Responses to Critics: Open Thread
I don’t want to give the impression that I am unduly interested in the cottage industry that has grown up on the US Right of, let us say, severely critiquing my work. It comes with the territory that if you become a public figure, you get attacked. In fact, even very, very minor status as a public figure opens you to having virtually anything said about you with impunity, including that you have been impregnated by green Martians. In my world, of academia, people are usually good about going to the source and double-checking assertions, so these National Enquirer type pieces don’t have, I think, much purchase there. But some kind readers have suggested that I ought to do a point by point reply to critics just so the record is straight somewhere. But the scribblers for hire are legion and who has time?
I’m going to set this entry up as a place for kind readers who would do me the favor of going through the various Rightwing rap sheets on me, beginning with Frontpagerag, and see if they can refute them point by point from my weblog. It should be almost as entertaining as the puzzles in the DaVinci Code. I don’t have time to spend on that sort of thing myself, but I would have time to put the final results up somewhere as a reference page.
Here’s one for the books. Michael Rubin charges that I said that the American Jewish community wanted to make US troops gurkhas for Israel. Here is what I actually said:
‘ Here is my take on the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal in the Pentagon.
It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the United States, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member of the group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals concluded that 9/11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon as Israel’s Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv (not wars that really needed to be fought, but wars that the Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to increase Israel’s ability to annex land and act aggressively, especially if someone else’s boys did the dying). ‘
One of the sleazy tricks of the Revisionist Zionists is to try to make specific statements about specific persons seem as though they are generalized bigotry. Thus, I was complaining about the small rightwing group that produce “A Clean Break,” naming David Wurmser. Rubin transforms this fairly obvious specific analysis, claiming that I generalized it to prominent American Jewish leaders, which is not exactly the same as what I said. David Wurmser is a prominent Jewish leader? In fact, of course, nearly half of American Jews opposed the Iraq War at a time when it had a 75 percent approval rating among the general US public. What looks like a critique of a statement of mine by Rubin turns out to be a complete misquotation and smear.
One of the odd little arrows in the quiver of my critics is that I said that chemical weapons are more properly characterized as battlefield weapons than as “weapons of mass destruction.” One of my concerns in saying this is that chemical weapons are in fact difficult to deliver in an attack on another country. I think sweeping them up into “weapons of mass destruction” gives the wrong impression and becomes a blank check for an attack by warmongers on any country that possesses even a small stockpile of them.
My categorization of them as battlefield weapons is not in fact controversial. I’ve read enough military history and seen enough interviews with generals and experts to know that. Here is just one piece of confirmatory evidence, from an expert in the field in an NPR article.
Kind readers who have other such evidence for this point of view are invited to post it.
National Public Radio (NPR)
SHOW: Talk of the Nation 1500-1600 PM
May 8, 2006 Monday
LENGTH: 5971 words
HEADLINE: A History of Chemical Weapons
ANCHORS: NEAL CONAN
NEAL CONAN, host . . .
Mr. TUCKER: Yeah, I think it’s important to distinguish between tactical weapons and strategic weapons. Chemical weapons were really designed for battlefield use. They–very large quantities are required to cover these–the size of a city. So they are not really contemplated as strategic weapons the way nuclear weapons would be used against entire cities. So perhaps there is some distinction there. Whether chemical weapons should be called weapons of mass destruction is somewhat debatable. They are really more tactical or battlefield weapons. . . ‘
Here is the guest’s bio:
Mr. JONATHAN TUCKER (Author, War of Nerves; Senior Fellow, Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute)