Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Swarthmore values

Sam Sussman and Lorand Laskai (Daily Swarthmore) grab the mop to try to wipe away the blood:

At last week’s Senior Speak-Off, the annual contest to choose a student Commencement speaker, one Swarthmore student took the initiative to inform students of an ostensibly egregious ethical decision recently made by Swarthmore College: to grant former Bush administration official and World Bank President Robert Zoellick ’75 an honorary degree at this June’s graduation. Calling Zoellick an “architect of the Iraq War,” and a “war criminal” who did not share “Swarthmore values,” the student joined others in calling for seniors to take action against Zoellick’s graduation appearance in the name of the Iraq War dead. This week, a Facebook event, which also refers to Zoellick as “one of the major architects and strongest proponents of the Iraq war,” was created to discuss how students might do so.

In the comments, the speaker the two are writing about responds including:

The link between Zoellick and the war is sound. To call him an “architect” was a rhetorical choice that I regret, but you two are also overstating your case to say that “he had nothing to do with” the war. In an earlier draft of my speech, I laid out the premises on which I linked him to the war–the Project for a New American Century letter, and his role as foreign policy adviser–but this version came out to 5 minutes. I prefaced my speech by stating that I would be happy to discuss the rationale on which I linked him to the war, which I have been doing sense.

He is correct in his assertion.  Sussman and Laskai may be upset that Zoellick is being protested and they may claim he's really got nothing to do with the Iraq War but the public record doesn't back that up.  IPS' Right Web notes:

Zoellick was a supporter of the early campaigns of the Project for the New American CenturyRobert Kagan that played a prominent role promoting the invasion of Iraq. Zoellick signed two PNAC open letters urging the ouster of Saddam Hussein as part of larger effort to reshape the Middle East geopolitical landscape (see Right Web, “A Complete List of PNAC Signatories”). (PNAC), a letterhead group founded in the late 1990s by Kristol and

 While I will back the speaker up on that, the speaker was also wrong.  He stated that Zoellick didn't share "Swarthmore values."  That is incorrect.  That is flat out wrong.  For example, late yesterday evening Dominic Tierney was salivating over counterinsurgency at The Atlantic where he lamented that "The U.S. military is shifting its training and focus away from Iraq-style counter-insurgency toward conventional war against enemy countries."  Counterinsurgency.  He is an associate professor (of political science) at Swarthmore.  Those are the values of that college.  You may have been misled as to what it really stood for but there it is, it stands for war on a native people.

Let's again note the reality Eliot Cohen provided in last week's Foreign Policy's roundtable on counterinsurgency:

The first thing is just to remind us all, counterinsurgency is a kind of military operation. There's an American style to counterinsurgency; there was a German style to counterinsurgency; there's a Soviet or Russian style to counterinsurgency. It's just a kind of operation that militaries do, and I think particularly in the popular discussion there's this tendency to call counterinsurgency the kind of stuff that's in the manual.
[. . .]
And finally, having played a very modest role in helping get the COIN manual launched, I've got two big reservations about it. Actually three. One is a technical one, which is it underestimated the killing part of counterinsurgency and particularly what Stan McChrystal and his merry men were doing [with special operations]. I think that is a large part of our counterinsurgency success. We killed a lot of the people who needed to be killed, or captured them, and that's not something you want to talk about. You'd rather talk about building power plants and stuff, but the killing part was really important, and I think we have to wrestle with that one because it's obviously problematic.

Those are the (honest) words of a supporter of counter-insurgency.  The killing part.  It gets glossed over by many less honest people but that is the goal.

Tierney is a piece of trash on a mission to make war popular and beloved.  He's also a damn fool for other reasons as well including his inability to grasp reality.

“In nation-building missions, the fact that electricity production is up or unemployment is down is rarely reported, but dramatic events like bombings are front-page news,” he says. “It’s easy to turn on CNN, see that ten Iraqis died, and get the impression that the whole country is lawless and the insurgency is dominating.”

What a stupid moron.  In Iraq the electricity production was never anything to brag about -- to this day.  Nor is the unemployment anything to brag about.  What an idiot or liar.  He made those stupid comments to College News in November 2005.  

What I find most interesting about Dominic Tierney's work is that he's been advocating for war and on behalf of war forever and yet he didn't serve.  He never served.  Seems if war is so wonderful and you're forever thinking up ways to sell it and fretting that the Iraq War might prevent future wars for even a brief second, seems if you're that attracted to it, you'd enlist.

Maybe he's got a malady?  Maybe he's flat-footed?  Who knows?  I guess those who can serve and those who cower just plot ways to make others serve in combat.  Swarthmore values.

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh,  The Diane Rehm Show, Cindy Sheehan, Jody Watley,  and Ms. magazine's blog -- updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq