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SOLDIER: 101st Keyboard Brigade Refuses to Answer Hypocrisy

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET
  • David Sirota Newspaper columnist, radio host (AM760), bestselling author

The New Republic was one of the strongest and most aggressive voices pushing for the invasion of Iraq. Their editor, Peter Beinart, led the charge, attacking Democrats who dared to question the move. He and the magazine have yet to seriously consider how easy it is to advocate for a massive military operation based on lies when the advocates themselves never have to face the blood-and-guts consequences of their advocacy. Now, of course, the New Republic and Beinart would like everyone to forget their record, as Beinart pushes a new book trying to position himself as a "liberal" foreign policy guru and a chest-thumping "hawk." But at least one Army lieutenant catches Beinart and his magazine in some dishonest and grossly self-serving editing.

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Second Lt. John Renehan in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education:

"In 2004, shortly before I left for basic training, The New Republic ran a piece in which Peter Beinart, then the magazine's editor, bemoaned the increasingly narrow demographics of those who serve and the consequent emergence of 'two countries' -- one that serves, and a second, more-affluent one that thinks of service as a thing done by other Americans. Notably, Beinart admitted his own mixed feelings on being a member of the nonserving elite, wondering aloud what he might say when a child of his someday asks, 'What did you do in the terror war, Daddy?' Impressed, I wrote a letter to Beinart praising his frankness and noting my own decision to join the military -- one prompted by similar callings of conscience. Then I offered him what I called a 'public-spirited challenge': One of The New Republic's own should serve, and the magazine should write about it...It was a naïve sort of thing to write. My girlfriend took a look at the letter and said, 'You know they're never going to print this, don't you?' I did. But they did print it -- with a notable omission. My 'public-spirited challenge' had been excised, leaving only praise for Beinart."


The netroots have labeled people like Beinart and his "hawkish" friends in the punditocracy as members of the 101st Fighting Keyboard Brigade - authors/insiders/operatives who are "very enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it." The fact that members of the 101st would resort to selectively editing an Army lieutenant's sincere letter to the editor in order to dishonestly heap praise on themselves and avoid facing the tough questions about their behavior tells you all you need to know about how unprincipled these people really are. In their comfortable bubble, war is all just a fun little political game based on Washington's false definition of "strength" as a politician willing to sit in their guarded, air conditioned Beltway office and call in airstrikes and ground assaults - regardless of the consequences for the targets or America's national security.

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