Sunday, August 19, 2012

A couple of intelligent alternatives to Greenwald and Smiley

We all know that writers like Glenn Greenwald have been going on endlessly for the last few years critiquing how President Obama is conducting his war on al Qaeda. Most notably, he finds the use of drones to be a priori proof of the case he is trying to make. As I've said before, I find Greenwald's arguments on this to be over-simplified and lacking in much depth.

That's why today I was interested in an article by Peter Beaumont titled Are drones any more immoral than other weapons of war? (as an aside, the article appeared in the Guardian, where Greenwald will be writing as of tomorrow - make of that what you will). In it Beaumont begins to tackle some of the more complex questions raised by the use of drones. Rather than quote bits of it, I'll simply suggest you go read the whole thing. THIS is the kind of conversation liberals should be having.

Similarly, people like Tavis Smiley have been brutal in their critiques about President Obama not talking enough about poverty. Much like Greenwald, what I haven't seen from Smiley is any real discussion about the complexities - not only of dealing with poverty in general - but of doing so when the country is careening into a possible second great depression.

And so I would suggest that if you read nothing else today - take some time to exercise your brain a bit by reading this article in the NYT by Paul Tough. When it comes to the issues I care deeply about, I haven't seen anyone cover them any better. Its a bit longer than the article by Beaumont, but worth every minute of it!

Niether of these writers are setting out to be blind apologists for President Obama. In fact, they raise some difficult questions. But the one thing you will not get from Beaumont or Tough are easy answers. People like Greenwald and Smiley who imply that those exist when it comes to these topics are fooling themselves - most likely because of a personal agenda they should be keeping to themselves.

Much like the article Bill pointed me towards yesterday by Clay Claiborne, these two writers demonstrate what intelligent conversation can look like on the left. I'd like to do all I can to promote that and hope we see more of it in the future from writers like this.


  1. Did you read Ta Nehisi's post in today's NYT, entitled "Obama's Transformation.

    I am still baffled by the last sentence. Is he really equating PBO with Dick Cheney?

    That last sentence seemed all out of whack with the rest of the article, almost as if it was copied and pasted from a Greenwald piece.

    I DIDN't get, still don't.

    1. Scroll down two posts. I wrote a Coates' article today. I normally LOVE his writing - but this one was OFF. I guess we all have our weak spots.

  2. The link you provided for the Guardian article took me back to your Tortured Logic post, Ms Pants. That's worth reading again, of course, but here's the url for the Peter Beaumont article you intended:

  3. Okay, I read it. Don't know how I missed it.

    By the way P.M. Carpenter had a hussy fit over the article.

  4. John (aka Realist81)August 21, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    I like your blog smartypants, I've been reading for quite a while after enjoying your contributions on CiF, however I don't see how you can defend the atrocities detailed in this article from The Guardian

    No matter how you dress it such acts are war crimes and if Obama doesn't do his best to stop such acts then he's culpable as the CINC. I realise the ethics surrounding the use of drones is murky however certain things aren't and one of them is targetting funerals and rescuers.

    1. Thanks for stopping by John.

      I'm confused about where you found me defending the drone strikes on rescuers. The truth is that I haven't done so. I'm not ready to jump on Greenwald's bandwagon about them yet. I've often found that when further evidence is presented - Greenwald has gone overboard in his presentation. So I simply don't know enough yet.

    2. Hi Smarty and thank you for a wonderful blog

      I realised after typing the message that I worded it atrociously. all apologies.

      I do however think the piece is relevant to a discussion on drone warfare and highlights the potential dangers of such war making.

    3. John (aka realist81)August 22, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      The above reply is from me. Again all apologies Smarty, I'll get the hang of this internet malarkey one day ;-)


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