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Another Example of Academic Open-Mindedness in California:

NY Times:

The appointment of Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution is drawing fierce protests from faculty members and students at Stanford University and is threatening to rekindle tensions between the institution, a conservative research body, and the more liberal campus.

Some 2,100 professors, staff members, students and alumni have signed an online petition protesting Mr. Rumsfeld's appointment, which will involve advising a task force on ideology and terrorism. Faculty members say he should not have been offered the post because of his role in the Bush administration's prosecution of the Iraq war.

"We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed," the petition reads.

Philip G. Zimbardo, emeritus professor of psychology, explained his objection to Mr. Rumsfeld's appointment as he rushed across campus to teach a class. "It is unacceptable to have someone who represents the values that Rumsfeld has portrayed, in an academic setting," Dr. Zimbardo said.

Res ipsa loquitur.

UPDATE: Oh, and did you know that Stanford has a "mainstream" which all appointments, even of visiting fellows, must be part of? "Pamela M. Lee, a professor of art history who helped write the petition against Mr. Rumsfeld, said she hoped her protest would send a message and prompt the university to review its relationship with the Hoover Institution. 'It's extremely important for the Hoover to know that their appointments are not in the mainstream of the Stanford community,' Professor Lee said,'as well as to send a very clear signal to the country that this is not what Stanford is about.'" So, according to Professor Lee, enforcing ideological conformity among the faculty is "what Stanford is all about." Having one of the most distinguished public servants [yuck, did I write that?] officials of the last half century--an objectively true statement, regardless of what one things of his politics--on campus three to five times (!) is not "what Stanford is all about."

And, come to think of it, I can't resist the contrast between the reaction to Rumsfeld at Stanford and, judging from the stories in the Columbia Spectator, the almost complete quiescence, apart from some Jewish groups, at Columbia regarding the invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In fact, according to the Spectator, some of the harshest criticism received by Columbia president Lee Bollinger is that he didn't criticize Minutemen Project found Jim Gilchrist, invited by students last years, as he has Ahmadinejad.

Some commenters suggest that Zimbardo is just a social scientist concerned about Abu Ghraib. Not exactly. He told the San Jose Mercury News, with regard to Hoover: "They can have any fascist they want there, and they do... We've never protested before but this seems to be egregious." Ah, the voice of reason. I guess, say, George Schultz is just "any fascist," but Rumsfeld is an egregious one.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Another Example of Academic Open-Mindedness in California:
  2. My L.A. Times op-ed on Chermersinsky, Summers, and the State of Academic Freedom on Campus:
Bryan DB:
On the other hand, signing a petition is not the same as withdrawing his offer.
9.21.2007 1:12pm
Justin (mail):
What's wrong with such a protest? The case against Rumsfeld for war crimes is nontrivial (that its practically unenforceable is of no consequence in regards to merit). He cannot travel to certain countries because he's afraid of being arrested. This doesn't seem to be an ideological issue at all. How would you feel if your institute hired someone who committed atrocities? I vaguely remember conservatives up in protest about the Taliban member at Yale, and he hadn't done anything.

This, of course, ignores the competency question here. Anyone who advised us to go into Iraq as a central front in the war on terror knows very little about ideology and terrorism.

I mean, the Stanford faculty aren't exactly protesting every time the Hoover institute hires *anyone*, and they don't *hire* liberals.

On a more interesting note, is there any liberal, education-funded liberal counterpart to the Hoover Institute or the GMU groups (IHS, CMP, CSPC, LEPC)? I honestly do not know the answer to this - Michigan has the TMI program, but that was nonpolitical.
9.21.2007 1:12pm
Justin (mail):
To make the question valid, my hypothetical requires you to actually believe the person committed (or organized) things you actually find to be atrocities - both that they violate basic principle of US and International Law, and that you find morally abhorent.
9.21.2007 1:14pm
Eric Muller (www):
David,
Assume -- though of course I don't know this to be true -- that Zimbardo believes that "the values that Rumsfeld has portrayed" include a dogged insistence on a military approach to the Iraq war and its aftermath that has caused the death of, or serious injury to, tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
If you assume that, then I'm not sure quite what the "res" is that is "loquituring" for "ipsa."
9.21.2007 1:16pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Eric, so let's assume arguendo Rumsfeld took a stupid and counterproductive approach to the war, that resulted in many unnecessary casualties. What does that have to do with whether he holds "values" such that he shouldn't be permitted to be a research fellow at Hoover? Does anyone think he actually wanted there to be unnecessary casualties? Would anyone seriously argue that given Rumsfeld's experience in government and industry, he has no wisdom to impart?
9.21.2007 1:23pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Justin, while Prof. Lee does not speak for all the protestors, she is a leader of the protest, and she indeed is, according to her own words, protesting Hoover in general, using the Rumsfeld visit as a hook.
9.21.2007 1:25pm
cvt:
I'm not sure if this post is about the petition or the quoted statements in the newspaper article. Here's the language of the petition, and I see nothing wrong with it:

We, the undersigned members of the Stanford community, strongly object to the appointment of Donald Rumsfeld as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at Stanford's Hoover Institution. We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws, and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed.

If you take those ethical values seriously, you have good reason to object to Rumsfeld's appointment.
9.21.2007 1:25pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
As for war crimes, if you listen to the "international community" any American or Israeli who has engaged in any military activity in which a civilian was harmed is guilty of "war crimes." When Rumsfeld is convicted of criminal behavior by an American jury, I'll listen to this argument.
9.21.2007 1:28pm
Davebo (mail):
Considering the existing staff at Hoover I have to wonder why Rumsfeld is making waves.
9.21.2007 1:28pm
bobolinq (mail):
For Pete's sake:

one of the most distinguished public servants of the last half century--an objectively true statement, regardless of what one things of his politics-

Does having held high positions in government automatically make you "distinguished"? Unless it does, your description of Rumsfeld cannot be "objectively true" without regard to politics. And if holding high governmental positions does make you a "distinguished public servant," then would you apply that label to Kim Jong-Il? Ahmadinejad? Arafat? Castro? Goebbels?
It strikes me that, in this context, your claim of access to "objective truth" is not helpful.
9.21.2007 1:30pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws, and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed.

Truthfulness--I'll buy that, but taken seriously, no one prominent in politics will ever be invited to Stanford again.

Tolerance--right, that's why Prof. Lee, co-author of the petition, only wants "mainstream" views at Stanford.

Disinterested enquiry--huh? Prof. Lee wants only views that suit her around. That's "disinterested?"

