October 12, 2007

Naming the Enemy

The other day, dear reader, an interesting thing occurred: The New Republic arrived in our mailbox. We call this interesting because in previous incarnations TNR showed up about as regularly as Charles Manson alimony payments. (Yeah: We knew we shouldn’t have married him.)

In recent months, it seems, the staff at TNR has gotten a bit better at putting the finishing touches on their magazine. Perhaps there’s a new German editor?

The particular issue to which we refer, the October 8 number, came with a piece by Todd Gitlin, who holds an unofficial left-wing sinecure at Columbia University. Entitled “World War V: My Battle with Norman Podhoretz,” the article amounts to a frivolous ad hominem attack on Commentary’s editor-at-large.

In essence, Mr. Gitlin, of SDS fame, charges Mr. Podhoretz of being embarrassingly pro-American and insufficiently nuanced in his views on foreign policy. This is, we think, the typical New Republic and Dissent line: Some of the anti-war folks are crazy, but the neocons are just as batty.

One particular sentence in Mr. Gitlin’s screed struck us as revealing:

Unable even to define war aims, let alone articulate a strategy for attaining them, incoherent even in naming the enemy, let alone defeating its successive incarnations, ever self-immunized from doubt, the passionate dogmatists who were responsible for the catastrophe in the first place are prone to explain their failure at the fronts as the result of betrayal behind their backs.

Thus does Todd Gitlin excoriate Norman Podhoretz.

And this leads us to wonder: Did Mr. Gitlin read even the title of Mr. Podhoretz’s new tome? After all, he charges Mr. Podhoretz and his neoconservative pals with being “incoherent even in naming the enemy.”

Mr. Podhoretz’s new book is called World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. Mr. Gitlin quotes this title at the start of his article, but he appears oddly incapable of remembering it. We mean, come on: You might have other bones to pick with Mr. Podhoretz, but a failure to name the enemy isn’t one of them.

They’re called Islamofascists, Todd. And if you hated them as much as you detest Norman Podhoretz, you might not be so wishy-washy about the War on Terrorism.

Posted at October 12, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack