In the Arena

Bill Kristol Meet Glenn Greenwald

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I’d missed this. Bill Kristol is obviously peeved that I used the word “trashed” to describe the piece run by the Weekly Standard and written by Vets For Freedom, a conservative pro-Iraq group. Too bad. This article was run as a response to the seven enlisted men who courageously took on the official line about the dependability of the Iraqi Army on the New York Times op-ed page. The tone was respectful, but the intent was clear: to question the validity of the enlisted men’s op-ed–where I come from, that’s an attempt to trash.

And a pathetic attempt it was. The best they could come up with, the–inaccurate–observation that the enlisted men were stationed in neighborhoods, Adhamiya and Sadr City, where the surge hadn’t taken hold yet. And yet, Adhamiya, the one remaining militant Shi’ite neighborhood on the east bank of the Tigris, has been a focus of surge operations since February (and a very successful one, according to General Petraeus). The surge hasn’t reached Sadr City because Sadr City is successfully and placidly patrolled by the Mahdi Army, which controls much of the rest of Baghdad. According to soldiers I spoke with in Baghdad, the Mahdi Army has a major presence in the local Iraqi Security Forces, especially the local police, which was precisely the point that the seven enlisted men were making. Kristol’s recent Iraq tub-thumping–the constant repitition of the word Anbar, the tendency to mistake ethnic cleansing for “success” in Baghdad neighborhoods–is pretty crude stuff. The surge has successfully, and happily, disrupted jihadi bomb-supply lines into Baghdad. But Anbar and ethnic cleansing were happening anyway. If that opinion constitutes “jumping the shark,” then Kristol believes most of Petraeus’s staff has gone looney, too.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald is after me again. What a lawyer this boy is! His work has nothing to do with journalism; it’s all about building his myopic case. To read him, about me, you’d think that I was some kind of frothing nut exclusively and constantly attacking liberals. Swampland readers, like Bill Kristol, know that this is not the case, that Greenwald is engaging in crude Big Lie propaganda.
In any case, I remain convinced that the MoveOn “Betrayus” ad was not only deeply stupid and an unconscionable slur against an honorable man, but also potentially very damaging to Democratic candidates running across the country–they’ll now be tarred with the awful ad. If you don’t believe me, read next week’s Weekly Standard.