Care for the opinion of others--right, we see how much Prof. Lee respects the opinion of others.

Care for the property and lives of others--that's just another way of saying we don't think the Iraq war was a good idea, a purely political basis for opposing a research fellow.

Respect for national and international laws: Last I heard, Rummy hasn't been convicted of anything, and since when is it Stanford's obligation to decide that any particular interpretation of international law is both valid and applies to any individual?
9.21.2007 1:33pm
Paddy O. (mail):
"If you take those ethical values seriously, you have good reason to object to Rumsfeld's appointment."

If you take these ethical values seriously, you have a good reason to object to the signers of this petition.

But that's why biased assumptions on such values shouldn't be used to determine academic freedom and position.
9.21.2007 1:39pm
Perseus (mail):
On a more interesting note, is there any liberal, education-funded liberal counterpart to the Hoover Institute or the GMU groups (IHS, CMP, CSPC, LEPC)?

Why would liberals need to found such institutions since they don't have to be worried about being out of the mainstream in the academy?
9.21.2007 1:40pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Rumsfeld is a self-confessed war criminal. He admitted publically to war crimes in a press conference. He said that hid detainees in Iraq from the ICRC in clear violation of Geneva (after the president repeatedly stated that all detainees in Iraq were covered by Geneva). Furthermore, there is no doubt that detainees in the custody of U.S. armed forces (not the CIA), including members of the Iraqi armed forces, were tortured to death in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The culpability up the chain of command was never satisfactorily investigated and was in fact effective investigation was prevented by the Pentagon. The Army Field Manual on Interrogation was consciously disregarded on the orders of Rumsfeld and reinstated over his objections.

The man should be in jail, not getting an appointment at a respected institute, or even a position as a janitor at Stanford. He is a disgrace to this country.
9.21.2007 1:42pm
Drain the tub:
The events of the past week, and co-conspiractor Todd's experience as trustee at Dartmouth have convinced me that academia is beyond repair. I now support laws to get rid of tax-exempt status for universities. I had held off under the old maxim that you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I don't believe that the proverbial baby is in the tub any longer.
9.21.2007 1:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And if holding high governmental positions does make you a "distinguished public servant," then would you apply that label to Kim Jong-Il? Ahmadinejad? Arafat? Castro? Goebbels?
If you can't easily distinguish these cases from Rumsfeld, there's really nothing to say.
9.21.2007 1:44pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Hmm... one wonders how the architect of the Iraq war compares morally to the architects of the Cambodian peace. Do I hear a chilly, dignified silence?
9.21.2007 1:44pm
Justin (mail):
Well, I don't agree with Professor Lee's statement, and I think its highly ignorant of, well, the purpose and history of the Hoover institute.
9.21.2007 1:46pm
Mark in Colorado:
Justin @ 12:12 wrote: "Anyone who advised us to go into Iraq as a central front in the war on terror knows very little about ideology and terrorism."

Perhaps you'd be willing to share your CV so we might better judge your expertise and experience vis-a-vis Rumsfeld?

Bald assertions such as you make and further claims of "this doesn't seem to be an ideological issue" only show that ideology is in fact the issue at hand.
9.21.2007 1:48pm
ejo:
here comes "moderate" Justin and JF, channeling KOS. one might hope that they are parodying, if that is a word, people on the left but I am losing hope. do these left wing campus morons truly think they are mainstream-are they that far removed from reality. when they allow anti-illegal immigration speakers to be forced from campus while allowing genocidal madmen, I guess so. I am sure J &J would think this appropriate.
9.21.2007 1:48pm
WHOI Jacket:
Isn't Hoover not really "part" of Stanford, but just next door?

These people are having fits that they might have to breath the same air as, GASP, a 4 term US Representative, former Ambassador to NATO, two time former Sec of Defense, former member of the RAND Corp and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
9.21.2007 1:48pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Okay, we won't go overboard, but how do you respond to his admitted violations of Geneva, and the serious allegations of torture carried out while he was SecDef, especially under the direction of Stephen Cambone? He most certainly decided that the Army Field Manual on Interrogation was no longer a useful document which led to a lot of abuses and confusion.
9.21.2007 1:50pm
scote (mail):

Respect for national and international laws: Last I heard, Rummy hasn't been convicted of anything, and since when is it Stanford's obligation to decide that any particular interpretation of international law is both valid and applies to any individual?

...and when has it been Stanford's responsibility to hire someone just because they haven't been convicted? Perhaps they should hire OJ as their next football coach?

Philip G. Zimbardo is an expert on the psychology of how ordinary people come to do evil things based on structural aspects of organizations. His research has found that secrecy, lack of accountability, diffusion of individual responsibility can lead ordinary people to do evil things. His website has the details. This is high level cognitive behavior science, not liberal twadle.

Zimbardo believes that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were the direct result of the entirely predictable and avoidable structural issues that were imposed on the prison. The Bush Administration's over-broad secrecy, lack of accountability and diffusion of any responsibility is a breeding ground for this kind of evil at home and abroad and Rumsfeld was a key player. The Military wanted to blame Abu Ghraib on a few bad apples but Zimbardo found that the problem fundamentally was a " 'rotten barrel,' that has sacrificed the basic human values of rule by law, honesty, and adherence to the Geneva Conventions in the cause of its obsession with the so-called 'war on terror.'"

It would be irresponsible of Zimbardo not to speak out about his concerns given his research findings and the information he learned about the Bush Administration and the Defense Department in aiding the defense of the soldiers charged in the abuse at Abu Ghraib.
9.21.2007 1:51pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
Pamela M. Lee, a professor of art history who helped write the petition against Mr. Rumsfeld, said she hoped her protest would send a message

The message I get is that art history professors and those similarly limited in their knowledge should stick with the subjects they are experienced in and not get involved in matters of which they obviously have no relevant knowledge or experience. Like when movie stars and entertainers want to share their political views.
9.21.2007 1:52pm
PLR:
I am shocked that Thomas at 12:42 posts such an outrageous opinion at this thoughtful site. I suppose he thinks that it is OK just because his opinion is supported by fact.

I am less shocked that DB cannot resist comparing a pomegranate (Rumsfeld employment) to a completely different kind of fruit (Ahmadinejad speaking engagement). I think Summers-Ahmadinejad might be a bit closer.

Though it's been a busy week for DB and his political model of Why Things Work Out This Way, I still prefer the name "Volokh Conspiracy."
9.21.2007 1:54pm
pete (mail) (www):
"I vaguely remember conservatives up in protest about the Taliban member at Yale, and he hadn't done anything."

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi was the Taliban's embassador at large, which means he was actively supporting and defending the Taliban as a member of the group in as public a manner as possible.

I for one am not sure why the state department is granting visa's to Taliban leaders in the first place.
9.21.2007 1:55pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
here comes "moderate" Justin and JF, channeling KOS.

Rather than personally attack me. Tell me what I said about Rumsfeld's actions that is incorrect. Bernstein is focussing on his conduct of the war, which was merely incompetent. I am focussed on his war crimes. They are criminal under both U.S. and international law. It's not my fault if no one has the guts to endict him.
9.21.2007 1:55pm
WHOI Jacket:
Yes, JF. The Democrats are terrified of Rumsfeld.

If the case against him is so slam-dunk, why haven't any of them pressed for charges? Surely, it'd be a severe blow to the Bushitler Conspiracy to have the former SecDef convicted of war crimes?
9.21.2007 1:57pm
rarango (mail):
JF: this probably comes as no surprise to you, but to quote Rhett Butler, "frankly, I don't give a damn." Given the cast of characters invited to speak/consult/serve in academe, Rumsfeld is a paragon of virtue.
9.21.2007 1:58pm
PLR:
Oh, and Lonely Capitalist: Unless you're an art history professor, shut the &$#%* up.

Signed, one who does not question art history professors.
9.21.2007 1:58pm
frankcross (mail):

The "convicted by a jury" standard is a pretty poor one. OJ/murder? Bill Clinton/perjury? I think the war crimes argument is potentially a pretty good one. However, I fear the reaction at Stanford is not due to a close analysis of possible responsibility for war crimes but to the ideological kneejerk.
9.21.2007 1:59pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I choose not to engage with members of the cult of international law.
9.21.2007 1:59pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Frank, I meant to focus on the charges being brought in an American court of law, with normal protections. What Brussels-based NGOs have to say is completely immaterial. If you want to go down that road, some of the usual suspects will argue that anyone who served in the IDF should be barred from campus.
9.21.2007 2:01pm
Questioner:
It might be worth noting that Professor Zimbardo was the author/mad scientist behind the Stanford Prison Experiment.
9.21.2007 2:02pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"...and when has it been Stanford's responsibility to hire someone just because they haven't been convicted? Perhaps they should hire OJ as their next football coach?"

That is certainly not their responsibility. Were that their responsibility, then they would have to hire all people who have never been convicted. Rumsfield was hired because of his experience in government, not because he lacks a criminal record.

"His research has found that secrecy, lack of accountability, diffusion of individual responsibility can lead ordinary people to do evil things."

If the professor contends such conditions can lead to evil, what is the probability that they will lead to evil?
9.21.2007 2:05pm
PLR:
Got it. DB will be engaging only with the Cult of People Giving No Weight to Treaty Obligations. That makes perfect sense if you think about it.
9.21.2007 2:07pm
WHOI Jacket:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

Zimbardo knows all about placing people under psychological distress.
9.21.2007 2:08pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
David,

Of the crimes I accused Rumsfeld of above, which ones are international laws that conflict with or contradict constitutional principles or U.S. laws. That seems to be your standard for judging when you should ignore the "cult of international law". I am accusing Rumsfeld of overstepping both U.S. and international law (and ignoring over 50 years of well established military procedure and the UCMJ because he thought he knew better).

Merely saying torture or hiding detainees from the ICRC is okay or justified (if that is indeed what you are saying) because you choose not to engage me is hardly an answer.
9.21.2007 2:09pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Tortured sentence retraction:

Substitute the following in my post above:

"If that was their responsibility, then they would have to hire all people who have never been convicted.
9.21.2007 2:09pm
Nate F (www):
While I question the wisdom of letting a fairly brain-dead art history professor speak for the group in this situation, I also question the wisdom of assuming that Donald Rumsfeld knows much of anything about terrorism. Nothing about his tenure as SecDef leads me to believe that he does, at least.
9.21.2007 2:10pm
Tom952 (mail):
And one professor, proving that some academics are as far beyond parody as they are beneath contempt, offered a course called 'Hooking up at Duke' that purported to illustrate what the lacrosse scandals tell us about 'power, difference and raced, classed, gendered and sexed normativity in the US.'" (K.C. Johnson (guest-blogging), September 18, 2007)

Maybe it is the quote of the decade.
9.21.2007 2:11pm
gab:
Definition of distinguished: Characterized by excellence or distinction; eminent. Dignified in conduct or appearance.

You make the call.
9.21.2007 2:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
What Brussels-based NGOs have to say is completely immaterial.

I'm not basing my assertions on what some Brussels-based NGO has to say, but rather on Rumsfeld's and Cambone's own words.
9.21.2007 2:12pm
WHOI Jacket:

Prisoners were to wear only intentionally ill-fitting muslin smocks without underwear and rubber thong sandals, which Zimbardo said would force them to adopt "unfamiliar body postures" and discomfort in order to further their sense of disorientation. They were referred to by assigned numbers instead of by name. These numbers were sewn onto their uniforms, and the prisoners were required to wear tight-fitting nylon pantyhose caps to simulate shaven heads similar to those of military basic training. In addition, they wore a small chain around their ankles as a "constant reminder" of their imprisonment and oppression.
....

The experiment quickly grew out of hand. Prisoners suffered — and accepted — sadistic and humiliating treatment from the guards, and, by experiment's end, many showed severe emotional disturbances.

....

Zimbardo cited his own absorption in the experiment he guided, and in which he actively participated as Prison Superintendent. On the fourth day, he and the guards reacted to an escape rumor, by attempting to move the entire experiment to a real, unused cell block at the local police station, because it was more secure. The police department refused, citing insurance liability concerns; Zimbardo recalls his anger and disgust with the lack of co-operation, between his and the police's jails.


And this joker still has a job?
9.21.2007 2:13pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
I kind of like to exchange in Stanford. Hoover selected Rumsfeld. Those who think him bereft of truthfulness &good judgement signed a petition opposing the appointment and here we are. I thought the petition and the Hoover institute's not hot-headed repsonse were very civil.

Its a little histrionic to call Rummy a war criminal or a "one of the most distinguished public servants of the last half century". For the former to be true, you'd need a credible adjudication and for the latter to be objectively true, I'd think such servant would require more broad based accolades.
9.21.2007 2:14pm
Drain the tub:
Zimbardo's perspective seem like a pure case of projection.
9.21.2007 2:20pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
It would be difficult for me to histrionic about Rumsfeld, because I don't even like him.
9.21.2007 2:20pm
scote (mail):

And this joker still has a job?

