Tuesday, June 19, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

A progressive, anti-war blogger discovers Michael Yon's latest piece, and is respectfully impressed.

It is the kind of honesty that we have thirsted for as we have sat on the sidelines and watched, not sure which soldiers to trust, growing more and more skeptical day after day as we see the promises of the administration fall flat and bloody in the desert sands of Iraq. There is the blatant admission of failure in the beginning, the mismanagement of the war, and a direct approach to what role we truly played in bringing al Qaeda into the fold.

Which makes you wish more progressive, anti-war bloggers would read Yon, but from what I've read they'd cross the street to avoid coming in contact with him, because he's 1. pro-military, 2. embedded, 3. believes in the potential salvation of Iraq. "Comments from Left Field" can get past that, and I suspect the fact that the blogger is himself a veteran goes a long way.

But it makes you wish such bloggers also read a lot more than the accounts of the right that are passed around on the left. You can find plenty of people who are still seeking a way to make something work in Iraq that we can be proud of, who will, like Yon, frankly admit all the stumble-bum blunders and honest errors we've made. The "right-wing echo chamber" exists principally in the heads of left-wing writers in their War on Straw.

"Comments" rightly praises Yon for the fair-mindedness of his disagreements -- and Yon has had them with friends as well as opponents. And here I agree with "Comments" that this is a model that would serve everyone well:

Even more refreshing is when Yon disagrees. He does not destroy wholely the argument and the arguer which has become the typical vehicle of action in modern debate. He does not stand for the simple formula of destroy the man first, and if there are any remnants left of his argument after, laugh them off.

When he detracts from a reporter who never served, he does not mock him for his lack of service, he does not throw his uniform in the man's face and blindly tells him he cannot understand the military life, or war. No, he instead lauds him, and seeks to respectfully disagree where so many of us, myself included, would launch a full on attack. Take no prisoners. We disagree so one of us has to leave the arena bloodied and destroyed.

Well-said and worth printing out and taping up on the space above your monitor where you write.

It is in this context that I find myself most closely turned in my own opinion of the war in Iraq, perhaps a model for those with whom I disagree to model their own arguments.

I stand not swayed, however, though this is no loss upon the author's arguments, no slight to his efforts. After all, what really does my opinion matter? And even if my opinion does matter, while it has not changed, from reading the article, I stand changed ... slightly.

It is not the least bit odd that the real to-the-heart warriors -- the ones civilians think are a bit batty for wanting to go back and do it again -- know how to write more persuasively than the snark-mongers and screed fiends.