Monday, January 15, 2007


Dreher has finally moved from bashing Bush to enunciating an actual policy position for Iraq.

(He does this in a post where he reveals, "I didn't write about the war in my book because my own views on the war were evolving at the time." That suggests that the book was really more about his own political views than about describing the political views of an heretofore uncategorized group of conservatives -- no surprise, really -- and it begs the question, why did religion play such a prominent role in the book since his religious views were probably evolving at the time?)

(They're still evolving. "Nobody can deny -- nobody with any sense does deny -- that the world is moving to Pentecostal Christianity," he writes yesterday, but just ten days prior, he asked whether we are entering "the Orthodox century." Shortest hundred years I've ever experienced.)

Rod's thoughts about war are as coherent as everything else he's written.

He wants us to withdraw from Iraq.
The thing is, I strongly believe that the president is right: we are fighting a war that's going to take generations to see through. I have been very outspoken about the threat to America and the West from Islamic fundamentalism. But this Iraq debacle -- which was unwise and unnecessary -- is going to set back the war against Islamism incalculably. I think the US should realize that in this battle, we've been licked, and we should retreat to defensible borders, so to speak, and rebuild for the next round. Because there will be a next round.
While I appreciate his saying this much, this position raises as many questions as it answers.

1. What "defensible borders"? Even taking that metaphorically ("so to speak"), it ought to be clear that the war with jihad is being waged over there and over here. There is no "high ground" to which we can pull back and defend our interests more easily, as the jihadists' range is not limited by the lack of tanks, ships, or long-range missles. It may be convenient for Dreher to use 9/11 in his ridiculous commentary on NPR, but it's not as if Manhatten is now utterly out of the reach of terrorism. Does Rod idiotically believe that our enemies will leave us alone to "rebuild"?

2. What is this business about rebuilding anyway? It wasn't like the thugs pulled a Pearl Harbor and destroyed a sizable portion of our fleet. Does Rod think that our enemies won't be hard at work while we're rebuilding? That they won't be using the remnants of Iraq to build another terror state? That Iran will halt its work for nuclear weapons until we're ready to stop them?

3. Momentum counting for an awful lot in war of this nature, what does pulling back do for our momentum and theirs? Will our enemies find it harder to recruit as we turn tail, or easier? Will we find it harder to fight the next war, or harder?

4. And to what end are we readying ourselves if nation-building is off the table? Dreher's unambiguous in his belief that the paleocons were right that nation-building is a fool's errand:

"It was our Jacobin hubris, our prideful belief in our own power, that got us into this mess."

Well, if we're to have a muscular foreign policy -- AND ROD LAUGHABLY WRITES THAT HE ACTUALLY WANTS A MUSCULAR FOREIGN POLICY -- what will be its goal? If we can't change our enemies in the Middle East, ought we plan to obliterate them? Or try to contain and quarantine them? Or is our so-called "muscular" foreign policy really one of defensive reaction, called muscular because Rod wishes it were so?

This isn't the breadth and width of the idiocy even in this one post:
I think the most important contribution conservatism will make to the debate going forward is a deep understanding of how decisive culture is to the making (or un-making) of societies. That, and an appreciation of the tragic sense of life. I don't think that's been much a part of American conservatism for a long time. Perhaps the Iraq catastrophe will change that. Perhaps.

Someone should tell Rod that WAR ISN'T A FUCKING POETRY READING. "An appreciation of the tragic sense of life" might be fine in a coffee shop, but this is a battle of wills between barbaric jihadists and what's left of the Judeo-Christian West. Pathos ain't going to help us kill or defeat anybody; I'd say we have plenty of pathos as it is, as opponents of Iraq were invoking Vietnam two weeks in.

Understanding that culture matters is a good thing, too, but only if that steels us for the costly and long-term commitment it will likely take to drive our enemies to their knees: "liberal democracy is a hard thing to create, so we should invest the blood, treasure, and years to ensure that the required values spread and triumph over totalitarianism." That I could buy, but not "nation-building is hard, so let's quit after four years and only 3,000 casualties."

That's perhaps the most galling thing from Rod's NPR commentary: "I didn't expect Vietnam." Well, by any historical measure, we haven't had another Vietnam. Even if we did, a nation that suffered 360,000 dead in the Civil War (Union side only) and 400,000 in World War II ought not to be driven from the battlefield because of Vietnam's 58,000 deaths, to say nothing of the 3,000 deaths in Iraq.

How many soldiers will be killed in the next round, Rod -- "Because there will be a next round" -- before you start making McNamara comparisons and calling the theater a "meat grinder"? A hundred? A dozen? One?

Again, this is a battle of wills, and if we withdraw as Rod wants us to, we will show that we simply do not have the will to suffer any appreciable casualties to win a war. Our enemies will see precisely how to drive us from any endeavor -- kill us a few at a time with weapons as simple as roadside bombs, and get the media to cover it (but we shouldn't blame the media; Rod assures us they're not to blame) -- and they will turn every battlefield into another Iraq.

And our oh-so-muscular military and Rod's academic understanding that the war will be long will be as useful as our very own Maginot Line.


Blogger kathleen said...

bubba, you're just a mean old conservative. don't you understand how brave and thoughtful and courageous benedict is for questioning his own assumptions and coming clean about it? on NPR no less? he's too thoughtful to buy into your tired old formulas of "liberal" or "conservative", "right" or "wrong", "coherent" or "incoherent".

6:08 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

What we need here is a Crunchy War. So for that, we go to the Manifesto. I think #6 is especially appropriate (besides, it's my favorite):

6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.

What we need to have is a Small war against Jihad. Keep it local. Fight it the Old way, and not for any Abstract principles (e.g., preservation of Western Civilization) but for something Particular (say, today's battle is about whether the Dallas Morning News ought to run one of the Mohammed cartoons).

7:47 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Oh, good God.

Just twenty-four hours after trying to advocate for "a more realistic and sensibly conservative foreign policy that is no mimicking of old-style Democratic dovishness, but is muscular and hard-eyed in its assessment of American interests abroad", Rod has A CINDY SHEEHAN MOMENT.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Shortest hundred years I've ever experienced.

I laughed out loud at this. I too had noted the disconnect between the Orthodox Century and the Pentecostal one.

Well, at least Rod's a little closer to reality when he predicts a Pentecostal Century. :)

Now I've gotta go check out that Cindy Sheehan Moment.


P.S. How are y'all enjoying Biblebeliever? Best comic relief I've seen at the Rodblog, ever.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I just read that poem. It's about as creative and original as a bowel movement. I hope this good man can do his job now that he's evacuated that from his system. The reference to surfing recalled our little Apoc. Now jokes; comical.

This Marine is definitely the exception, don't you think? How many Marines without a serious chip on their shoulder read A. Sullivan "everyday"?

I remember when I thanked a recently returned Army officer for his service and he looked me right in the eye and said "Thank YOU, you pay my salary; I work for YOU." I didn't know what to say to that; I was grateful, humbled and a little embarrassed. That particular man missed the birth of his 4th or 5th kid and had absolutely no bitterness about it. Bet he could have written a better poem than this youngster. Sounds also like Mr. Marine could use a better girlfriend.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Pauli: I most certainly do believe this Marine is an exception.

BTW, an Army enlisted guy goes to our parish. Young guy. Has been to Iraq several times and is going back in Sept, I think. He's very negative about treatment of enlisted men; calls the war another Vietnam; etc. But last time I talked to him, he said he doesn't really mind it all because "the money's good." I guess he could get out of the military now with no problem, but..."the money's good." If people stay in because "the money's good," they can't be toooooo unhappy, non?


P.S, This guy also tells me all the Marines are gung-ho.

P.P.S. for Rod: Of course war is dehumanizing. That is not exactly a news-flash. Has Rod ever read the Iliad?

10:10 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

here's a little poem i wrote:


sitting in my kitchen once again
i open my laptop and benedict trash talks bush
cuz bush is a meanie and war is really bad
obviously benedict has some oedipal issues
presidents are just like mean daddies
but maybe that's good cuz
then he never has to grow up and figure out
that war sucks now like it did in the good old days
when farmers tilled the land in kansas
and all the stores were small and local
and all of the cars, not just rod's, had no AC.
it's better when no one else has AC either.
yeah i'm still repulsed by rod ray benedict
and i feel stupid scolding my laptop

whew! that took a lot out of me.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

war sucks now like it did in the good old days
when farmers tilled the land in kansas
and all the stores were small and local
and all of the cars, not just rod's, had no AC.


1:16 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

Diane, his view of war consists of watching The Deer Hunter or Full Metal Jacket. You should not expect much else from Dreher. A film that illustrates war's inhumanity while showing it's necessity is John Huston's "The Battle of San Pietro."

2:52 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

i feel another 2 minutes worth of stream of consciousness coming on (let's call it poetry):


they say keep on truckin
and so i do becuase a lot of priests
are still gay, well i think so anyway
i mean lots of people are gay in the closet
even married people with a few kids
and orthodox priests can get married so
maybe there are a couple of gay orthodox priests too
because just because you are married
doesn't mean you aren't gay gay gay
gay gay gay gay gay did i say gay?
it's not that i'm obsessed with gays it's just that
there are a whole lot of 'em
especially a whole lot of catholic gays
in the priesthood and it's good to write about them
because people like hearing trash about catholics
so when a priest communist informer makes the news
i write about priests who are gays
over and over and over again
because they are all gay gay gay gay gay gay gay

3:16 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

The Crunchy con manisfesto with regards to Catholicism as summmed up by Don Henley's song "Dirty Laundry"

Kick em when theyre up
Kick em when theyre down
Kick em when theyre up
Kick em when theyre down

Kick em when theyre up
Kick em when theyre down
Kick em when theyre stiff
Kick em all around

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybodys pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

I posted it under the psuedonym Thomas a'Becket.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Kathleen & Jonathan, y'all crack me up.

