Irreconcilable Differences

Jeff Jacoby has written a Boston Globe column titled “Irreconcilable positions: support troops, oppose war.” It begins:

WHAT DOES IT mean to support the troops but oppose the cause they fight for?

It is not at all irreconcilable to oppose the Iraq War but wish to support the troops fighting the war. “Supporting the troops” means seeing to it they have whatever they need to stay as safe and healthy as possible, both while at war and after. It means providing state-of-the-art body armor now, not three years from now, maybe. If they are wounded, it means providing first-class medical care, not parking them in moldy, roach-infested hospital.

Bill Maxwell writes in the St. Petersburg Times (“White House delivers surge in lies, hypocrisy“):

Here is a substantive example of the reality of who supports the troops and who does not. The Washington Post reported last week that the Army, which has suffered the largest number of fatalities, began the Iraq war in 2003 with an estimated $56-billion shortage of equipment – including advanced Humvees equipped with armor kits designed to reduce troop deaths from roadside bombs.

Well, guess what? Nearly four years later, the Army, the Marine Corps and the National Guard still do not have an adequate number of Humvees equipped with the needed FRAG Kit 5 armor manufactured with more flexible materials that slow projectiles and contain debris, thus causing fewer deaths.

Is this support of our troops?

Pentagon brass and the president have known about these shortages from the beginning. And, while saber rattling, they have known all along that serious shortages of the new armor have been responsible, directly and indirectly, for hundreds of U.S. deaths.

Is this support of our troops?

Yet Jeff Jacoby, who (I infer) “supports” the troops, doesn’t write a word about armor or hospitals. Indeed, he only obliquely refers to the war in Iraq. Instead, he writes about the “cause.” What does it mean to support the troops but oppose the cause they fight for?

But what is the cause? If the cause is making the United States safer from terrorism, then it is perfectly logical to support the cause and oppose the war. The war is counterproductive to that cause. This was the conclusion of a National Intelligence Estimate of April 2006 portions of which were declassified and released in September 2006. It says,

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

• The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.

I also wish everyone could read James Fallows’s “Declaring Victory” article from the September 2006 Atlantic Monthly, which I’m very sorry is available only to subscribers. However, I have blogged about this article here, here, and here, here, and probably elsewhere. In this article Fallows interviews a number of national security experts for their assessment of where the U.S. stands in its counterterrorism efforts. Fallows’s experts and the NIE came to pretty much the same conclusions.

Among other things, the NIE and the Fallows experts agreed that the war in Iraq is growing the threat of terrorism against the United States, not reducing it. Very briefly, Bush’s Folly is not only increasing the number of Islamic hotheads who want to strike America; it is also diverting many national security resources that could be put to better use elsewhere.

I realize that the cause keeps changing even as the war goes on. As Frank Rich wrote,

Oh what a malleable war Iraq has been. First it was waged to vanquish Saddam’s (nonexistent) nuclear arsenal and his (nonexistent) collaboration with Al Qaeda. Then it was going to spread (nonexistent) democracy throughout the Middle East. Now it is being rebranded as a fight against Tehran. Mr. Bush keeps saying that his saber rattling about Iran is not “a pretext for war.” Maybe so, but at the very least it’s a pretext for prolonging the disastrous war we already have.

And then there’s the democracy thing. There’s an outstanding article about this in the March issue of Harper’s magazine (not yet online). It is by Ken Silverstein, and titled “Parties of God: The Bush Doctrine and the Rise of Islamic Democracy.” Silverstein explores a paradox — that, if Middle Eastern countries actually became democratic, Islamists would control large blocs, if not majorities, in every one of those countries. This may account for the fact that the Bush Administration’s best allies in the region are not democracies (e.g., Saudi Arabia; Jordon).

Jacoby doesn’t say what the cause is, either, although I take it he thinks it has something to do with liberty.

America is a free country, but it is not the Michael Moores or the ROTC-banners or the senatorial loudmouths who keep it free. They merely enjoy the freedom that others are prepared to defend with their lives. It is the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform to whom we owe our liberty. Surely they deserve better than pious claims of “support” from those who are working for their defeat.

Now, I have thought about it at considerable length, and I say honestly that I have no idea what Jacoby is talking about. Exactly what does fighting a war in Iraq have to do with America being a “free country”? And what does Jacoby mean by “free country,” anyway? Does it mean that the United States governs itself, and is not a vassal state of some other country? Or does he mean the people of the United States enjoy political liberty because the government respects their rights? Or both? Those are both perfectly fine things, and I support them. But what does either one have to do with Iraq?

Republicans’ hysterical shrieking
notwithstanding, Islamist jihadists are not an existential threat to the United States. And Geoffrey Stone notes today that the Bush Administration has has broken new ground in gathering information about protesters of the war. What does that say about the connection between the Iraq War and liberty, pray tell?

But let’s pretend for a minute that there is a cause, that we all agree on what it is, and that it serves the interests of the whole United States, not just some special interest groups therein. With that assumption in mind, let’s go back to Jacoby’s question, What does it mean to support the troops but oppose the cause they fight for?

The answer to that would, I think, depend on what the cause is. And since we’re dealing with a hypothetical cause, we can only give a hypothetical answer. But I still don’t think such a position is necessarily irreconcilable.

Jacoby continues,

No loyal Colts fan rooted for Indianapolis to lose the Super Bowl. No investor buys 100 shares of Google in the hope that Google’s stock will tank. No one who applauds firefighters for their courage and education wants a four-alarm blaze to burn out of control.

The Colts fan may have bet on Indianapolis, but otherwise there’s no rational reason for anyone to do any of those things. But the situation in Iraq is not comparable to any of those things. There are a great many rational reasons to be opposed to the war there. Jacoby seems to be saying that opposition to the war is irrational. Then he goes on …

Yet there is no end of Americans who insist they “support” US troops in Iraq but want the war those troops are fighting to end in defeat. The two positions are irreconcilable. You cannot logically or honorably curse the war as an immoral neocon disaster or a Halliburton oil grab or “a fraud . . . cooked up in Texas,” yet bless the troops who are waging it.

Again, I don’t see why not. The troops are our fellow Americans who have been put in danger, and the “cause” for which they fight makes no sense. We want to get them out of danger, but for a lot of reasons (Republicans) we are unable to do that legally. Until we can get them out of danger, we support them in any way we can.

Jacoby’s position makes sense only if one assumes that the troops and the cause are, somehow, indivisible. Jacoby doesn’t seem to grasp that “the troops” are individual human beings and not some amorphous, soulless entity created by the military-industrial complex.

Jacoby, unfortunately, continues,

But logic and honor haven’t stopped members of Congress from trying to square that circle. The nonbinding resolution they debated last week was a flagrant attempt to have it both ways. One of its two clauses professed to “support and protect” the forces serving “bravely and honorably” in Iraq. The other declared that Congress “disapproves” the surge in troops now underway — a surge that General David Petraeus , the new military commander in Iraq, considers essential.

And which the Joint Chiefs unanimously opposed. See also Gen. William E. Odom, “Victory Is Not an Option.”


It was a disgraceful and dishonest resolution, and it must have done wonders for the insurgents’ morale. Democrats hardly bothered to disguise that when they say they “support and protect” the troops, what they really intend is to undermine and endanger their mission.

The Democrats want to endanger their mission? The troops‘ mission, which is indivisible from the troops? Never mind that no one knows what the bleeping mission is any more. Jacoby has decided there is no rational reason for opposing troop escalation, and now he’s saying the Democrats are trying to “undermine” it. Makes them look pretty bad, huh?

The Politico, a new Washington news site, reported Thursday that the strategy of “top House Democrats, working in concert with anti war groups,” is to “pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration’s options.”

“The Politico” has turned out to be the new online branch of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Politico congressional bureau chief John Bresnahan coined the phrase “slow-bleed” to characterize the Democrats’ strategy in dealing with the administration on Iraq. But the RNC then circulated a letter that attributed the phrase to the Democrats, claiming that “slow bleed” is what the Dems call their Iraq policy. Expect “slow bleed” to be the Right’s favorite phrase for a while.

Can we say “disgraceful and dishonest,” Mr. Jacoby?

If they had the courage of their convictions, they would forthrightly defund the war, bring the troops home, and brave the political consequences. Instead they plan a more agonizing and drawn-out defeat — slowly choking off the war by denying reinforcements, eventually leaving no alternative but retreat.

After yesterday’s farce in the Senate, in which Republicans blocked a bleeping debate on a bleeping nonbinding resolution, I’m not entirely sure what Jacoby thinks the Dems could do. At this point I believe most of them want to end the war and bring the troops home as quickly as practicable. If there’s to be a “slow bleed,” as opposed to a quicker and cleaner redeployment, it will be the Republicans causing it.

That is how those who oppose the war “support” the troops — they “slow-bleed” them dry. Or they declare that the lives laid down by those troops were “wasted,” as Senator Barack Obama did last Sunday. Obama later weaseled away from that characterization , but the gaffe had been made. And like most political gaffes, it exposed the speaker’s true feelings.

One rarely finds a column by Jacoby that isn’t pure weasel. This one is a fine example. Anyway, I’d like Jacoby to explain to me how American lives aren’t being wasted in Iraq, seeing as how there’s no discernible cause or mission they’re fighting and dying for.

And why wouldn’t Obama feel that way? If an American serviceman dies in the course of a war that toppled a monstrous dictatorship, opened the door to decent Arab governance, and has become the central front in the struggle against radical Islam, his death is not in vain.

Actually the war toppled a monstrous dictatorship and replaced it with a monstrous chaos that Iraqis hate even more than they hated Saddam Hussein. It no more opened a door to “decent Arab governance” than I can fly. And I’ve already discussed what a crock it is to think the Iraq War is going to reduce radical Islam.

It is the sacrifice of an American hero, the last full measure of devotion given in the cause of freedom. But if he dies in the course of a senseless and illegitimate invasion — which appears to be Obama’s view of Iraq — then his life was wasted. If that’s what you believe, Senator, why not say so?

I guess he did, and the Right threw a fit about it.

Obama’s is merely the latest in a series of senatorial comments that offer a glimpse of the left’s anti military disdain.

By now it should be pretty obvious that it’s righties like Jacoby who truly disdain the military. They’re just cannon fodder to him, not people.

Smart people who work hard become successful, John Kerry “joked” last fall, but uneducated sluggards “get stuck in Iraq.” Osama bin Laden is beloved by Muslims for “building schools, building roads . . . building day-care facilities,” Washington Senator Patty Murray explained in 2002, while Americans only show up to “bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan.” Obama’s Illinois colleague Dick Durbin took to the Senate floor to equate US military interrogators in Guantanamo Bay with “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags,” and similar mass-murderers, such as “Pol Pot or others.”

Three lies in a row, Jacoby. Jacoby cannot so much as sneeze without being disgraceful and dishonest. Here are links to the facts about each quote: John Kerry, Patty Murray (see also this); and Dick Durbin.


It goes without saying that many Democrats and liberals take a back seat to no one in their admiration and appreciation of the US military. But there is no denying that a notable current of antimilitary hostility runs through the left as well. Examples are endless: ROTC is banned on elite college campuses. San Francisco bars a historic battleship from its port. Signs at antiwar protests urge troops to “shoot their officers.” An Ivy League professor prays for “a million Mogadishus.” Michael Moore compares Iraqi insurgents who kill Americans to the Minutemen of Revolutionary New England.

I’m not going to fact check those. By now it’s clearly established that “facts” and “Jeff Jacoby” have irreconcilable differences. Even if true, these are isolated incidents, and anyway, Jacoby wants to keep the troops in Iraq. I’d say that’s antimilitary.

From the Bill Maxwell column linked above:

To surge or not to surge could be a great and honest national debate. It certainly is a needed debate. But we are not having an honest debate.

We are being fed devious semantics about who supports our troops and who does not. To Republicans backing the surge, wanting to bring our troops home and take them out of harm’s way is tantamount to being the enemy of our troops.

Think how illogical this position sounds: If you want to save the lives our soldiers, if you do not want to see another limb blown off, if you do not want to see another brain pierced by shrapnel and if you want little children to see their parents return home safely from the battlefield, you do not support the troops.

Back to Jacoby, final paragraph:

America is a free country, but it is not the Michael Moores or the ROTC-banners or the senatorial loudmouths who keep it free.

Nor, might I add, disgraceful and dishonest Boston Globe columnists who can’t string two sentence together that aren’t a lie.

