My Thoughts on DADT: On Andrea Mitchell Reports


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Yesterday on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, I had a discussion with Washington NBC Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker on the implications and political context for the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal.
— Steve Clemons


15 comments on “My Thoughts on DADT: On Andrea Mitchell Reports

  1. nadine says:

    “Here is where you completely lose me. Why did the concerns of
    terrified American allies over our decision to invade Iraq not matter
    back then? Why did the inevitability that it would strengthen Iran’s
    hand and how that would affect the Sunnis not factor into the
    decision to invade? ” (dsc)
    First, I don’t know what those American allies said privately, since we don’t have Wikileaks cables for the period. If Wikileaks has shown anything, it’s that the private messages of Arab regimes are often totally at odds with their public pronouncements.
    However, since America was bearing all the costs for keeping Saddam in his failing “box”, it makes sense that American allies would be reluctant to see the situation change; though if they privately agreed that the current situation was untenable, their private advice would likely be different. Don’t know.
    Second, American interests are naturally balanced against the wishes of allies. As we see today, the Obama administration has ignored the wishes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt et. al. in doggedly chasing their (wrong-headed) objective of getting the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate and sign some deal.
    Third, the ‘inevitability’ of the Iraq invasion strengthening Iran is the conventional wisdom in hindsight, but it was not anticipated beforehand. The Bush administration judged that a successful Iraq invasion would cow Iran and make it afraid to export Islamist revolution all over the the Middle East. I think you can make a very case for arguing that the result was not due to the Iraq invasion per se, but the Bush administration’s mistakes in planning and executing the invasion and occupation. People will certainly be arguing over the point for the next fifty years.


  2. nadine says:

    “Nadine, I’ve known many Muslims who are the most peaceful, loving people you would ever want to meet.” (dsc)
    Absolutely. But how does that bear on the main question? Ans: not at all, unfortunately.
    “They came here to escape persecution from radicals trying to hijack their religion. ”
    Exactly. The radicals are winning back home. The moderates are running away. I would much prefer a situation where the moderates could stand up for moderation and democracy back home, but unfortunately, it doesn’t exist in the Muslim Middle East except in fragile forms in a few spots here and there.
    “By the same token, I’ve known Christians and Orthodox Jews who’s fundamentalist views bear a striking resemblance to the aforementioned radicals”
    How many of the Christians and Jews sanctify mass murder as a virtue guaranteeing instant admission to Heaven? Lefties get tripped up over the most obvious of distinctions because they cannot admit to themselves that not all religions are alike.
    “No one is naive about the intent of radicals.”
    On the contrary, nothing could be more naive than the fashionable Beltway stance of denying that radicals are truly, ideologically radical, not just adopting a pose out of pique that they could easily and cheaply be bought out of.
    “What is up for debate is how best to deal with the problem. I prefer the ‘speak softly but carry a big stick’ approach. ”
    Not bad. But Steve Clemons prefers the ‘speak softly and send tribute’ approach.
    “All bombastic bluster from the neo-cons didn’t help anyone but their pocketbooks. ”
    Bluster per se doesn’t help. BUT bluster backed by credible threats does work. When we looked the most serious, Syria left Lebanon and the March 14 democrats were in ascendence. When we wavered, Hizbullah and Syria seized the advantage again.
    There is simply no getting away from reality: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas mean business, and if we mean to oppose them we must mean business too. (At least Saddam is no longer around to be on the list.)
    America under Obama doesn’t mean business. America under Obama wastes years pounding its head in obvious cul de sacs instead of supporting its allies. You can see all over the Wikileaks cables how terrified American allies are of what could happen if America really decides to abandon American protection of its allies — and the Sunni Arab regimes are more threatened than Israel.


  3. nadine says:

    “Blame the right. They’ve turned Muslim-hating and baiting into a way of life. Someone has to stand counter to that. It’s the American way.” (dsc)
    Oh really? Care to supply concrete examples?
    It seems to me that President Bush, for example, went so far out of his way NOT to hate or bait Muslims that he prevented himself from correctly naming the ideology we are fighting against, calling it a “war against terror” – when terror is neither a nation nor an ideology, but just a tactic.
    It just happens that the ideology we are fighting against has a name and description – violent radical Islamism, almost always of the Salafi or Deobandi schools of thought – that is inextricably tied up with Islam. It does not comprise the whole of it, or even the majority opinion, but neither is it a fringe movement; it has wide support. That is not the invention of the Right. It is just the unpleasant reality. Cf. the latest Pew Poll on Global Attitudes
    As for Steve Clemons’ profound bias against Israel – which I agree is based on views fashionable inside the Beltway – Barry Rubin explains it well:
    “Some of my readers are always bothered when I say that mistakes in Western Middle East policy are caused by stupidity and ignorance


  4. nadine says:

