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Bloggingheads 03-10-2009 10:48 AM

The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 

atropos 03-10-2009 11:57 AM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Brian's point is simple and compelling: motive matters. It matters in intellectual life and it matters in political life. Anyone who is motivated to torpedo the Freeman nomination because of their position on Israel should say so. Some will, some won't.

Conor's point is equally simple and equally compelling: determining the motive of others with anything close to certainty is impossible. As such, one must take intellectual and political arguments at face value and address them on their merits, irrespective of motive.

I strongly suspect that Brian is correct about the true motives of many of the critics of Freeman. But without certainty with respect to their motives, Freeman must be defended on the merits.

For anyone who disagrees that motive matters I'll offer one purely pragmatic reason as to why (there are others): serious objections to any action/nomination or what have you are endless. Creative people can always find something to criticize - even if it means having to take a position with respect to some hot button issue that they wouldn't ordinarily. In order to actually come to some sort of decision/conclusion - the true motivations behind the endless possible objections must be established and dealt with one way or another. Arguments made in bad faith are endless.

Ray 03-10-2009 12:14 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
atropos:


Your gloss of the conversation is clear and compelling.

The conversation itself sounded like an audiotape of the phone book, as performed by Microsoft Sam.

Note to these dudes: acquire style, personality, a pulse. Something.

pampl 03-10-2009 12:34 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
I managed to make it to the second or third time Beutler characterized his own view as rational and his opponents' as hysterical before getting sick of it. I'm assuming the second half was the same as the first, so correct me if I'm wrong.
Quote:

Originally Posted by atropos (Post 106368)
For anyone who disagrees that motive matters I'll offer one purely pragmatic reason as to why (there are others): serious objections to any action/nomination or what have you are endless. Creative people can always find something to criticize - even if it means having to take a position with respect to some hot button issue that they wouldn't ordinarily. In order to actually come to some sort of decision/conclusion - the true motivations behind the endless possible objections must be established and dealt with one way or another. Arguments made in bad faith are endless.

No, that's not how arguments work. First: all arguments are endless, bad faith changes nothing. Second: the motivations are irrelevant to the strength of an argument. Mother Theresa had great motivations for arguing against birth control but she was still wrong on the merits. If the Freeman criticisms have merit than they have merit, it doesn't matter if they're being made by the second coming of Jesus or a serial child molester.

As for Beutler, Yglesias, Walt, et al: I'm amazed that people who complain incessantly about how persecuted they are for their position on Israel refused the opportunity to make the Freeman nomination argument about a topic where they have some public support and instead turned it back to Israel. It seems to me if you're worried about being called anti-Semitic then you should argue that Freeman's perspective would be valuable instead of arguing that a cabal of Israelites is conspiring against him.

Stapler Malone 03-10-2009 12:40 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Conor Clarke: Wrong on Jamie Kirchik.

nikkibong 03-10-2009 12:41 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Regarding the Fallows/Beutler position on Freeman: it doesn't necessarily matter whether or not Freeman's grotesque views on China will affect the way in which he does his job. It matters in a more general sense, though. Analogize it to finding out that Freeman oh, I don't know, beats his wife: this fact probably wouldn't change the way he analyzes intelligence, but you still wouldn't want him in your administration . Character matters. And the fact that Freeman takes an unabashedly pro-totalitarian position says something (tawdry) about his character.

It's silly of Beutler to claim that "all" opponents of Freeman are also staunchly pro-Israel hawks. To name just two that don't fit this simple dichotomy: Human Rights Watch, and, ahem, nikkibong, are critics of both Freeman and Israel.

Poscript: I really wish James Kirchick hadn't come out in opposition to Freeman's nomination. Way to discredit our position, buddy!

Joel_Cairo 03-10-2009 01:14 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Uh-Oh.

splink1 03-10-2009 02:05 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
I think the very famous quotation about freedom of the press is actually from A. J. Liebling: ďFreedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.Ē

gwlaw99 03-10-2009 02:39 PM

Saudi Arabia and China
 
The bottom line is that he was a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia who thinks the only problem with the Chinese reaction to Tiananmen Square was that it wasn't quick and harsh enough. Having a head Saudi lobbyist would be as if the head of AIPAC were incharge of the National Intelligence Estimate. I am sure that if that happened there would be hell raised.

I do not believe he is an antisemite in any way. However, his analysis regarding the middle east is simply uninformed for someone in that position. Freeman says Israel has failed in 59 years to make peace with any of its neighbors, not knowing Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. He also directly blamed US support for Israel as the primary reason for the Al Qaida attack on 9/11. Anyone with such a poor grasp of Al Qaida's motives (US troops in Saudi Arabia) and basic facts about the Israeli/Arab conflict can not be a good choice for creating the NIE.

MikeDrew 03-10-2009 02:47 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Clarke here seems to be uncommitted to a position in this matter, but nonetheless reciting the false as well as the true talking points of the major Freeman critics. As just one example, he repeated the notion that the NIC head oversees the preparation of the PDB. I believe that has been debunked. Perhaps next time we could get someone who actually cares enough to have a position and be up on the facts.

opposable_crumbs 03-10-2009 02:47 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
There's a certain amount of irony contained within your post.

opposable_crumbs 03-10-2009 02:48 PM

Re: Saudi Arabia and China
 
So basically he was palling around with terrorists - that's your critism?
Or maybe palling around with communists?

AemJeff 03-10-2009 02:50 PM

Re: Saudi Arabia and China
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 106385)
The bottom line is that he was a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia who thinks the only problem with the Chinese reaction to Tiananmen Square was that it wasn't quick and harsh enough...

That's a distortion of what he said. A more accurate rendering would be that (he believes) if the Chinese hadn't let the situation evolve to the point where critical areas were being occupied ("the equivalent of the Washington National Mall and Times Square, combined.") then it would have far less likely to develop into a lethal confrontation. Whether or not you believe he's right about that, it's a far cry from how it's being characterized by the right.

gwlaw99 03-10-2009 02:50 PM

Re: Saudi Arabia and China
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by opposable_crumbs (Post 106388)
So basically he was palling around with terrorists - that's your critism?
Or maybe palling around with communists?

No, that is not even close to what I am saying. Please read what I wrote again.

gwlaw99 03-10-2009 03:43 PM

Matt Ygleisas
 
I really enjoy reading his blog. I think Yglesias is a smart commenter and representative for liberal views. I have read him since his early days before he was a paid blogger at the Atlantic. However, I think he is a bad example of someone who doesn't use childish labels against those who do not share his political views (his blog is often used to illustrate the blogging term "snark"--short for snide remark).

In one case, for example, after he called the Third Way's policies "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit," the editors of thinkprogress.com felt it was necessary to remind his readers that his posts "donít always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund". Matt's modus operandi (and in my opinion something that hurts the credibility of his otherwise well written blog) is to imput a bad motive to everything those who do not agree with him do. He can't just disagree with people he has to say that they do not actually believe what they are saying and their beliefs are simply cynical attempts to gain money and power. This makes for great entertainment for those who agree with everything he says and probably attracts more of that type of reader, but his tone certainly turns off most people whose mind he could have changed (or at least make them pause and consider) on an issue with his persuasive arguments. This is the flip side of conservative bloggers who might say, for example, that all liberals are like Jesse Jackson. I guess "red meat" sells.

Wonderment 03-10-2009 04:05 PM

The Self-hating Jew charge
 
Since I've had this one thrown at me 20 million or so times since the 1960s, and since it shows no signs of letting up with the new generations, it's worth commenting on why it is such a successful smear.

It is very important for Jews to speak up about Israel's human rights record, belligerence and intransigence.

