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February 24, 2008

I.F. Stone, Grandfather Blurgger

Someone's setting up an official I.F. Stone website, though as you'll see if you go to the front door, there's officially nothing there yet.

However, we can sneak in though the window, and find it's already filled with great stuff. In particular I appreciate this description of Stone's aspirations for his weekly newsletter:

My idea was to make the Weekly radical in viewpoint but conservative in format...I made no claim to inside stuff...I tried to give information which could be documented so the reader could check it for himself. I tried to dig the truth out of hearings, official transcripts and government documents, and to be as accurate as possible. I also sought to give the Weekly a personal flavor, to add humor, wit and good writing to the Weekly report. I felt that if one were able enough and had sufficient vision one could distill meaning, truth and even beauty from the swiftly flowing debris of the week's news. I sought in political reporting what Galsworthy in another context called "the significant trifle"—the bit of dialogue, the overlooked fact, the buried observation which illuminated the realities of the situation.


AND BLEH: Here's Christopher Hitchens in November, 2006 reviewing a Stone biography:

MacPherson makes the slightly glib assumption—as do the editors of the excellent companion volume, The Best of I. F. Stone—that, if he were around today, Izzy would be as staunchly anti-war and anti-Bush as she is. Having known him a bit, I am not so absolutely sure. That he would have found the president excruciating is a certainty. But he had a real horror of sadistic dictators, and would not have confused Slobodan Milošević or Saddam Hussein with the Vietcong...Nor would he have regarded the forces of al-Qaeda as misguided spokesmen of liberation theology...

Finally, I think he would have waited for some more documents to surface, and helped unearth them himself, before making any conclusive judgments about weapons programs or terror connections in Iraq.

That's some human pathos for you.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 24, 2008 06:58 AM

Part II?

Posted by: homunq at February 24, 2008 10:04 AM

Nor would he have regarded the forces of al-Qaeda as misguided spokesmen of liberation theology...

Straw man, anyone?

What's funny is that this particular besotted jackanapes quoted regards the Pentagon as an integral part of his own peculiar liberation theology.

Posted by: cavjam at February 24, 2008 12:01 PM

Viet Cong? Perhaps he means the National Liberation Front. Or perhaps he is an idiot.

Posted by: catherine at February 24, 2008 01:27 PM

Hitchens thought the Vietnam War was an abomination and AFAIK he still thinks so. He's become an idiot, but he hasn't gone completely insane on every issue.

OTOH, he does share some of the moral blinders of people, left, right and center, who romanticize guerillas who they think are on the correct side. The South Vietnamese who fought against the Americans (let's just call them VC for short, even if it is an American term) committed the same sort of gruesome atrocities that the Iraqi insurgents commit. This is what commonly happens in guerilla wars. The guerillas murder civilians who they think are on the other side. The contras did it, Savimbi's Unita did it, the Afghan mujahadeen did it, Renamo did it, the Algerian rebels of the 50's (I forget the acronym--FLN?) did it, etc...

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 24, 2008 02:01 PM

Thanks for the link. I wandered the site with a great nostalgia.

My slightly odd, very nerdy (I think we called them dorks then or maybe geeks or grinds) college roommate had a subscription to the IF Stone Weekly. I was soon hooked and it changed the way I read newspapers and looked at the world. In exchange, I introduced him to weed and it had the same effects on him. Both of us are much better off.

Posted by: drip at February 24, 2008 02:42 PM

Hitchens thought the Vietnam War was an abomination and AFAIK he still thinks so. He's become an idiot, but he hasn't gone completely insane on every issue.

But, how could Hitchens think Vietnam was an abomination, yet love the Iraq war? The two situations are fairly similar, and they started in similar ways. The fact that he sees them totally differently is, to my mind, just proof that Hitchens has no scruples, no judgement, no sense, and can't be trusted on a single thing he says. Ditto for his hatred of Kissinger, but love of the Neocons. The only difference is that Kissinger was a little bit smarter.

Posted by: atheist at February 24, 2008 03:22 PM

Personally, I just can't dis Hitchens enough. Dude is much, much worse than an idiot.

Posted by: atheist at February 24, 2008 03:28 PM

atheist: Ah Ha, do I see a second vote here for Kissinger getting The Kosovo Ambassadorship?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 24, 2008 04:33 PM

Don't ask me to explain Hitchens. It took me months after 9/11 to process the fact that he'd gone irretrievably berserk. I thought maybe it was a short-term thing (which apparently happened to Dennis Perrin).

There were signs (in hindsight) that he was starting to combine a sellout to the mainstream with plain delusional thinking in his Kissinger book, however. All that talk about how he expected the US justice system to take seriously its duty to prosecute high ranking war criminals like Kissinger. Yeah, like that was going to happen.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 24, 2008 11:04 PM

atheist: Ah Ha, do I see a second vote here for Kissinger getting The Kosovo Ambassadorship?


Not really, just pointing out that some forms of evil are stupider than others. I'm against Kissinger, but as horrible as he was, seems to me the Neocons are worse.

Posted by: atheist at February 25, 2008 06:38 AM

i could've sworn someone dragged the viet cong off in the middle of the night to hang it, for home video. a dream?

Posted by: hapa at February 25, 2008 08:34 AM

Donald Johnson: It's possible Kissinger has warrants (that war crime thing) out in Europe, but as long as he stays on Embassy Grounds I'm ABSOLUTLY SURE he'll be OK.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 25, 2008 11:51 AM

Hitchens' schtick of late has been to claim that [Fill in the blank with name of noted famous intellectual, now dead] would totally have had his back on Iraq, given what we knew then and wish we knew now.

Just admit you were wrong Hitch! Everyone's doing it.

Posted by: Keith at February 25, 2008 02:59 PM