Glenn Greenwald’s latest diatribe against Israel’s supporters, and others he detests

– “The outgoing Salon blogger can’t seem to have an honest discussion without accusing his debate partners of malicious motives”. (Foreign Policy Magazine, Aug. 16, 2012, 

Glenn Greenwald doesn’t seem much interested in the vexing moral questions naturally elicited by the ongoing bloodbath in Syria. The Arab dictator’s bombing of civilians, and the routine use of torture,  summary executions, and sexual violence against women and children by troops and ethnic groups loyal to the regime don’t weigh heavily on his conscience.   

And, whilst the putative topic of Glenn Greenwald latest CiF piece would suggest an interest in Israel’s recent, brief military foray into the conflict, he characteristically doesn’t attempt to engage in anything approaching serious critical scrutiny over IAF operations to destroy sophisticated Iranian made weaponry heading to Hezbollah.   Similarly, he doesn’t bother devoting space in his column calculating the political, military and political factors at play in the regional threat faced by the Jewish state from Bashar al-Assad and his Shiite Islamist allies, Hezbollah and Iran.

Additionally, Greenwald doesn’t take a stab at weighing the costs and benefits of Israeli military action relative to the alternative of simply allowing the illegal militia occupying much of Lebanon – which has already accumulated an arsenal of thousands of sophisticated rockets – free rein to further threaten Israeli communities, and what remains of Lebanon’s tattered national sovereignty.

Indeed, in reading Glenn Greenwald it seems clear that he doesn’t much fancy such serious, critical analyses of the real and often vexing political and moral decisions faced by democratically elected heads of state.

Greenwald’s inspiration – the blogging muse which constantly ignites his frenetic prose – lay in deconstructing the confidence and righteousness of democracy’s defenders, and those otherwise possessed with the moral clarity which he seems to so detest.

He informs us in quite vivid language, yet in tellingly vague military terms, about of the damage caused by Israel’s bombs  – which he notes are “massive” – and the IDF’s military objective communicated by “Israeli defenders” – and, evidently, only “Israeli defenders” – of targeting weapons provided by Iran that were to end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

And, he then – again, avoiding directly weighing in on the policy decision at hand – evokes a straw man while lashing out at supporters of Israel’s action.

Because people who cheer for military action by their side like to pretend that they’re something more than primitive “might-makes-right” tribalists, the claim is being hauled out that Israel’s actions are justified by the “principle” that it has the right to defend itself from foreign weapons in the hands of hostile forces.

Greenwald then descends further into the absurd:

Or, for that matter, if Syria this week attacks a US military base on US soil and incidentally kills some American civilians (as Nidal Hasan did), and then cites as justification the fact that the US has been aiding Syrian rebels, would any establishment US journalist or political official argue that this was remotely justified?

Of course, Nidal Hasan didn’t “incidentally” kill some American civilians.  He entered the Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Fort Hood, TX in 2009 and, armed with several high-caliber assault rifles, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” while open firing on a room crammed with fellow soldiers. Hasan “sprayed bullets at soldiers in a fanlike motion” before aiming at individual soldiers.  Nidal didn’t attack a “military base”, but engaged in a cold-blooded execution of as many people as possible.

Greenwald’s contemptuous critique continues:

Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling “principles”. Their only cognizable “principle” is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not

One could say quite reasonably that this is the pure expression of the crux of US political discourse on such matters: they must abide by rules from which we’re immune, because we’re superior. So much of the pseudo-high-minded theorizing emanating from DC think thanks and US media outlets boils down to this adolescent, self-praising, tribalistic license: we have the right to do X, but they do not. 

This whole debate would be much more tolerable if it were at least honestly acknowledged that what is driving the discussion are tribalistic notions of entitlement and nothing more noble.

Greenwald, a review of his posts on the subject of terrorism suggests, doesn’t merely advance the post-modern cliché that ‘one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, but believes that the term “terrorism” is racially loaded and that the suggestion of serious moral distinctions between political actors represents an expression of primitive triumphalism.  