Of course, Jews do this every day in Israel itself, and no one there would dream of launching the "self-hating" bomb. Only abroad, where any deviance from the Likud line is viewed as treason (largely thanks to AIPAC propaganda) can right-wingers get away with such disingenuous psychobabble.

When Jews in the US do break ranks with AIPAC, a campaign of discrediting and bullying invariably begins. The message, however, is not so much to the dissenting Jew. It is to other (non-Jewish) Americans: "If you dare to go along with this, you'll be vilified as an anti-Semite" (a far more intimidating and free-speech asphyxiating charge).

popcorn_karate 03-10-2009 04:10 PM

Re: Matt Ygleisas
 
on the other hand....

when your policy prescriptions would also, coincidentally, result in your personal wealth/power rapidly increasing, I think its alright to call your motivation into question. no, on second thought, its more like its mandatory to call your motivations into question.

Lemon Sorbet 03-10-2009 04:30 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pampl (Post 106371)
I..... Mother Theresa had great motivations for arguing against birth control but she was still wrong on the merits. If the Freeman criticisms have merit than they have merit, it doesn't matter if they're being made by the second coming of Jesus or a serial child molester.
As for Beutler, Yglesias, Walt, et al: I'm amazed that people who complain incessantly about how persecuted they are for their position on Israel refused the opportunity to make the Freeman nomination argument about a topic where they have some public support and instead turned it back to Israel. It seems to me if you're worried about being called anti-Semitic then you should argue that Freeman's perspective would be valuable instead of arguing that a cabal of Israelites is conspiring against him.

I donít understand this analogy and how you got there. Mother Theresa was revered because she tirelessly acted on behalf of her beliefs (motivations). Motivations do matter. If she was seemingly doing good deeds but we suspect she had ulterior motives, then it would radically change our perceptions of her and instigate a re-review her actions. Also, most of the people who are making the coordinated attacks on Chas Freeman (and yes, thereís no denying the coordination) are journalists, and it seems to me that the first thing journalists have to do is establish credibility on the subject on which they write. I donít think these writers realize that most them have lost credibility on the subject of the middle east to much of the thinking folks in U.S., so when they now are attacking Freeman on China itís quite difficult to see it as anything else than a change in tactics in their fight against his ďradicalĒ view that Israel has to take a different approach. I will buy yours and Conner Clarke's argument that allegations can still be true regardless of motives and needs to be checked out, but please donít even try to deny that motivations donít matter and that there is not a coordinated campaign against Chas Freeman a la Jimmy Carter, the smearing of whom enraged me because I think Jimmy Carter is an incredibly decent man whoís spent the entirety of his post-presidency doing nothing but good for man-kind such as building homes for the poor and trying to stop genocides.

Also, I would say that Mr. Freemanís views on China are absolutely MILD in terms assessing possible biases that might hinder an official from holding high office positions. If it was acceptable to the likes or J. Chait that people like D. Feith, E. Abrahams, and P. Wolfowitz held defense positions of enormous clout and influence (and weíve now seen just how much), then thereís no way we can disregard their hypocrisy now on their collective condemnation of Mr. Freeman as being too pro China. I also do not believe that recognizing the reality that conditions in certain countries are not conducive to our style of democracy, and stating so in strong terms, precludes a person from holding high office.

Edited to delete this part because it was kind of mean.

bjkeefe 03-10-2009 04:47 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lemon Sorbet (Post 106413)
[...]

Awesome response.

pampl 03-10-2009 04:50 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 106410)
Of course, Jews do this every day in Israel itself, and no one there would dream of launching the "self-hating" bomb. Only abroad, where any deviance from the Likud line is viewed as treason (largely thanks to AIPAC propaganda) can right-wingers get away with such disingenuous psychobabble.

