Monday, November 30, 2009

# Posted 10:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ABU MUQAWAMA QUITS DAILY BLOGGING: Andrew Exum, aka Abu Muqawama, has announced that he will be dramatically scaling back his blogging. Exum is a very serious analyst of military issues and his daily presence will be missed. From the comments on his post, you can get a sense of how much he is respected.

So why is Exum quitting? He writes:
Blogging forces me into more or less split-second reactions to complicated policy events before I have had the opportunity to research and weigh opposing views. In addition, the AD/HD nature of this medium -- as well as its format -- has harmed both my research abilities as well as my ability to write in the long form. Blogging, like any medium, is one you get better at with practice. As I have become a better blogger, my long-form writing skills have atrophied.
A valid position, although I feel very differently myself. I don't see a trade off. I see a chance to develop my abilities to express myself through different media.

To be fair, I have a fraction of Exum's audience and post less often, so he faces a different set of challenges. However, my audience and my output both peaked while I was writing my dissertation a few years ago, and I saw no trade-off then, either. In fact, I really appreciated the chance to comment on the news of the week since my academic research focused on events from a generation ago.

Also, I'm curious about Exum's comment that blogging forces him to provide instant reactions. I think it's quite valuable to test your rapid judgment ability and see how it lines up with your conclusions later on. What's the worst that can happen? People know you've changed your mind?

Bottom line, I only care about these secondary points because I have so much respect for Exum's work and hope he continues contributing to the public debate.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
(98) opinions -- Add your opinion

From censored comment sent to Exum's blog:

Andrew Exum,

I believe you’ve neglected to tell your readers the another reason for your decision to stop blogging and to cut out your television appearances.

Reading between the lines, I believe your biased review of Jon Krakauer’s book about Pat Tillman and some of your off-the-cuff postings have caused a bit of embarrassment for CNAS. That your boss and friend Nate Fick (“#42") decided that it was best that you lay low, reduce your public profile. Besides, for good or ill, you’ve already done your part to help set McChrytal’s Afghan “surge” into motion.

In particular, the Washington Post’s Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, recently wrote in a column “Blame to Spare on a Book Review’ (11-15-09): “Krakauer is angry. He told me that because Exum is ‘enthralled’ with McChrystal, he wrote a "willfully deceptive" review that protected him. … I also think Exum deserves blame. The contract language is explicit. Despite media coverage of his role in Afghanistan, the contract puts the onus on the reviewer to notify The Post if there is an "appearance of a conflict of interest."


As I pointed out previously in my lengthy comments to your November 2nd post, “On Martial Virtue ... and Selling Jon Krakauer's Crappy New Book” (and your November 9th Post, “He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked) you’ve got more than the “appearance of a conflict of interest” when it comes to General McChrystal. You neglected to mention General McChrystal’s key role in the cover-up of the Pat Tillman fratricide or disclose your close personal and professional ties with him. As one blogger commented, “Phew, talk about a man crush. … the normally witty and sarcastic Abu Muqawama has turned into a walking billboard for Gen. McChrystal"):



I had assumed you and CNAS were part of the bipartisan “conspiracy” protecting General McChrystal. That you had written your book review to whitewash General McChrystal’s central role in orchestrating the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s fratricide. But perhaps you were merely woefully ignorant of the most basic facts of the Tillman case. Despite your assertion that McChrystal was “probably the least culpable guy in Tillman's chain of command” the evidence is overwhelming that McChrystal played a key role in the cover-up of Tillman’s fratricide.

For supporting evidence, see feralfirefighter.blogspot.com and
Part II of censored comment:

Why am I picking on you? Well, I’ve got no personal beef with you (I enjoyed reading your book, your account of Ranger School, and you sound like you were once a “squared away” LT). But, I’ve obviously taken the Pat Tillman story to heart. Your biased review of Krakauer’s book covering General McChrystal's ass didn’t exactly endear yourself to me!

. . .

You just happened to be the last in the bipartisan line of Washington figures who have betrayed the memory of Pat Tillman.

Three years ago Kevin Tillman wrote in his eloquent letter, “After Pat’s Birthday": “Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country. ... Somehow this is tolerated. Somehow nobody is accountable for this.”

Kevin had hoped the 2006 election of a Democratic Congress would bring accountability. But, just as with warrantless wiretapping and torture, those responsible for the cover-up of his brother’s fratricide have not been held accountable by the Democratic Congress.

In his book, “Where Men Win Glory,” Jon Krakauer blamed the Bush administration. However, the cover-up has been a thoroughly bipartisan affair. The Democratic Congress and the Obama Presidency have protected General McChrystal from punishment for his central role in orchestrating the cover-up:

Sometime after his April 2007 Tillman hearing, Congressman Henry Waxman got the word the “fix” was in, to lay off McChrystal. Shortly before his August 2007 Tillman hearing, McChrystal was dropped from the list of witnesses and never interviewed despite his central role in the cover-up.

Senator James Webb conducted a secret “review” of McChrystal’s role. On May 15th 2008, the Senate Armed Services Committee (headed by Levin and McCain) held a secret “executive session” where McChrystal testified behind closed doors about his actions “in detail.” Shortly afterwards, the Senate promoted him to Director of the Joint Staff.

On May 12th 2009, despite McChrystal’s role, President Obama handpicked McChrystal to be his new commander of the Afghan War and for promotion to the Army’s highest rank. Ironically, on the following day Obama gave the commencement address at Arizona State University inside Sun Devil Stadium without once mentioning Pat Tillman! [Note: see Bob Young’s “Obama’s Big-Time Fumble” (Arizona Republic 5-17-09].

After a pro forma June 2nd hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate (begged to do so by Senator Reid) confirmed McChrystal’s promotion on June 10th.

It’s not surprising that after the initial fratricide cover-up fell apart, Army officers and the Bush administration lied to protect their careers. Reprehensible, but understandable. But the Democratic Congress, after they took control of both Houses in 2006, could have gone after those responsible. Or at least not promoted them!

The media's been complicit as well. The New York Time's Pentagon Reporter Thom Shanker wrote a May 26th piece "clearing" McChrystal of all wrong-doing shortly before McChrystal's confirmation hearing. Since then, Thom has enjoyed favorable access to McChrystal (so much for the NYT's coverage without "fear or favor'!) Ironically, Thom Shanker is currently a "writer in residence" with you at CNAS!

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