“Fuck War”

I don’t read Wonkette much, but this sign-off post by 23 year-old Riley Waggaman announcing the ending of his tenure as an author there is one of the most principled pieces of writing I’ve read in just about any corner of the internet. Here are some excerpts:

  • I’m twenty-three. Can anyone even begin to count how many countries we’ve flattened, for Freedom, since 1987? I’m twenty-three, and for my entire life, all I’ve known is war.
  • The fact that the headline of every major newspaper on May 2 wasn’t “Alright. Time For Us To Go The Fuck Home!” is the only reason you need to distrust American Journalism.

Also, I apologize for everything I’ve ever said or written. Except for this:

Fuck War.

I’m twenty-three, and I’m pretty dumb, all things considered. But also:

Fuck War.

I’m a crappy friend, a terrible son and a lousy brother.

The least I can do is say Fuck War.

Anyway, getting back to that revolution, in your head. The revolution has already happened for me. It was nonviolent, and didn’t involve the CIA. My new country is called the Democratic Republic of Rileyland. We’ve got a lot of problems, here in Rileyland. It’s not a very wealthy place, for starters. We have a very large deficit: We owe Sallie Mae a shit-ton of money. But the Democratic Republic of Rileyland does not tolerate endless war. We don’t travel around the world, curb-stomping brown people. Our citizens know better than that. The Democratic Republic of Rileyland has many, many problems — but it is, thankfully, a nation of Peace. And Hope. And Change. (You need Peace if you want those two other things, “Hope” and “Change,” by the way.)

There’s an election coming up in Rileyland. The pundits say I’ll be reelected, and not because I shot some guy in the face.

Atrios responds:

I’m not sure exactly when I started seeing myself as a pacifist. It’s one of those words which to Very Serious People means “you like it when the bully punches you in the face don’t you dirty fucking hippie!” But what I’ve learned over the increasingly many years of my life is that the existence of just about any war in which the US is involved means that the Very Serious People, with all the power they have, fucked up completely. Even if that war is, in some sense, “necessary,” it still means that the people who run this place screwed up and at the very least should resign in shame before sending people off to kill and be killed. But they don’t. They go on Meet the Press to talk about how awesome they are.

I’m probably fairly close to where Duncan is when push comes to shove though I don’t see myself as a pacifist;  I’m right there with him when it comes to recognizing that something has really gone wrong. And it’s incredibly satisfying to see a young author have such moral clarity, in spite of spending his entire teenage and adult years living in a country that was and is at war.

Haley Barbour: Reduce troops in Afghanistan

Originally posted at AMERICAblog Elections: The Right’s Field

David Dayen finds something you won’t see every day: a conservative Republican expressing doubt about the US mission in Afghanistan. In this case, it’s Haley Barbour:

(Barbour) also said that the U.S. should consider reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan. “I think we need to look at that,” he said when asked if the U.S. should scale back its presence.

But he said his reasoning isn’t financial.

“What is our mission?” Barbour said. “How many Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. … Is that a 100,000-man Army mission?”

“I don’t think our mission should be to think we’re going to make Afghanistan an Ireland or an Italy” or a Western-style democracy, he said.

Mike Huckabee recently said Haley Barbour was “possibly the most brilliant political mind in America.” I found that assessment of someone with a sketchy history of statements and positions on race to be laughable. But it’s hard not to respect what Barbour is doing now. Barbour is breaking with Republican orthodoxy and in so doing creating contrast between himself and his primary opponents. The break isn’t as dramatic as you’d think in an environment where despite two-thirds of America wanting to end the war, it’s been escalated by a Democratic President. Add in that Huckabee himself expressed doubts last month about how we get out of Afghanistan and Barbour’s position is slightly less remarkable. That said, calling for an exit from Afghanistan is a popular position in America that is not often stated by politicians who wear a “D” after their name. We’ll see how much Afghanistan becomes an issue in the 2012 Republican primary. I’d be somewhat surprised if either Barbour or Huckabee push their chips in on ending war their base has cheered for nearly a decade.

Our Lives & Probably Our Kids’ Lives

General David Petraeus, as quoted in a book by Bob Woodward, being released in fall 2010:

Woodward quotes Petraeus as saying, “You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It’s a little bit like Iraq, actually. . . . Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

Hunter S. Thompson, September 12th, 2001:

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

The continued prescience of Thompson’s quote the morning after 9/11 continues to shock and depress me.

At War

Reading Glenn Greenwald’s latest posts on the war in Afghanistan and the bizarre place the rule of law currently stands in America (viz. no longer existing in a meaningful form), I can’t help but think that Hunter S. Thompson was 100% right and utterly prescient when he wrote this on the morning of September 12th, 2001 on ESPN.com:

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It’s truly saddening that Thompson continues to be proved right, day in and day out, five years beyond the end of his life.

McChrystal vs Obama

While I agree with Chris Bowers that Gen. Stanley McChrystal cannot be afforded any special treatment because he is a General when it comes to disrespecting and undermining his superiors, I also agree with Jim White that McChrystal should be getting called back to Washington to undergo a serious re-evaluation of our policies in Afghanistan and ending the war. Of course, I don’t expect McChrystal to neither be fired nor be commanded to fundamentally change our presence in Afghanistan.

As an interesting counterfactual, I wonder what would happen if Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden’s chief economic adviser and a real progressive, went to the press with complaints about the feckless economic policies the administration has pursued, eschewing job creation and stimulus spending in favor of deficit hawk rhetoric. I can’t imagine there would be any other resolution than him being fired. But we’ll see what happens with McChrystal.