Do you have any evidence of this propaganda? A scanned leaflet perhaps, or a youtube clip of a commercial?
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lemon Sorbet (Post 106413)
I donít understand this analogy and how you got there. Mother Theresa was revered because she tirelessly acted on behalf of her beliefs (motivations). Motivations do matter. If she was seemingly doing good deeds but we suspect she had ulterior motives, then it would radically change our perceptions of her and instigate a re-review her actions. Also, most of the people who are making the coordinated attacks on Chas Freeman (and yes, thereís no denying the coordination) are journalists, and it seems to me that the first thing journalists have to do is establish credibility on the subject on which they write. I donít think these writers realize that most them have lost credibility on the subject of the middle east to much of the thinking folks in U.S., so when they now are attacking Freeman on China itís quite difficult to see it as anything else than a change in tactics in their fight against his ďradicalĒ view that Israel has to take a different approach. I will buy yours and Conner Clarke's argument that allegations can still be true regardless of motives and needs to be checked out, but please donít even try to deny that motivations donít matter and that there is not a coordinated campaign against Chas Freeman a la Jimmy Carter, the smearing of whom enraged me because I think Jimmy Carter is an incredibly decent man whoís spent the entirety of his post-presidency doing nothing but good for man-kind such as building homes for the poor and trying to stop genocides.

Motivations don't matter, your confusion notwithstanding. You can tirelessly act on behalf of other people and advance an argument that birth control is immoral (as in the previous analogy) or any other wrong argument and you will still be wrong. If you're trying to claim that Freeman's alleged emails are forgeries then go ahead, but otherwise "credibility" isn't relevant. I'm going to take advantage of your double negative command and not even try to deny that there isn't a coordinated attack against Freeman. There's no evidence of any such coordination so I'd have to be a paranoid nut to deny its absence.

bjkeefe 03-10-2009 05:00 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Joel_Cairo (Post 106377)

LOL! You know me well. Nonetheless, I came to this thread to register my objection, and register it I shall.

Attn Brian Beutler:

You're far from the only one who does this, (e.g., e.g.) but please.

As has been noted elsewhere:

Quote:

Among my many pet peeves is people saying "the proof is in the pudding."

The correct saying is "the proof of the pudding is the eating." The common misquote doesn't even make sense, unless you're talking about about a mathematical paper buried in the dessert.

According to bartleby.com, the (correct) quote's source is:

Quote:

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)
QUOTATION: The proof of the pudding is the eating.
ATTRIBUTION: Don Quixote.
Thank you.

gwlaw99 03-10-2009 05:06 PM

Re: Saudi Arabia and China
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 106389)
That's a distortion of what he said. A more accurate rendering would be that (he believes) if the Chinese hadn't let the situation evolve to the point where critical areas were being occupied ("the equivalent of the Washington National Mall and Times Square, combined.") then it would have far less likely to develop into a lethal confrontation. Whether or not you believe he's right about that, it's a far cry from how it's being characterized by the right.


I disagree with your analysis. Let's look at the quote
Quote:

I find the dominant view in China about this very plausible, i.e. that the truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China.
Notice he says all other measures had failed. That means they tried everything short of force before they eventually used force. The only thing he could be referring to when he says the government should have "nip[ped] the demonstrations in the bud" is to "nip" by using force earlier as everything else other than force, according to Freeman, was tried.

Ocean 03-10-2009 05:15 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 106416)
LOL! You know me well. Nonetheless, I came to this thread to register my objection, and register it I shall.

Attn Brian Beutler:

You're far from the only one who does this, (e.g., e.g.) but please.

As has been noted elsewhere:

If people would only listen to (read?) you...

Issue #1: "the three tragically misunderstood moderators."

Issue #2: "The proof is in the pudding no-no."

bjkeefe 03-10-2009 05:18 PM

Re: Matt Ygleisas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 106405)
I really enjoy reading his blog. I think Yglesias is a smart commenter and representative for liberal views. I have read him since his early days before he was a paid blogger at the Atlantic. However, I think he is a bad example of someone who doesn't use childish labels against those who do not share his political views (his blog is often used to illustrate the blogging term "snark"--short for snide remark).

