Why are we talking about this (whatever “this” is)?

Who called who what names? Who hung up on who? Where and when did this and that happen?

I don’t know about anybody else, but the discussion on the blog over the last few days has held out the real possibility of exchanging some ideas about our occupation of Iraq, patriotism and who gets to claim it and on what grounds, the political goals of the CCVM/CCPM, etc. And while people have written things I found distasteful and inaccurate, much of it has been at least on point.

Some of it hasn’t, though, and that’s what I want to talk about now. I hope nobody disagrees with this point–that how we treat each other on the streets, how we talk about each other, etc, are all much less important than the big issues at stake–real life and death. Soldiers, contractors, and civilians are all dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people are convinced that Islamic fundamentalists are going to attack the US again. Some are convinced that we can’t rest safely until our current military objectives are achieved; some are convinced that we can’t achieve those missions, and in fact amplify the risks to ourselves and our friends (such as we have them anymore) around the world by staying in Iraq. There’s blood in the streets, and we’re arguing about phone calls? We’re arguing about who shot videos/photos of what? There are real issues and problems here–the pride (wounded and otherwise) of maybe a few hundred people in a Philadelphia suburb isn’t one of them. Jewish people have a term for what we’ve descended into: pilpul, which means (roughly) elaborate debates about trivia designed to show people how smart you are.

I don’t expect this call to be particularly heeded, but I figured I should make it anyway. At the very least, let’s keep some things in perspective:

(1) We (CCVM/CCPM) aren’t the important people. The people who are actually at risk of dying are. Doc, I know you’ll take this as validation of your earlier point about the Harvard study on troop morale, and we can talk more about that later. The study isn’t bogus, but it doesn’t say what you say it does.

(2) Nobody cares, or should really, about individual moments of stepping out of line as long as nobody really gets hurt. Sometimes people do and say things they shouldn’t. Duh. With that said, I do believe that the Sheepdogs have adopted a strategy of trying to provoke CCPM members to do/say things we ordinarily wouldn’t. Congrats, it’s worked a few times. Given the nastiness of some of what your group says about us and our members, you probably don’t think your members have ever stepped out of line, so I won’t expect a similar acknowledgment.

(3) As much as the peacemaker in me would love to see this “debate” between Doc and John Grant (and whoever else they could get to participate) materialize, I still don’t see the point. Nobody who’s committed to one side or the other is going anywhere. Doc has said that CCPM is operating without enough information, but he doesn’t seem to understand that we all read, listen, watch, research a great deal. Sure, he might have inside (classified?) info we don’t, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t share that with us anyway or he probably would have. And he’s obviously not changing his mind again either. If Doc hadn’t already established that he “hates” us, maybe this would be different, but there’s not much good to come from inviting somebody who hates you to yell (metaphorically, that is) at you about why you’re wrong. I’m sure you can understand why we’d be suspicious of anything you have to say. I’m also sure you’ll say something like, “Of course you’re suspicious of anything that challenges your [fill in the blank with something evil] worldview.” That’s hogwash, and you know it.

(4) The “sides” here are more complex than many of us seem to think. Supporting “the troops” assumes that all “the troops” agree on the rightness of what they’re doing. They don’t. Supporting “terrorists” assumes that all “terrorists” want the same thing. They don’t. Our group (CCPM) is comprised of Democrats, Republicans, Greens, pacifists, soldiers/vets, and so on–all over the political and socio-economic spectrum. I don’t know any of the CCVM folks personally, so I don’t know how true that is for them; all I know is that Skye is a registered Democrat. Interesting as far as it goes, but that’s not very far. My point is that there’s real, deep disagreement among people who are smart and otherwise (generally) reasonable, and we’d all do well to remember that the people behind the signs and slogans are still people.

Life and death, folks. Let’s keep an eye on that, OK?

ADDED FRI EVENING: A point of clarification.  My agenda in this post isn’t to shut down discussion.  It’s to raise the level of the discussion, to get us out of accusations of “liar” and the like because one person remembers something differently from the other.  That doesn’t help resolve anything, nor does it advance anybody’s understand of the issues.  It just irritates everybody.

Also, I realize perfectly well that I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know in referring to “life and death.”  That’s a reminder, not a preachy comment.

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3 Responses to Why are we talking about this (whatever “this” is)?

  1. armyanimaldoc says:

    I’m not stating that John is correct or lying about who put him on the phone and why. I’ll reiterate what I was asserting, which is only what I know as fact. Rich called ME, not Skye, and told me with John in the background that John wanted to talk to me about the incident with his friend calling me a “baby killer”. I didn’t know John from Adam that I should have wanted to initiate a conversation. What I also know is that John immediately went into a defense of his friend and asked me nothing about the event. He TOLD me what his friend told him. I could have just as easily put John on the phone with my 7-year-old daughter and asked her to recant the words and events of the day and how they impacted her, but that’s not for me to further burden a 7-year-old with. It was bad enough to have exposed her to that. Whether John felt that his friend owed some kind of apology for his malicious behavior is not the full point – he didn’t even listen to the story. I got one word out that John actually heard me say, which is the word I won’t repeat on here. Now I posted on the other thread the willingness to meet with John, et al. If you decline that, Seth, you’re basically copping out of what should be your goal as a peacenik, which would be to bring about a greater understanding between Americans, first and foremost.

