Paul Krugman’s Shame

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 9 months ago

Paul Krugman bears his soul to us on the events of 9/11 and thereafter.  He sets the framework for his short post with his title: The Years of Shame.

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te (sic) atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.

Good grief.  A columnist for the New York Times leaves a spelling error in his post, and the Times runs it anyway.  And Krugman doesn’t seem to care enough to correct it.  Is it me or do many bloggers care more about their prose than the New York Times, and isn’t this odd?  Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

But on to the main point.  Let’s do this thing about Iraq … one … more … time.  My own son did a combat tour of Iraq, so I have the right to say just about anything I want to concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom (though not as much right as those families who paid the ultimate sacrifice).  Knowing something about nuclear technology and thus knowing the kind of infrastructure it takes to accomplish enrichment, I was ambivalent about the invasion (we call this phase Operation Iraqi Freedom I).  With Michael Fumento and others, I know that chemical weapons are a poor substitute for military weapons (conventional ordnance is much more effective), and so that justification failed with me.

But whatever policy differences or questions I might have had with that phase of the campaign, there was no vacillation in my support for Operation Iraqi Freedom II (generally taken to be late 2003 – 2006) and III (2007 and on, i.e., surge and post-surge).  During the height of the conflict, eighty to one hundred foreign fighters per month crossed the Jordanian and [mainly] Syrian borders to fight the U.S. in Iraq.

Al Qaeda poured an immense amount of capital into the campaign in Iraq, including money, philosophical  underpinnings and personnel.  Their writers went to work trying to justify suicide as a legitimate form of jihad, they spent a large amount of the monies donated by wealthy Saudis on Iraq, and they lost thousands of fighters who would otherwise have been able to fight in Afghanistan or come to the shores of the U.S.  And I don’t buy the notion that Iraq was their raison d’être.  I believe that they would have fought us anyway, anywhere.

Iraq was a quagmire for al Qaeda.  It was a tremendous loss for them, regardless of the final disposition of the campaign for Iraq.  I am proud of the role played by the American Soldier in Iraq.  As a Marine father, I am proud of the role played by the U.S. Marines in the pacification of the Anbar Province.  The ridiculous notions of … flipping … a tribe, as if this is some sort of parlor game, is a poor excuse for explaining what happened there.  More than 1000 Marines perished in Iraq, and years of fighting set the preconditions for “flipping” those tribes.

I am proud of the first responders on 9/11.  I am proud of how our nation responded, and I am proud of the contribution our warriors have made and are making to Operation Enduring Freedom.  I am proud of the strengthening of our nation’s security apparatus since 9/11, and have noted that much more is needed.  I am particularly proud of God’s grace to this country in the days since 9/11.  Lastly, I am proud of the combat tour my son did in the U.S. Marines.

Isn’t it telling that Krugman is ashamed of the days since 9/11?  It demarcates world views, no?  Is it just me and is it odd that this seems more like Paul Krugman’s shame than America’s shame?  I don’t think it’s just me, and it really isn’t all that odd.

Unlike the coward Krugman, I’ll leave comments open on this post.

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  1. On September 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm, Josh said:

    Good read, good thoughts. I will add, however. You’re correct in that there is a demarcation of world views. Whether Krugman’s shame is “America’s Shame” is unbeknownst to me, but I can say a great many Americans feel as he does and for varying reasons.

    I, for example (wholeheartedly disagree with Krugman’s boyish ramblings), feel the incursions into citizen’s privacy is shameful. I feel the militarization of our nation’s civil police force – which was made possible by funding from the Patriot Act – is shameful.

    There are a great many things done in the wake and in the name of ‘9/11’ that are certainly shameful, in Iraq and out of it.

    But, an entire generation grew up over the last decade. They learned about war, politics, power and government. Through the lenses of history, I believe the last two decades will be shown to serve as a larger precursor to a radical shift in … everything … in America. For better or worse.

    I am proud. Even more, I am cautious.

  2. On September 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm, Diane said:

    So you think it’s okay to tear apart a nation that did nothing to harm us in order to draw out Al Qaeda. How many Iraqis died? How many Iraqi children are growing up without parents, or, worse, not growing up at all? What gave us the right to draw them into OUR war on terror? I’m not denigrating your son. I believe that even soldiers who fight for unjust causes are heroes. They don’t get to decide where to fight. But I believe that you haven’t thought out the implications of this. Al qaeda used Iraq as a tool to recruit and fundraise and practice battle techniques. Meanwhile, the Taliban, a real enemy who had harbored Al quada, and terrorists in Pakistan went ignored while we battled in Iraq. It was NOT a good idea, nor a good war.

  3. On September 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    So what part of this article didn’t you read? Or did you just skip all of it and go directly to the comments section?

  4. On September 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm, GM Roper said:

    Herschel, you beat me to the punch. Not only that, but you have stated the problem with this dweeb far greater than I could have ever done. You are of course, exactly right, Diane’s “pithy” comments notwithstanding. In the days since 9/11 we need to remember that we were attacked, without provocation despite the unreasonable protestations of the left, and of the panty-waists in our government. We must maintain our vigilance, our military and our willingness to take war to whomever attacks us. Again, an excellent post!

  5. On September 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm, GM Roper said:

    Posted on my facebook page.