In one case, for example, after he called the Third Way's policies "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit," the editors of thinkprogress.com felt it was necessary to remind his readers that his posts "donít always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund". Matt's modus operandi (and in my opinion something that hurts the credibility of his otherwise well written blog) is to imput a bad motive to everything those who do not agree with him do.[...]

I don't agree with your assessment of Matt that he uses "childish labels" to impugn others' motivations, and I think your example does not support your claim. To the latter, I'd say that "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit" is an assessment of a group's actions and results. Agree with it or don't, but it says nothing about their motivations. It's a judgment call based on observable data.

While I'll agree that Matt's good at the snark, and grant that "childish labels" is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, I'd be curious if you could come up with any other examples to support your claim.

And if you make an overwhelming case, then I will say, "He should be allowed to use childish labels. He is, after all, in the Juicebox Mafia." ;^)

What a great term. It has the advantage of being both a good insult and a badge those at whom it's directed can wear with ironic pride.

And speaking of terms, thanks for this:

Quote:

(his blog is often used to illustrate the blogging term "snark"--short for snide remark).
Never heard that before. Certainly sounds plausible. Got any documentation? I see Urban Dictionary repeats this assertion, also without attribution. Kinda seems like a backronym to me, especially given that the word snark has been around for a long time for other uses.

No biggie. Just curious.

Lemon Sorbet 03-10-2009 05:30 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pampl (Post 106415)
Motivations don't matter, your confusion notwithstanding. You can tirelessly act on behalf of other people and advance an argument that birth control is immoral (as in the previous analogy) or any other wrong argument and you will still be wrong. If you're trying to claim that Freeman's alleged emails are forgeries then go ahead, but otherwise "credibility" isn't relevant. I'm going to take advantage of your double negative command and not even try to deny that there isn't a coordinated attack against Freeman.

Iíll concede that point as I think you may be right (not positive), but this isnít an academic mental exercise in absolutism, and there is a lot of context here which I think is not being acknowledged. At the very least, I think the subject of motivation of the anti-Freeman camp is a very valid point of discussion and even an important one. The fact that anyone criticizing Israel is immediately subject to attack may not mean that the attack is not valid, but at the same time, it makes the attackers suspect as well. There is a history there and it's perfectly valid to question their motives, for this attack and future ones.

Quote:

There's no evidence of any such coordination so I'd have to be a paranoid nut to deny its absence.
If you mean we donít have a wiretap recording or a damning memo of coordination between the parties, then, no, youíre right that there is no ďevidenceĒ.

Wonderment, I think you are the John McWhorter/Glen Loury of the Israel debate. I have to think you feel so strongly about this because this is not how you see the Jewish people, just as many who have worn the label "uncle Tom" were the blacks who were especially pained by the state of African Americans. I hope you will have your Obama moment.

Francoamerican 03-10-2009 05:33 PM

Re: The Self-hating Jew charge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 106410)
It is very important for Jews to speak up about Israel's human rights record, belligerence and intransigence. Of course, Jews do this every day in Israel itself, and no one there would dream of launching the "self-hating" bomb. Only abroad, where any deviance from the Likud line is viewed as treason (largely thanks to AIPAC propaganda) can right-wingers get away with such disingenuous psychobabble.).

Psychobabble....bingo. Nothing more need be said. But I would add that it is only in the US that such psychobabble is taken seriously, as this truly exasperating dialogue between a Jew and a goy makes clear. The fact that it a American Jew who defends the right to criticize Israel speaks volumes about the superiority of Jews.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 106410)
When Jews in the US do break ranks with AIPAC, a campaign of discrediting and bullying invariably begins. The message, however, is not so much to the dissenting Jew. It is to other (non-Jewish) Americans: "If you dare to go along with this, you'll be vilified as an anti-Semite" (a far more intimidating and free-speech asphyxiating charge).

