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  #1  
Old 03-10-2009, 10:48 AM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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  #2  
Old 03-10-2009, 11:57 AM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2009, 12:34 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default 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.
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Originally Posted by atropos View Post
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.
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  #4  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:47 PM
opposable_crumbs opposable_crumbs is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

There's a certain amount of irony contained within your post.
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  #5  
Old 03-10-2009, 04:30 PM
Lemon Sorbet Lemon Sorbet is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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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 don’t 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, there’s 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 don’t 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 it’s quite difficult to see it as anything else than a change in tactics in their fight against his “radical” 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 don’t even try to deny that motivations don’t 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 who’s 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. Freeman’s 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 we’ve now seen just how much), then there’s 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.

Last edited by Lemon Sorbet; 03-10-2009 at 04:42 PM..
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2009, 04:47 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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[...]
Awesome response.
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  #7  
Old 03-10-2009, 04:50 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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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?
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Originally Posted by Lemon Sorbet View Post
I don’t 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, there’s 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 don’t 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 it’s quite difficult to see it as anything else than a change in tactics in their fight against his “radical” 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 don’t even try to deny that motivations don’t 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 who’s 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.
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  #8  
Old 03-10-2009, 05:30 PM
Lemon Sorbet Lemon Sorbet is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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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.
I’ll concede that point as I think you may be right (not positive), but this isn’t 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 don’t have a wiretap recording or a damning memo of coordination between the parties, then, no, you’re right that there is no “evidence”.

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.
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  #9  
Old 03-11-2009, 01:26 AM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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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.

Last edited by atropos; 03-11-2009 at 01:43 AM..
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  #10  
Old 03-11-2009, 09:56 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Excellent comment!
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  #11  
Old 03-11-2009, 10:24 AM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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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.
Your patience with arguments is completely irrelevant to their merit. Your concern with motivations is as well. Whining about bad faith apparently didn't help Freeman so apparently he also disagrees with your virtue-theory of logic.
Quote:
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.
Duh that's the purpose of argument. The second half of the sentence doesn't follow, and "understand the motivations of" is different from "attack the motivations of"

Last edited by pampl; 03-11-2009 at 10:26 AM..
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  #12  
Old 03-11-2009, 12:15 PM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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Your patience with arguments is completely irrelevant to their merit. Your concern with motivations is as well. Whining about bad faith apparently didn't help Freeman so apparently he also disagrees with your virtue-theory of logic.

Duh that's the purpose of argument. The second half of the sentence doesn't follow, and "understand the motivations of" is different from "attack the motivations of"
1) I have granted the point on the "merit" or "strength" of an argument. I then pointed out that no one operates from the ideal position of being able to respond to all possible objections on their merits and that in terms of pragmatic outcomes only arguments made in good faith matter. Repeating the point as if I disagree with it might it be interesting rhetorically, but it has no impact on the discussion.

2) The fact that Freeman's "whining" about bad faith didn't help him says nothing of his agreement with my "virtue-theory of logic." I'm not even sure what you are attempting to say there. It just sounds snide. Please clarify - if there's anything useful in that sentence then I missed it.

3) At what point did I say anything of virtue? I am making *purely* pragmatic arguments. We could explore the relationship between virtue and argument if you'd like - but the case I'm making is quite strong without having to get into those weeds. Again, introducing virtue as if I've said something about it is a nice rhetorical device - but has no impact.

4) At what point did I attack the motivations of anyone? Or say that one should attack the motivations of anyone? All I claim is that in order to operate in the world one need only concern oneself with arguments that are made in good faith because addressing those is the *only* way to change minds. Spending time addressing arguments made in bad faith will achieve precisely nothing from a pragmatic standpoint.

I would just at this point note the irony in the fact that you seem to be unable to take my arguments here at face value while arguing that everything should be taken at face value. Is it possible that you introduced virtue into the discussion because you believe I'm motivated by some sense of "virtue" logic? Certainly I never brought it up.

Last edited by atropos; 03-11-2009 at 12:56 PM..
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  #13  
Old 03-11-2009, 03:33 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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1) I have granted the point on the "merit" or "strength" of an argument. I then pointed out that no one operates from the ideal position of being able to respond to all possible objections on their merits and that in terms of pragmatic outcomes only arguments made in good faith matter. Repeating the point as if I disagree with it might it be interesting rhetorically, but it has no impact on the discussion.

2) The fact that Freeman's "whining" about bad faith didn't help him says nothing of his agreement with my "virtue-theory of logic." I'm not even sure what you are attempting to say there. It just sounds snide. Please clarify - if there's anything useful in that sentence then I missed it.

3) At what point did I say anything of virtue? I am making *purely* pragmatic arguments. We could explore the relationship between virtue and argument if you'd like - but the case I'm making is quite strong without having to get into those weeds. Again, introducing virtue as if I've said something about it is a nice rhetorical device - but has no impact.

4) At what point did I attack the motivations of anyone? Or say that one should attack the motivations of anyone? All I claim is that in order to operate in the world one need only concern oneself with arguments that are made in good faith because addressing those is the *only* way to change minds. Spending time addressing arguments made in bad faith will achieve precisely nothing from a pragmatic standpoint.
1) The system isn't an atroposocracy. It's a democracy. You don't have any obligation to argue against everything, and it wouldn't serve you particularly well if you were to spend time that way anyway. It only makes sense to argue against the most cogent or interesting arguments, regardless of the intentions behind them. It's wrong and nonsensical to say that "in terms of pragmatic outcomes only arguments made in good faith matter". Arguments in bad faith have moved nations and will continue to do so.

2) The defense of Freeman involving accusing his attackers of being liars and conspirators failed. Trying to disregard their arguments by calling them bad people didn't seem to convince anyone.

3) You haven't given any pragmatic reasons though. No one makes arguments just to try to get you to respond. They argue to change minds, and do so to a broad audience not just your mind.

4) Publicly speculating on the honesty of people arguing with you has everything to do with attacking their motivations and virtue. If you're only making an irrelevant point about some internal monologue in which you try to ascertain motivations then fine, go for it. I still think it's a faulty way of thinking but I'm not a shrink so fixing it isn't my job.
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  #14  
Old 03-11-2009, 04:11 PM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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It only makes sense to argue against the most cogent or interesting arguments
This might be the first fragment of a thought of yours with which I agree. I will take it to heart and make this my last post on this subject. Feel free to have the last word.

I will apply my "faulty" way of thinking to the situation at hand and perhaps show you what I mean (unlikely that you will take the point, but others might).

This whole time I have been trying to assume that we were having a conversation about whether or not motive matters. This was, in any case, what *I* was discussing from the get-go. I've offered a neutral position on Freeman and noted along the way that the arguments against him should probably be examined on their merits.

But this doesn't seem to be what you're discussing. You seem to be ignoring the points I'm making on the matter and dragging in nonsensical and off-topic matter and attempting to connect it with my argument here. I never called anyone a liar, nor did I charge anyone with conspiracy. Yet there you go bringing those ridiculous bad-faith comments into the discussion.

Here comes my "faulty" thinking: I think you're not at all motived by the philosophical question of whether or not motive matters when it comes to arguments. The more I interact with you the more I become convinced that what is motivating you is an intense emotional response to the situation with Freeman and you just want to see your side win. You saw your side win and gave me this:

Quote:
Whining about bad faith apparently didn't help Freeman so apparently he also disagrees with your virtue-theory of logic.
Emotional ejaculation if I've ever seen it - and that was with my taking a neutral perspective on Freeman.

