Getting Used

February 23, 2012, 5:26 am

So Colonel Daniel Davis criticizes the American effort in Afghanistan (a criticism I don’t agree with, by the way)? Watch as (it sure seems) the Pentagon media machine spins up to discredit him through cooperative media folk, in this case, Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy (and formerly the Washington Post). First comes the reasoned response, from a professor at the National War College:

I was prepared for a real critique and came away profoundly disappointed. Every veteran has an important story, but [Davis'] work is a mess. It is not a successor piece to HR McMaster’s book on the Joint Chiefs during Vietnam, or Paul Yingling’s critique of U.S. generalship that appeared in Armed Forces Journal a few years back. Davis is not a hero, but he will go into the whistleblower hall of fame. If years hence, he doesn’t make full Colonel, it will be construed as punishment, but there is nothing in this report that suggests he has any such potential.

Then, two days later, comes the character assassination:

For a reservist, Lt. Col. Danny Davis (author of the recently touted and then critiqued report on the Afghan War) sure gets around. I was told yesterday that when he was a major, he proposed that the United States conduct a ground invasion of Iran by air dropping an armored division northeast of Tehran and then doing a tank assault into the city.

I also was told that he proposed to General Abizaid that he be promoted to lieutenant colonel and put in command of the lead tank battalion in the assault.

Note the blinding passiveness of “I was told” and “I also was told.” Note how Ricks refers to Davis as “Danny” (in the text and the title) a diminutive coinage that seems to be particular to Ricks. Other news stories have (as far as I can tell) universally referred to him as “Daniel Davis.” Note how Ricks finishes him off by quoting an awkwardly-written email from Davis. Davis shouldn’t have sent the email that way, but Ricks quotes the whole thing, grammatical errors, capitalization problems and all.

All this doesn’t make Davis correct, of course, but it’s an impressive effort nonetheless.

Welcome to the big leagues, Lt. Colonel. I trust you’ve given up on your ambitions to make full Colonel?

(See also this fascinating comment in the post thread.)

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