A roundtable between Jay DeFrank, Greg Stene, Denny Wilkins and myself.
It begins with Matt Taibbi’s column in New York Press.com this morning: “Cleaning the Pool: The White House Press Corps politely grabs its ankles.” You really need to read this first.
So Dr. Denny Wilkins, our friend and colleague at St. Bonaventure University (no connection to the basketball program, by the way), sends the column along, and it touches off a little exchange involving him, Greg Stene, Col. Jay DeFrank (that’s Dr. Col. DeFrank, actually, Director of Press Operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs – in layman’s terms, that makes him director of Media Relations for the Dept. of Defense), and myself. I’ve collated these e-mails into what I hope will be a semi-coherent blog.
Greg: Truly an excellent piece. Representing reality as it is, unfortunately. Read more
Sometimes the important stuff goes down via e-mail. Greg Stene and I have been having a pretty good back forth over the pending war, and what you have below is one of the e-mail exchanges. I apologize that things are picking up in medias res, but you can sort of infer what has been said by who and when.
Sam: Apologies, in advance, for the forthcoming rant. No offense intended, despite the strident issues I take with your argument.
I think you are dead right about the value of force as a tool of diplomacy. But I think, as I have noted, that this case [Iraq] simply doesn’t meet the criteria. It doesn’t address the stated issues at all, period. Read more
Anybody who knows me knows I’m not an anti-war type by design. As noted in my earlier piece, while war is a Bad Thing©, it is also occasionally necessary (see also, Harbor, Pearl).
I do not, however, agree that the current “Showdown with Saddam” (“Hoedown with Hussein”?) presents us with a satisfactory case for the application of those principles. My friend Greg Stene has articulated a rationale for the coming war, and while I could go line by line through his analysis, ultimately there is one passage that seems the center of the argument:
We will induce fear in the leaders of other countries who harbor terrorists. And we will gain the implied right of our country to invade and special-op any country or leader who harbors them.
The problem with this is that so far we have no evidence suggesting that Iraq is harboring, hosting, helping, or nurturing al Qaeda. Read more
The following is reconstructed out of a running e-mail discussion I had with Greg Stene (my old roommate) the other day.
Smith: I’ve been thinking about the question of freedom versus security a bit lately. 9.11 is obviously the impetus for a lot of what drives my pondering, but the fact is that 9.11 really has only coalesced and sped-up the dynamics that were already in place.
In short, are personal freedom and security mutually exclusive? In the last year we’ve heard it suggested time and again that Americans might have to give up some of the freedoms they have come to take for granted (at this point we have to ask people to think about the differences between actual freedoms and mere conveniences), and at a glance it does seem that privacy/freedom and personal/national security are on opposite ends of a continuum. Read more