    Bill Pearlman, Steve Clemons is ideologically committed to the view that Islamist radicals aren’t really radical: they are only offended by American policy. So the recommendation is to “engage” with Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, etc, which, Clemons promises, will make all these actors change from radical to moderate. In the meantime we should send them money, using whatever cover story necessary, because everybody knows that poverty causes terrorism. This policy is laughably called “realism”.
    That it doesn’t work, has never worked, and will never work, is not any hindrance to its being recommended over and over and over. Every time it doesn’t work, Israeli intransigence is blamed, no matter how far-fetched the logic required. It’s not as if there were a logical connection between Hamas and Hizbullah’s open espousal of the destruction of Israel and genocide against the Jews world-wide, and somebody building a new kindergarten in Maale Adumim. (But the effort to supply supply rational-sounding reasons for Hamas’ religious-based hatred of Israel and the Jews keeps a well-paid industry of pro-Pal activists and NGOs busy. Western main-stream media also make sure that reports of Hamas’ radicalism are suppressed or downplayed, to make Israeli actions look more heavy-handed and unreasonable than they are.)
    George Orwell had this thought process nailed in 1946: “The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.” From Orwell’s essay “In Front of Your Nose”


  5. rc says:

    … and now for something completely different …
    In his Christmas homily, Pope Benedict said: “We are grateful that God gives himself into our hands as a child, begging as it were for our love, implanting his peace in our hearts.
    But this joy is also a prayer: Lord, make your promise come fully true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end.”
    He added: “Help us to live together with you as brothers and sisters, so as to become one family, your family.”
    –end quote–
    Not sure what he’s been smoking, but now back in the real world … what’s he done about saving these ‘little ones’ from the fiddling fingers of his ‘captains of ministry’?
    Nice words, but I’d be more impressed if there were a few of his pedophiliac bishops in the brig. Mind you, if they could just marry and vent their earthly urges in natural ways (and gays’ ways if that is their bent) then there may be less of Rome’s fingers in little private places!
    Now, talking about Privates … what does he mean by “oppressors” exactly? Manning? Washington? Gito Bay? Settlements? Foreclosures?
    In ‘God We Trust’ … hmmmm? Look’n for that evidence? Me too …


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Something I’m kind of curious about. Steve Clemons is gay. In Israel he’d be ok. In any one of the arab countries he is a dead man. Yet his hatred of Israel takes precedence. What’s the reasoning behind that?”
    Wave of ethnic rage worries Israeli PM, activists
    By Steve Weizman (AFP)


  7. rc says:

    Don’t go, don’t kill!
    The repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell for gays in the US military is not a positive step for equality, activist says.
    Cindy Sheehan


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Yet his hatred of Israel takes precedence”
    You read stuff like this, and you come to realize what pieces of shit a huge portion of the pro-Israeli internet trolls, like Pearlman, truly are.
    Steve Clemons “hates” Israel??? Gee, that news to me.
    Anyone here agree with this ball of shit Pearlman??? That Steve Clemons “hates” Israel?
    Another fine spokesman for Jews and Israel, this Pearlman creature. Nadine, wiggie, and Pearlman do Israel and Jews proud with statements such as we see above, don’t they?


  9. questions says:

    A quick afterthought on helping friends and harming enemies….
    The beginning of the Republic makes it seem that the incredibly combative Thrasymachus is the enemy, and once he’s vanquished, blushing, and no longer defending his view, everything is fine.
    The end of the Republic points to the actual enemy — Cephalus, in all his unthinking acceptance of doctrine, religiosity, conventionalism, and his inability to get his son to think despite the inheritance.
    We should never harm anyone, for it is always injustice to do harm, and the just man cannot be unjust at the same time, but perhaps can be so in different aspects (cf spinning top in the Republic and “summoners”, and other notions of relative similarity and difference rather than exclusionary difference). So every recommendation in the Republic needs to be read through this lens of nuance rather than absolute advice.
    Not only should we do no harm, but we are commanded to think rather than accept piety, pieties, and the piousness of our neighbors.
    More and more I’m convinced that we need a nation of atheists, thinkers, those who would relegate unimportant issues to the gods and grapple with the stuff that really matters, instead of doing it the other way around.
    A nation of Cephali is going to do us all in, and the economics profession, the general population, and the government have too much their share of Cephali.


