Jeffrey Goldberg

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

  • Andrew Sullivan Responds to My Last Post

    A question raised and answered

    Andrew writes:

    On Hagel, I wrote that "Goldblog made the calculation, staying politically neutral (which is itself a political decision for him to retain access with both the Obama administration and the American Jewish Establishment)." Goldblog objects:
    What calculation did I make? I simply stated yesterday morning that it didn't seem likely that AIPAC would be making a cause of defeating the Hagel nomination. (Later reporting, by Eli Lake and others, confirmed this.)

    What political decision did I make? I had already written in favor of Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense -- I even wrote that his straight talk could be good for Israel to hear. "Maybe, at this point, what we need are American officials who will speak with disconcerting bluntness to Israel about the choices it is making," is what I wrote, to the displeasure of some in Andrew's "American Jewish Establishment." How is this neutral?
    I could quibble about the manner and tone of Goldblog's writing on Hagel, but he's basically right on this. I was too hasty and unfair. I apologize.

    I'm not sure what the quibbles would be, but never mind. I appreciate that Andrew revisited his post on the issue.

  • What Is Andrew Sullivan Talking About?

    AIPAC, anti-Semitism, and one blogger's imcomprehensibility

    Andrew writes, under the headline "AIPAC Won't Fight Hagel":

    Goldblog made the calculation, staying politically neutral (which is itself a political decision for him to retain access with both the Obama administration and the American Jewish Establishment):
    I'm not so sure AIPAC will be throwing itself into this fight.

    I actually don't know what Andrew is talking about. What calculation did I make? I simply stated yesterday morning that it didn't seem likely that AIPAC would be making a cause of defeating the Hagel nomination. (Later reporting, by Eli Lake and others, confirmed this.)

    What political decision did I make? I had already written in favor of Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense -- I even wrote that his straight talk could be good for Israel to hear. "Maybe, at this point, what we need are American officials who will speak with disconcerting bluntness to Israel about the choices it is making," is what I wrote, to the displeasure of some in Andrew's "American Jewish Establishment." How is this neutral?

    And I have also defended Hagel publicly, both in Atlantic posts and in a Bloomberg View column, against the charge that he's anti-Semitic. You can read my defense here. So what is Andrew talking about?

  • About All Those Neocons at the Pentagon ...

    Chuck Hagel does not represent the revolution in thought some of his supporters, and enemies, believe.

    From The Washington Post:

    For neoconservatives, who dominated foreign policy during George W. Bush's presidency, Hagel represents a threat to their continued influence at the Pentagon. He was critical of Bush foreign policy initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan and has challenged the influence of pro-Israel activists on U.S. foreign policy.

    The previous paragraph actually makes no sense. How much "continued influence" do neoconservatives have at the Pentagon, which is currently run by the Democratic, non-neocon Leon Panetta? And how much influence did neoconservatives have during the reign of Bob Gates, who was an enemy of the neocons? There is no neocon infuence at the Pentagon today, and there hasn't been any for years. I wish people would calm down and remember that Chuck Hagel in many ways resembles Bob Gates in his approach and outlook. Hagel does not represent the revolution in thought some of his supporters, and enemies, believe.

  • Does This Comment Make Chuck Hagel a Philo-Semite?

    What happens when you try to extrapolate from a single decontextualized statement

    From Chemi Shalev:

    President Barack Obama's controversial candidate for the post of U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, believes that in any Middle East peace agreement there is only one issue that is not negotiable: Israel's Jewish identity.

    The former Republican senator from Nebraska, described by conservative Republicans and Jewish critics as "antagonistic" toward Israel and even as a "borderline anti-Semite" wrote in his 2008 book America; Our Next Chapter that any U.S. president is required "to engage actively in the dangerous and politically risky business of peacemaking. We know that a peace settlement will not happen if the parties are left to their own devices."

    However, Hagel added, "there is one important given that is not negotiable: a comprehensive solution should not include any compromise regarding Israel's Jewish identity."

