied to in my #36. So I'll stop for now.

Ok GK, I'll play... for awhile.

1) London subway bombing by Al-Qaeda 7/7/05

Britain made its own bed by aligning itself with Team Bush's imperial project in Mesopotamia thereby making itself an obvious target. Again, not saying it's right just inevitable.

2) Madrid train bombing by Al-Qaeda 3/11/04

Ditto above. Note that they haven't been targeted since they followed the will of the Spanish population (and of course the Iraqis) and removed their forces from Iraq.

3) Bombay train blast by Islamic terrorists 7/11/06 (250 killed)

Pakistan and India are going to go at it until a settlement is reached between these nations over issues that have little to do with the US. Having said this, however, recent US efforts that destabilize Pakistan are not at all helpful. By the way, assisting the Indian nuclear program in defiance of the NPT is bat-shit crazy... and counterproductive.

4) Russia's invasion of Georgia

...in response to the idiotic, US inspired Georgian attack on South Ossetia that devastated its capital, killing hundreds of Ossetians with Russian passports including Russian peacekeepers. Rarely has an ass-whipping been more richly deserved. When you walk up to a bear and slap him you're supposed to be eaten.

5) Burmese Junta refuses aid after hurricane, lets several hundred thousand die in deliberate act of democide.

Yes "aid" with IMF strings attached which would all but invalidate Burmese sovereignty. The Burmese asked for grants without strings and were refused.

6) 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. 300,000 die despite major aid being delivered

We have a winner! We didn't cause the tsunami and responded appropriately to this tragedy.

7) Genocide in Darfur, Sudan

Our impressive anger over the atrocities in Darfur would pass the smell test if not for our complete lack of concern over the conflict in the Congo which has taken five times the lives. Oh that's right, the west profits enormously from conditions in the Congo! There's no problem here people, move along.

****************

NM, I'll have more to say on Haiti a bit later for I see that we have a different understanding of its history. A.L it should be interesting to further explore this bit about "bad philosophy" as well. Looking forward to it.

Coldtype, AL:

It really might be time for an Exceptionalism thread. I have "threatened" it before. Maybe after Tuesday?

Sounds good to me NM, I'll be there.

Coldtype: OK, I'll try to put together something representative and drop the green flag at the appropriate time.

Coldtype, I would like to add to the replies if I may. It is true that the USA has done some things that in retrospect it would have been better not to do. So has every other country in the world; but I think that only one other country comes equal in its good intentions. That one other is my own, the UK.

As for the embedded journalist helping a Taliban group get past a patrol; there is one word and one word only (assuming he is an American citizen) for what he did. That word is treason. I believe that aiding and abetting the enemies of your country and its soldiers, on the field of battle, counts as that.

On the subject of Britain's good deeds; well, let's start with the defeat of the Spanish Armada (without which the whole of Europe would be under the thumb of the Inquisition and America as it now is would never have existed) and continue through the foundation of the USA, Australia and Canada, the defeat of Napoleon, the ending of the slave trade and the conversion of India from a subcontinent full of warring mediaeval princelings to the world's biggest democracy. We didn't exactly hinder the defeat of the Kaiser and Hitler, either; in fact we held off the latter for two years while America slept.

That isn't enough for us to hold our heads up high, according to you? Then to Hell with you.

) _Madrid train bombing by Al-Qaeda 3/11/04

Ditto above. Note that they haven't been targeted since they followed the will of the Spanish population (and of course the Iraqis) and removed their forces from Iraq._

But they certainly will be the next time Al Quaida wants something from them. Paying off terrorists (which is what Spain did by changing its policy) is like feeding a stray animal. You'll never get rid of it.

Fred, I think the old saying about Danegeld is more apt.

Of course, the West's continuing failure to do anything about the countless billions of dollars, pounds, euros and yen flowing into the coffers of the enemy, in exchange for an resource the enemy did nothing to earn and nothing to help get out of the ground, doesn't help either.

The oil ought to have been taken off them as soon as possible after 9/11, along with all their ill-gotten monetary gains. It ought to be taken off them now; but it can't, because the troops needed to do it are tied up in Iraq.

The king of Mordor AKA Saudi Arabia ought to have ended his days at the end of a rope, and then been thrown onto the nearest convenient garbage dump, wrapped in bacon. And the Grand Mosque in Mecca ought by now to have been converted into a pig farm.

It will happen yet, unless we instead convert said mosque into a lake of glass.

"occupy one third of Mexico and call it Texas etc."
I object strongly to that. It's entirely ahistorical. The Texians were proud of their Mexican citizenship. The anglos who resettled here in Texas were in nearly every instance looking for a second, third, or only chance, and were thankful to receive it from the Mexican government. It was only after Bustamante and later Santa Ana, the self-styled "Napoleon of the West", reneged on key issues that the independence movement gained any traction whatsoever. As a footnote, Texas wasn't the only Mexican state to rebel at that time.

You don't know your historical fact.

And 'Coldtype' did not deign to answer the question. It is one that bears precisely on his attitude.

Lots of others did and had good comments that I appreciate.

Remember the idea of "American Exceptionalism" is NOT deaf, dumb or blind. It is precisely the opposite of those handicaps. It recognizes the real world, warts and all.

Coldtype has also not answered this question from #29. He danced around it, but did not answer it :

"Is there any circumstance under which a person who is not white is justified in thinking the US is a good country?"

Answer it.

Folks, I think I might be trying to transplant this thread after tomorrow sometime.

Or, at a minimum. I'll be starting a new "Exceptionalism" thread, having tried to create a capsule entry / top post with high information density drawing from multiple viewpoints.

Perhaps we should let this OT portion of the thread wind down just a bit. This thread was supposed to be about Nir Rosen, and the American Exceptionalism thing is s bit of a hijacking. OK?

Coldtype, I would like to add to the replies if I may. It is true that the USA has done some things that in retrospect it would have been better not to do. So has every other country in the world; but I think that only one other country comes equal in its good intentions. That one other is my own, the UK
-Fletcher Christian

Ah, the best of intentions of course. How could I have missed it? Please, if it's not too much trouble perhaps you could illustrate for me precisely what our nation's "good intentions" were during the following examples?

-Cuba (1898-1905)

-Haiti (1916-present)

-Hawaii (1898)

-Philippines (1898-1902)

-Vietnam (1954-1975)

-Iran (1953-1979)

-Guatemala (1954)

-Chile (1973)

One last question I'd like you to consider as you craft your response Fletch: how was our benevolence received by the natives?

Good idea NM, I'll incorporate an answer to GK & Robo in the Exceptionalism thread when it's up.

Thanks. I'm now feeling the right level of performance pressure to increase my likelihood of actually doing it to an acceptable level. :)

#41 - Grim -

Without trying to undermine your main point, I don't know that the native american pop. figures today are larger then when Columbus showed up. If you haven't read it yet, do read 1491 which is eye opening on how a lot of the stuff we think we know about pre-columbian civilizations is not true (and no, it wasn't all sweetness, light and unicorns).

OK, I've budgeted some time tonight to work on a top post for the Exceptionalism donnybrook. If all goes well, it'll be posted shortly. Look for it soon.

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