Greenwald not only isn’t prepared to acknowledge that regimes in Damascus, Khartoum, Pyongyang, or Tehran (for instance) may have less regard for human rights than those in Washington, D.C. or Jerusalem, but that those possessing such beliefs are necessarily compromised by intellectually and morally debilitating ethnocentric biases.

As such, for Greenwald, the suggestion of considerable moral differences between Syria and Israel is necessarily loaded with the pathos of “tribalistic license”.

A review of his latest post, as well as much of his work to date, demonstrates that he’s not prepared to engage in serious thinking regarding the threats posed in the region by the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis.  Nor does he possess the capacity to conduct a broader analysis of the Middle East – in the context of the Arab upheavals in general and the Syrian war in particular – and dissect the continuing democracy deficit in the region.

In his latest 800 word diatribe against Israel’s “supporters”, Greenwald doesn’t even briefly suggest why Israel’s limited military operation in Syria wasn’t justified, because such quotidian concerns – relating to how citizens of democratic nations can most effectively, and most ethically, defend themselves from hostile state and non-state actors – don’t seem to much interest him.

For a careful, sober political survey of the Israeli-Arab (and Israeli-Islamist) conflict, and the broader issues concerning the “Arab Spring”, you’ll have to seek the commentary of serious analysts – those more concerned with honestly assessing the political dynamics of the region than with engaging in ad hominem and often hysterical attacks against their opponents. 

37 replies »

  1. A one trick pony, I can’t understand why even his supporters don’t grow tired of him.

      • No pretzel they are not the same category at all. Milne is a hardcore upperclass far leftist cynic while Greenwald is an obviously psychopathetic hater of the US.
        But I agree the end results of both are the same excrement.

        • A clash of cultures, postmodern arbitrariness aka individual psychotic (middle class mentality) versus homogeneous ideology aka collective neurosis (upper class individualism)


  2. Greenwald goes apopleptic with rage when Israel attacks a military arms shipment to terrorists, yet has not written a word condemning the massacres of men women and children by both sides in Syria..

    He is quite a piece of work. History will judge him when the body count is finalized..

    • “Both sides, behave yourselves and stop killing those people, some of whom are women and children or are otherwise innocent!!”

      History would judge him more kindly if he offered such a proclamation? History will judge Iraq war proponents who make such a proclamation more kindly than Iraq war opponents?

      LOL. this place is a trip, que no?

      • Who said anything about the Iraq war?
        Since you brought it up, who do YOU think history will judge more kindly?
        One thing is for certain, history will forget you quickly, Jualito.

        “LOL. this place is a trip, que no?”
        It’s people like you who supply the laughs.

      • Oh, and by the way, Jualito, whom are you quoting? Do you know how to use quotation marks? English not your first language, hmm?

        • Jeff, I think that you are being too generous. The ability to use any language is a trait that only humans have achieved, not like some chimp randomly hitting keys.

  3. Does Greenwald make any mention of Turkey bombing Kurdish areas inside Iraq? Doubt it.

  4. … IAF operations to destroy sophisticated Iranian made weaponry heading to Hezbollah …

    Isn’t the only source for this info an anonymous Israel official? Are we therefore to trust and take it as fact?

    Anyway … The “incidentally” bit in GG’s rant was the bit that I was likewise struck by most. I wonder how he’d try to wriggle out of this one – if he’s even bothered.

