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The Patriot vs. The Chickenhawk:
On C-SPAN today
Ellsberg faced off with William Kristol
over the war in what was probably the most seriously considered discussion
I've seen broadcast about the proper and practical exercise of America's position
in the world. It's archived on CPSAN's website and would be well worth watching.
A few comments on Kristol's defense of the administration:
I find it odd that Kristol could not have been aware, being a student of
US foreign policy, of the two CIA coups in Iraq (when Ellsberg noted them
Kristol responded - quoting from memory - "Really? [DE affirms] The Kennedy administration organized that? Interesting..."). Considering the relevancy it has to the present debate and that fact
that it ain't some kind of big secret you would expect
him to be aware of past US policy in the region, particularly given that
these kinds of details can so easily be used in arguments justifying
further meddling in the affairs of other nations with the "fixing past mistakes" canard.
Having been in office during the first Bush administration and having
seen how deeply flawed decisions in conflict have been made by
Washington (neo-cons, including Kristol, were on the right side of the argument if
not the particulars about the Shi'ite uprisings in 1991, though they crouch it in terms of "having to march to Baghdad", and Kristol's counterarguments that for the use of force to be applied "we would have had to go all the way" is a pathetic defense in light of the fact that we were already using force to ground all other Iraqi airforce but the gunships), and knowing how such decisions
stem greatly from the many unknowable and hidden risks inherent
in exercising the military option, I find it disingenous of Kristol to be so ready to discount
those risks in favor of an invasion. Ellsberg made clear points to that effect that
Kristol didn't address.
Otherwise the discussion revolved around the liberation argument largely
because this is where hawks have the strongest footing and where the two sides
of this debate actually have a some common ground.
Kristol pretty much evaded or left unaddressed the other deep seated justifications
for this war among conservatives that stem from a worldview that American power
must not only be preserved, but expanded. He danced away from trying to
justify that, but the conviction was clearly present.
Finally, Kristol defended the idea that a
rigorous debate had taken place,
which was a debatable position. Shortly after making that statement
he disclosed that he was an employee of FOX news, which begged the question
of which network putting the Ellsbergs of this debate on the dole.