The American punditry class love war

Following this week’s explosive article in Rolling Stone by Michael Hastings on the failing war in Afghanistan, these comments in Vanity Fair ring very true:

McChrystal and Co. would have exhibited far better judgment had they looked into Hastings’s career and writings and come to the obvious conclusion that this sort of journalist has nothing to lose in reporting a series of demonstrable facts. Unlike many of this country’s most respected commentators, Hastings did not spend the better part of a decade repeating conventional wisdom about our allegedly unprecedented success in two wars that have already proven to be abject failures, and thus he has no reason to simply take the word of some or another confused presidential administration that everything is under control, or will be after some additional expenditure of blood and treasure. McChrystal would have been better off talking to Thomas Friedman, who is so amusingly naïve that in 2001 he declared Vladimir Putin to be a force for good for whom Americans all ought to be “rootin’,” a term he chose because it rhymes with Putin. McChrystal would have been somewhat less better-off talking to Charles Krauthammer, who has long been the most respected of conservative commentators despite the fact that he has been demonstrably wrong about every U.S. military action of the last 12 years and plenty else besides; the Washington Post columnist would have presumably returned with another round of good news and thereby jinxed the entire operation. Neither of these men are defeatists; both declared victory in Afghanistan long ago. Both have won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Friedman himself now sits on the Pulitzer committee. And thus it is that Hastings and others like him will never win any Pulitzer Prizes for journalism or commentary no matter how much their work changes the course of history, which is just as well, as they seem to be made from lead and recipients seem unable to refrain from licking them.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common