    My take on the accusation that Hagel is an anti-Semite can be found here.

  • AIPAC's Uncertain Role in the Upcoming Hagel Nomination

    AIPAC tries -- sometimes imperfectly -- to both be, and appear to be, bipartisan. And the people who run it aren't stupid.

    I'll have more on the nomination of Chuck Hagel later, but just one note for the moment: There's an assumption out there that AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel group on Capitol Hill, will be supporting an all-fronts effort to block this nomination, for all of the reasons being discussed: He's unfriendly to Israel, he's soft on Iran, and so on. But I'm not so sure AIPAC will be throwing itself into this fight.

    AIPAC, unlike, say, the Republican Jewish Coalition, or the Bill Kristol Coalition, tries --  sometimes imperfectly -- to both be, and appear to be, bipartisan. The people who run AIPAC aren't stupid: They know that if they foment strong opposition to Hagel on the Hill, they will earn President Obama's enmity, whether or not they succeed or fail. Discussions inside the group -- and what the group is hearing from its friends on the Hill, and in the administration -- is that the president very much wants Hagel at Defense, and would be very upset if a group whose agenda he has more-or-less supported (a strong no to containment of Iran, maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge, siding with Israel at the United nations) tries to deny him the defense secretary he wants, and who is a personal friend.

    The administration is worried most about AIPAC -- it does not generally pay attention to the editorials of The Weekly Standard -- and its emissaries have been working overtime to ensure AIPAC's quiescence. I could obviously be wrong, and information may come out in confirmation hearings that makes it impossible for AIPAC to sideline itself, but my guess at this moment is that the AIPAC will not mount a significant campaign on the Hill.

  • Kant vs. Augustine on Concealed-Carry Handguns

    Fallows has weighed in on the discussion, in particular on my challenge to TNC, who stated that he was actively uninterested in owning a handgun for self-defense.

    The Obama Administration is floating, via the Washington Post, several fairly serious gun control measures that would, if adopted, most likely have little impact on the pace or devastation of gun massacres such as the one in Newtown, but could, over decades, make it somewhat more difficult for criminals, and the dangerously deranged, to get their hands on guns:

    A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.

    All of these measures are reasonable. Strengthening mental health checks is obviously important, and a national database of gun sales could have some use, particularly for post-shooting investigations, and closing the so-called gun show loophole, as I've written before, would at least place a stumbling block before unqualified gun buyers. But unless and until the government comes up with a plan to radically reduce the number of guns in civilian hands (roughly 300 million, and that number is most likely growing at a torrid pace, because discussion of stringent gun control measures sends gun buyers flocking to stores and gun shows), then not too much will change. Which is why I believe law-abiding, screened and trained citizens should be allowed to carry handguns, if they so choose. It's an unfortunate, but realistic, response (not the only response, of course) to the tragic fact that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill have fairly easy access to weaponry.

    My colleagues Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Fallows have disagreed with me on this, and TNC and I had a back-and-forth on the subject, which you can read here. Fallows has weighed in on the discussion, in particular on my Augustinian challenge to TNC, who stated that he was actively uninterested in owning a handgun for self-defense. (I was arguing, in essence, the Augustinian perspective, that we have a responsibility to defend the lives of others, even if we choose not to use violence to defend ourselves.) Jim came in with this comment:

    Since we're rolling out the big-time thinkers, I'll say that the reason I prefer the Coates side of the argument (more guns are not the answer), over the Goldberg side (in the right circumstances they can be), is well expressed not by Augustine but by Immanuel Kant.

    The whole concept of Kant's "categorical imperative" -- testing an idea by what its consequences would be if everyone acted that way -- seems an ideal match for the "more guns" question. In Jeff Goldberg's hypothetical, I personally would feel better if I, uniquely, had a gun in hand to use against the perpetrator. But I would not prefer a situation in which everyone was carrying guns, all the time, and ready to open fire on anyone who looked threatening. Or even if a lot more people were doing so. Thus for me, a "more guns" policy fails the categorical imperative test. It's better for me if I do it, worse for us all if everyone does it. But read the exchange and see what you think.

    I'm not sure Jim is actually arguing with me here, because I don't believe that "everyone," or any number of people close to everyone, should be carrying guns. I believe that only vetted, licensed and trained citizens should be allowed by their states, or their local authorities, to possess weapons outside the house (and, actually, this sort of oversight for people who don't even want to bring their guns outside would be okay with me).

    The population of concealed-carry permit holders in the U.S. now exceeds 9 million, and this group is responsible for very little crime -- they commit crime at a rate lower than the general population, and lower than police officers, and they certainly, as a rule, don't open fire on anyone who looks threatening. They are not the problem, and concealed-carry generally is not the problem. It may even be part of a solution, until such time as a giant magnet appears over the continental U.S. and sucks into the sky America's civilian-owned weapons, or until the gun control movement convinces the majority of Americans who believe in private weapons ownership to open a debate about the 2nd Amendment.

    In the meantime, I can't get two Newtown numbers out of my head: 26, the number of people, mainly small children, who were murdered in the school; and 20, the number of minutes it took the police to arrive.

  • 'Women Who Own Assault Weapons Have Tiny Penises'

    A survey of the past few weeks' serious commentary (and dreck) on guns and gun control

    I've read a great deal of serious commentary about guns and gun control over the past few weeks. I've also read a lot of dreck. And also some funny dreck. Here is my favorite example, from Todd Hartley in the Aspen Times: "Women who own assault weapons have tiny penises, just like their male counterparts. That would explain why they're angry enough to buy a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible."

    I've also been attacked from every direction for my recent Atlantic piece, "The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control)." My favorite hostile tweet came from the anti-gun control Twitter commentator @Joescustomrods, who wrote, "Just read your article on gun control. You belong with the rest of the sheeple my freind. Almost 9000% ignorance."

    Almost 9000 percent ignorance? Why "almost"?

    From the opposite side of the gun control debate, the Washington Monthly, the august journal of progressive analysis and opinion, stated the following in a critique of my article: "(Goldberg) spouts libertarian gibberish and wanks off to macho fantasies about whipping out his penis substitute and blowing the bad guys away."

    I would like to answer the Washington Monthly's accusation by denying categorically that I wank off to macho fantasies about whipping out my penis substitute and blowing the bad guys away.

    I'll let actual libertarians answer the first charge. The Washington Monthly, by the way, falsely and repeatedly asserts that the headline on the Atlantic article is "The Case for More Guns," not, "The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control"). I don't have much hope that the editors will correct that bit about wankery, but they should at least correct the title of the piece.

  • So Many Myths About Guns and Gun Control

    Is Obama going to confiscate your legally owned weapons? Does allowing more concealed handguns make society more dangerous? There's a clear answer to both questions.

    From my Bloomberg View column:

    Myth No. 1: The extremism of the National Rifle Association and its chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, is hurting its cause.

    LaPierre's seemingly unhinged recent performances, first at his no-questions news conference and then on NBC's "Meet the Press," have convinced gun-control advocates and members of the news media that he is out of his mind. He isn't. His appearances were calibrated to appeal to the Second Amendment absolutists who make up the NRA's base, and to help sell weapons manufactured by companies that rely on the NRA to keep their market as unregulated as possible. The NRA's tactic is to gin up paranoia among gun owners that President Barack Obama is going to confiscate their legally owned weapons.

    Myth No. 2: President Barack Obama is going to confiscate your legally owned weapons.

    He isn't. He is so far from doing that it's comical to believe otherwise. There's no constitutional mechanism for him to do so. There's no practical way for him to do so. And he has no motivation to do so, because he's on record defending the rights of sportsmen, hunters and -- this is crucial -- people who believe in armed self-defense to own guns. As Vice President Joe Biden said during the 2008 campaign, "Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey."

    Myth No. 3: There is no proposed gun-control measure that would make the U.S. safer.

    True, there are as many as 300 million guns in the country, with more coming into circulation every day. But some new regulations would help. Closing the so-called gun-show loophole -- which allows many guns to be sold without benefit of a federal background check -- would make it at least marginally more difficult for unqualified buyers, such as felons and the mentally ill, to get weapons. Since 1994, about 1.9 million purchases have been stopped because of background checks. A semi-smart criminal, or a high-functioning deranged person, would still most likely find his way to a gun. But it would be beneficial to place more stumbling blocks in his path.

    Myth No. 4: Renewing the assault-weapons ban is the clear answer to making the U.S. safer.

    "Assault weapons" are defined as such mainly because they have the appearance of military-style rifles. In my definition, any device that can fire a metal projectile at a high rate of speed into a human body is assaultive in nature. How deadly a shooting is depends as much on the skill and preparation of the shooter as on what equipment he uses. Again, it may be beneficial to ban large-capacity magazines and other exceptionally deadly implements. But we shouldn't be under the illusion that this will stop mass killings.

    Myth No. 5: Only pro-gun extremists want to place police officers in schools.

    Before LaPierre took up the cause of armed security protecting students, President Bill Clinton advocated a similar program to assign police officers to schools across the country after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. "Already," Clinton said at the time, the program "has placed 2,200 officers in more than 1,000 communities across our nation, where they are heightening school safety as well as coaching sports and acting as mentors and mediators for kids in need."

    Myth No. 6: Columbine proved that police officers in schools can't stop massacres.

    It is true that a sheriff's deputy assigned to Columbine engaged in a shootout with the two killers but failed to stop them. It is also foolish to draw broad lessons from a single incident. In 2007, at the New Life Church in Colorado, an armed volunteer security officer named Jeanne Assam shot and wounded a gunman who had killed two people outside the church and two others the night before. Assam most likely saved many lives that day. Does this mean that all churches should have armed security officers in the pews? Again, it is difficult to extrapolate from a single incident. But licensed and trained civilians carrying arms do represent one solution to gun violence.

    Myth No. 7: Issuing more permits for carrying concealed handguns makes society more dangerous.

    There are more than 8 million concealed-carry permit holders in the U.S., and the number grows each year. These are people who are vetted by local law enforcement. They commit crime at a lower rate than the general population. And, by some estimates, they commit crime at a lower rate than police officers.

    Read here for the rest.

  • What the Likud's 14th-Ranked Knesset Candidate Thinks of Arabs

    A shocking quote from a fairly high-ranking Israeli politician.

    CORRECTION APPENDED


    Bradley Burston did me a favor today by resurrecting a quote from Moshe Feiglin, the hard-right Israeli who is number 14 on the joint Likud-Yisrael Beyteinu Knesset list (meaning that he will certainly be a member of the next Knesset). I had forgotten about my interview with Feiglin nine years ago, which was part of my reporting for a New Yorker story on the settlement movement. It's quite a shocking quote, and it's disturbing to see that Feiglin is now a part of the Likud leadership. Here's the quote, in context:
    Moshe Feiglin, a Likud activist who lives in a West Bank settlement and heads the Jewish Leadership bloc within the Party -- he controls nearly a hundred and fifty of the Likud central committee's three thousand members -- believes that the Bible, interpreted literally, should form the basis of Israel's legal system.

    "Why should non-Jews have a say in the policy of a Jewish state?" Feiglin said to me. "For two thousand years, Jews dreamed of a Jewish state, not a democratic state. Democracy should serve the values of the state, not destroy them." In any case, Feiglin said, "You can't teach a monkey to speak and you can't teach an Arab to be democratic. You're dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches."

    CORRECTION: Feiglin was 14th on the Likud list. On the joint Likud-Yisrael Beyteinu list, he is 23rd.
  • Gun Owners Are More Complicated Than We Sometimes Think

    "One could say I own a small arsenal. No, I'm not a member of the NRA and never will be."

    This e-mail came in a few minutes ago, in reaction to my latest Bloomberg View piece on guns:

    Hi,
    Just read your article on gun control. I'm a gun owner and one could say I own a small arsenal . No, I'm not a member of the NRA and never will be. You see, I believe the gun debate needs to start with the 2nd Amendment and how it applies to us today. The NRA will never agree to it as Charles Heston said "over my dead body".  Our Constitution gives us the power to  amend it and we need to do it.Keep speaking up  on this issue as you have the pulpit to do it. In the mean time we need to ban Assault Rifles and high capacity Magazines.

  • The 2nd Amendment, First Among Equals for Many Conservatives

    A question for the conservative movement: Why is the Second Amendment valued more than any other part of the Bill of Rights?

    From Conor Friedersdorf, a question for the conservative movement: Why is the Second Amendment valued more than any other part of the Bill of Rights? The Fourth and Fifth Amendments seem like important amendments, too, after all:

    Even if we presume that the 2nd Amendment exists partly so that citizens can rise up if the government gets tyrannical, it is undeniable that the Framers built other safeguards into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to prevent things from ever getting so bad as to warrant an insurrection. Federalism was one such safeguard; the separation of powers into three branches was another; and the balance of the Bill of Rights was the last of the major safeguards.

    If a "2nd Amendment solution" is ever warranted, it'll mean our system already failed in numerous ways; that "solution" is also easily the most costly and dangerous of the safeguards we have.

    It would probably mean another Civil War.

    Yet the conservative movement is only reliable when it defends the 2nd Amendment. Otherwise, it is an inconsistent advocate for safeguarding liberty. Conservatives pay occasional lip service to federalism, but are generally hypocrites on the subject, voting for bills like No Child Left Behind, supporting a federally administered War on Drugs, and advocating for federal legislation on marriage. (Texas governor Rick Perry is the quintessential hypocrite on this subject).

    And on the Bill of Rights, the conservative movement is far worse. Throughout the War on Terrorism, organizations like the ACLU and the Center of Constitutional Rights have reliably objected to Bush/Cheney/Obama policies, including warrantless spying on innocent Americans, indefinite detention without charges or trial, and the extrajudicial assassination of Americans. The Nation and Mother Jones reliably admit that the executive power claims made by Bush/Yoo/Obama/Koh exceed Madisonian limits and prudence informed by common sense.

    Meanwhile, on the right, The Heritage Foundation, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and sundry others are more often than not active cheerleaders for those very same War on Terror policies. Due process? Warrants? Congressional oversight? You must have a pre-9/11 mindset.  
  • The Libertarian Impulse on Guns (and Most Everything Else)

    In which a writer discovers his political orientation, maybe

    Ta-Nehisi and I have been exchanging e-mails on the matter of gun control for the past few days, and he has posted our dialogue on his blog. You can read it here, but be warned: We don't insult each other, so you might be bored (on the other hand, some of his commenters hurl invective in my direction), and also, it's pretty long. But for me, at least, it was a revelatory and interesting conversation with a good friend I respect very much.

    I'm writing not only to highlight our dialogue, but to mention something that didn't make it in. At one point, in a side conversation, I told Ta-Nehisi that my feelings about gun ownership actually track with my feelings on a range of social and political issues. This is what I wrote to Ta-Nehisi after he said he would rather not own a gun for self-protection: "You don't want a gun to defend yourself, fine. That's your right. But denying someone else that right -- someone who is screened and vetted and trained and feels that he needs a gun to defend himself or his home -- is that right?"

    I went on to write that my feeling about gun-ownership tracked with my feelings about pot-smoking (people should do it if they want to do it and not be punished for it); gay marriage (pro); and abortion (I don't like it, but I'm not going to tell a woman what to do with her body). I suppose my loathing for privacy-invading airport security procedures tracks with these beliefs. On guns, I believe that that people who are screened and vetted should be allowed to participate in their own defense. I think people should be treated like adults, and be allowed, within reason, to make their choices about who they want to be with, how they want to organize their lives, what they ingest and how they protect themselves.

    After I wrote this, it struck me that I might be a libertarian. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this feeling. I don't even know anyone at Reason magazine.

    P.S. Yes, I know that some libertarian purists believe that the government should not have any role to play in the regulation of gun-ownership, per their reading of the 2nd Amendment. I just can't go there, however.

  • An Update on Jordan's Plans to Counter Syrian WMD

    From Al Quds al-Arabi, via Haaretz, new information concerning a story I reported early this month, about an Israeli request to Jordan to preemptively bomb Syrian chemical weapons sites:

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting in Jordan with King Abdullah II, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Wednesday.

    According to the report, which has yet to be confirmed by Israeli officials, the meeting focused on possibility that Syrian President Bashar Assad would use chemical weapons against rebels in the ongoing sectarian conflict raging in that country.

    Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg reported in The Atlantic earlier this month that Israel has asked Jordan twice in the last two months for a green light to attack chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent representatives of the Mossad intelligence agency to Amman twice already, to coordinate the matter with the Jordanians and receive their "permission" for the operation, Goldberg wrote.

    The Jordanians, however, responded negatively to the request and refused to grant their approval. American officials quoted in the article said the Jordanians told Israel the "time was not right" for such an action.

    Goldberg wrote further that while Israel could carry out an operation of the kind without Jordan's approval, they were worried about the repercussions it could spark.

    Arab media outlets recently reported that the Jordanian army has declared a state of emergency, and that its troops have been issued gas masks in anticipation of chemical weapons being employed by the Syrian regime near the border. Although this report remains unconfirmed, senior Jordanian officials emphasize that they warned the world that the Syrians might use such weapons last year, and that such an eventuality will require the swift intervention of Western powers, since, according to the Jordanians, no nation in the region, including Israel, can overcome Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
  • The Verdict Is In: I'm an NRA-Hating, 2nd-Amendment Absolutist, Gun-Nut Gun Grabber

    My inbox is overflowing, obviously, with letters from partisans on all sides of the gun debate.

    My inbox is overflowing, obviously, with letters from partisans on all sides of the gun debate. (E-mails prompted mainly by this article.) The geographic split is huge, and troubling for those who would like to see America a more unified place: Those correspondents who identify the state of their residence and are opposed to gun control are mainly -- overwhelmingly, really -- from the South and West (and a bit of upper Midwest). Those who are opposed to concealed-carry are mainly Northeasterners. Much of the mail is entirely sane, and non-insulting, but a large proportion of it (large, even compared to what I get in my Middle East mailbag) is filled with invective. Although I have to admit, I do enjoy getting mail within the same hour accusing me of being a "gun-grabbing libtard" and a "NRA-ass-kisser."

    The argument from the Left frequently boils down to the accusation that my belief in the right of law-abiding and government-licensed individuals to be armed in order to participate in their own defense means that I want to recreate the Wild West in modern America. The argument from the Right comes down to this: Any regulation of guns (I support most of the proposed gun control regulations advanced by the Brady Campaign) means that I'm willing to see the Constitutional rights of my fellow Americans impinged in order to satiate the collectivist desires of liberals who so cowardly they don't want to even protect themselves.

    Here are two letters that are typical of my mail. The first is from someone who thinks that my call for more stringent gun control makes me something of a socialist wackjob:

    You are such a block head. The NRA has a valid point. The DVDs and violent films that have made mass killing 'fun', have a lot to do on why we see so many deranged young killers out there. This Newtown killer was immersed in that killing/game culture. If you cannot see that, you need to stand back and take an objective look. It would also help a lot, if you refrained from drinking that Obama, cool aid. Remember, most of the Hollywood elite, all of Congress, are protected by their personal bodyguards. Why should they feel threatened as I would if I did not have the ability to protect me and my loved ones.

    Give up my guns, and just call  911 and wait 20 minutes? Never.

    There's this, from the opposite side:

    Do you really think most Americans can be trusted with guns? You're out of your mind. Everyone walking around with guns is a nightmare. What about the rage that is inside people? If they have a chance to bring out their rage, what do you think would happen? We'd have blood in the streets everyday. How could you write an article that means more death all around?  Shame on you.

    There are plenty of letters like this one, however:

    Straight to the point here: Thank you for writing in support of a hybridized approach to gun control and gun ownership rights, rather than coming down in support of one of the standard, simplistic, for-or-against arguments that we usually see or hear. Thank you for seeing this grave and complicated issue as something more than an easy choice between two opposite, all or nothing positions.

    It is unfortunately rare that public discussions seriously address the challenging complexities of the issues faced by this country. Issues are typically presented to the public as though only two possible solutions could ever exist, one liberal and the other conservative.  Democrat versus Republican. Blue versus Red. It gets tiresome, diminishes the level of the discussion, and actually makes it more difficult to ever move to an effective solution because it prevents us from fully examining the issues and seeing them clearly.

    It is reassuring to read your opinion piece that recognizes valid points on both sides of the gun control issue, and that looks for a solution that blends support for both public safety and individual rights. Perhaps it may help some people to see that we need more than one-step thinking on this and other issues. I hope so.

    I'm going to keep addressing different issues surrounding this issue on Goldblog, but I wanted to take quick note of an argument I find particularly weak, the "Columbine-had-an-armed-guard-and-look-what-happened" line we've been hearing about so much lately. (I'll get to Wayne LaPierre's idiocies later, but everyone else seems to be dealing with those.) This is from The Atlantic Wire:

    It's kind of like the first time two days ago that LaPierre told the nation that we needed to put an armed guards in every American school to prevent more school shootings. This, despite the fact that there was an armed guard at Columbine High School in 1999, but 13 people died from gunshot wounds anyways.

    It is true that the armed guard at Columbine did not stop the two shooters. But deriving definitive lessons from a single incident seems unwise, and discarding the idea of armed security nationally because it failed at Columbine seems precipitous. The Secret Service failed to keep JFK alive. Did this mean that we should have discarded the idea that our presidents receive Secret Service protection? The CIA failed to stop the terrorist plot that resulted in the attacks of 9/11. Did we discard the idea of intelligence-gathering after 9/11, on grounds that it didn't work in advance of the attacks? Or did we try to make the CIA better at its job? More quotidian examples abound: The police in Chicago have failed to stop the murders of more than 400 people this year. Does this mean that the concept of policing is fundamentally flawed? Or does it mean that Chicago has to work harder to get this right, to devise policies that result in the most effective deployment of government resources? On occasion, the burglar alarms in private residences fail to sound. Does this mean that all burglar alarms are a bad idea?

    I tend to think that placing police officers in our country's schools would represent a waste of money, in large part because school shootings are exceedingly rare. (In point of fact, roughly a third of all schools already have armed security officers.)  But the fact that a cop in Columbine failed to stop the massacre there is not an argument that all cops will fail to stop all massacres.

    UPDATE: A fuller rendering of just what the armed officer at Columbine actually did, from Daniel Foster in National Review:

    (I)t isn't like the deputy was sitting around eating doughnuts during the Columbine massacre. He traded fire (that is, he drew fire) with Harris for an extended period of time, during which Harris's gun jammed. The deputy and the backup he immediately called for exchanged fire with the shooters a second time and helped begin the evacuation of students, all before the SWAT teams and the rest of the cavalry arrived, and before Harris and Klebold killed themselves in the library. Harris and Klebold had an assault plan -- a sloppy plan, but a plan nonetheless. They had dozens of IEDs, some of which detonated, others of which did not. And there were two of them. In this highly chaotic tactical environment, the deputy acted both bravely and prudently, and who knows how many lives he saved by engaging Harris.