So - my assessment is that attempting to argue with you on the merits of this issue will be fruitless. I do not believe it is the issue that is actually motiving you and as a result nothing I will say (or have said) will get through to you. Therefore I will cut my losses and stop wasting my time trying to convince someone who isn't actually interested in the topic at hand. You will just keep introducing new and ever-increasingly creative straw men.
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  #15  
Old 03-11-2009, 05:02 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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Originally Posted by atropos View Post
This whole time I have been trying to assume that we were having a conversation about whether or not motive matters. This was, in any case, what *I* was discussing from the get-go. I've offered a neutral position on Freeman and noted along the way that the arguments against him should probably be examined on their merits.
It wasn't clear in your first post that you wanted to talk in the abstract or that your analysis of motives doesn't apply to the Freeman argument. Indeed, you said "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". This is the opposite of what you're now claiming your position is.
Quote:
But this doesn't seem to be what you're discussing. You seem to be ignoring the points I'm making on the matter and dragging in nonsensical and off-topic matter and attempting to connect it with my argument here. I never called anyone a liar, nor did I charge anyone with conspiracy. Yet there you go bringing those ridiculous bad-faith comments into the discussion.
I never said you did. I did say that's what the arguments against Freeman were, which is the example we're discussing. However, you did just say that my arguments were in bad faith, so you are actually calling someone a liar. It took 3 whole comments for you to resort to making accusations against people's motives, congratulations for your self-restraint.
Quote:
Emotional ejaculation if I've ever seen it - and that was with my taking a neutral perspective on Freeman.
You've clearly never seen an emotional ejaculation then.

You spent paragraphs going on and on about whether you'd be motivated to respond. This has nothing to do with changing minds, or pragmatism, or anything else you had prior claimed. Your new position is even shallower and more poorly thought out than your prior position so you appear to be making straw men of your own arguments.
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Old 03-11-2009, 12:52 PM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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Rather, people typically decide which arguments to attend to or ignore based on the topic or subject matter of the argument -- i.e., whether they care what the argument is about -- and also, alternatively, sometimes based on who is making the arguments, regardless of the topic (this happens a lot, e.g., with Likud-loving-extreme-right-neocon-Zionist-"Lobby"-hawks). So, e.g., if you were an activist for human rights in China, you'd be extremely interested in arguments for the conclusion that Freeman has a longstanding record of defending China's authoritarian regime (just as these 87 Chinese dissidents do)
I agree that people generally concern themselves with issues that matter to them. I agree that this issue matters to the Chinese dissidents - and likely to many others as well. Those people are operating in good faith and were I concerned one way or the other with Freeman's status I would make it my business to respond to their good-faith objections and arguments (at least assuming there were enough of them to make a difference politically).

I also accept Brian's point in the diavlog that there are some commentators out there who probably don't actually care as much about China as they are claiming and that are truly motived by the Israel issue. A person supporting Freeman should feel exactly zero obligation to respond to those people on the China issue. Why? A response on the issue of China will have no impact whatsoever on their thinking and action in the world. Those people must be dealt with in terms of their good faith objection over his stance on Israel. Until that objection is dealt with they will raise innumerable bad faith objections.
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Old 03-11-2009, 05:12 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

The bottom line is that anyone with views on Israel/Palestine that are considered mainstream, if not downright conservative, everywhere else on the planet cannot get elected or appointed dogcatcher in the USA.

There are a few AIPAC-safe Congressional seats, but that's about it.

It will be interesting to see how the (now-chastened) Obama administration deals with the triumph of the extreme right in Israel and the impending ascent of a racist loon to the office of Israeli Foreign Minister.
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  #18  
Old 03-11-2009, 05:56 PM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

You are, of course, correct. My quote above is unfortunate. I've tried to maintain consistently that the China issue should be dealt with on the merits. I gave you a sloppy response there. I'm making the very (it seems to me) mundane point that it is impossible to change the mind of a person who is arguing or operating in bad faith and that attempting to do so is a waste of time. Of course observers who hear the arguments made in bad faith and who genuinely consider them to be persuasive and important must be addressed which is why I've tried to remember to maintain consistently that the China issue had to be addressed.

