Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 5, 2007

The Death of Mark Daily

Filed under: antiwar,cruise missile left,imperialism/globalization — louisproyect @ 7:12 pm

Mark Daily

In the latest Vanity Fair magazine, there’s a particularly offensive article by Christopher Hitchens on Mark Daily, an American soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Mosul, Iraq. Hitchens had learned from an LA Times article forwarded by one of his few remaining friends that Daily was inspired to enlist after reading Hitchens.

The LA Times article states:

After the 9/11 attacks, Daily was not convinced that a military response was the best option. In his MySpace essay, he runs through the gamut of reasons he used at one time or another to argue against confronting the Taliban and Saddam Hussein: cultural tolerance, the sanctity of national sovereignty, a suspicion of America’s intentions. Weren’t we really after their oil? he wondered.

Too bad that Daily didn’t live long enough to read Alan Greenspan’s memoir. He might have saved his family a lot of grief and Hitchens the opportunity to grandstand in the pages of Vanity Fair.

After initial reservations about the “war on terror,” the LA Times reports that Daily decided to join the military after being exposed to Hitchens’s warmongering:

Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him. A 2003 phone conversation with a UCLA ROTC officer on the ideals of commitment and service impressed him.

The LA Times article tries to convey the impression that Mark Daily was an example of the kind of pro-intervention liberal that NY Times op-ed scribbler Roger Cohen hailed in yesterday’s edition:

Liberal interventionists, if you recall, were people like myself for whom the sight in the 1990s of hundreds of thousands of European Muslims processed through Serbian concentration camps, or killed in them, left little doubt of the merits, indeed the necessity, of U.S. military action in the name of the human dignity that only open societies afford.

Without such action in Bosnia and Kosovo, Europe would not be at peace today.

One reluctant liberal interventionist signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 that said: “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.” His name was Bill Clinton. Baghdad is closer to Sarajevo than the left has allowed.

For this left, anyone who supported the Iraq invasion, or sees merits to it despite the catastrophic Bush-Rumsfeld bungling, is a neocon. That makes Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik and Kanan Makiya and Bernard Kouchner neocons, among others who don’t think like Norman Podhoretz but have more firsthand knowledge of totalitarian hell than countless slick purveyors of the neocon insult.

Cohen wrote this article to redeem the whole idea of military adventures in the name of democracy in the aftermath of nearly five years of neconservative horror in Iraq. It is basically a defense of Bill Clinton’s foreign policy against George W. Bush’s. One wonders why such a distinction is being made after watching the Democrats bowing and scraping before the President over the past few weeks. If Hillary Clinton gets elected, it will lead to a continuation of Bush’s policies. I should mention that this is not something that I read in Counterpunch, but that I heard straight from the horse’s mouth:

As Bush was describing his thinking about Iraq and the future, he indicated he wants to use his final 16 months to stabilize Iraq enough and redefine the U.S. mission there so that the next president, even a Democrat, would feel politically able to keep a smaller but long-term presence in the country. The broadcasters were not allowed to directly quote the president, but they were allowed to allude to his thinking and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News later cited the analogy of Dwight D. Eisenhower essentially adopting President Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy despite the Republican general’s 1952 campaign statements.

“He had kind of a striking analogy,” Stephanopoulos said of Bush on air a few hours after the lunch. “He believes that whoever replaces him, like General Eisenhower when he replaced Harry Truman, may criticize the president’s policy during the campaign, but will likely continue much of it in office.”

According to the LA Times, Mark Daily started off in life quite a few degrees to the left of Bill Clinton.

His family says he became a registered Democrat who read voraciously and delighted in fervent debate. He read liberal intellectual Noam Chomsky, conservative Sen. John McCain of Arizona and everything in between.

His first passions were animal rights and environmental protection, prompting him to become a vegetarian and Green Party member in high school for a few years. He defended American Indian rights so loudly in one backyard debate that Linda Daily imagined the neighbors would think it a family brawl. His heroes were immigrants because “they risk their lives to achieve better ones,” he wrote on his MySpace page.

Leaving aside the characterization of Noam Chomsky as a “liberal intellectual,” the rest of it seems fairly plausible. Daily obviously believed in human rights and all the rest, but sadly could not reconcile his beliefs with his conduct, especially in light of the fact that he decided to join the military in October 2006 and not in the aftermath of 9/11. One can understand somebody like Pat Tillman making such a mistake but there was far too much water under the bridge in late 2006 to assume that any good could have come out of fighting in Iraq.

On Myspace, Daily tries to explain why he joined:

Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

With all due respect to the late Mr. Daily, this sounds more to me like adolescent turmoil than anything else. As I tried to point out in my review of Ken Burns’s “The War” the other day, many GI’s entered the service as a kind of rite of passage and Mark Daily does not sound that different from those who went off to kill Japs or Nazis. Indeed, the LA Times reports: “Daily had read historian Stephen Ambrose’s writings on World War II and the generation of soldiers who fought for freedom from the forces of fascism.” Meanwhile, he describes himself on MySpace thusly: If you really want to understand me, watch Schindler’s List followed by Saving Private Ryan.” Perhaps, the main person to blame for poor Mark Daily’s early demise is Stephen Spielberg rather than Christopher Hitchens.

The WWII enlistee did of course have the justification that the enemy did appear to be bent on conquering the world and imposing a regime of torture and exploitation. Any sensible person might have realized that in October 2006 it was the USA that had supplanted the Axis in that capacity.

Somewhere along the line, Daily began to sound more like a neocon than one of Roger Cohen’s liberal interventionists. His Myspace page reports that his occupation is “world police”. That is a striking admission. He also offers up “The Arab Mind” as one of his favorite books. This book was written by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist who taught at several US universities, including Columbia and Princeton. Here are a few quotes:

“Why are most Arabs, unless forced by dire necessity to earn their livelihood with ‘the sweat of their brow’, so loath to undertake any work that dirties the hands?”

“The all-encompassing preoccupation with sex in the Arab mind emerges clearly in two manifestations …”

“In the Arab view of human nature, no person is supposed to be able to maintain incessant, uninterrupted control over himself. Any event that is outside routine everyday occurrence can trigger such a loss of control … Once aroused, Arab hostility will vent itself indiscriminately on all outsiders.”

Patai’s book emerged out of obscurity when Seymour Hersh mentioned it in a May 24, 2007 New Yorker magazine article on torture at Abu Ghraib. Referring to the sexual nature of some of this abuse, he wrote:

The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

One book that was frequently cited was The Arab Mind … the book includes a 25-page chapter on Arabs and sex, depicting sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression.”

The Patai book, an academic told me, was ‘the bible of the neocons on Arab behaviour’. In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged – ‘one, that Arabs only understand force, and two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation’.

Parenthetically, one wonders how anthropologists can lend themselves to such projects even taking into account the ongoing debasement of the university in imperialist nations. Just today, the NY Times reported that anthropologists are helping the US military in Afghanistan:

SHABAK VALLEY, Afghanistan — In this isolated Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, American paratroopers are fielding what they consider a crucial new weapon in counterinsurgency operations here: a soft-spoken civilian anthropologist named Tracy.

Tracy, who asked that her surname not be used for security reasons, is a member of the first Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her team’s ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations — in one case spotting a land dispute that allowed the Taliban to bully parts of a major tribe — has won the praise of officers who say they are seeing concrete results.

Extending the analogy of the US empire today to the WWII Axis powers, the answer ostensibly lies in the tendency of a particularly aggressive and increasingly irrational world power to drag everybody into the abyss with it, including many of its intellectuals–not the least of which includes Mark Daily, a young man who should have taken the opportunity to allow his ideas to ripen.

39 Comments »

  1. Going back to the part where you say ‘ Leaving aside the consideration of Noam Chomsky as a “liberal intellectual”.’ If he’s not that, then what do you consider him ?

    Comment by Carol — October 5, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  2. I think he would call himself an anarchist. That’s certainly what I would call him.

    I don’t think anyone would deny he’s an intellectual.

    http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm

    Comment by George — October 5, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

  3. That’s a very interesting post, Louis, but you make a bit of a hash of your argument right from the beginning, and you make an even greater hash of it in the end, and most of what’s in between is a muddle.

    First, Hitchens’ “particularly offensive article” was a very fine essay, by any literary standard, and you know it. You cheapen your critique by pretending it isn’t and then simply writing it off, and writing off its arguments, for your own convenience.

    Second, your insincere regret that Mark Daily didn’t live long enough to read Alan Greenspan’s memoir might have been witty in a cruel sort of way but for the fact that you and I have both lived long enough to know that Greenspan’s “it was all about oil” statement was a deliberate misrepresentation, and you should know better than to pretend it wasn’t. Clarifying his point, Greenspan told the Washington Post: “I was not saying that that’s the administration’s motive,” Greenspan said in an interview Saturday, “I’m just saying that if somebody asked me, ‘Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?’ I would say it was essential.”

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t suggest that the Iraq war was all about oil and then curl your lip at “the whole idea of military adventures in the name of democracy.”

    I’m a Canadian, and I fervently supported my government when it refused to join the Anglo-American overthrow of the Baathist regime in Iraq. But I am also a democratic socialist, and I would never stoop to such frovolous politics as to dismiss the duty of democracies to come to the aid of nations suffering under tyranny.

    I opposed the war because your president is a fool, surrounded by fools, his administration could not be trusted, and America can’t be counted on to hold true to democratic ideals in its foreign policy unless it’s contained within broad multilateral alliances; the “coalition of the willing” wasn’t one. But I would never so disparage those brave young Americans who have made the kind of commitment that Mark Daily made as to suggest they are merely immature and their ideas have not been given time to “ripen.” There’s not much distance between ripe and rotten, Louis.

    I have no great love for America. But I’m not going to waste my time pointing out what a pathetic and riduculous analogy you make in describing America as an empire comparable to the Axis powers of WWII. I listen very closely to the views of American socialists and progressives on the question of Iraq, but when I’m forced to choose between those views and the positions counseled by Iraqi socialists, I’ll side with the Iraqis over American “anti-war” polemicists anytime – even if that means telling the entire American left to go to hell.

    Iraqi socialists aren’t screaming “troops out.” They’re saying “stay and finish the fight.” After everything that’s happened, America owes them at least that much.