They merely enjoy the freedom that others are prepared to defend with their lives. It is the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform to whom we owe our liberty. Surely they deserve better than pious claims of “support” from those who are working for their defeat.

They deserve better than pious claims of “support” from the disgraceful and dishonest likes of Jacoby. They deserve to be brought home from Bush’s Folly.

See also:

Glenn Greenwald, “Gen. Odom explains basic reality to Hugh Hewitt and the ‘Victory Caucus‘”

Rep. Jerry McNerney: “Why supporting the troops means opposing the president.”

Also also: “Bring Them Home” bumper sticker, t-shirt; “Love America, Leave Iraq” t-shirt.

Update: Mark Steyn descends into madness.

34 thoughts on “Irreconcilable Differences

  1. support troops but not the war? This is easy, just ask any parent with son or daughter in harms way. Pundits of all ilks, spray these words around to promote their POV, but a parent knows that much more is at stake than mere words and reputations. Everyone who is commenting on the state of Iraqi affairs should get to know a wounded vet, too. Go visit them in the ICU or at rehab. Rehab sounds so friendly and successful, what a nice word to use, only the incredible, meaning you don’t know how bad it hurts unless you’ve been there, pain isn’t well represented by this word, rehab. Rehab doesn’t tell you that regaining 20% of what you had might be a really big accomplishment. Support the troops, means seeing them as your niece, son, daughter, father, mother, who you might not ever see, laugh with, touch, enjoy their smile, ever again. The cause doesn’t matter, when you’ve lost sight of the person. The cause can be debated separately from the person, but down the end of that road lies an ugly truth, that the war was sold to America with a pack of calculated lies and misinformation and cannot be redeemed by repackaging.
    This truth in no way damages the troops, and could save many lives from ruin in the days ahead. cdk

  2. I gotta hand it to you ,Maha. It takes a lot of fortitude and battling with frustration to try and pick through the rubbish of Jacoby’s bullshit. Personally, I would just dimiss him as an asswipe because I don’t have what it takes to disect his idiocy. It’s like trying reason with Pastor Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.

  3. Support the troops. Let’s pay them enough so they do not qualify for food stamps. Let’s increase the budget for the Dept of Veterans Affairs. Let’s provide them with adequate housing, especially for the junior enlisted men and women.

    Support the troops, you say. Local retailers around major military installations have limited (actually eliminated) the lower prices that were at the Base Exchange, Navy Exchange and at the commissary. Hell, even Walmart is way cheaper than ‘on base’ prices.

    The Administration is not supporting the troops, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders have no idea what ‘support the troops’ means.

  4. Jeff Jacoby Is A Liar!

    In “Irreconcilable positions: support troops, oppose war” he writes,

    America is a free country, but it is not the Michael Moores or the ROTC-banners or the senatorial loudmouths who keep it free. They merely enjoy the freedom that others are prepared to defend with their lives. It is the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform to whom we owe our liberty.

    The implication is that at least the troops in Iraq now, and perhaps also all our troops who have ever fought in any of our wars, have successfully defended America from attacks that were aimed at destroying out liberty, and would have done so if successful.

    That is a bald-faced, egregious lie. Not one of our wars since the revolution has been fought in defense of America or America’s liberty. Not a single one.

    All of America’s wars were wars of our choosing, in which American troops were used for a wide variety of often foolish and frequently criminal purposes, but never once to defend America or America’s freedom.


    We will never put a stop to America’s history of one stupid and unnecessary war after another until we denounce this lie, that all our wars have been necessary and good.

  5. Thank you, maha, for this excellent posting.

    Jacoby’s article seems so laden with falsehood that it is hard to credit it as being meant honestly. It reads as a cynical bombastic assault upon his political enemies, detached from any actual earnest attempt to improve the situation in Iraq.

    As near as I can tell, the ‘mission’ is to achieve an undefined ‘victory’ (and avoid the ‘defeat’) which is somehow connected with establishing a vague ‘democracy’ in the Middle East (a special, magical kind of democracy that wouldn’t give Islamists power or make friends with Iran, though), which is some way will do something to ‘protect’ us, like prevent our nation from being overrun by Muslim hordes who will deprive us all of our freedom, flying their green flag above the Capitol and putting Muhammed’s name on the money, or something.