Bubba--is it OK if I mention the ook-bay eal-day hypothesis at CrunchyConned? (Not mentioning you, of course.)

5:59 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

Bubba: "Shortest hundred years I've ever experienced."

Yeah, I thought it was very short as well. I guess article in the "newspaper of record" must have made a difference. Anyhow, I've suggested to Mr. Dreher some additional reading.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Yikes. The CrunchyCon comboxes are now officially Out of Control.

A nest of cobras would be more civilized. Ack!

10:38 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Here's one to the tune of the chorus of Daydream Believer:

Cheer up, Diane and Kathleen,
Oh, what can it mean
To a Bible Believer
And a God in the, ee, ee!

1:50 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

now rod's totally psyched that he doesn't have a southern accent and therefore has an accent "good for TV and radio". yeah! all the better for the media megaphone when his book about the "gay gay gay" catholic clergy hits.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I am totally pissed. I just received an e-mail from BeliefNet cautioning me to engage Rod's arguments rather than his character. I responded by saying, in essence, how do you do that with a guy who has just called you a "messed-up pig"? I mentioned Rod's malicious name-calling and vicious insults, regularly lobbed against anyone who DARES challenge hime about ANYTHING.

I'm sure Rod or tmatt aranged for the little wrist-slap, but I am not taking it lying down. When a (cough) public figure calls you vicious names in a public forum--and it's a matter of public record--that is called slander. And, if I'm not mistaken, it's actionable. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Kathleen.) And as I am a geezeress who has decades' worth of savings, I would have little hesitation in taking action--even if only to embarrass a certain little tinpot dictator.



P.S. Gee, the timing of the wrist-slap strikes me as rather, er, coincidental. I mention "book deal," and I get an e-mail from BeliefNet. If this does not confirm our suspicions, what would?

7:00 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

hey diane i got tut tutted by beliefnet too. they threw some quotes at me of what i said, like they were really below the belt, i guess rod picked them out. what a bunch of schoolmarms. they threatened to "suspend my posting privileges" -- oooh! what would i do then with all my free time?

8:16 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

diane don't bother with the legal stuff, it's not worth your time. rod doesn't exactly have deep pockets anyway. sue someone who has AC in his car.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

K & D, fight da power! I must admit that "you're a messed up pig" is quite an argument and I don't know how you'll counter it, Diane, but you must try! (But I agree with Kathleen, no legal action.)

For myself, I can't believe he goes crying to the webmaster when things heat up a tiny bit in the comboxes. Maybe he really is..........

Kathleen, if you get banned you can always come back as "BenedictBeliever" or "kreil" or something.

9:01 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"mrs. beliefnot, kathleen reilly called me an obsessed, bitter convert. no fair! you yell at her! yell at her now! tell her to stop! tell her to stop right now or else! or else she can't post on beliefnot!"

so very lame.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...


I know the legal thing was silly. I was just so mad I had to say it, even though I knew it was kooky and jackassy. "The humor is off me now," as the old Irish song puts it. :)

Amazing how "This is the fifth time Rod has posted about this stupid Polish thing" is considered over the top, while "f___ off, b___ch" apparently isn't. Or even "gollum" or "knothead" or "messed-up pig." OHHHHHkay. Whatever.

If I ever have the time, energy, or inclination (like if I'm realllly bored), maybe I'll send BeliefNot a list of all the instances when Rod has nastily insulted his comboxers--along with documentation and links.

Not that it would do a bit of good. Hmmm, maybe if I CC it around the Internet...? Kind of make BN look like silly asses?

Nahhh, those chakra bracelets already make BN look like silly asses. :)


6:36 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

i have zero familiarity with beliefnet other than the rodblog, but from this vantage point i would say they are verging on the anti-catholic, indulging benedict as they do. let's just say i'm unimpressed.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Speaking of the Maginot Line....Has anyone ever seen the Ginger Rogers movie The Major and the Minor?

All I know about the Maginot Line I learned from that movie. LOL!

10:27 AM  
Blogger demoslider said...

I have my suspicions about Rod Dreher. He seems a little too concerned about some things

10:47 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

uh, demo, you're not the only one.

in other news, here's rod waxing about how he is such a nice guy because of his faith. i'm rolling in the aisles:

"it reminded me of when I used to be a critic, and would gleefully trash untalented filmmakers, actors and the like. Had a blast doing that. Never once thought about the real people with real hopes and real dreams, however tawdry and delusional, that I was bashing.....[now] I would put aside callow cruelty, of which there is too much in the world. I regret having added more than my share back in the day.

For me, I think this comes not so much from having gotten more serious about my faith, but from raising children. Seeing how fragile people are, and how hard it is to build up someone's character, and how easy it is to tear them down -- well, it affects the way you relate to the outside world."

hear that diane, bubba, president bush? rod's not into gratuitous namecalling anymore like he was "back in the day"!

on the rodblog, the fun just never stops.

11:41 AM  
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12:42 PM  

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