  2. sethkahn says:

    You called him a liar, Doc. How much more of an accusation of lying could it be?

    And I like your strategy in posing my disinterest in hosting a debate as a “cop out.” That’s rich. Here’s why it’s not an abdication of my peacenik impulse not to arrange this–

    1. You haven’t made any friends in CCPM based on the way you’ve spoken to me and others on this blog, and on the Sheepdogs website. It shouldn’t be hard for you to understand, regardless of what “data” you might have, why we wouldn’t be lining up to hear you talk about it. Or to put it in terms of persuasion, your tone (which has been at times belligerent and at times incredibly paternalistic) has probably lost our membership as a potential audience for you.

    2. We’ve heard from Iraq vets and others who have visited on fact-finding and humanitarian missions. In other words, you’re not the only person who has “inside information.” And for the record, some of those folks have told us things you probably think we wouldn’t want to hear. We heard them. We understand that conditions in Iraq (and Afghanistan, for that matter) are very complicated. You (CCVM and the Sheepdogs, not you personally) are the ones who keep telling us we’re oversimplifying the issues, but that’s just wrong. I have acknowledged, several times, that you know things we don’t. But you refuse to acknowledge that we know things you don’t.

    3. The rhetoric of “greater understanding” sounds nice, as far as it goes, but unfortunately all the “greater understandings” we’ve gotten from supporters of the occupation of Iraq have proven to be sketchy at best. We’ve been hearing for nearly 6 years now that the administration has had “intelligence” and “data” that supported their claims, and those have routinely proven to be false. Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN? All wrong. Donald Rumsfeld’s “We know where the WMDs are?” Wrong. Saddam’s operational ties to al-Qaeda? All wrong. And on and on and on. I have no idea what specific information you’d be willing to share, but again under the circumstances, you have to understand why we’d be skeptical.

    4. You used the term “ambush” on another thread. You clearly disagree with me about this, but again from CCPM’s point of view, the last 8 months have been nothing but an ambush. This, to me, feels like another instance of accusing your opposition of doing what you do, to deflect attention from the fact that you’re doing it. Mea culpa if I’m wrong about that, but I want you to understand where I’m coming from.

    With that said, I will certainly let the group know that you’ve made yourself available for some kind of event, given a reasonable set of ground rules. I’m not even particularly inclined to advocate for it, but it’s worth asking.

  3. armyanimaldoc says:

    Yes, the people “at risk of dying” are the important ones. I was one of those – not you nor any OF YOU. I’ve volunteered to be “at risk” again. I am at much at risk in my every day job now (exposed to BSL 3 and 4 agents) and before Iraq (chem agents) as those in Iraq.

    Where’s the proof from these other folks about their humanitarian missions? I’ll get anyone who has been on a PRT or embedded PRT (provincial reconstruction team) with the military/State Department to testify and prove what they’ve done, not to mention Civil Affairs. You don’t talk with them and you don’t want to listen to them. That is clear.

    The Harvard study stated that violence not only went up a statistically significant and consistent 7-10% whenever the media and/or Congress dissented against the war, but it also shifted (by even greater percentage) from violence toward Iraqi Army and Police to U.S. and coalition casualties and deaths. That’s what it said.

    Saddam’s operational (financial, training, materiel) support for al Qaeda has been researched and investigated even more thoroughly since the war and verified as true, to include his funding/training of Abu Saef in the Philippines, training/harboring of al Qaeda in Salman Pak region of Baghdad, PAYMENT OF PALESTINIANS $25-50K TO KILL ISRAELIS and yes Americans, etc. We don’t know where ALL the WMDs are, no. But Saddam killed tens to hundreds of thousands with them, had the capability to ramp back up in a matter of weeks, and Senator Santorum declassified the weapons we DID find in the hundreds, each round of which (VX, sulfur mustard) is capable of killing hundreds to thousands. Insignificant? Only to someone who doesn’t know the capacity, chemistry, and toxicity of those weapons. Ya don’t.

    Enumeration by bulleted paragraphs may be a nice high school writing convention for you, but it doesn’t actually strengthen a single one of your claims. John’s “buddy” called me a “baby killer”. Calling John a liar (or at least someone who is lyING) for stating it never happened and then claiming he even let me get a single word in edgewise over the phone is fact.

    Face me in a civil debate/discussion on the issues. You can’t preach greater understanding of the real enemy when you can’t get together with your own countrymen. You dodge the potential for discussion at every point and on almost every thread I’ve posted on. To the view of the outsider, you look like a coward AND a hypocrite if you don’t, or at least throw up smokescreens trying to legitimize your lack of tolerance as one who preaches it. LMFAO.

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