    What’s not to support about that? 😉

    What remains unclear to me is the extent to which they actually believe all that. It seems clear that some do completely, and some merely use it for political gain, and others oscillate through degrees of belief/disbelief buffetted by waves of fear, ignorance, and frank emotionalism, girded by a steadfast refusal to examine things too closely.

    Thank you again for offering a shining example of an alternate path.

  6. For me, the good news is that there are half a dozen fact-citing columnists, and a couple dozen truth-beholden bloggers, for every air-farting jackass like this Jacoby person.

    When even the editors of USA Today give in and rail against this stupid, stupid war, it shows just how marginalized Jacoby’s non-position is.

  7. That is a bald-faced, egregious lie. Not one of our wars since the revolution has been fought in defense of America or America’s liberty. Not a single one.

    World War II — Hitler declared war on us, Sunny Jim. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. If you think that was a “war of choice” you are nuts. Do you think Hitler would have left us alone if he had gained control of the North Atlantic? of Russia (near Alaska)? Or if Japan had controlled large parts of the Pacific?

    I think the War of 1812 and World War I were wars of stupid more than wars of choice.

    The Civil War was unavoidable. The Confederates started it, not the Union.

    The Indian Wars, the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War were mostly opportunistic military adventures, I grant you.

    But let’s not bounce from one lie to another lie, child. Keep it real.

  8. Maha,

    Is it possible that FDR’s actions, re: Japans access to natural resources and steel, in the late 30s may have caused Japan to feel threatened?

  9. Chief — not threatened enough to bomb Pearl Harbor.

    In the 1930s, remember, the Japanese military staged a coup d’etat and assassinated the prime minister. No good ever comes of that. Then they invaded China and other parts of Asia and generally behaved badly. This was pure military aggression. FDR froze Japanese assets and ended oil exports to Japan in June, 1941, after Japan had already made some hostile noises against the U.S. But I think war in some form was inevitable before FDR did this.

  10. i “Is it possible that FDR’s actions, re: Japans access to natural resources and steel, in the late 30s may have caused Japan to feel threatened?”

    No, it’s not at all possible…

    FDR cut off the sale of oil and steel scrap to the Japanese only after they had seized French Indo-China from the supine Vichy regime…In the summer of ’41…

    You could at least have some idea of the dates of events if you’re gonna Kvetch…

  11. Support the troops and oppose the war? Sure it’s possible, even if you think the troops are all for the war, which in fact they are not. The logic is simple; love the sinner, hate the sin.

    But even that misses the mark, for after all the real sinners are in the White House.

    And alas I suspect that love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin is as good an attitude that we Americans can now expect from the rest of the world.

  12. Oh, and I notice that Jacoby descends into magical thinking when he talks about Colts fans rooting for the team. Is he saying that it’s now our patriotic duty to _root_?

    I see this debate as not between the Patriots and the Traitors, nor the Realists and the Cultists; instead I see this as a debate between the Bulls and the Bears. I’m a Bear.

  13. Good one Marvel.
    Now back to “support the troops”.
    A VERY clever sales pitch, who could not want to support our SOLDIERS?
    But it IS a sales pitch, and it’s pure BULLSHIT.It’s a way of saying “my way or the highway you traitor!” Guys like Jacoby are sociopaths that can’t see the difference between right and wrong. “Sic Semper Tyrannus!”The Pricks pushing this know it and are laughing all the way to bank. America is no longer a “free country” We need a freaking permit to do most anything but wipe our butts. Are Americans more free than people in Costa Rica or Canada? Hardly.We have more income on the average, but more freedom? I don’t think so.Down here in Florida, cameras are everywhere. Our cops now dress in military clothes, if not in totally black outfits.I am simply amazed that instead of a masive push for impeachment, our congress critters are pussy footing around with a troop surge debate!
    Sadly, unless someone with with balls stands up to our “king”, the wars in Iraq and possibly Iran will be like Afghanistan was to the Soviets.
    Did I mention I’m in a bad mood right now?

  14. You and others in the comment thread have done a good job of dissecting the nonsense in Jacoby’s column in the otherwise fine Boston Globe. I think it’s useful to try and pin these idiots down on what they think the cause is, why the hell they think we’re there. I bet none of them can give an answer that means anything, they’re all scared and playing follow the leader.

