The annoying William Arkin
William Arkin is more evidence of the left’s opinion of our armed forces. He has no respect for them, though he feigns it in his own off-balanced and self-serving way. After all, he was one of them – he served from 1974 to 1978, and like John Kerry (who served in Viet Nam), he will pull it out of his ass when it’s convenient.
In his January 30th Washington Post blog entry, Arkin responded to an NBC Nightly News video of soldiers’ disheartenment at the mantra “We support the soldiers but not the war:”
These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President’s handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.
Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.
Sure it is the junior enlisted men who go to jail, but even at anti-war protests, the focus is firmly on the White House and the policy. We just don’t see very man “baby killer” epithets being thrown around these days, no one in uniform is being spit upon.
So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?
Mr. Arkin, other than nut-cases that threatened you for your views (ask Debbie Schlussel for advice on that), who is telling you to give up your right to free speech? Seriously! Yes, people will tell you to “shut up” when they don’t like your message. And in your accusatory words, you also told our men and women of the military to shut up – afterall, we’re paying those rapists and taking care of their families.
Did you attend the Dixie Chick academy of whining about supposed loss of free speech?
So who is William Arkin? Hugh Hewitt wrote this column in 2003:
For starters, he is the scribbler who launched the assault on Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin a week ago by providing NBC with tapes of Boykin speaking in churches, and then followed with a Los Angeles Times op-ed that accused the general of being “an intolerant extremist” and a man “who believes in Christian ‘jihad’” (Arkin later admitted on my radio program that Boykin never used the term “jihad”).
Arkin also wrote that “Boykin has made it clear that he takes his orders not from his Army superiors but from God–which is a worrisome line of command.” This statement, like the “jihad” quotation appears to be pure fiction.
But we can’t know for sure because Arkin hasn’t released the full transcripts of the talks Boykin gave. Arkin promised to do so when I interviewed him, but has since told my producer he won’t be providing them because I have misquoted him on my website–another lie from Arkin, to go along with his broken promise of full disclosure.
SO WHO IS ARKIN? That has proven to be a difficult thing to determine, for while Arkin is a prolific writer, his biography is hard to assemble, and maybe intentionally so.
“The war against terrorism,” he said, “if it is a war at all, is not World War II or the Cold War, and it is grasping at empty patriotism to claim that it is.” He warned of “our tendency to fall back upon secrecy and government control.” And he concluded by warning that our foreign policy “convey[s] the wrong message, which is that we have no values, that we are for sale”:
Bush and company call the war on terror open ended. Such a characterization reveals a lack of ability to foresee an outcome and betrays a muddled sense of strategy, strategy that is based on American values and our aesthetic and our way of life. It is for that reason that they need help in seeing what they are doing. They hardly have all the answers.
You can read the lengthy speech here. I was tempted to leave out the link in the hopes that Arkin would claim his quotes were taken out of context, but I’m willing to let the audience judge for itself, a courtesy that Arkin is unwilling to do for Boykin. I continue to suspect that there is much in the Boykin transcripts that would undercut Arkin’s story line, and thus that he intends to conceal. The Los Angeles Times, so much ridiculed in recent weeks, doesn’t appear in a hurry to produce the full transcripts either.
ARKIN SET OUT to damage an administration he unquestionably loathes, and found an exposed target in Boykin. The usual
suspects have gathered round to stone the general on the basis of edited reports compiled by an obvious ideologue, and despite the fact that the his talks were expressions of a deeply-felt faith delivered to audiences of fellow believers. There is no evidence that these talks had caused even a ripple of controversy until Arkin launched his well-orchestrated–and quite manipulative–campaign to bring the general down.
If the assault on General Boykin is successful, it is the beginning of the end for expressions of personal faith by public officials.
Arkin is a veteran of four years in the Army (he served from 1974 to 1978) and many of his bylines from the past two decades described him as a “military intelligence analyst” during his service (his rank and units are not readily apparent). He received his BS from the University of Maryland.
His employment since leaving the service is easier to trace. Arkin cut his teeth with the lefty Institute for Policy Studies, and went from there to positions with Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Human Rights Watch. He has been a regular columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In recent years he has taken more mainstream work as a senior fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (he appears to do most of his writing not from the SAIS campus, but from his home in Vermont).
He is also the regular military affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times (what a surprise that the Times employs a Greenpeace alum as its military guru) and a commentator for MSNBC.
ARKIN TOLD ME he got his tip on Boykin’s faith talks from a Pentagon source, which suggests that the general has an enemy inside the Pentagon. But if, as most of Boykin’s critics have argued, the danger presented by the general’s private talks about his faith is their effect on the Islamic world, then why did Arkin rush to publicize these private, little-noticed talks that he believes will hurt the U.S. abroad?
The answer is best found in Arkin’s own speech to an audience at the U.S. Naval War College on September 25, 2002. In this lengthy and vitriolic attack on the Bush administration, Arkin admitted to feeling “cynical about the fact that we are going to war to enhance the economic interests of the Enron class,” and declared that “the war against terrorism is overstated.” Arkin believed, in fact, that the war “is not the core United States national security interest today.” He rhetorically asked the audience: “Aren’t I just another leftist, self-hating American?” and condemned the administration for taking “enormous liberties with American freedoms.”