What the…?

by Joshua Foust on 8/12/2009 · 11 comments

Can anyone else make sense of this bizarre Dave Dilegge “people should shut up and trust the generals” rant? It’s angry, more than a bit unfounded, and downright counterproductive to be telling people to shut up. Ridicule is one thing, especially in the face of rampant idiocy… telling people to be silent, put their heads down, and allow the military run all things is is dumbfounding.

“Trust me, I’m a doctor” is usually the response of an untrustworthy doctor when questioned by her patients. What gives?


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 11 comments }

Nathan Hamm August 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Wait, does this mean that SWJ will cease all publication of its sometimes bizarre strategic suggestions for Afghanistan?

AJK August 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I like the “inside and outside the beltway” comment. It’s almost as if saying “Even people OUTSIDE THE GOV’T ESTABLISHMENT think they can criticize the government! Geez!”

Steve August 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

What’s up with the non-stop ranting and raving? I feel like you’re mad at the world right now. Am I going to turn on my TV and read about you going ballistic somewhere? Take a vacation, man.

Fabius Maximus August 13, 2009 at 11:05 am

Sure, follow Steve’s advice and lose the passion. Kick back, watch the tube. Every day for 5 minutes max you can close your eyes, and watch our blood and money flow down the drain in Afghanistan. No biggie, dude.

As Dilegge says, leave it to the government. They know best.

Steve August 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

I didn’t say there’s no reason not to be upset about the way things are going in Afghanistan but lately I feel like Mr Foust is angry at the world.

Carl Prine August 13, 2009 at 6:39 pm

OK, I’ve known Dave Dilegge from a distance for a long time. He and I jousted over his friend Kilcullen’s angry review of Bacevich’s angry review of “Accidental Guerillas.”

But I’ll defend him here. Everyone gets frustrated and angry from time to time. Dave’s SWJ has been a valuable resource in limning best practices in counter-insurgency.

Despite my one brief brush with him, I’ve always found him to be an honorable, conscientious man who, frankly, makes no money on his site and operates it only as a scholarly, patriotic service.

I’d also suggest that he doesn’t practice what he, himself, preached in his bloggish broadside: He has publicly defended the strongest critic of the COIN narrative, Gian Gentile, and continues to commission columns from him on these very issues.

In other words, Dave gets a mulligan. He’s earned it.

Fabius Maximus August 13, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Carl — Since you also posted this on the FM site, I’ll say the same thing. Nobody here is attacking Dilegge. Folks are replying to the text, which he specifically encouraged in his last sentence. Personalizing this does not help grapple with these important issues, IMO.

Schmedlap August 13, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I think a lot of people misread Dilegge’s entry on this. He is not calling for an end to debate. Note the title of the entry: “Back Off Jack Keane Wannabees” Jack Keane is a guy recognized as being an influential force behind the change in strategy in Iraq. He is not a guy who spent a lot of time furthering debate online, on TV, or at think tanks. Dilegge’s call is for people vying for influence to just back off.

The “noise level” that he refers to is the endless parade of think tankers and pundits who are trying to get their names attached to any plan that gets implemented so that they can be invited onto CNN and introduced as “one of the primary architects” of the plan. The “debate” occurring in the public sphere is more of a competition for notoriety than an offering up of new ideas.

Schmedlap August 13, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I think a lot of people misread Dilegge on this. He is not calling for an end to debate. Note the title of the entry: Back Off Jack Keane Wannabees. Jack Keane is a guy recognized as being an influential force behind the change in strategy in Iraq. He is not a guy who spent a lot of time furthering debate online, on TV, or at think tanks. It appears that Dilegge is calling for people vying for influence to just back off.

I think the noise level that he refers to is the endless parade of think tankers and pundits who are trying to get their names attached to any plan that gets implemented so that they can be invited onto CNN and introduced as a primary architect of the plan. The so-called debate occurring in the public sphere is more of a competition for notoriety than an offering up of new ideas.

Fabius Maximus August 13, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Just to be very clear on this — I (and I think most of us) share your opinion of Dilegge. Building up SWJ so quickly from scratch was a great accomplishment, one any professional publisher would be proud of.

Fabius Maximus August 13, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Schmedlap — Do have evidence for your statements about the motives of so many people who are attempting to move forward this vital debate? BTW — how do you determine such things, and can you do it for other issues? Tax policy? Health Care? It’s a valuable skill!

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