The difference would be that Zimbardo learned from his mistakes and shut down the experiment.

The results of the prison experiment back then were unexpected. Not so nowadays, which is why the Bush Aministration and Rumsfeld were grossly negligent--at best--when they set up Abu Ghraib in a way that replicated the circumstances of the prison experiment and multiplied the psychological factors by an order of magnitude. It created an entirely predictable chain of events. Unlike Zimbardo, they first denied anything ever happened. Then, when photos were leaked, blamed the lowest ranking soldiers and denied that military orders or the chain of command bore any responsibility--a practice they still cling to. They do not learn from their mistakes and generally deny they ever make any.
9.21.2007 2:30pm
Montie (mail):

"We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed," the petition reads.


Since when did tolerance become a generic ethical value? Isn't the ethical value of tolerance dependant on what is being tolerated? Moreover, aren't the signers of the petition demonstrating intolerance by the act of signing the petition?

I would have expected better from Stanford.
9.21.2007 2:34pm
scote (mail):
I should add that Zimbardo never tried to blame the students in the prison experiment, which is the position the Bush Administration would take. Personal responsibility being something for other people, not Administration-types.
9.21.2007 2:35pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
The Hoover Institute: From Milton Friedman to Donald Rumsfield...Oh, how the mighty have fallen
9.21.2007 2:47pm
WHOI Jacket:
What personal responsibility? Zimbardo's conclusions were basically that humans are automatons and that placing people into those situations is like flipping an "sadistic arsehole" switch. Last I checked, the offenders at Abu Ghurib were investigated, charged, tried and sentenced for their indivdual actions.

Perhaps, they should be released, since they were obviously just acting under Rumsfeld's mind control rays...
9.21.2007 2:49pm
tvk:
It appears to me that the gulf between Prof. Bernstein and the liberals here is simply a reflection of the hyperpartisan times we live in. I take it that Prof. Bernstein would agree with excluding the President of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc. from campus; as he would in excluding mass-murderers, torturers, etc. from campus. He just doesn't think Donald Rumsfeld fits into any of these categories.

Prof. Bernstein: "academic open-mindedness" involves understanding that some people, far short of a majority but certainly not insignificant in number, do think that Donald Rumsfeld fits into the above categories. Is this political? Of course. But so is your opinion of Yassar Arafat and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. How is this different from Erwin Chermersinsky? It is a matter of degree--no conservative thinks that Chermersinsky is a war criminal.

You can, of course, feel prefectly free to throw out the ICC and all those "international" tribunals as populated by anti-American, anti-Istraeli hacks. But how is it "open-minded" on your part to argue that the everyone must share your world perspective and politics on this matter?
9.21.2007 2:56pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Its a little histrionic to call Rummy a war criminal

Is it really? He openly admitted to a war crime, albeit a relatively minor one--but a clear violation of Geneva in a country where the President adamantly insisted Geneva was being strictly followed--, in a press conference. If he is willing to publicly admit that he hid detainees from the ICRC and basically said, "so what, I can do what ever the hell I want", what else did he authorize that he didn't talk about?

And did you see Stephen Cambone testify in front of Congress about interrogation tactics? That man was the definition of the banality of evil.
9.21.2007 2:56pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If the case against him is so slam-dunk, why haven't any of them pressed for charges?

Because they are a bunch of spineless wimps who are afraid they will be called traitors by the likes of Sean Hannity.
9.21.2007 3:00pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Actually, I do apologize. I did go overboard. Rumsfeld of course should be able to get a job as a janitor at Stanford. I do believe in rehabilitation and after he has served his sentence for war crimes he should be able to be able to be gainfully employed at any number of menial jobs so he can put food on the table and not be a burden on society.
9.21.2007 3:06pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
TVK, I didn't say anyone else should share my perspective, I said they shouldn't impose their perspective on others, and they certainly shouldn't try to make it university policy.

I should note that the petition is quite short, and doesn't provide a single specific allegation against Rumsfeld to justify it. It just basically says, we think Rumsfeld is yucky, and we don't want yucky people who do things we think are yucky making our campus yucky.
9.21.2007 3:15pm
rarango (mail):
"Because they are a bunch of spineless wimps who are afraid they will be called traitors by the likes of Sean Hannity."

Wow--I didnt know Sean Hannity had that much control over the democrats--who knew!
9.21.2007 3:28pm
eswierk (mail):
Umm, you left out the part where Stanford stands up for free speech and academic freedom:


Jeffrey H. Wachtel, a senior assistant to Stanford's president, said the university did not "sit in judgment of departments" inviting people to the campus. He added that out of concern for freedom of speech, the university was extremely reluctant to bar potentially objectionable visitors. "We're going to go as far as we can to support free speech."
9.21.2007 3:43pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
tvk:

Bingo!

Tolerance at times seems to go only one way in the academic community.

Free Mumia.

Convict the Duke Three.

Invite Ahmadinejad.

Jail Rumsfeld.

No contrary opinions need be expressed.

To me this kind of thinking seems similar to the thinking of the followers of extreme fundamentalist religions.

There is only one Truth. It is ours.
9.21.2007 3:47pm
Observer (mail):
I suppose I should be shocked that there are folks who think it's OK to enforce a rigid ideological screen for faculty at elite institutions. And let's be clear about it, that's all the opposition to Rumsfeld boils down to. Leftists think the Iraq War is an imperialist war crime, a violation of international law, and hence any architect of that war is, ipso facto, a war criminal who must be barred from the gates. That I can write those words without breaking into laughter troubles me. Have I become inured to the prevalent insanity in academia?
9.21.2007 3:48pm
Guest101:

TVK, I didn't say anyone else should share my perspective, I said they shouldn't impose their perspective on others, and they certainly shouldn't try to make it university policy.

Can you explain how any exercise of the First Amendment right to free speech does not consistute seeking to "impose [one's] perspective on others" or "try[ing] to make [that perspective]... policy," if this does? If signing a petition protesting an administrative decision is somehow illegitimate, then democracy is in big trouble.


I should note that the petition is quite short, and doesn't provide a single specific allegation against Rumsfeld to justify it. It just basically says, we think Rumsfeld is yucky, and we don't want yucky people who do things we think are yucky making our campus yucky.

The petition is not a criminal indictment, and it needn't satisfy any particular pleading standard. I think it's safe to say that the Standford professors expect their audience to be sufficiently familiar with Rumsfeld's record to understand the bases of their concerns-- and I suspect that, protestations aside, you have a pretty good idea of what their objections are, too.
9.21.2007 3:53pm
john:
Express your opinion about him:

http://doyou.likeorhate.com/Donald+Rumsfeld
9.21.2007 3:56pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
It is my own objective opinion that Rumsfield is one of the most distinguished public servants of the last half century.

