Barbara SlavinDuring the second, international hour, in the course of a discussion about the murky situation in Syria's bloody civil war, Barbara Slavin adopted an armchair warrior standpoint as she advocated for a menu of American military strike options in response to a (yet unproven) chemical weapons strike against civilians allegedly by the Assad government forces. The other two panel members seamlessly continued this conversation without challenging Slavin.
I sent them the following email:
Your casual and uncritical discussion about various military strike options against Syria presumes (1) that the US is entitled to be an international policeman, and that (2) US intervention would be somehow a positive thing. One does not have to be an apologist for the Assad regime to argue against the projection of US military power abroad, nor to question he selectivity of its application based on US financial and political interests - not to be confused with the interests of Americans in general. You need to take a closer look at your own American exceptionalism or quit passing yourselves off as "objective journalists" instead of the stenographers of power.
US Army (Retired)
When the phones were opened, I was first in the batter's box, but... with the last 15 seconds of my comments left out, i.e.,
Your casual and uncritical discussion about various military strike options against Syria presumes that the US is entitled to be an international policeman, and that US intervention would be somehow a positive thing. One does not have to be an apologist for the Assad regime to argue against the projection of US military power abroad.
Slavin responded that she found it strange to be accused of being a hawk because she had opposed the Iraq war, and that certain moral considerations made the use of force necessary, etc.
In other words, she did not respond to a single thing I wrote, even after the note was cut in half.
I replied by email:
I didn't call anyone a "hawk," as you suggested after you eliminated the conclusive portion of my comment. I accused you of American exceptionalism, which you are still demonstrating. You have proven to me that you are incapable of basic honesty. Many happy returns on your careers. Guess I'll have to blog about this one.
So here I am. Yes, I was a little curt, but misrepresentation is misrepresentation. And I'll admit that I am easily irritated when I hear the way pundits have adopted the bloodless military-speak of the Pentagon when they talk about "military options." Surgical strike... (my ass) It's not surgery. It's bombing. And there are people under the bombs.
The reason I sent the email was to point out what Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, in the unfolding Snowden affair, have been saying for weeks now, that so-called journalists from the United States frequently behave as if they were government lawyers. I wasn't debating whether the US ought to attack Syria; I stated two premises that should be examined. Anyone who knows me knows that I oppose any US military action abroad, ever, and there is no debate, because the people who disagree with me begin, as I do with them, using incommensurable premises. It becomes an insoluble argument...
That is precisely why I pointed to American exceptionalism, because that is the basis of this incommensurability.
While I am a Christian pacifist, that was not the standpoint I was adopting in this case. Christian pacifism certainly demands that I make peace where I can, but as I understand it, it does not make me the world's policeman any more than my nation of origin behaves as if it is. Gospel-based pacifism demands that I (and my sisters and brothers) figure out how to be non-violent in a violent world, not that we behave as if we can determine the history of that world (this is the most sly form of the constantinian temptation - but that's another post).