  5. The article on CIF and the following BTL comments are simply unbelievable even for experienced Guardian readers. One can find every one of the classic and modern examples of Jew hate starting with Holocaust denial, the use of falsified quotes from Israeli leaders, the Nazi and apartheid comparisons, the accusations of childmurder, the Jewish control of the US – the media – the banks – the oil, the uncontrollable wish to rule the world and especially the ME, the equally uncontrollable thirst for gentile blood, the devious intention to provoke the US to fight as a proxy for Israel, accusing the opponents as being paid agents of the Israeli government – in short the full scale of anti-Semitic bile – all of the above naturally uncensored. There is no lack of tinfoil hat wearing mental cases either accusing the Mossad with 9/11 etc. There is no need to say that the level of ignorance is not only laughable but simply appalling. All well known Guardinista haters like Berchmans, MonaHol, RememberGiap (must be a rightwing extremist judging by the moniker) and many brand new or relatively new fellow travellers are out under full steam naturally. (my favorite is a poster called Kushtika who declares
    the israeli method would have the ONLY remaining people on the planet be the israelis!!!!!! that’s what they really desire. everyone else is considered a threat to them. will they ever be satisfied???? the “master race” ideology lives on in israel)
    I would be happy to say that this is a new low for the Guardian, but sadly it wouldn’t be true – today is only a different day – the Guardian is the same old anti-Semite shit.
    What is really interesting is the virtually identical rhetoric, content and ideology with heard only four days ago at a neo-Nazi rally in Budapest (naturally they are against Zionism and not against the Jews). A pity that most of the Hungarian fascists can’t speak English, their ATL and BTL contributions would be warmly welcome on CIF.

      • Yes, indeed, Peter, stop being silly! Don’t you know that anti-Semitic commenters show up at CiF to challenge the pro-Israel bias of the Guardian? They just can’t stand all that love and understanding the Guardian gives to a tiny Jewish country under a sustained Arab attack for 65 years.

        • I know Jeff, they even have a Jewish podcast…. Not to speak about the fact that there are days when they don’t publish anything about Jews. Now that there were two “anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian” demonstrations in Budapest (one of them under the warcry :Give gas!”) organised by the neo-Nazi Jobbik Party the Guardian’s silence was simply ear-splitting. Maybe they didn’t want to show to their readers the complete sameness of the speeches by the Nazi leaders and their articles. We are all Anti-Zionists Now!

          • “they even have a Jewish podcast….”
            Yes! I am sure it’s the best resource on the planet for pro-Zionist ‘hasbara’ serving to cover up all those ‘Zionist crimes against humanity’ from a discerning public.

  6. Greenwald’s arguments are garbage. I can’t believe his ramblings are put into newsprint, except for a quite purposeful dumbing down of the reading public. Can you imagine the phantasy world someone needs to inhabit to be an enduring fan of his?

    • You are under the impression that the “putting of a given set of ramblings into newsprint” somehow normally serves as a distinguishing factor between valuable, reliable, worthwhile ramblings and ramblings of a different sort?

      LOL. Cuuuuute.

  7. I believe those things that conform to my worldview and preferences without much questioning or doubt, and I dismiss those things that conflict with my worldview and preferences in much the same manner.

      • Looks like we’ve picked up another in a long line of condescending “geniuses.” Or it just one of the usuals?

        • Hmm, this Juanito Marmoset couldvery well be yet another incarnation of “nat”, the Natzie-troll.

          • A wonderful irony could very well develop here. Israelis are some of the most innovative people around, the highest number of engineers and the most scientific papers publsihed per capita in the world. There’s a problem and an Israeli looks for a solution, everything from helping a paraplegic walk, a blind person see, a missile-interceptor system, or developing an app that one can soon not live without.

            Wouldn’t it be just great if gNat’s trolling led an Israeli to invent an app that would enable webmasters to prevent his attempts at sock-puppeting? Kind of like cybernetic insecticide.

  8. For thousands of years there were Jews who earned their keep by talking trash about other Jews. These Jews were rewarded by not being pogrommed to death. As a result, they proliferated beyond their normal range and are now more populous than they should be.

  9. The thing is – Glenn is essentially right. “We” (the democratic, tolerant, multicultural “West”) ARE “better” than “them” (the despotic, tyrannical regimes who despise us) in every possible measure, and we are therefore entitled to do things they should not. But it has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

    Greenwald’s argument seems to be akin to saying to a headteacher “You can’t punish the school bully by denying him play time, because all the good kids get play time.” What tosh.