July 28, 2007


They Don't Really Support the Troops: The latest from the New Republic and the Nation. (William Kristol, 7/30/07, The Weekly Standard)

With the ongoing progress of the surge, and the obvious fact that the vast majority of the troops want to fight and win the war, the "support-the-troops-but-oppose-what-they're-doing" position has become increasingly untenable. How can you say with a straight face that you support the troops while advancing legislation that would undercut their mission and strengthen their enemies?

You can't. So those on the cutting edge of progressive opinion are beginning to give up on even pretending to support the troops. Instead, they now slander the troops.

Two progressive magazines have taken complementary approaches in this effort. In its July 30 issue, the Nation has a 24-page article based on interviews with 50 Iraq veterans. The piece allegedly reveals "disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq"--indeed, it claims that the war has "led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis." Needless to say, the anecdotal evidence in the article comes nowhere close to supporting this claim. [...]

The New Republic, in its July 23 issue, takes a different tack. Its slander of American soldiers appears to be fiction presented as fact, behind a convenient screen of anonymity.

A column entitled "Shock Troops" is said to be the work of "Scott Thomas"--"the pseudonym for a soldier currently serving in Baghdad." "Thomas" colorfully describes three sets of alleged misdeeds he and his buddies committed in Baghdad: They humiliate a woman in a military dining hall who has been disfigured in an IED explosion (the woman "wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn't really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor"); they discover human remains and one private spends a day and night playing around with a child's skull ("which even had chunks of hair"), amusing his fellow soldiers; and one private routinely drives a Bradley Fighting Vehicle recklessly and uses the vehicle to kill stray dogs.

My colleague Michael Goldfarb raised questions about this account in a July 18 post on THE WEEKLY STANDARD website, asking for assistance from soldiers and veterans in assessing the truth of the stories told by "Scott Thomas." Within a day, dozens of active duty soldiers and veterans had come forward to point out errors, implausibility, and indeed the well-nigh-impossibility (in the case of the Bradley) of what was claimed. The editors of the New Republic provided to Goldfarb a couple of allegedly corroborating details--for example, the name of the Forward Operating Base, FOB Falcon, where the taunting of the badly disfigured female IED victim was said to have taken place. Soldiers who served at the base have come forward to say no such woman has been seen there. As we go to press on July 20, the New Republic has said they are investigating their own story, and the mainstream media seem to be hoping against hope that they won't have to cover yet another embarrassing episode of journalistic malpractice.

Posted by Matt Murphy at July 28, 2007 5:18 PM

Wherefore might these profoundly reactionary magazines be called "progressive?"

Of course the Communist masters of the Nation long ago claimned that name for themselves, but the world has always known that for a cynical lie.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 28, 2007 6:17 PM

Franklin Foer (TNR's editor) has exposed himself as completely as Dan Rather and Mary Mapes did.

The "author" has apparently been identified, but that only puts the magazine in hotter water (he is married to a staffer, and it seems he went to Iraq just so he could write such a 'story').

It's like David Brock rolled into Jayson Blair, with a Bill Burkett thrown in for good measure.

Foer should immediately go on the Today show, to puff up the vast pro-military conspiracy that is destroying his career. Or he could go to the Hill and become a staffer for John Murtha or Harry Reid. Nothing else is left.

Posted by: ratbert at July 29, 2007 12:00 AM