My biggest issue with his handling of Iraq war is he should have done what Patraeus is doing now - kick ass and take names. I recently heard there are over 5,000 DOD lawyers on the war. We hamstring our troops to a ridiculous level just to appease those assinine EU NGO's.

Abu Ghrarib, Guantanamo - give me a break. When our troops start using children as human shields than I will listening to Justin, et al rants!
9.21.2007 4:02pm
plutosdad (mail):
the serious allegations of torture carried out while he was SecDef

Which allegations were these? The one about withholding air conditioning? Or the one about a woman touching them? Or oh I know the one where they were only allowed outside to play soccer a few hours a day, was that it?
9.21.2007 4:04pm
LarrySheldon (mail):
Does the Stanford Main Stream still meet in Lytton Plaza?

What ever happened to H. Bruce Franklin?
9.21.2007 4:11pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Leftists think the Iraq War is an imperialist war crime, a violation of international law, and hence any architect of that war is, ipso facto, a war criminal who must be barred from the gates

Sorry, but regardless of what I think about the wisdom or legality of the Iraq war in general, I think that Donald Rumsfeld committed specific individual war crimes that are not just of the "I hate the administration" flavor. In fact, as I noted above, he admitted to one (or more correctly multiple instances of the same one) in a press conference. Additionally, I believe that it is very likely that he or his direct subordinates (i.e. Stephen Cambone) authorized interrogation techniques that constituted cruel or inhuman treatment or torture and were thus prohibited under U.S. and international law. Even if they did not directly authorize it, their actions in making the rules of interrogation so confused and unclear were so reckless that they bear some responsibility for the abuses that most certainly did occur, are documented, some of which were publicly admitted by the Pentagon. At least 30 people died as a result of abuse during interrogation.
9.21.2007 4:12pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
The next time conservatives are thinking of going to bat for a liberal like Chereminsky out of principle, they should remember that when tables are turned the favor will not be returned.
9.21.2007 4:13pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Scote; "The difference would be that Zimbardo learned from his mistakes and shut down the experiment."

Was his experiment replicated? Did peers at other universities get the same results? What, besides a single experiment in which Zimbardo himself was a subject, do we have to validate his ideas?
9.21.2007 4:16pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Justin aks:

On a more interesting note, is there any liberal, education-funded liberal counterpart to the Hoover Institute...?

Harvard's Kennedy School, for one.
9.21.2007 4:16pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Which allegations were these? The one about withholding air conditioning? Or the one about a woman touching them? Or oh I know the one where they were only allowed outside to play soccer a few hours a day, was that it?

Get your head out of the sand man. The Pentagon admitted over 100 people died in custody. Over thirty of those were found to be the direct of abuse by soldiers or contractors. There were several detailed accounts of innocent civilians tortured to death in Afghanistan (one long expose in the NYT about two Afghanis, one a completely innocent taxi cab driver, tortured to death in the same week). Even one who died of hypothermia when left in an unheated room overnight (a very real possibility when you screw around with air conditioning with a weakened prisoner). The Abu Gharaib pictures include pictures of a detainee who just happened to be tortured to death (apparently by CIA contractors) the very same night the infamous pictures were taken.
9.21.2007 4:20pm
tvk:
Prof Bernstein: but if the University is free to impose a policy of "no mass-murderers or torturers or human rights abusers" (and I take it you think they can, if they want to exclude Castro); the only question is whether Rumsfeld fits into those categories--a question inherently requiring political judgment. You think that the Stanford petitioners are a bunch of lefty loonys like the ICC and the rest of those international law folks who clearly are making a bad call; they probably think something very different. What gives?
9.21.2007 4:20pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Why the sneer at art historians?

They are certainly less of a burden on society than econ or law professors and certainly have more interesting classes (except of course when law professors decide to include a pornographic film as part of their first amendment curricula).
9.21.2007 4:31pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Justin writes:

What's wrong with such a protest? The case against Rumsfeld ... I vaguely remember conservatives up in protest about the Taliban member at Yale, and he hadn't done anything.


tvk:

It appears to me that the gulf between Prof. Bernstein and the liberals here is simply a reflection of the hyperpartisan times we live in. I take it that Prof. Bernstein would agree with excluding the President of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc. from campus; as he would in excluding mass-murderers, torturers, etc. from campus. He just doesn't think Donald Rumsfeld fits into any of these categories.

Prof. Bernstein: "academic open-mindedness" involves understanding that some people, far short of a majority but certainly not insignificant in number, do think that Donald Rumsfeld fits into the above categories.



Pamela M. Lee, Stanford professor of art history:

It's extremely important for the Hoover to know that their appointments are not in the mainstream of the Stanford community, as well as to send a very clear signal to the country that this is not what Stanford is about.


Is it necessary to believe that the US government is comparable to or worse than that of Cuba, North Korea, Iran or the former Taliban government of Afghanistan to remain in the mainstream of modern academia?
If so, I do sympathize with the feelings of "Drain the tub" above.
9.21.2007 4:39pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
tvk says:
"You think that the Stanford petitioners are a bunch of lefty loonys like the ICC and the rest of those international law folks who clearly are making a bad call; they probably think something very different. What gives?"

If the recent behavior of the Duke faculty (see other recent VC posts) is any indication, "what gives" is that Bernstein is right, and the faculty of Stanford is a bunch of lefty loonys too.
9.21.2007 4:42pm
WHOI Jacket:
From the story:


Last year, Mr. Bush planned to visit fellows at the Hoover Institution before having dinner with George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state who is also a fellow. But after protests, the meeting was moved to Mr. Shultz's home.


The President of the United States is not welcome on campus either.
9.21.2007 4:49pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Last year, Mr. Bush planned to visit fellows at the Hoover Institution before having dinner with George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state who is also a fellow. But after protests, the meeting was moved to Mr. Shultz's home.

Was this because the president was not welcome on campus or just his well documented aversion to protesters? Most likely the latter.
9.21.2007 5:02pm
wb (mail):
While we are thinking about the Stanford mainstream, let's consider another architect of a failed Middle East policy, ex-Provost Condy Rice. If you want an example of Stanford university ethics do a search about "Longstanding Malpractice Suit Involving Nezhat Brothers" or more trivially how they came the US News rankings.
9.21.2007 5:39pm
Mark Field (mail):

Harvard's Kennedy School, for one.


