Phil Carter, down the Memory Hole

Phil Carter, back from a tour in Iraq, has some discouraging words. Right-wing bloggers who used to treat him as an oracle don’t bother to criticize him; they just ignore him.

I’ve expressed before my admiration for warblogger/wingnut pundit message discipline. The capacity of Red Blogistan and its print and broadcast analogues to simply ignore what they don’t want to talk about is astonishing.

Take Phil Carter’s discussion of the surge, for example. It showed up in Slate a few days ago. It’s by far the most discouraging message Phil has ever put out about the likelihood of non-disaster in Iraq. Phil is well-known; Intel Dump was one of the most heavily trafficked sites in the Blogosphere during the early days of the war. Phil is known to be both patriotic and level-headed, by no means a chronic Bush-basher. And he’s got ground-level cred, having just spent a year in Diyala training Iraqi security forces.

(The first time I knew that all was, almost certainly, lost in Iraq was when Phil told me, during his mid-tour leave, that he and his comrades had received no Arabic-language training stateside on their way to Iraq. But he told me not to mention that fact in this space because he didn’t want to put out a discouraging message about a mission to whose success he was still committed. His talk to a packed audience at UCLA Law School, which proudly claims him as an alumnus, was much more up-beat than his private conversation back then.)

Yet a Technorati search yields not a single link to Phil’s new piece by any pro-war site, including some that treated him as an oracle back in the day, and that routinely criticize reports in the mass media by contrasting those reports from those who are or have been on the ground in Iraq.

That silence is much more impressive (or eerie, depending on your viewpoint) than frank criticism would have been. Phil Carter is publishing unfacts, so he has become an unperson.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com