Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fame and war-promotion on the left

For what it's worth, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, 19-year-old up-and-coming blogger Ezra Klein explained why he was a strong supporter a US war against Iraq, despite his dislike of Bush, and the text is here (thanks to an alert commenter on his blog). (You have to scroll one-third of the way down, to March 6, 2003 post called: "Why the Hawks of the Left Must Not Falter"). Saddam, he wrote, is a threat to the region because of his nuclear-arms ambitions, and for that reason alone, American war on Iraq in order to topple him "is a goal very much worth supporting," despite the fact Bush was going at it the wrong way. He wrote that March 6, 2003, and two days later March 8, he expressed his humble thanks to then already-famous Matt Yglesias for a nice recommendation and including him on his blogroll. It could well have been the day that Ezra realized the power of accepting and promulgating conventional wisdom as a basis for popular advancement. (Unfortunately, MY archives for 2003 don't seem to be available).

The discussion about JournoList, which he recently (?) founded has mostly missed the point. The point being that people have a legitimate expectation that journalists and others, to the extent they rely on sources, whether attributable or not, in any event each relies on his own sources. It should be sort of blindingly obvious that each reporter has his own sources, and others have different sources, so there is diversity. And to the extent bloggers rely on sources, there is a natural expectation that there will be the same kind of diversity.

That is the revolutionary point of JournoList (and maybe of Townhouse before it, but very little was ever said about Townhouse): namely that everyone on the list had the same sources. No one outside the list can really say anything more, but the point is you don't have to. And the point isn't that everyone was brought to agree on everything. The point was merely that there was--is--a common fund of so-called "expertise" relied on by all the big-volume "progressive" bloggers, so there was, and is, a common set of assumptions.

And if you want to see a clear outline of what those common assumptions were in March 2003, read the Ezra Klein post linked-to above.

And what are those common assumptions today? We don't know officially, but if you read carefully the JournoList people today, you can get the drift of it: Israeli atrocities are not a big deal; but the Iranian "nuclear issue" is a big deal. Just substitute "Iran" for "Iraq" in the above-linked Ezra Klein post and you will see the logic.

And so it goes, like holding a deck of cards. Iraq was at the top, then Iran, next Pakistan, then what...

Commenter Zephyrus at the American prospect blog put it plainly:

The "Hawks of the Left Must Not Falter" piece is cringe-inducing. And then you realize that that's the kind of stuff that has led to the death of over half a million Iraqis, and you want to puke.

And then you realize that EK and MY and all of those serious thinkers* are the ones who have all the hype about them nowadays, and you despair.


*Here's Matt doing his serious thinking dipsy-doodle about the war on Afghanistan:
I worry that proponents of scaling-up our efforts in Afghanistan are in fact offering too little too late and just don't want to admit that the door has closed on their prescriptions. Even so, it's probably the right bet -- we owe it to the Afghan people to try in good faith to offer security and a start rebuilding their country before we conclude that we need to radically restrict our goals and settle for stand-off airstrikes against high-value terrorist targets. But at the same time, the administration needs to avoid a losing bet that sticks us with a quagmire.
He worries, but in the final analysis he sees that we owe the people of Afghanistan... just as Ezra worried, but at the same time he saw the need for war: It was what we owed the people of Iraq.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.

I finished reading your post, especially the part on MY, completely dumbfounded. How can these people not be experiencing profound cognitive dissonance?

In particular, how can people claim that we're fighting the war in Afghanistan in order to 'help' the Afghan people, or that we invaded Iraq in order to 'help' Iraqis? It has nothing to do with 'helping' Afghanis, given that the U.S. is more than content with letting most of Afghanistan remain without any serious reconstruction (see the recent TomDispatch piece), and everything to do with securing control over this strategically crucial piece of land, so as to repel Iran, China, and Russia, and maintain viable access to energy transit routes.

Anyway, it's disgusting, I agree, that people like MY or "progressive" bloggers would claim to support the war in the name of ordinary Afghanis.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Practitioners of religious or cultural Judaism in most all forms are at least latently and in most cases aggressively ethnic chauvinist to one degree or another. Members of that community save the aberrant Neteuri Karta-ite variety are extremely prone to protect inherently chauvinist Israel at most if not all costs. Zionism of course is an inherently ethnic chauvinist/racist ideology.

The Ezra Kleins should self-identify or be identified by all concerned with US stands on things Middle East. If you don't believe this Iraq War/Afghanistan behavior isn't enough to set provisos in motion you haven't been reading Phillip Weiss' Mondoweiss blog.

2:53 PM  
Blogger annie said...

hawks w/a 'heart', big fucking deal.

5:05 PM  
Blogger opit said...

I've been incapable of understanding the reported mainstream U.S. mindset since I was a teenager in the 60's : when massive demonstrations against Vietnam went nowhere. It helps if you know that so much cultural headbanging has been going on in the western world that it's doubtful many not exposed to the cross-cultural effect of online social reporting and networking have any idea of the conditioning imposed on them : just as surely as Pavlov's dog. Then too, the opinions are not reported fairly either, so people have no idea what the concensus actually is.
Ezra is typical of those snowed by an organized campaign of disinformation, psyops, whatever you care to call propaganda and mind control.
That's on the 'road to war'.
Both of these look pretty wild : I haven't had a chance to examine them properly yet.
I note stuff on my Links page at too great a rate sometimes for thorough examination if I'm busy chasing something down off alternative news sources or suffering from frequent absences from being online. The section Overton Window has notes on different aspects of perverting perceptions :

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