The Kennedy School appears to be part of Harvard. See here and here. The Hoover Institute, in contrast, appears to be a separate institution. See here and here.
9.21.2007 5:40pm
MarkJ (mail):

Was this because the president was not welcome on campus or just his well documented aversion to protesters? Most likely the latter.


J. F. Thomas,

Thanks for sharing your navel-gazing brand of insanity with the rest of us rubes. It's simply.....breathtaking.

By the way, Don Rumsfeld and I talked about you a little while ago on our super-secret "Junior G-Man" phones. Don says you've cut him to the quick, but he's willing to forgive your comments up to a point. Normally, Rummy would just send out a black helicopter to give you a one-way ride over the nearest large body of water. However, being the nice guy he is, Rummy will waive his usual policy. Instead, he'll just have you shipped to Louisiana for a lengthy stay at one of his franchised corrective holiday labor camps.

Best of all, Rummy has appointed me Head Bull of the camp. Shoooooot, I'll look forward to making your acquaintance on a nightly basis......
9.21.2007 5:41pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Should Philip Zimbardo be tried as a criminal? Why or why not?

Discuss among yourselves.
9.21.2007 5:50pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
It's a good thing that Democrats have internalized Hillary's!!! call for an end to the politics of personal destruction. Otherwise, who knows what name calling could result.
9.21.2007 5:55pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Is this a blog site that attracts lawyers? I'm beginning to understand Nifong.
9.21.2007 5:57pm
K Parker (mail):
J.F.,
The man should be in jail,
Still stumping for Civil War II, are we? If you had any power, you'd be actually dangerous.

WHOI,
The Democrats are terrified of Rumsfeld.
Well, duh!
9.21.2007 5:58pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Mark Field replies


Harvard's Kennedy School, for one.
The Kennedy School appears to be part of Harvard. See here and here. The Hoover Institute, in contrast, appears to be a separate institution.


Sigh.


Justin wanted a "liberal counterpart to the Hoover Institution."

My too-subtle point was that the that would be "pretty much the whole rest of Academia."
9.21.2007 6:11pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You know it is breathtaking to me that the Secretary of Defense can admit to violating the Geneva Conventions in a press conference, his deputy can practically admit that treatment bordering on torture--if not torture itself--was authorized at the highest level of the Pentagon, and the Pentagon admit that detainees were tortured to death, yet I am the one who is accused of being some kind of loon.

It is amazing what some of you will ignore and forgive in the name of fighting the war on terror.
9.21.2007 6:15pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
My too-subtle point was that the that would be "pretty much the whole rest of Academia."

And David, Eugene, Jonathon, Ann Althouse, Ilya, and Glenn Reynolds do what for a living exactly?
9.21.2007 6:18pm
...Max... (mail):
Perhaps an off-topic here, but it seems to me that, generally, the reason left and right talk past each other is that they don't agree on what FACTS are. Not conclusions, but FACTS. Asking for links and citations is not at all helpful because in the majority of cases they can easily be discounted as biased. An NYT investigation? C'mon... A Fox News report? Oh yeah...

So, to take the example at hand, what would be the basic set of FACTS about Rumsfeld that "the left" and "the right" as represented over here can agree on?
9.21.2007 6:27pm
Jordan Keith (mail):
And David, Eugene, Jonathon, Ann Althouse, Ilya, and Glenn Reynolds do what for a living exactly?


Hence the qualifier "pretty much."
9.21.2007 6:27pm
Morat20 (mail):
Let me get this straight -- all this verbiage because a bunch of people signed a petition stating they don't like Rumsfeld, and don't think eh should get the job?

And the institution offering the job basically said "That's nice. We all have opinions. So bugger off"?

And this is worth spendign all this time on, and even leading to some idiots claiming this is a sign of the failures of academia?

Jesus, it's a petition. It's people registering an opinion on Rumsfeld. That's it. No persecution, no stifling of dissent or differing opinions -- just one group of people saying "That guys sucks and you're really lowering the tone by bringing him in" and the other side saying "Yeah, we don't think so".

Good lord.
9.21.2007 6:31pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Max,

You see the problem is deeper than that. We can't even agree on what words mean. It didn't start with Bubba, but I refer you to the meaning of "is."

And for the people who have Rumsfeld convicted of war crimes, ask them to define legal enemy combatant and it's opposite. And ask them why a distinction was made.

That way madness lies.
9.21.2007 6:35pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Morat20,

We really, really appreciate your keeping yourself above the fray. What would the country come to if people like you did not say "Good Lord" about issues like this.

It's a petition, after all.

Now when it comes to an after dinner speech by Larry Summers ... academia really shines.

BTW, going to that speech by Ahmajinidad. Great stuff. I'm sure it will be enlightening.
9.21.2007 6:58pm
Morat20 (mail):
You keep trying, Moneyrunner. I'm sure you'll find a point somewhere.

Meanwhile, I suppose it's good you're spending your time on these burning issues. We all realize how important a completely non-binding petition of a bunch of college students is.

Practically world-changing.
9.21.2007 7:04pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
You tell 'em JFT,

There is a special room in the Pentagon where Rumsfeld went for a few hours each day to practice torture techniques. How do I know? I was one of the ones he tortured ... to death. You can take may word for it.

And now that he's at the Hoover, I can imagine him stringing people like me up to the carillion so that you can't hear the screams, but as he plays, oh the pain!
9.21.2007 7:07pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Morat20,

I would not refer to professors at Stanford as "college students" if I were you. They could get pissed. Next thing you know, there goes your invitation to be a dinner speaker.
9.21.2007 7:10pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Professor Berstein was right to compare Rumsfeld to Ahmadinejad. But at least Columbia only invited Ahmadinejad to speak once. They didn't offer a visiting position.

If Rumsfeld just wanted to give a lecture, I'd say fine. And for the same reason I support letting Ahmadinejad talk. I think there are too many people who just don't get how evil these men's positions are. (I concede that Ahmadinejad has Rumsfeld beat in the evil category, but Rummy gave the Iranian leader a run for his money.)

Let the students here Rumsfeld talk about his Khmer Rouge-approved and Nazi-approved torture methods. Let the students here Ahmadinejad spew his violent anti-Semitic bile.

The more exposure both men get, the better.
9.21.2007 7:37pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
P-D

You may be interested to hear that the Hoover fellowes are not instructors. I was at the Hoover recently and reviewed an exhibit about Soviet atrocities. You won't find it in the NY Times, but the pictures are compelling to people who view other people as humans rather than political cyphers.

You may also want to study how the Khmer Rouge and Nazis tortured. Your comments are the sort of thing that help me to characterize Liberals and Democrats. I'm afraid that they are found to be in the "strange" category.