    Daily understood that. You don’t. Your loss.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 5, 2007 @ 9:43 pm

  4. “With all due respect to the late Mr. Daily, this sounds more to me like adolescent turmoil than anything else.”

    If this is respect, I would hate to see your version of contempt. Just remember the ending of Daily’s post.

    “Don’t overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don’t cheapen the moral aspects either”

    Could you have got cheaper?

    Comment by Gadgie — October 5, 2007 @ 10:41 pm

  5. What a vile piece of thick, Stalinist hackery that was — I feel soiled having read it.

    You begin with an untruth that the LA Times piece isn’t available…

    Here it is:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-daily16feb16,1,3514744.story?ctrack=4&cset=true

    Showing that you are either an incapable fool or just plain lazy and a whoreing-for-attention dipshit and a lying wanker because you ain’t got the talent to gain recognition. Your dishonest pose – as if you’re on some kind of higher plane looking down at Daily is sickening in the extreme. You are nothing but a pretentious cretin with a tendency to believe that praise from fellow ‘cyber revolutionaries’ and little cliques of regular commenters is the same as being in tune with the Zeitgeist. You haven’t engaged with the Hitchens’ piece in any way shape or form, and more to the point, after four years of this bullshit you and your sort are still insisting that the “pro-war” left is a small, unrepresentative clique, mainly because small, unrepresentative cliques are the only organisational forms you’re used to dealing with – while disregarding the fact that here in the UK a “pro-war” left party has won three general elections in a row, and, under the “neocon” Brown, may well win a fourth. In that context, you’re trivial and irrelevant, and your bloated ego can’t stand that.

    Intrinsically you’re just another example of liberal elitist wank and Stalinoid crappola. Go fuck yourself tosspott!

    Comment by Will — October 5, 2007 @ 11:23 pm

  6. Terry
    One one level I understand where you are coming from.
    But no matter how you cut it the Iraqi invasion is not Spain or W II.The fact that Mark was inspired by some of the same noble sentiments that inspired many young people to fight in Spain changes nothing.He died needlessly in a war that was based on the anti-thesis of those motivations that inspired the Mac-Paps and the Abe Lincoln Brigades.
    Mark sounds to me like a decent caring person who wanted to make a difference in the world.A young man that was troubled and dismayed by all the injustice and bullshit in the world.He wanted to understand and more importantly do something.
    How he figured attaching his fortunes to the US military would do this…well,we will never really know.
    His death does not change the fact that the war in Iraq was wrong it was based on everything else but what Mark stood for i.e..self sacrifice,selflessness,caring,and commitment to engaging and understanding the world he was born into.
    Back in the yearly 80′s I was in a very similar situation,after a fellow(Fred Isis) that I had known from Vancouver BC went to El Salavdor to join with the people.He died in action a year or so after arriving,gunned down by an American supplied gunship.Which would fly over rural areas and spay everything that moved.
    Anyway I started making arrangements of my own to head down.In part motivated by his sacrifice and commitment to basic justice,and in part by the same sense of International duty exemplified by the Mac -Pap’s etc.
    So I began to get myself more fit,what prevented me going was my legs no matter how hard I worked I could not run quite as fast and long as I felt I should be able to.Knowing I had to be in shape I worked out that much harder,joined a gym,lifted weights ran etc.I never did go,after a year or so of trying to make my legs work I gave up.In my gut I knew something was not quite right,years later I found out that I had Muscular Dystrophy.
    Marks death was a tragedy,and in the end if he had survived his tour I am sure upon reflection he would see things quite different.I know one thing I am definitely not the same person when I was 21 22,the world is just that much more nuanced.
    And war is a dirty brutal business that creates nothing but suffering and misery for all,including the mothers and families of soldiers like Mark.

    Comment by dirk — October 6, 2007 @ 12:31 am

  7. Oh — one more thing —

    http://drinksoakedtrotsforwar.com/2007/10/06/the-snidely-liberals-wont-watch-your-back/

    Up the workers!

    (And the Kurds).

    Comment by Will — October 6, 2007 @ 12:40 am

  8. Thanks for dragging me to this, Will! No engagement or show of understanding of what Hitchens’ or Daily’s arguments are. You might as well shoot bullets at a Jell-O monster.

    Comment by John in Cincinnati — October 6, 2007 @ 2:33 am

  9. oh dear me what to deal with first? should I deal with the ridiculous notion of drunk Hitchens actually writing a good article? or the notion that it was a misrepresentation of Alan Greenspan, the fact that he might have felt some caution in his mind and decided to qualify a basic truth is beyond terrys understanding. Of course he makes a big play about being opposed to the war but then he reveals otherwise, he is in fact pro-war! and whats this about Iraqi socialists, does he mean the Iraqi Stalinist, oops I mean Communist Party. It is then pathetic to end with a pro-war exhortation. As for will, well the whole idea of New Labour as any kind of a left party is all I need to know of this idiot. And so thusly they spring in to action, to defend the vile Hitchens, to defend misguided youths, they defend the war, and the fact that after nearly five years of disaster they still do, and by the way finish the job? come on Terry your no socialist at all! means I feel quite confident in saying, Trotsky style, your in the dustbin of history!