You are correct that Freeman's defenders failed. And here, at the risk of muddying the waters, I have a question for you: why? I truly know nothing of Freeman and had no stake in his selection - but as a result of this conversation I did look around briefly today and found the email that he wrote on Tiananmen. Is the consensus that that email is why he was sunk? Because... not to sound crazy or anything... basically I think he is broadly correct? Is it not transparently obvious that one way to have avoided the level of bloodshed in that situation would have been to act aggressively much earlier? I mean certainly the Chinese government could have let the protesters control the capital until they got tired of protesting or until the regime fell - but is that really what anyone expects a government will do in such a situation?

Just to be clear: I consider myself a China hawk and, again, I have no stake in the Freeman situation, but if it was mostly this position on China that sunk him I think that would have been defensible. But maybe I'm just too much of a foreign policy realist for today's political climate.

And since you're interesting, another question: can you envision a scenario in which you would feel manipulated should you find out that a person making arguments on behalf of some cause that you found very persuasive didn't actually care a whit for the cause and was just using you as a chess piece? Obviously if you're interested in the issue and the argument is persuasive then the arguments that were made in bad faith end up being embraced by you - I just wonder if at any point you start to feel used, or if you are just grateful for the person bringing these issues to your attention.

Suppose that you're the Chinese dissident and it has been brought to your attention that Freeman shouldn't be your man. Ok, you win that fight - now the next guy that comes along also isn't your man - but he is the other guy's man - the one who was just telling you that you had a stake in torpedoing Freeman. Only that other guy doesn't say a thing about the China problem with the new candidate because his real concern was elsewhere. Do you feel used?

I hasten to point out that this question has no basis in reality - I grant you the point that many people are concerned about both China and Israel and that the scenario is entirely manufactured and imaginary. I'm not interested in claiming that this happens or even could ever happen. I'm wondering whether or not motivation matters to you at all.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:06 AM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

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...
I agree that addressing the stated argument will do nothing to convince the bad-faith arguer, but, really, how often can it convince the good faith debater? Those are obviously not equivalent, but it IS pretty unusual for someone who really believes in a cause to take opposing arguments seriously and even rarer to be convinced by them. It would be tough to hope for that and not end up jaded after spending a little time on the internet.

I think we could endlessly argue about what caused the bulk of the pressure, but I do think there's a strong case that the straw that broke the camel's back was the letter from Pelosi. She receives no money or votes from AIPAC or, as far as I could recognize, any other Zionist organization, she represents a district that's probably on the whole opposed to the Israel-hawk position, and she represents a huge number of Chinese-Americans and people supportive of human rights and student protests.

I don't know the extent to which I'd feel used or grateful. I can't remember being in that position before. It would probably bug me if I thought I shared ideals with someone but turned out to have been duped, but I don't place a high premium on that kind of loyalty so I don't think I'd be angered enough to change any position or principle over it. Tough, interesting question.

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Ambassador Freeman has withdrawn, and made an ugly exit. But one cannot help but sense that the vociferous defense against the existence of an Israel Lobby in the formulating of American policy is revealed to be hollow by the evisceration of Charles Freeman.
No one denied AIPAC exists. AIPAC didn't do anything this time. No one denied that there are Zionist pundits. There was no new evidence connecting them in a vast coordinated "lobby". When pro-life bloggers complain about pro-choice appointments, no one talks about a shadowy pro-life lobby pulling the strings and holding dual-loyalties between the USA and fetuses.
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  #20  
Old 03-12-2009, 08:13 AM
atropos atropos is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

I was hoping to let the subject drop with you but since you followed me into the discussion I was having with mvantony I suppose I will respond.

I think you're right that in the end it is difficult and perhaps even unusual to change someone's mind on a subject. I suppose I just feel that there's at least some chance to change someone's mind when the argument they are making is the one that really motivates them. If there is a sense in which am guilty of the idealism that I charged Brian and Conor with - it is that I believe that good faith public discourse can work and that in the end it is the only way to avoid violence. It won't always work but it's the best chance the world has.

Just for the record: in the other thread you seem to imply that I offered a non-neutral stance on Freeman. My "I could spend the rest of my life defending one position or another in the Freeman situation" quote was intended to convey a neutral stance. I see now how it might be misinterpreted to mean that I could defend Freeman on every charge brought against him - what I intended to convey was that I could either defend the critics of Freeman or his attackers. The point was that in terms of political effectiveness it's only ever worth it to respond to the arguments people actually believe (including observers, as discussed).
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  #21  
Old 03-12-2009, 09:49 AM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Quote:
Originally Posted by atropos View Post
I was hoping to let the subject drop with you but since you followed me into the discussion I was having with mvantony
Sorry, I didn't realize.
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  #22  
Old 03-10-2009, 12:14 PM
Ray Ray is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #23  
Old 03-10-2009, 12:40 PM
Stapler Malone Stapler Malone is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Conor Clarke: Wrong on Jamie Kirchik.
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  #24  
Old 03-10-2009, 12:41 PM
nikkibong nikkibong is offline
 
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Default 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!

Last edited by nikkibong; 03-10-2009 at 12:47 PM.. Reason: apparently his name is 'beutler,' not 'buteler'
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  #25  
Old 03-10-2009, 01:14 PM
Joel_Cairo Joel_Cairo is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Uh-Oh.
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  #26  
Old 03-10-2009, 05:00 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel_Cairo View Post
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.
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  #27  
Old 03-10-2009, 05:15 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
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."
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  #28  
Old 03-15-2009, 03:45 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
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:

"The proof's in the pudding" is fine, the eating being implict in the pudding as proof. After all time is money, Cervantes notwithstanding.

Itzik Basman
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  #29  
Old 03-15-2009, 04:31 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Quote:
Originally Posted by basman View Post
"The proof's in the pudding" is fine, the eating being implict in the pudding as proof. After all time is money, Cervantes notwithstanding.

Itzik Basman
Plausible, I grant. Pet peeves are not entirely rational, after all. However, I expect there are other circumstances where you would be impatient with a "you know what I mean" argument, and would yourself insist, "Why not just get it right?"
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  #30  
Old 03-15-2009, 04:42 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Plausible, I grant. Pet peeves are not entirely rational, after all. However, I expect there are other circumstances where you would be impatient with a "you know what I mean" argument, and would yourself insist, "Why not just get it right?"
But my point is that it is right; it's not a case of "you know what I mean", that it's commonly understood that the eating inheres in the cliche.

Take a survey, the proof will be in the pudding I'd wager.

Itzik Basman
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  #31  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:05 PM
splink1 splink1 is offline
 
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Default Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman

I think the very famous quotation about freedom of the press is actually from A. J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
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  #32  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:39 PM
gwlaw99 gwlaw99 is offline
 
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Default 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.

Last edited by gwlaw99; 03-10-2009 at 02:52 PM..
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  #33  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:48 PM
opposable_crumbs opposable_crumbs is offline
 
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Default Re: Saudi Arabia and China

So basically he was palling around with terrorists - that's your critism?
Or maybe palling around with communists?
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  #34  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:50 PM
gwlaw99 gwlaw99 is offline
 
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Default Re: Saudi Arabia and China

Quote:
Originally Posted by opposable_crumbs View Post
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.
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  #35  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:50 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Saudi Arabia and China

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwlaw99 View Post
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.
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:06 PM
gwlaw99 gwlaw99 is offline
 
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Default Re: Saudi Arabia and China

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
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.
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:33 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: Saudi Arabia and China

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwlaw99 View Post
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.

Last edited by pampl; 03-10-2009 at 05:38 PM.. Reason: added LS response
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  #38  
Old 03-10-2009, 08:10 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Saudi Arabia and China

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwlaw99 View Post
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.
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  #39  
Old 03-10-2009, 02:47 PM
MikeDrew MikeDrew is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #40  
Old 03-10-2009, 03:43 PM
gwlaw99 gwlaw99 is offline
 
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Default 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 "don’t 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.
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