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May 17, 2005

ANDREW SULLIVAN seems to think that I should be blogging more about Abu Ghraib, and less about the Newsweek scandal. Well, I think he should be blogging more (er, at least some) about the worse-than-Tiananmen massacre in Uzbekistan, and perhaps a bit less about gay marriage. But so what? What people blog about is none of my business. Andrew seems to feel differently, and beyond that seems to have endorsed the "fake but accurate" defense of Newsweek's reporting.

I do confess that I think that winning the war is much more important than Abu Ghraib, and that viewing the entire war -- and the entire American military -- through the prism of Abu Ghraib is as unfair as judging all Muslims by the acts of terrorists. Andrew has chosen the role of emoter-in-chief on these subjects, and he's welcome to it, though he would be more convincing in that part if he didn't count wrapping people in the Israeli flag as torture.

But while I think that what happened at Abu Ghraib was bad, and that it should be punished, and that Koran-flushing (if it had happened) would have been bad, though not torturous, I don't think it's terribly important compared to the war as a whole, and I think that it takes a peculiar perspective to make it emblematic of the war, and of the American military, which seems to be where Andrew is going these days, at least to judge -- as he invites us to -- by the volume of posts. Every war has its Abu Ghraibs -- and, usually, its Dresdens and its Atlantas, which this war has lacked, not because America didn't have the ability, but because it possessed a decency and restraint that gets small credit. When Andrew was a champion of the war on terror, writing about martial spirit and fifth columns composed of the "decadent left," did he believe that nothing like Abu Ghraib would happen, when such things (and much worse) happen in prisons across America (and everywhere else) on a daily basis? If so, he was writing out of an appalling ignorance.

As Mickey Kaus has noted, Andrew can be excitable. A while back he apologized to me for some of his criticisms during the election, and more recently he has apologized to his readers for his waffling and defeatism on the war last spring. Perhaps he'll apologize for this at some point in the future. But, I confess, I find the question of what Andrew thinks less pressing than I used to.