    Comment by SGuy — October 6, 2007 @ 3:19 am

  10. My good brother Dirk, with the utmost respect, here is where you are wrong: “. . .that Mark was inspired by some of the same noble sentiments that inspired many young people to fight in Spain changes nothing.”

    In fact, this changes absolutely everything.

    If you permit me, please take my advice. Ask what the Iraqi left wants of us. You can look it up. See what their entreaties to the Socialist International have pleaded. Look it up, and then ask yourself. What single, worthy, useful movement or idea has arisen from the American “left” in the past quarter of a century? What victory can these pathetic American “leftists” claim? What tyrant have they helped to overthrow? What advance for the working class have they achieved? What law, policy, convention, or treaty have they championed and held?

    They have been lying to the world, and to themselves, from the moment they claimed to have had a part in the victory of the Vietcong over US occupation forces in the 1970s. You don’t have to look back to the great Mackenzie Papineau battalion or the Abraham Lincoln Brigade for examples and inspiration – although it is in their spirit that Canadian and American soldiers are fighting and dying in Afghanistan. Get over it, Dirk. Face it. It’s brutal and harsh and painful, but it must be faced. Look no further than the Afghan left today, the Pakistani left today, the Iranian left today, and the Iraqi left today. Those are the real heroes. That is where you will find the real vanguard. And the American left is not on their side. The American left is senile, flaccid, wretched, wasted, and rotten.

    Think about it, Dirk. Cindy Sheehan. Medea Benjamin. Michael Moore.

    I grieve at the vanishing of the American left. But I also cannot deny that the Canadian left is the weaker and the poorer for looking south for guidance, for having adopted the American left’s postures, and for having so naively welcomed so many American “liberals” into our fold.

    The American idealists who are most worthy of our consideration and our respect now are Americans like Mark Daily, whose plain-spoken internationalism and unglamorous commitment to freedom and equality have not yet gone rotten. Fair play to them.

    In solidarity and friendship,

    Terry Glavin

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 6, 2007 @ 3:44 am

  11. SGuy: I’m not sure why I bother wasting keystrokes on illiterates like you, but out of pity, I will.

    By the Iraqi left, yes, I would reluctantly include the Communist Party of Iraq, but of far more relevance I mean the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is the Iraqi affiliate of the Socialist International. When I turn for guidance on how events should transpire in Iraq, I turn to the PUK, because they are my comrades there, and I thank from the bottom of my heart every American who has stood by them, and I ignore you and every American “liberal” like you, who I will now happily invite to kiss my rosy Canadian ass.

    Go Petraus. Up with the Kurds. Death to fascism.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 6, 2007 @ 4:07 am

  12. Terry
    First I always stood in solidarity with the Kurdish people.But what has this to do with the invasion,the Kurdish region was flourishing under the protection of the no fly agreement,before the invasion.
    I have no problem with Western countries standing by the Kurdish people.A Kurdistan is inevitable and long over due 20-30 million people is definitely a Nation.
    That said the invasion was not about defending Kurds.Whats happening in the rest of Iraq is what I am opposed too.
    And of course we most ask what the “left” in Iraq has to say,and we of the “left” must defer to their wishes/needs after all who are we to tell them what they must do.
    That same “left” you speak of was slaughtered by Saddam,when he was an American puppet.The “left” in the US and Canada were all over this issue i.e Chomsky for one the same folks you condemn so harshly now.
    This did not stop the US from supporting Saddam or condemning his slaughter of the democratic opposition.No indeed in fact the US support Saddam’s invasion of Iran,supplied Iraq with the gas that killed Kurds and Iranians,gave Saddam the satellite coordinates of Iranian targets so Saddam could gas and bomb Iranian defending against the invasion.Millions died.
    Where the outrage wheres the condemnation of the US,now their the good guys bent on good ? I don’t buy it.Iraq is a mess,hundreds of thousands are dead.Most Iraqis want US troops out.Most Iraqis understand that as long as US troops remain,parts of their population are going to resist.They will not bow to the US.
    Like any country,the people of Iraq will have to solve their own internal power disputes,ethnic issues etc etc.The best we in the West can do is support them where we can economically & humanitarian.By not sending more weapons in,by encouraging talk,by not demonizing Iran or Syria
    By dealing straight up with the best interests of ordinary Iraqis in mind,not that of the US’s or the US so called “national interests”.Whether the US or the west like it or not.In part due to the west long support of brutal dictators that killed off every democratic expression of both people in Iran (54) and in Iraq.The same US that used these same fundamental Islamist, that are now so pervasive in the region,to wipe out every “left” and democratic expression in the region.Now they wonder why the fundies are so entrenched.
    Iraq and Iran are natural allies 60% of Iraqi’s are from the same ethnicity and religion as Iranians.They share so much in common.
    At some point in time the Iraqi people will have to solve their own problems without the military resource of the west.What might come out of that eventuality in all likelihood will not be a western style democracy.But countries never stagnant like Iran the country will develop at its own speed socially and economically.Iraqis like Iranians want the same thing peace and development,but on their terms according to their reality.Democracy as we know it in the west can not be imposed ,it can be encouraged by example but never imposed.It must come from the people of those countries,this takes time,it grows slowly over generations just as it did in Europe,and is doing in Iran.Iran has moderated hugely since the revolution.Its still far from my cup of tea but then who am I ?
    I will never support the US’s frequent military adventures no matter how well intention other might try and portray these adventure.I look back to Vietnam,central America Columbia,Grenada,Cuba etc etc I see one disaster after another.I see the US supporting the most brutal of regimes.What different now ? Nothing as far as I can see,just the same old arrogance of Empire.

