Glenn Greenwald presents a thoroughly incoherent response in which he professes not to understand why Dan Drezner and I might be offended by his saying:
What really underlies the mentality of people like McArdle and Drezner are two pervasive though toxic afflictions — a drooling, self-loving American exceptionalism, along with a self-interested refusal to acknowledge that there is anything truly wrong with our political and media establishment because they both support and are part of that establishment.
I certainly hope for the same forbearance when I argue that Glenn Greenwald is a self-serving media hound with a size-twelve ego squeezed into a size-four soul, and that the root of his rage is less a profound moral grievance than a narcissistic belief that his ideas are of such transcendant clarity, his concerns of such monumental importance, that any failure to obey his dicta can only stem from the most base of motives.
I mean, I'm not saying that or anything. I'm just saying that I'm glad to know that if I did utter the above, Greenwald wouldn't take it the wrong way.
As regards the war, I think his charge of American exceptionalism is actually pretty fair; I think the US has done a better job of occupying Iraq than, say, Iraq did of occupying Kuwait; and my belief in the basic goodness of America, a belief I still hold, made me think the war would be a way to get rid of a dictator and make the Iraqi people better off. My error was in not recognizing that our strength is not the strength of ten merely because our heart is pure. My conviction that we had the wisdom and power to take the fate of another country into our own hands was overweening arrogance, and it's too bad that other people, mostly Iraqi civilians, have paid the price. I think the war also hasn't been good for us, though I'm less concerned about that. The financial cost is not particularly important, but the cost in lives was large, and the cost to our national polity, and to the lives of soldiers who have been thrust into a brutal situation, has been enormous.
But this has absolutely nothing to do with the John Yoo memos, which as I understand matters are more about the war on terror than Iraq; it's not clear to me that our government policy in Guantanamo and elsewhere would be any different if we had not gone to war. (Indeed, it might have been more brutal).
I hope I haven't suggested anywhere that the media ought to report less of things that make my decision to support the war look bad. If I have inadvertently said such a thing, let me disavow it now. But mostly, as I've said elsewhere at tedious length, my arguments are not normative; they're positive. I disagree with Greenwald's assessment of why coverage is structured the way it is, which is simplistic and overreliant on nasty motives. Greenwald has repeatedly tried to obscure the difference. I find it hard to believe that he actually can't recognize a distinction between "is" and "ought"; either way, it does not reflect well on him.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.