Again Bingo.

pampl 03-10-2009 05:33 PM

Re: Saudi Arabia and China
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 106418)
I disagree with your analysis. Let's look at the quote


Notice he says all other measures had failed. That means they tried everything short of force before they eventually used force. The only thing he could be referring to when he says the government should have "nip[ped] the demonstrations in the bud" is to "nip" by using force earlier as everything else other than force, according to Freeman, was tried.

I think the problem is that that sentence is a grammatical mess. If he gets the job I hope they get an interpreter for his weird sentence construction!

He appears to say that they should have done
A. something to nip them in the bud
instead of
B. using force when all else failed (as would have been both wise and efficacious)

He doesn't describe either action as being something they did do so apparently their mistake was in thinking they should do B, the wise and efficacious option of using force as a last resort, instead of A, a timely bud nipping. Or something. I really don't get it.
Quote:

The fact that anyone criticizing Israel is immediately subject to attack may not mean that the attack is not valid, but at the same time, it makes the attackers suspect as well. There is a history there and it's perfectly valid to question their motives, for this attack and future ones.
But defending Israel is more popular with the US public than defending foreign policy idealism. There's a reason why Freeman's positions towards China and Saudi Arabia were adopted by every president. Claiming that the real reasons for criticising Freeman are Zionist in nature not only doesn't discredit his critics but gives them more credit with the polity than the null assumption does.

gwlaw99 03-10-2009 05:42 PM

Re: Matt Ygleisas
 
Well I am not going to look up all of them of course, but here is one

Quote:

The whole business of calling people chickenhawks has fallen into disrepute but I, for one, enjoy it greatly.
As far as "snark" goes, just from reading his blog over the years, he seems to have embraced it. This review of his book which Matt posted on his Atlantic blog references his "snarky" style

Lemon Sorbet 03-10-2009 05:52 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Cogratulations pampl et al., I think Chas Freeman just pulled out.

bjkeefe 03-10-2009 05:53 PM

Re: Matt Ygleisas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 106426)
Well I am not going to look up all of them of course, but here is one

Quote:

The whole business of calling people chickenhawks has fallen into disrepute but I, for one, enjoy it greatly.
As far as "snark" goes, just from reading his blog over the years, he seems to have embraced it. This review of his book which Matt posted on his Atlantic blog references his "snarky" style

First, let me remind you that I said in my last:

Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 106420)
While I'll agree that Matt's good at the snark ...

If you think snark is childish then so be it. I don't. When it's good, it's great -- being able to deliver criticism and get a laugh at the same time requires advanced intellect.

I also don't agree with this example. Like "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit," I see "chickenhawk" as a judgment call based on observable actions and declared stances.

I guess it's in the eye of the beholder, but that's the way I see it.

Eddie 03-10-2009 06:41 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
That's rather maddening. The degree of incredible, deliberate stupidity that Clarke puts on is just jaw dropping. You can tell he can't say what he wants, he disavows the Goldberg, Peretz, style of zionism, and then just sits around and acts dumb.

The lobby is just democracy! You don't hate democracy do you? Nobody is that goddamn dumb.

bjkeefe 03-10-2009 07:15 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
And when it comes to self-promotion, I think Brian should lay off. Conor could not possibly begin to compete with The King.

AemJeff 03-10-2009 08:10 PM

Re: Saudi Arabia and China
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 106418)
I disagree with your analysis. Let's look at the quote


Notice he says all other measures had failed. That means they tried everything short of force before they eventually used force. The only thing he could be referring to when he says the government should have "nip[ped] the demonstrations in the bud" is to "nip" by using force earlier as everything else other than force, according to Freeman, was tried.

Quote:

I find the dominant view in China about this very plausible, i.e. that the truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China.
It's moot, now - but I think you assumed an awful lot, there. I definitely don't read your interpretation from that quote. But, Pampl's point about grammar is cogent.

kezboard 03-10-2009 09:01 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
An unfortunately mixed metaphor.

bjkeefe 03-10-2009 11:57 PM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 106436)
And when it comes to self-promotion, I think Brian should lay off. Conor could not possibly begin to compete with The King.

More (via).

T.G.G.P 03-11-2009 12:17 AM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Who could possibly defend Freeman's abhorrent take on Tiananmen? This heartless reactionary.

atropos 03-11-2009 01:26 AM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pampl (Post 106371)
No, that's not how arguments work. First: all arguments are endless, bad faith changes nothing. Second: the motivations are irrelevant to the strength of an argument. Mother Theresa had great motivations for arguing against birth control but she was still wrong on the merits. If the Freeman criticisms have merit than they have merit, it doesn't matter if they're being made by the second coming of Jesus or a serial child molester.

It is precisely how arguments work in the real world. Let me be more clear so that my position isn't as easily caricatured.

There is, in my view, one major valid reason to argue: to attempt to change minds - the mind of the person on the other side of the argument, and the minds of anyone witnessing the argument (there are some less important but still valid reasons to argue - to test the strength of your own case, etc - mostly these are derivatives).

Quote:

"Second: the motivations are irrelevant to the strength of an argument."
That is certainly true. However I do not claim that motive affects the strength of an argument. What I do claim is that if the purpose of argument is to change minds or in some way to affect the minds of others - then it is important to understand the motivations of the people on the other side of the argument *and* the motivations of anyone witnessing the argument.

In an ideal world with infinite time and resources (economic and intellectual) I suppose I could spend the rest of my life defending one position or another in the Freeman situation - but in terms of changing minds and having effective pragmatic outcomes - I needn't go any further than satisfying the good faith objections of everyone involved. Anything else is a complete waste of time.

Now, as I said originally - it is impossible to know the motivations of everyone involved. Is there probably an important block of people watching this unfold who truly *do* care about human rights in China? Probably yes - so I would probably respond to that criticism on the merits. Do I think that some of the people arguing against Freeman are operating in bad faith? Probably yes, I would probably not respond to every single criticism they offered no matter how minute unless I was concerned that some other person's state of mind on the issue might be changed.

It seems everyone wants to operate in an ideal world - Connor wants the ideal world of pure reason and Brian wants the ideal world of perfect knowledge.

I operate in the *real* world - where knowledge of motivations is imperfect and where I do not have the time nor the inclination to address every conceivable argument on the merits. The more convinced I become that someone is arguing in bad faith the less willing I will be to spend my *finite* resources dealing with him on the merits.

atropos 03-11-2009 01:27 AM

Re: Do motives matter?
 
See the above discussion at http://brainwaveweb.com/forum/showth...d=1#post106466 for a response

gwlaw99 03-11-2009 01:37 AM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Freeman is out. Immediately blames Israel Lobby(tm)'--well he did publish the original article that had to be toned down for the book--which apparanty now includes the 87 Chinese dissidents who wrote a letter to Obama asking him not to nominate Freeman, Amnesty International and speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi.

I found another interesting item from 2002 regarding his knowege of the middle east and terrorism (other than he did not know Israel has made peace with Egypt and Jordan).

Quote:

I'm a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them--to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad. There's an old adage which says you should pick your friends carefully. I would add: you should be even more careful when designating your enemies, lest they act in that manner.
Apparanty he was unaware the Saudi branch of Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing of the Khobar Towers in 1996 (during the period when the peace process looked most hopeful). I thought he was an expert on all things Saudi.

His prediction that they would attack the US in the 6 years after after 2002 this speech is also obviously wrong.

The man obviously has a brilliant grasp of the middle east and middle eastern terrorism and absolutely no conflicts of interest (except perhaps that 2 millions dollars the Saudis paid him to cover the complete operating expenses of his Middle East Policy Council).

Ocean 03-11-2009 09:56 AM

Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
 
Excellent comment!


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