    “Bush’s Folly” is a meme I’d like to see spread far and wide.

  15. “slow bleed” ….. yep, that’s an accurate phrase for what the Bush team is doing to our troops, or military and our country. To attach that phrase to all of us who want to protect our soldiers is pure projection.

  16. Pingback: How hypocrites really “support the troops” « Geoff Arnold

  17. Pop Quiz

    Sen. Harry Reid recently stated that Bush’s colossal blunder in Iraq is “the worst foreign policy disaster in United States history”. For 100 points, is that statement:

    A). TRUE




  18. Just notating that the Kerry link is dead. I know it’s slightly off topic, but that incident has not, to my knowledge, ever been fully transcripted. I was hoping your link would have that…if it were a working link at all.

  19. JJ: You cannot logically or honorably curse the war as an immoral neocon disaster or a Halliburton oil grab or “a fraud . . . cooked up in Texas,” yet bless the troops who are waging it.

    BO’B:Again, I don’t see why not

    I think that’s it in a nutshell. Jacoby seems to be saying that if you “want in” on any positive or otherwise patriotic assertion associated with supporting the troops or what have you, then you have to unquestioningly support the whole nutso package, as its presented. I’m guessing this even includes agreeing with the administration that the war is fought for reason x, whatever the shifting rationale is, as the properly unquestioning frame of mind apparently means supporting whatever those in charge say.

    Likewise, I’m guessing that soldiers who are stuck in Iraq and doing their jobs who might nevertheless feel their mission is highly questionable are disloyal, if the right pundit says so.

    But as far as the football parallel goes, should I assume that means Jacoby would accept insurgents and militia death squad members who signed on to “our team” for next season? Do they get a signing bonus?

    If Jacoby agreed to that I’d say it was mighty white of him…

  20. ray — thank you for letting me know the link was dead. I had pasted in the wrong code. It is fixed now. The link includes a video of the Senators’ remarks, so you can see what he said.

  21. I was choking on my cereal reading Jacoby’s column yesterday morning. But it’s my fault – I should know better not to eat while reading his stuff.

    I wanted to post on it but never found the time. I couldn’t have matched the thoroughness of yours anyway.

    I don’t know why the Globe keeps him on. His stuff is transparently illogical and dishonest, like this classic strawman agrument he ruined by breakfast with yesterday.

  22. Imagine a rapist pretending to have ‘conjugal’ rights. Bush has raped our military through lying us into a war.

    This rape…….this lying, this engagement in a stupidly managed neo-con war that fails to protect and flank our military with effective diplomacy, this dishonorable policy of instituting torture practices [blowback being suffered by soldiers on the ground], the situation of war profiteers getting more tax-payer monies than returning soldiers……..the results of this rape continue to sow great risk to our soldiers.

    Bush and his followers have absolutely no right to ever say that they support our troops.

  23. Let’s say we put troops in Canada. And some Canadian citizens threw stones at them. Does that mean we can bomb the Canadians to protect our troops?
    Or do we remove our troops?
    This whole thing is a sham and the reason the Repubs are getting away with it is because the Dems are afraid of being labeled with a false label that Repubs have invented. The tactic worked for McCarthy.

  24. FDR provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl to keep us from interfering with Japanese actions in Asia.

    The Japanese had no intention of conquering America or invading us or doing anything to us at all but keep us off their backs as they fought their war of choice on the far side of the Pacific.

    Had he wanted to avoid war he would not have provoked them or led them to think we would attack them rather than let them continue to expand militarily in Asia.

    In short, our policy of globomeddlesomeness in the Far East and apparent willingness to fight a war of choice to oppose the Japanese empire-building in Asia provoked their pre-emptive and preventive attack on Pearl.

    But even after Pearl, had he wanted to avoid war FDR could still have done it. The Japanese would have been totally delighted to hear America would not intervene against them in their part of the world, and only too glad to leave us alone in ours.

    Not feasible as a matter of domestic politics, no doubt. But that doesn’t make his choice to go to war over an attack he first chose to proke less a choice.

    FDR declared war on Japan and then (as he knew and desired would happen) Japan’s ally, Germany, declared war on us. Not a surprise. In fact, the war he really wanted us to get into all along was the one already going in Europe.

    But the Germans actually dreaded our intevention in Europe, and if they had thought for a second that we would stay out after FDR sought and got his declaration against Japan – for a Japanese attack on us they bitterly rued – they would have gladly omitted to declare war on us.

    So, both in the Pacific and in the Atlantic, WW2 was an American war of choice, and the choice was all FDR’s.

    Why is anybody disputing all this at this late date, anyway? Who on earth still thinks the US was forced into WW2 to defend itself?

    Heck, I’m not sure anyone ever thought that!

  25. Gaius: That’s insane. If FDR had “provoked” a war, I suspect he would have found a way to do it that didn’t involve destroying most of his Pacific fleet at the outset.

    Who on earth still thinks the US was forced into WW2 to defend itself?

    Me and most historians.

    You’re falling into a common error of ideologues. You want everything to fit into a neat pattern, so you “edit” history to fit your ideology. This is a variation of elective ignorance.

    I hate people who do that.

    You’re banned. Goodbye.

  26. After reading the post and comment thread I started making a list of variables:
    –Bush encapsulated and self-absorbed using all means available to save face and legacy already beyond the point of no return;
    –Republic party desperately trying to cover their see-saw election prospects (likely in the hands of the Jihadis);
    –Religious right supporting the enemies of their enemy no matter what they have to choke down;
    –Old-Guard (veterans and famlies) in denial that their country is in the hands of exactly the kind of yahoos they have been preached to and warned about;
    –Neocons in survival mode–any means to an end (and I mean any!!);
    –Democratic party struggling to manage a divesity of views within the party while protecting their new found election viability and forced downward to lowest common denominators for political players;
    –Corporate (and military wannabes), the power and greed mongers portecting their economic/financial dominance;
    –Elected officials desperately trying not to let the tide rise above their heads buried up to their necks in the sands of a corrupted system;
    –24 hour media torn between idealogue owners and profit driven stock holders spewing any kind of filty and brianrot for ratings going compliant when it serves, barking and chirping when it serves;
    –American public (average Joe and Jolene) afraid and not knowing shit from shinola;

    What did I miss?

  27. Oops, my comment went into the wrong place.

    Supporting the troops has never been the right’s intent and it is becoming clear to the mainstream. I got linked to from Pajamas Media and I didn’t get one comment on my supporting the troops posts. I think the little people are starting to catch on that they have been following the wrong leader and realize that they and the troops are being led of a very steep cliff.

    And no. Geraldo doesn’t need to investigate.

  28. You cannot logically or honorably curse the war as an immoral neocon disaster . . . yet bless the troops who are waging it.

    Jacoby’s perverse rhetoric suggests if you curse the way a war was selected, crafted, and prosecuted by the civilian authority, you must also curse the troops to whom it falls to wage it. Hence, says Jacoby’s poisonous reasoning, it’s the troop’s fault if Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz – and you might as well throw in Colin Powell and most of Congress – sent them to fight and die under false pretenses and without a post-“mission accomplished” strategy.

    Here is the really, really important thing that we must not let the Jeff Jacobys in this country try to argue away — the circle we must not let them square: our military is under civilian authority for a very good reason. The men and women who fight our wars are not empowered to question the reasons for those wars. Once the mission is set, they carry it out, and short of a directly, specifically illegal order, there’s nothing they can do about the justice or wisdom or “immoral neocon disaster”ness of the mission. As civilians, we have an absolute moral responsibility to question the mission where our troops can’t. To hold their civilian leaders to the very highest standards of accountability when they send soldiers die on our behalf. We failed our troops by allowing the civilian authority to send them to Iraq without demanding a better accounting of why they were being sent and what they were going to do after Saddam was ousted. You cannot logically or honorably praise a war that civilians chose and prosecuted in the most inept possible manner and call that “supporting the troops.”

  29. Dude, Michael Moore is, like, so 5 years ago. Get with the times, Jacoby.

    Olbermann interviewed the leader of, who, when prompted to speculate as to why there was no outrage over the underfunded and in some cases inadequate medical treatment some Iraq vets are receiving (see Dana Priest’s recent WaPo articles), pointed out that, to many Americans, “supporting the troops” involves spending $2 on a yellow magnet for their SUV. Reading Jacoby’s article reminded me of that; I suspect he is of that brand of patriot, all outward appearance and no actual substance or advocacy.

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