    UPDATE: From one Goldblog reader, who thinks all talk about school security is diversionary:

    I'd like to comment on your poking holes in the the "Columbine-had-an-armed-guard-and-look-what-happened" argument. When you have failures of institutions like the Secret Service, the CIA or the Police you try to improve the institution. Fair enough. But how do you improve security at schools? More and better trained arm guards? This doesn't seem plausible (to me at least). Perhaps you have to have schools  as secure as Courthouses and other public buildings. This too doesn't seem economically possible or welcoming for kids.
     
    I'd like to discuss improving access to mental health care and how doubtful a solution that would be for preventing another disaster. I'm somewhat familiar with this as I've a child with pretty significant learning disabilities who would act out (not violently thank goodness). At any rate,  locating competent counseling services is extremely difficult and problematic, even for the most well intentioned parent with lots of resources. Schools programs are designed to handle things like learning disabilities, depression, school refusal. Their resources are overloaded. Furthermore they need the cooperation of both the students and parents. It's not clear any broad based community mental health program would have helped Adam Lanza.
     
    What's the solution? Who knows? Limiting access to semi-automatic weapons and large clips might mitigate these incidents. However this isn't going to happen any time soon.
  • Chuck Hagel and the Jews

    I can't let anti-Semites dictate the terms of this debate.

    Two e-mails I thought were worth answering:
    The first:

    You know supporting Chuck Hagel as you do (even in a backhanded way) means you're in the company of vicious anti-Semites and haters. I thought you should know that.

    Yes, I know that. There are plenty of people (on the Internet, at least) who want Hagel as secretary of defense so that he will punish Israel. There are others who want him in order to prove that "Jewish power" in Washington is in eclipse. I get all that. But I can't let anti-Semites dictate the terms of this debate. I think Israel is heading down a dangerous path, toward its own, eventual dissolution, because it refuses to contemplate even unilateral half-measures that could lay the groundwork for a Palestinian state. I've been arguing for years that the settlers are the vanguard of binationalism, and now they're closer to the center of power than ever before.

    I've spoken to Chuck Hagel in the past. He is not a hater of Israel. On the other hand, he, like Bob Gates, the former secretary of defense, might be able to look Netanyahu in the eye and demand an explanation for the Israeli government's actions on the West Bank. And yes, I'm disgusted by some of those of these new Hagelians. I know they wish Israel ill. But they shouldn't shape this debate, anymore than Hamas should shape this debate.

    The second:

    Don't you think it's dangerous for groups like the American Jewish Committee and the ADL, etc., to get so identified with stopping Hagel, to associate Jews with this cause? Couldn't this backfire?

    Jews are unpopular when they're powerless. They're unpopular when they're powerful. They might as well be powerful, no? Do you think Stephen Walt is going to suddenly like Jews when Jewish groups lose whatever political influence they have?  I don't have any problem with groups of American citizens expressing their opinions about potential cabinet nominees. And I would also note that many mainstream Jewish groups, and pro-Israel groups, are expressing their issues with Chuck Hagel without calling him an anti-Semite. So advocate away, I say.

    My issue is different. If mainstream American Jewish leaders would go to Israel and explain to the current Israeli leadership that it must find a way out of the current impasse, and must re-order its priorities, I would be very happy. There are many people around the world with their knives out for the Jewish state, because it's a Jewish state. That's just the way it is. Israel has to figure out the smartest way to counteract the ancient, bestial urge to eliminate to hurt Jews. Lately, it has not been very good at coming up with a plan. This is the main issue for me. Today's path leads, eventually, to pariah status, and a small state like Israel can't survive  as a pariah. 

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