You're not a plant, are your?
9.21.2007 7:51pm
Public_Defender (mail):

You may also want to study how the Khmer Rouge and Nazis tortured.


Apparently Rumsfeld did. He clearly didn't go as far, but he definitely stepped into that pond.
9.21.2007 7:58pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Can someone tell us what the requirements are to be considered in the mainstream of the Stanford faculty?
9.21.2007 9:17pm
Extraneus (mail):
I'd put my money on Rumsfeld in an academic contest against at least 90% of the Standford faculty, and that includes 100% of the liberal arts faculty.

Of course, he should be in jail anyway, as should Ashcroft, Darth Cheney, the evil Rove, Gonzales, and of course the real object of lefty hate. As opposed to a bunch of blood-thirsty 7th century wackos who'd love to kill their "progressive" allies if they could.

Academia really should take an inward glance these days, because Drain the tub is making a lot of sense.
9.21.2007 9:55pm
Extraneus (mail):
Sorry, Stanford.
9.21.2007 9:56pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
P-D,

As a compassionate Conservative, I won't characterize your comparison of the Nazi atrocities with the Rumsfeld administration of the DOD. But as a survivor of European Jewry in WW 2 it is my opinon that your comments are beneath contempt.

There is no redemption for someone who so trivializes genuine horror.
9.21.2007 11:30pm
scote (mail):

P-D,

As a compassionate Conservative, I won't characterize your comparison of the Nazi atrocities with the Rumsfeld administration of the DOD. But as a survivor of European Jewry in WW 2 it is my opinon that your comments are beneath contempt.

There is no redemption for someone who so trivializes genuine ho


Hmmm...if only people had spoken up when the Germans started turning on their own people and held the government accountable for its authoritarian leanings...

I'm so glad that you don't want us speaking out when people are abused by our government, which now secretly arrests and detains people without trial based on secret investigations, secret warrantless surveillance, secret laws and secret "enhanced" interrogation techniques.

To think that you would criticize those who would hold the architects of the abuse of power in our country rather than praise them would seem to suggest that you have learned nothing from the lessons of how German government moved by inches to where it eventually arrived.

Don't pull the the survivor card out unless you actually remember the lessons of history.
9.22.2007 1:19am
Eli Rabett (www):
Ah yes, our friend David Bernstein, whom, of Juan Cole opined

My question: when will NPR and other outlets that treat Cole as a respected Middle Eastern commentators consign him to the lunatic fringe where he belongs?

Why are we not talking about something truly important and meaningful such as the Move On ad?
9.22.2007 1:39am
Perseus (mail):
If Mr. Rumsfeld wants to break into academia, he should follow the example of someone like Susan Rosenberg--a former member of the radical leftist terrorist group the Weather Underground suspected of being an accomplice in a 1981 murder and convicted in 1985 of possessing a large cache of weapons and explosives--who managed to secure a teaching position at CUNY (before the barbarians at the gate discovered the appointment and successfully pressured the CUNY administration not to rehire her).
9.22.2007 2:19am
Ken Arromdee:
I think it's safe to say that the Standford professors expect their audience to be sufficiently familiar with Rumsfeld's record to understand the bases of their concerns-- and I suspect that, protestations aside, you have a pretty good idea of what their objections are, too.

I have a pretty good idea what the insinuations in the wanted poster from the 88 faculty members at Duke were too.

But not actually stating the charge against someone, even when your audience can be assumed to know what the charge is, is a way to avoid being called to task if you're trying to charge him baselessly. The group of 88 didn't accuse the students of anything non-vague because if they made any concrete accusations, the accusations could be proven wrong. If they just insinuated that the students are rapists, they could later claim--and their supports have later claimed, right now--that they didn't really accuse anyone of anything, even though we know very well they did.

We have no obligation to act as though they accused Rumsfeld of anything concrete if they didn't say so. We may "have a pretty good idea of what their objections are", but we also have a pretty good idea that those objections are malleable and that whenever we disprove one of the objections their supporters will merely deny that that was ever an objection in the first place.
9.22.2007 3:44am
Eli Rabett (www):
As for myself a bill of particulars against Rumsfeld would start with being unprepared for war (Al Qaida/Taliban/Afghanistan), bringing my country into a war unprepared (Iraq) (the initial assault was but the first battle and even there the criminal negligence which lead to the looting was the father of much that followed), violating the Geneva Conventions, costing my country its good name and reputation by his decisions including the maltreatment of prisoners and civilians, weakening my country in its ability to respond to external threats (Korea/Iran/Al Qaida, etc.), and oh yes, (somewhat snarkily), I remember how Donny was going to tear down the US army and then build it back up again. The first phase of that project looks like it will succeed in the next year or so . . . Need we go on?
9.22.2007 12:23pm
neurodoc:
A teaching appointment for Rumsfeld at Hoover/Stanford is one thing, an invitation to speak at Columbia for Ahmadinejad, the president of a country hostile to ours, a very different one. The former can do nothing to undermine the interests of the United States, the latter arguably can undermine the interests of the United States. So these don't belong in the same conversation.
9.22.2007 4:56pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I guess I don't see why the protest at Stanford about Rumsfeld reflects anything, one way or the other. Are not the people at Stanford entitled to express their disapproval of Rummy and his actions? Yes. Has Hoover revoked the appointment? No.

There really is nothing to blog about here, unless you are convinced that you are part of a persecuted conservative minority and wish to whine about it perpetually on the Internet. I guess feeling like a victim is empowering, in an odd sort of way.

As far as Rummy's own culpability, I think a case for criminally negligent conduct, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the torture of hundreds, could possibly be put together.
9.22.2007 5:19pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I should add, one way of judging a political leader for the harm his or her policies have actually caused is to use a "body count." Here is an example, applied to Rumssfeld and
Ahmadinejad. How many innocent civilians have died as a proximate cause of Rumsfeld's policies? How many innocent civilians have died as a proximate cause of Ahmadinejad's policies?

I would bet that Rumsfeld has the much higher body count than our good friend Ahmadinejad, even if you blamed the latter for all the torture deaths of dissidents, etc. that the Iranian regime carries out, and 1 or 2 percent of the IED deaths going on in Iraq (on the theory that the Iranian revolutionary guard is behind them).

The reason I like this method is that it in theory should allow you to divorce politics from the method, and get to a practical way of judging someone. Of course, this is probably not true in practice, as identifying the people to include in the body count will involve the exercise of discretion and bias will creep in.

