John Noonan

Sometimes I read liberal blogs. Not for education, of course. I suppose I read them as some sort of perverse method of reinforcing my convictions on the war. Ronald Reagan used to say "it's not that liberals are ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." It's a bit of wisdom that is most effectively illustrated by the left side of the blogosphere.

This war has become, by and large, an exercise in politics. "Warped Clausewitz" is a good way of framing it. In Clausewitzian theory, war is conducted by a trinity of the people, the military, and the government, all interconnected and functioning as a single-minded entity in pursuit of a single objective: victory.

Today the trinity is fractured. Some would argue that it fractured when we withdrew from Vietnam. But losing South Vietnam didn't have the same horrific implications as losing Iraq to Iran, nor did we have to worry about Saigon becoming the capital of a breeding-ground vacuum state.

And, we aren't conscripting a largely disgruntled pool of unwilling draftees to fight the war in Iraq like we did in Vietnam. All are volunteers. So why has 21st-century America shattered the trinity when we need it most?

True to Clausewitzian thought, the answer lies in the political realm. Opposition to President Bush has become downright religious for some Americans—activists whose greatest fear is that victory in Iraq would be tantamount to justifying the whole invasion and occupation.

Thus leftist pundits erect pyramids of anti-war rhetoric, built on falsehoods, misconception, and doubt—constructs that serve as pillars of justification for a hasty retreat. None of it is built on sound military judgment or expertise, which should be a requisite for respected war punditry, but like Ronnie said, "they know so much that isn't so." And, there's nothing left-o'-center bloggers love more than to show off that knowledge.

Take Juan Cole for example. Cole is a prominent liberal blogger and a professor at the University of Michigan. Recently he reported on his blog, titled Informed Comment (without a hint of irony, no doubt), that the U.S. Air Force:

…launched a series of bombing raids on southeast Baghdad. This is absolutely shameful, that the US is bombing from the air a civilian city that it militarily occupies. You can't possibly do that without killing innocent civilians, as at Ramadi the other day. It is a war crime. US citizens should protest and write their congressional representatives. It is also the worst possible counter-insurgency tactic anyone could ever have imagined. You bomb people, they hate you.

John Noonan

John Noonan has been published in The Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and National Review, and was a contributor to the Encylopedia of World War I and World War II. He blogs at

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