  10. questions says:

    Happy holidays to all from a fighter in the war on holidays!
    And for your viewing pleasure,
    An interview with the guy who directed Inside Job.
    I think he’s right on the idea that we need better thinking and less conflict of interest within the econ profession, BUT I think we really need to think much more broadly and deeply about how to push back against what really is an oligarchy at this point. And not just any old oligarchy, but one smart enough and powerful enough and moneyed enough to tie its triumph to our survival.
    Should the oligarchy go, the rest of us will really go.
    Given this tie-together, we need not just Krugmanian economics, but really really slick, sleek, sneaky good politics.
    Both parties have some fealty to the finance industry; the Repubs are profoundly ideologically wedded to the moneyed, their deserving nature, and the worship of success in general. The dems are unconcerned about “moral hazard” but stuck because they go where the money is anyway.
    Until we lose the protestant notion that the deity hands money over to the deserving, that anyone without money is therefore undeserving, that redistribution helps our enemies and harms our friends (cf. Republic/Plato), until we lose the racial distrust that deeply marks our society, until we see ourselves in a system without a Maker, until we become, that is, economic atheists, we’re going nowhere fast, or we’re going downhill faster.
    Problem is, there’s still a lot of room in the citizenry to prefer tax cuts, less government, more control over one’s own assets, more freedom of economic behavior, and there’s a deep deep deep belief that one can do for oneself far better than one can cooperate, give up some control, and flourish.
    Read somewhere recently (Brad DeLong??) that one of the effects of hyperinflation is that we stop exchanging for goods and services and we end up doing for ourselves because the currency for exchange loses so much value. The loss of specialization and the concomitant exchange of values is a terrible loss.
    BUT, I think even without hyperinflation we’re seeing some of the same effects. Unemployment, low incomes, less government, low taxes — all of this slows exchange, ends specialization, means that inexpert people do for themselves what they used to pay others to do. The value of the exchange is lost, the cooperation that was generated by those exchanges is lost, the social cohesion that ties us together is dissolved in and we become isolated, less tied together, less social. In short, even without hyperinflation, even with deflation or disinflation, we seem to have some of the effects of hyperinflation anyway. No money or worthless money, I’m not sure I see the difference. Probably there’s a graph that bears someone’s name that would explain it. Sadly, I don’t know the graph!
    The complete individualization of experience isn’t really possible though, as land, manufacture, finance and transit are all controlled by the oligarchy. So to take over one’s own retirement, say, is really to feed into the oligarchic structure. To feed oneself off the land isn’t possible, either, so one rents or pays fees into the food structure. To move anything anywhere will also play into the oligarchic structure. To communicate with others will pay and play in to the structure as well.
    The network effect is very strong here — those who have are more entangled and they get ever more. Those who don’t have are mystified by the structure and assume deitific influence. Scientific illiteracy and economic illiteracy and religiosity seem to go hand-in-hand-in-hand.
    Houston, we have a problem. The oligarchs, with the ill-informed cooperation of many of the democrats (Aristotle’s meaning here) untie us from one another, but not from dependence overall. The oligarchs collect the fees that used to flow elsewhere, and leave us high and dry.
    I think that economic thinking, then, needs to work on finding pushback places even in the face of constant oligarchic pressure, and the fact that our rhetoric of freedom and choice and our love of money, hatred of taxes, fear of government all end up militating for the very oligarchy that is causing our problems in the first place.
    Krugman’s screeds might be economically correct, but they aren’t politically efficacious.
    The whole left discourse seems to have this problem.
    And Brad DeLong’s piece (or wherever it was) on the risks of hyperinflation should be a stern reminder that there are some serious potential problems to be grappled with in every direction.
    What’s a redistributionist to do?


  11. Don Bacon says:

    Excellent testimony, Steve. This decision does have wider implications and hopefully it will have a wider impact, on bullying and gender discrimination, for two examples.


  12. DakotabornKansan says:
  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Watch carefully in the coming years. As gay soldiers become ill due to exposure to DU dust, and a myriad of other toxins that the military exposes them too, the illnesses will be, by the VA and the Pentagon, explained away as being the result of “lifestyle choices”.
    And as an aside, how is the military dealing with soldiers that become ill with HIV or AIDS?
    Anyone know???? Surely there must be some instances where the military has had to deal with this problem. Are the soldiers extended health care assistance, or simply discharged without assistance, under the excuse that the illness is not “service related”?


  14. Mr.Murder says:

    Look closer at the DADT repeal. Does it include arbitrary qualifiers that exempt the insurance industry from coverage of significant(spell) others?
    That’s all this was really about, bailing out the insurance companies from covering another paying sector of the populace.
    All about money.


  15. rc says:

    I dropped this “Rape rampant in US military” link in someway below but perhaps it could also go here as a question: how this new DADT approach is going to affect this rather unfortunate phenomena?
    It looks like one very sick system!
    Are gays victims and/or perpetrators? Or is it another domain altogether. It sure don’t sound like ‘love and peace’.
    Is more openness going to increase or decrease this aberrant ‘Abu Ghraib’ like behavior?
    Rape rampant in US military
    Statistics and soldiers’ testimonies reveal a harrowing epidemic of sexual assault in the US military….
    Last week the Pentagon released its


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