  6. On September 12, 2011 at 12:38 am, A. Miller said:

    Yes, I am proud too of this nation’s response in the face of terror. I think Paul Krugman would never be proud of America unless we became some sort of socialist state. For the Krugmans of the world, it will always be our fault. There are points with which I disagree. We stayed too long in Iraq. Bremmer and Rumsfield screwed up Iraq by dismissing the Iraqi army. The rules of engagement suck. No mosque is worth the life of a single marine. We should have pounded the Imam Ali mosque and cemetery directly into hell and not have had our guys retake the same ground two or was it three times? When we ask our young men and women to die for us, we need to put their lives first. We cannot transform Islamic culture and build modern nation states, unless we want to transform those states into what Berlin and Hiroshima looked like after WWII. If we want to end terrorism, we really need to cut off the funding. I would have preferred an invasion of Saudi Arabia to Iraq.

  7. On September 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm, art said:

    It’s pretty safe to say that Paul Krugman IS America’s Shame. Self loathing new york liberal.

  8. On September 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm, miriam said:

    Even if we turned this country into a socialist paradise, the Krugmans would not be proud of it. That’s because we are a bunch of rubes clinging to our guns and religion and not hip, cool and groovy Europeans or third world victims.

  9. On September 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm, David said:

    What exactly was incorrect with what Diane stated? I served in the Air Force from 2005-2011 and much of what she said rings true for me as well. Iraq was in no way related to the attacks on 9/11, and yet in your post you seem to be suggested that Iraq war was justified in 2003-2007 after the fact because we got to kill people who came to Iraq to attack us. Do you have any idea how brutal, how hellish Iraq was for the common Iraqi during those years? America certainly had the right to invade Afghanistan to attempt to eradicate al-Qa’ida and their Taliban supporters. But to suggest that our invasion of Iraq was somehow justified after the fact just because we got to kill some al-Qa’ida is absolutely absurd. We suffered greatly on 9/11; it’s why I joined the Air Force after high school. But Iraqis were suffering a 9/11 every single month due to our failed occupation and post-invasion planning. Every. Single. Month. As a Christian, don’t you think that the life of the lowliest Iraqi is as equally valuable as that of an American’s?

    Also, you say that you “don’t buy the notion that Iraq was their raison d’être.” Well, just because you don’t buy it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Most of the foreign fighters flowing into Iraq were recruited and radicalized after the start of the Iraq War and they were radicalized in RESPONSE to the Iraq war. This is an accepted fact among most people who have studied the various roots of the Iraqi Insurgency at length. Ironically, I found this site today because I was researching JRTN for school and I found your post linking to West Point’s CTC article about JRTN. JRTN, the Sunni/nationalist terrorist group whose “raison d’être” is almost ENTIRELY focused on ending the US Occupation of Iraq. So much so that within the very CTC article you linked to they discuss the fact that our withdrawal from Iraq spells trouble for the group’s continued viability. Direct quote:

    “The withdrawal of most or all U.S. forces could be another stressful transition for JRTN. The movement’s current raison d’être – expelling U.S. forces – could dry up in the coming six months. JRTN is already struggling to maintain the flow of new attack videos due to reduced abailability of U.S. targets as bases shut down and convoy traffic declines, and this could stem the movement’s external fundraising.”

    JRTN is not a group that “would have fought us anyway, anywhere.” They, like AQI/ISI, were created in direct response to our illegitimate presence in Iraq.

    Paul Krugman can be smug, but he wasn’t any more smug than your and GM Roper’s lame attempts to denigrate Diane’s response. Her comments were directly related to the content of your post. You can try to belittle her but, not only are her thoughts perfectly legitimate, they are something that thousands of troops themselves have expressed as a direct result of their service and experiences in OIF and OEF. I know, because I am one of them.

  10. On September 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Oh goodness. You’re simply going to have to think more critically than that. I didn’t discuss the justification for the invasion in any terms except ambivalence. I also didn’t use the fact of fighting AQ as a justification of OIF 1. I have no need of justifying OIF I. I didn’t make the decision. It isn’t mine to justify.

    The mistake you make – the same as made by most on the left – is in your failure to think past the justification or lack thereof for OIF I. After the invasion and the first 30 – 90 days of fighting, the government was toppled. There was no going back. Whether you like it or not, we’re there, the country is a country no more, AQ fighters are flowing across the border, Iran badly wants hegemony, the Iraqis need governance and security, and so on. At that point, any decision you make on the justification for OIF II and OIF III must be made totally separate and divorced from the justification for OIF I. The justification for OIF I makes for interesting history and can help with lessons for the future, but becomes totally irrelevant (TOTALLY IRRELEVANT) for why we should or should not have been there for the followon phases of the campaign.

    You must move your thinking out of the time warp you are in in order to be useful and productive in discussing this phase of our nation’s history. Sit for a few moments and imagine yourself in Iraq after the first three months of the campaign. You are there, you are commanding several hundred thousand troops and a massive amount of military materiel. Don’t be a child and whine about what happened three months ago.

    Ask yourself some important questions. What is best for the Iraqi people now? What role should the U.S. play? What is best for the security of the U.S. now in the situation in which we find ourselves in Iraq? What should we do with the 80 – 100 foreign fighters flowing across the Syrian border? What is to be done with Iran, this country run by the Mullahs who see the future in apocalyptic proportions where they usher in the caliphate? What action by the U.S. is best for the stability of the Middle East? And so on and so forth.

    I’m not going to allow this to be that easy for you. You don’t get to sit and be a juvenile and complain about things long ago. You don’t get to be inconsistent and use reasons for one phase of the campaign as justification for another phase (or justification to opt out). You have to be a grown up now and think clearly and with maturity. Don’t let folks like Jon Stewart do your thinking for you.

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