    Comment by dirk — October 6, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  13. Dirk: This conversation is over for me. What you say has little to do with the point of the post or my response to it.

    You end by asking “What’s different now?” To the point I was addressing, what’s different now(different than Vietnam, Central America, Colombia, etc.)… absolutely everything is different. The Taliban is not the Vietcong. Al Qaida is not the FMLN. Ahmedinejad is not Salvador Allende. And the people of Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq want democracy. Look it up. Get over it.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 6, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

  14. Adam Engel said,

    “No one, that is, no form of life, is lower than a hypocrite flim-flam artist who suckers people into the same mistake time and again except one thing: the rubes who fall for the hustle themselves. Again and again and again.”

    This applies to idiots like Terry Glavin and yeah, to Mark Daily. They project their fervent beliefs to the rulers. But it never occurs to them that the rulers don’t share their beliefs.

    Comment by Ajit — October 6, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  15. “They project their fervent beliefs to the rulers.”

    Actually no, we don’t. You’re the idiot here, Adam. If you had bothered to read the comments you’re responding to, you would have seen that’s exactly what we’re not doing.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 6, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

  16. I am so glad to be finally reading a reasonable analysis of Hitchens piece. Hitchens essay was meant to cleanse his own reputation in a teary-eyed salute to heartfelt values and young masculine heroism – in other words pure self-serving bullshit. Hitchens just like Andrew Sullivan and so many other cowardly chickenhawks worship and aggrandize soldiers to the degree that they themselves feel impotent. In these insane times, every soldier is supposed to be a hero, a courageous warrior, and a brave defender of freedom. WTF? I worked in Iraq for three goddamn years and 100% of the soldiers I met were just your average joe. Sure, in time of crisis, the janitor down the street, or the NYC doorman may act heroicly out of purely selfless motivation. But that is just as rare in Iraq as it is in the rest of the world.

    I misread one of Daily’s MySpace comments: “Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy …” reading it as “19 year old soldiers from the MIDDLEAST”. That says it all. Daily, just like Hitchens, Sullivan and the others completely ignores the basic humanity of the other people and cultures they are slaughtering. They just assume themselves to be superior to the point of completely ignoring the Iraqis (if not blatantly demonizing them – I can’t tell you how many soldiers I met who would react with disgust and sputter “Goddamn homo hajiis” when they say Iraqi men holding hands (a common custom)). This whole elevation of the military to a position of pristine sainthood is disgusting and partly fuels the egotistic mentality of those in uniform who feel justified in blowing away hajii because he is a worthless rag-head.

    Comment by Ron — October 6, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  17. Actually no, we don’t. You’re the idiot here, Adam. If you had bothered to read the comments you’re responding to, you would have seen that’s exactly what we’re not doing.


    Why don’t you shorten your bible length sermons over here. Do you think anyone cares to read your ridiculous rantings. Like others, I only scanned some of your bullshit and came to the conclusion that you are an idiot.
    Now fuck off.

    Comment by Ajit — October 7, 2007 @ 4:34 am

  18. Terry
    I meant to add a “I guess we will have to disagree” to my last post.
    But while I am here you keep telling me to “get over it”,get over what?
    And of course the people of Iran and Iraq want democracy.What I said was it is not something that can be imposed,it must take hold in the conditions /reality of those countries.
    an invasion is not going to speed things up.
    The deaths of the Marks of the world will have been in vain.The west will pull out of Iraq and Afghan it’s just a matter of time.They just don’t do selflessness very well.
    In part,because in most part these military adventures are not about selflessness,despite what they might say.But when Canada and NATO pull out of Afghanistan after having accomplished nothing of any longevity,I promise I won’t e-mail you,with an “I told you so”

    Ajit-said it all quit well…
    ….”to Mark Daily. They project their fervent beliefs to the rulers. But it never occurs to them that the rulers don’t share their beliefs.

    Comment by dirk — October 7, 2007 @ 8:42 am

  19. WHAT fucking socialist international are you talking about, Terry Glavin?

    Comment by Michael Hureaux Perez — October 7, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

  20. Dirk: “But while I am here you keep telling me to “get over it”,get over what?”

    Get over the fact that the United Nations, the 60-odd countries that signed the Afghan Accord and the Bonn Agreement, and the 37 nations of the NATO-ISAF mission in Afghanistan – which the vast majority of the Afghan people support, and you know it – is a righteous, progressive and eminently defensible effort, in spite of the way the Yanks keep screwing it up (all due respect to American soldiers on the ground) with their bombing runs and their drug-eradication fetish.

    The mission Canada and the rest are engaged in – at the specific request and authorization of the UN Security Council, reconfirmed as recently as three weeks ago – simply doesn’t fit into the ridiculous “imperialist” paradigm concocted by thick American hippies and propogated by the so-called “anti-war” movement.