But, my rough calculations would rank Stalin as somewhat higher, or at least comparable, on the evil scale than Hitler (at least, comparable), if you assign him blame for the millions who died in the USSR during his purges (which I do).

The other main criticism of this method is that it disregards intentions. Here is my response: if you had a good heart, but through negligence killed hundreds of thousands of people, should we really give you that much of a break? I would say, some break ---you wouldn't be ranked the same as someone who instituted a holocaust, like Hitler---but you should still be judged harshly.
9.22.2007 5:57pm
Eli Rabett (www):
I don't think Hoover has teaching appointments (reg faculty)
9.22.2007 5:57pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Eli: I think Rumsfeld is a distinguished visiting fellow, not a teacher. I have no problem with Hoover inviting him, my own point is that his policies are hardly free from criticism, and I can understand why people at Stanford might be upset with his appointment, given his policies, and do not think that criticism of his policies necessarily equates with an intolerance for conservative views that is supposedly so prevalent in academia (which seems to be David's point). Stanford's faculty is hardly a bastion of the left; indeed, I would guess its faculty is much less "liberal" than Harvard or the other Ivy League schools.
9.22.2007 6:27pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I should add, one way of judging a political leader for the harm his or her policies have actually caused is to use a "body count."

Interesting. How about Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Churchill... It also puts an interesting twist on the policy decision to resist attack. Surrender would result in a far lower body count.
9.22.2007 11:33pm
WHOI Jacket:
Christopher Cook, We killed a lot more Japanese and Germans than they killed of us Americans.

Heck, how about Serbs in Kosovo? I'm sure we iced more of them than they did of us.

So the only way to moral purity in your world is to be decimated by your enemy.
9.23.2007 3:36pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Elliot123 raises an interesting point --presumably, the underlying moral purpose for which a war is fought---which I admit does lead me to think that a body count can't be the sole criteria in judging a leader's morality. But, I still believe that it should be highly relevant.

And, I would quibble with WHOI Jacket's assertion that "we killed a lot more Japanese and Germans" than they killed of us. I would include all of the civilians that the Japanese governments and German governments killed during WWII in my body count, not simply the American civilians. And, I am excluding soldiers from the count (the other side's soldiers are fair game, unless they surrender, and it would be too complicated to get into estimates of surrendered soldiers who were wrongfully killed). By those measures, I think FDR comes off much better than Hitler or Hirohito. The Japanese, remember, slaughtered millions of Chinese civilians during WWII.
And, I think the Serbs likely killed more Bosnian civilians and Kosovarian civilians than we killed of the Serb civilians, so I think Clinton does better than Milosevic.
9.23.2007 7:10pm
neurodoc:
Christopher Cooke, I fundamentally disagree with your approach, but let's do the en arguendo thing for a moment... At what point in time should the clock have started ticking for Ahmadinejad and credit begun accruing to his account for innocent lives taken? Wasn't he one of those who back in his student days helped bring Khomeni to power (participated in take over of the American Embassy), and so to be fair ought we not go back more 25 years rather than begin when he became president of Iran more recently? Do you think he should be credited with lost lives in Israel and Lebanon for the proxy war started by Hezbollah last year? How about acts of terror like Khobar Towers and ones beyond the Middle East (e.g., Argentina)? Would you credit him with lives taken by the Revolutionary Guard and other henchmen of that regime? I think you underestimate the "credit" he and his like-minded countryman deserve.
9.24.2007 1:47am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I think it is fair to assign blame to Ahmadinejad for the actions of everyone his government actively supports in committing terrorist attacks on civilians, while he has been the leader of Iran. So, yes that would probably include Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli civilians funded by Iran, and elsewhere. I would not go back to his student days, because my test is for leaders who are capable of controlling national policy. I am not familiar with facts suggesting Iranian involvement with the Khobar towers attack (don't know enough to judge). Indeed, maybe I am being too hard on Rumsfeld in applying it to him, since he was not the President, but I am assuming that he exercised influence and control over US policy vis-a-vis the war in Iraq.

I am curious, though, why do you fundamentally disagree with my approach? I recognize that it leaves out or downplays the importance of a leader's intentions. I can also see a problem with it not being complete: a leader who is caught while planning an act of great evil and violence--e.g., the death of millions---but before anyone is killed, could be judged more harshly than one whose negligence caused one death. But, I think it has a virtue of being less subjective, and more focused on harm and not on a politician's rhetoric, as a basis for judging him or her.
9.24.2007 2:46am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I think it is fair to assign blame to Ahmadinejad for the actions of everyone his government actively supports in committing terrorist attacks on civilians, while he has been the leader of Iran. So, yes that would probably include Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli civilians funded by Iran, and elsewhere. I would not go back to his student days, because my test is for leaders who are capable of controlling national policy. I am not familiar with facts suggesting Iranian involvement with the Khobar towers attack (don't know enough to judge). Indeed, maybe I am being too hard on Rumsfeld in applying it to him, since he was not the President, but I am assuming that he exercised influence and control over US policy vis-a-vis the war in Iraq.

I am curious, though, why do you fundamentally disagree with my approach? I recognize that it leaves out or downplays the importance of a leader's intentions. I can also see a problem with it not being complete: a leader who is caught while planning an act of great evil and violence--e.g., the death of millions---but before anyone is killed, could be judged more harshly than one whose negligence caused one death. But, I think it has a virtue of being less subjective, and more focused on harm and not on a politician's rhetoric, as a basis for judging him or her.
9.24.2007 2:46am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Scote,

It is apparent that it is you who are ignorant of history. There was nothing subtle about the actions of Hitler and his acolytes. They began with massive street demonstrations. Remind you of anyone here? These street demonstrations often involved violence. The young Nazis had a habit of shouting down their opponents -- like the Leftist demonstrators on campuses who regularly shout down Conservatives who are invited to speak.

There was nothing subtle about "Mein Kampf." There was nothing subtle about the rallies and hate speech sponsored by both the Nazis and the Communists in Weimar Germany. After Hitler became Chancellor there was nothing subtle about the anti-Jewish laws that were passed. There was nothing subtle about Kristallnacht. There was nothing subtle about the Nuremberg Laws.

To complain about the laws that have been passed by Congress and as even remotely comparable is tendentious and -- frankly -- speaks badly about your grasp of elementary history.

A better case could be made the real heirs of the Nazi movement are the campus radicals, and the ANSWER partisans who shout down and physically intimidate their opponents.

And your accusations against Rumsfeld seem to be of a piece with the slanders the Nazis promulgated against the Jews as they planned the Final Solution.

You are one sick puppy.
9.24.2007 9:23pm