Josh Marshall notes that recently the Washington Post sent out an e-mail to various pundits and political types asking them whether Harry Reid was right about the war being lost. Today, Marshall notes that the Washington Post
provides the results of its little, unscientific survey.
The tally: 5 ayes, 4 nayes.
Marshall helpfully lists the ayes:
— Barbara K. Bodine, a former ambassador and a coordinatorfor post-conflict reconstruction for Baghdad and central Iraq in 2003
— Paul R. Pillar, former deputy chief, CIA Counterterrorist Center
— Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University; adviser, Iraq Study Group
— Robert Dallek, presidential historian
— Nathaniel Fick, former Marine infantry officer in Afghanistan and Iraq
The four nays: Paul Rieckhoff, Frederick Kagan, Stephen Hadley, and Victor Davis Hanson. The first nay was an Army platoon leader in Baghdad in 2003-2004, and he actually uses the words “not yet.” Not exactly the vote of confidence. As to the rest, they’re the architect of the surge, one of its chief peddlers, and the NRO/Hoover dude who styles himself a military historian.
The Washington Post also provides a quote from each. This is what Hanson wrote:
The war is not lost — no more than it was in winter 1776, July 1864, December 1945 or November 1950. The challenge is winning back hearts and minds at home, rather than in Iraq, where brave thousands join us each day to fight an evil sort the likes of which we haven’t seen in recent memory.
Well, I’m sold. If a military historian who thinks that the low points in the Revolutionary War came a few months after the Declaration of Independence, the low point in Civil War came (as one of Marshall’s commentators notes) when “Grant laid siege to Petersburg and Sherman was packing his bags for Atlanta”, and the low point in World War 2 came a third of a year after the Japanese surrendered, well, who am I to argue?
All snark aside – unless the Washington Post mangled the quote, this is more than Hanson just being wrong, as he habitually is. This is Hanson having limited knowledge of the basics of his field. I would reckon that 99% of the readers of this blog know that WW2 was over by Winter 1945, and this isn’t a blog for historians. How do people like that continue to be quoted and respected? How does he even stay employed?