    Those are the facts you have to face, Dirk. That done, we may agree on the most strident criticisms of the way the mission is being prosecuted, the usefulness of the counterinsurgency in Kandahar, and any number of aspects of UN and ISAF and NATO and CIDA policy there. Or we may not.

    But if we can’t agree on the basic facts of the Afghan endeavour, or its fundamental character, then there is no basis for a conversation. I don’t pretend to know how things will ultimately play out in Afghanistan, but if you insist on being so defeatist and cynical and certain of calamity as to believe that utter ruin is the only possible outcome in Afghanistan, then I simply can’t help you. You’re already too far gone.

    But is that really the bleak and reactionary position you want to take? If nothing else, just think of the company you’ll have to keep, and all the dirty little blackshirts you’ll fund yourself running with. Just look around you, right on this page, Dirk. You have this ridiculous character Ajit Hedje, a fawning acolyte of Ward Churchill, calling me an idiot and telling me to fuck off. The this illiterate Yank “Ron”, whose assessment of the Hitchens essay in in question is that is an “elevation of the military to a position of pristine sainthood,” a conclusion that would earn a Grade 9 Enlgish-class pupil an “F”. Then you have a certain Michael Hureaux Perez, asking, in what I take to be all seriousness, what the Socialist International is. He hasn’t even heard of it, Dirk. He’s not pretending. He’s really that thick.

    But please, yes. You can email with an “I told you so” anytime you like.

    I won’t wait up.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 7, 2007 @ 11:31 pm

  21. Alright, Louis! You got linked by some neocon crotch-sniffing dimwits! Maybe the great Hitchens himself will deign to drop by and spew bullshit next.

    Comment by nate — October 8, 2007 @ 12:07 am

  22. Terry
    We seem to be talking in circles here.First i guess we should,indeed we must separate Iraq from Afghanistan.
    I can not and will never support the US invasion of Iraq.On that I do see the arrogance of Empire.I see America once more fucking over the Iraqi people.
    On Afghanistan,well the situation there is much more nuanced.
    Where we could have made a difference,i.e reconstruction,humanitarian aid,reining in Pakistan and other countries meddling in the internal affairs of the long suffering Afghan people,we didn’t.
    The mission is fast becoming a cluster fuck,and does seem to be alienating more and more Afghan people.
    It’s not that I wish the mission to fail or that I am overly cynical,I just need to read any history book.US Intervention always seem to end up causing more grief than anything else.They just do not do selflessness very well,because its never about selflessness.
    History also shows that the US and the West in general do not plan for the long haul,nor do they seem to have an appetite for long term projects that are difficult and complex.The Bush administration is just not nuanced enough to even grasp this idea never mind implement.That is why I am fairly sure the West will pull out.If nothing has changed of any substance,when NATO pulls out,than the deaths of Canadian soldiers and all other deaths will have been in vain.Thats it,it’s not because I am a cynical person.Over all I am a very optimistic person,but my faith lay with ordinary people,not government,nor government orgs.
    I hope I am wrong,I truly hope Canada can help the Afghan people.But 5 1/2 years into the mission little has changed the Taliban are resurging.The Afghan government relies totally on NATO troops.This is an unsustainable situation in the long run.
    Anyway only time will tell.
    But I would bet in the end the lesson that,military solutions just do not work,will be just that more relevant.When will governments learn,when will the US stop with the military adventures.Which just seem to go on and on,generation after generation…
    P.S the e-mailing you remark,was meant as more a friendly jab.

    Comment by dirk — October 8, 2007 @ 12:28 am

  23. “When I turn for guidance on how events should transpire in Iraq, I turn to the PUK, because they are my comrades there, and I thank from the bottom of my heart every American who has stood by them…”

    Thank you, Terry, for this outstanding show of solidarity.

    To Christopher Hitchens, Mark Daily, Terry Glavin and every other American and Canadian who stood by us, I thank you all, as a Kurd, with all my heart. We have no friends but mountains like you.

    Comment by sHx — October 8, 2007 @ 3:42 am

  24. Well, well, well. The hysteria of the pro-war apologists reaches a crescendo.

    Let’s get down to basics. Anyone who supports the US and British invasion and occupation is not a socialist or Leftist of any description. You’ve crossed the line. A few people who supported the war in 2003 have changed their views and done an honest accounting. The rest are pathetic pro-imperialist scum.

    This includes Will, ‘here in the UK’, as am I. Anyone who thinks New Labour is a Leftist party has been at the far end of the universe for 10 years. New Labour haven’t won three General Elections because people approve of their pro-war stance. They’ve won them because people loathe the pro-war Tories even more. In the 2005 election, New Labour’s percentage vote was the lowest ever for a winning party in a british GE. Since 1997, 200,000 people have left the Labour Party in disgust at Blair and his cronies policies. Will presumably shares the same world-view as Hitchens et al. By all means carry on thinking what you do but don’t EVER pretend you’re any kind of socialist.

    I don’t know what the situation is like in the US, Louis but in Britain the pro-war (former) Leftists usually have very strong pro-Israeli attitudes or very low tolerance thresholds for criticisms of it. It’s curious how former Leftists who once had pretty good socialist credentials in virtually all aspects of thought and practice but their blind-spot about Israel colours their whole world-view, giving it an irredemably pro-imperialist slant.

    Comment by Doug — October 8, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  25. Oh yes, Terry. Forgot clean about the Socialist International, something which exists in name only, but which in reality, is a bunch of white supremists who’ve never broken with the idea that the eurocentric have an unvarnished right to attempt to bomb the hell out of the colonies abroad and then assume a stance of violent indignation when the very dragon’s teeth they’ve sewn everywhere in the MIddle East for the last ninety years have very real consequences. Yeah, I know that International. You all still sucking that old junker dick, huh? Chow down, boy.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux Perez — October 8, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  26. Dirk confronts Terry’s hope with pessimism, but it is recognisably a debate. The rest fall back onto cynicism dressed in ideological clothes.

    There is one central point. Whether you supported the war or not, it happened.

    What matters now is what happens next? Withdraw and risk a massacre of progressives? Stay in and try and build a democratic Iraq? Should the left be supporting progressives in Iraq or be the cheerleaders for a bloody insurgency? Should the left be internationalist or isolationist? If the left is internationalist who should it support – anti-Americans or pro-democracy activists? These are serious questions.

    Those who talk of “neocon crotch-sniffing dimwits” or “sucking that old junker dick” are avoiding these questions and are certainly not listening to the voice of the Kurdish person who commented here.

    Comment by Gadgie — October 8, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  27. The only thing I’m actually cynical about are “socialists” be they Kurd, or Palestinian, or downtown homeboy, or what have you- who still believe that any “humane intervention” that western capitalism takes on behalf of the Kurds or anybody else- is anything now other than what it has always been- a viscious exercise in power. As for the so-called “socialist international”, perhaps my words in describing their essential character were juvenile, but that’s because the horror of what they’ve chosen to defend for nine decades continues to chew up their brains. I’m sure they’ll enjoy whatever corner of hell their mentor Mitterand is roasting in at present.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — October 8, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  28. What Gadgie said.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 8, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  29. Note to the illiterate Hureaux, who calls the Socialist International “a bunch of white supremists who’ve never broken with the idea that the eurocentric have an unvarnished right to attempt to bomb the hell out of the colonies abroad”:

    Some of the more prominent member organizations of the Socialist International are the notoriously white surpemacist African National Congress of SA, the eurocentric MPLA of Angola, the colony-bombing Morroccan Socialist Union, Frelimo of Mozambique, the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua, the Socialist Party of Chile, the Brazilian Democratic Labour Party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, and – get ready to wet your pants – the Israeli Labour Party. And of course the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

    I’ll choose “whatever corner or hell” I find these comrades in over any corner of heaven American anti-war shouters claim for themselves, and when it comes to the difficult question of how to proceed in Iraq, I’ll be turning to the brave and inspiring PUK for guidance and leadership, and the American “anti-war” narcissists can bleat and bellow about the “neocons” and the “Israeli lobby” as loud as they like. Nothing they say matters. Their time has come and gone.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 8, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

  30. Terry, do you sometimes comment under the nom de plume Oliver Kamm? You share a similar rhetorical style. If not, I encourage you to hook up with him. The decent left cannot stand strong enough these days, what with your imperial dreams turning into such ugly realities.

    Comment by nate — October 8, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  31. Terry failed to mention that the crooks who run Egypt are members of that very meaningless International, as are Venezuela’s “Democratic Action” and a whole host of other useless social democratic parties. Membership in the SI shouldn’t be mistaken for instant progressive credentials. What seems like a better testament to the PUK’s commitment to socialism, or social democracy, even, is the fact that they’ve gunned down trade unionists who dared to oppose them.

    I find it hard to believe you can square your leftish views with your support for those who want to carve Iraq up into ethnic fiefdoms. This doesn’t just include the “Islamofascists” your lot so bravely blog against, but also the US-backed Islamist parties and yes, even the Kurdish warlord groups.

    Comment by Mbari — October 9, 2007 @ 6:30 am

  32. Anyone who was inspired by Hitchens to go and fight in Iraq got what was coming to them. It’s too bad his fate won’t be shared by the man who inspired him.

    Comment by Binh — October 9, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

  33. Mbari: You obviously have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

    Binh: Congratulations for taking exactly the same position as the Westboro Baptist Church.

    What wonderful company you Yank “antiwar” people keep.

    Comment by Terry Glavin — October 10, 2007 @ 3:10 am

  34. It’s all true. The National Democratic Party are members in good standing of the Socialist International. Presenting membership in the SI as if means anything is some strategy you’ve picked up from Hitchens or one of your other Decent gurus. The incident with the PUK’s goon squad shooting workers is true too. It was covered in Workers’ Liberty, Iraq Union Solidarity, and by the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq.

    The SI is a joke, and only someone so interested in the toy-town “solidarity” advocated by the Decent Left could mistake a group that contains Mubarak’s cronies, Democratic Action, the narco-politician Colombian Liberal Party, etc., with anything worthwhile.

    Comment by Mbari — October 10, 2007 @ 6:45 am

  35. Mr Proyect:

    Normally I wouldn’t bother commenting on the obscure blog of a political extremist, but Mark Daily was my friend and brother officer, and your article besmirches his memory. There is no use in arguing politics with the likes of you. In any case, however peculiar I may find them, you are entitled to your opinions about the war, America, and the value (or lack thereof) of military service.

    However, you are wrong, dead wrong, in impugning the worst possible motives to a good young man you don’t know, who was killed while trying to help others. You may have contempt for his method in doing so, you may despise the uniform he wore, and you may hate the government which sent him, but you are wrong to make him, of all people, a kind of scapegoat for your angst.

    I am sure that there are lots of people who become American Soldiers or Marines for less than noble reasons, just as, I am sure, there are lots of people who become Marxists or Communists for less than noble reasons. Mark was not one of those people. Mark was a good man, one of the most thoughtful and virtuous men I ever knew. He was exceptionally idealistic, compassionate, and open-minded – a true liberal, in the best sense of the label. Most politically-motivated people, like yourself, are immovable, so cemented in their views that no amount of evidence will ever change their assumptions about things like the war. Mark, on the other hand, really did consider the possibility that the war might be a terrible mistake, but since the war was already in progress, wondered if it could somehow be redeemed. Maybe not, but rather than just writing about it in some blog, safe from the consequences of his ideals, he had the courage to go, see, and DO for himself, even though it might cost him his life. And it did.

    Mark’s death was a terrible, terrible blow to everyone who actually knew him, regardless of their politics. I am not going to go through your article point-by-point to explode all of your grossly condescending and offensive remarks regarding this man. Suffice to say that you are an intolerable asshole for speaking so ill of him and, I darkly suspect, practically gloating in his death. I can only add, with exceptional restraint, shame on you, and heaven help you if you ever run into anyone who loved him.

    Comment by Norman Lee — October 11, 2007 @ 9:21 am

  36. “I can only add, with exceptional restraint, shame on you, and heaven help you if you ever run into anyone who loved him.”

    Interesting to read this veiled threat. Within the velvet glove of liberal platitudes is a clenched fist brandishing brass knuckles.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 11, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

  37. Lovely. My illiteracy must be a direct reflection of Terry Glavin, who writes about organizations like the Sandinistas and the ANC like they’ve not undergone qualitative and sometimes even renegade changes in their essential neocolonial character since the 1980s. Obviously such organizations, while led by people of color, could never become eurocentric, or cave to the interests of the west. Yeah, definitely the politics of the second international and it’s bastard child stalinism as they’ve always played out.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — October 11, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

  38. I have just read the Hitchens piece and I found as more offensive as did the impeccable Proyect. More surprising, the language struck me repeatedly as crudely teary, and in some case witless – in a Barbara-Cartland-witless way. H’s self-eulogy comes strikingly close to obliterating his soldier-hero eulogy, which raises the interest level of the thing but not in an especially pleasant way. Why is he parading himself around like this? – being the only real interest factor.

    H. goes agonizingly public with a story which should, by any decent measure that I can think of, have been left a private matter. He seems to have Jennifer Lynched the guy; dragged him through a relentless retelling of Norman Rockwell meets Ernie Pyle meets the Weeping Pilgrim.

    This guy is no more dead than anyone else. What distinguishes people like him is that they choose to imperil themselves, and in some cases entertain foreign policy views similar to Hitchens. Patriots. It’s a bad idea except in very, very rare times of real danger or genocide — and this piece attempts to glorify that bad idea in the current context.

    Flacks for the war (like flacks opposing the war) can reasonably be described as responsible for outcomes – to the extent that they have influenced outcomes. You tell your little cousin it’s a good idea to help your big cousin rob the candy story and distribute candy to the neighborhood children and the old lady gets killed because your big cousin loses his temper and your little cousin goes to jail. Okay, it’s technically illegal. But how could you possibly know it would get so screwed up? Jeez.

    Anyway, I think motives are wildly and destructively overrated. They are they staple fixation of paranoia and right wing politics – the evil intentions of others. Behavior is what counts. This nice kid behaved badly by serving in a vastly destructive war on a voluntary basis – for reasons which Hitchens admires. I honor his lovely personality. Fine. Who cares? Hitchens?

    Comment by J. Marlin — October 12, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  39. My entire knowledge of Mark Daily comes from what I’ve read about him – and I admit to admiration for Christopher Hitchins’ writing if not his position on many issues over many years. I find it impossible to believe that the Mark Daily described by Hitchins would have threatened Louis Proyect in the manner his so-called friend Lee has.

    A simple glance at the responses to Louis Proyect’s prolific and frequently inspiring writings is enough to make me nervous about anyone who begins their response… “Mr. Proyect.” You almost expect the violent threat that follows, don’t you? Does anyone think to ask – what in hell is Norman Lee doing reading anything written by Proyect?

    “Brother officer” indeed – sans ID. If you’re going to threaten someone shouldn’t you have the courage to properly identify yourself? When I was in the US Army, we were taught to give our name, rank and serial number if taken captive, or to include our rank with our name, as if it were part of our name, if speaking in normal company. If the thus far unranked Lee wishes to parade his “brother officer” credentials, which he plainly did, why not give them up? What’s his rank, his outfit and his military relationship to Mark Daily?

    Comment by Richard Greener — October 18, 2007 @ 3:54 am


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