NRO contributors ignore Ledeen's attack on Abizaid despite denunciation of Petraeus critics

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

In a blog post on National Review Online's The Corner, Michael Ledeen wrote that it "was under [retired Army Gen. John] Abizaid that the copious evidence of Iranian activity was suppressed, and we, let's say, took it easy on the thousands of Revolutionary Guards killers running all over the country." While several NRO contributors criticized MoveOn.org for its "General Betray Us" ad and Democrats for not condemning it, no NRO contributor has similarly condemned Ledeen's criticism of an American general.

In a September 17 blog post on National Review Online's The Corner discussing retired Army Gen. John Abizaid's reported assertion that "we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear," NRO contributing editor Michael Ledeen wrote that it "was under Abizaid that the copious evidence of Iranian activity was suppressed, and we, let's say, took it easy on the thousands of Revolutionary Guards killers running all over the country." A search of the NRO archive conducted September 20 found that no contributor had criticized Ledeen for engaging in "smearing," "slander[ing]," or labeling as a "traitor" a U.S. general. By contrast, when the progressive grassroots group MoveOn.org placed an advertisement in The New York Times on September 10 regarding Gen. David Petraeus' congressional testimony, titled "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" several blog posts and syndicated columns on NRO criticized MoveOn.org and Democrats for not condemning the ad.

For example:

  • Thomas Sowell asserted in a September 19 syndicated column that "[o]ther people have acted with utter dishonor and dishonesty -- the most shameful recent example being the smearing of General David Petraeus as a liar before he had said a word."
  • In a September 12 post on The Corner, NRO contributor Cliff May wrote: "Partly in response to MoveOn.org's slander of Gen. David Petraeus as a traitor (yes, that's what they said: Webster's New World Dictionary defines 'betray' as 'to help the enemy ... to be a traitor') there is now a grassroots petition supporting General Petraeus and his troops."
  • In a September 10 post on the NRO blog The Tank, contributor W. Thomas Smith Jr. asserted: "The disgraceful condescension some of these Democratic congressmen (politicians mind you) are exhibiting toward Gen. Petraeus (a career four-star United States Army officer) is almost more than I can bear."
  • Smith also wrote in a September 14 column:

The anti-Iraq-war crowd is always quick to say they "support the troops." But it's not an expression of support when you accuse the top "troop" of lying, cherry-picking facts, and serving as a uniformed mouthpiece for the president, especially when all evidence is to the contrary.

That's exactly what MoveOn.org has done with its full-page ad in the New York Times, accusing the top "troop" -- four-star Gen. David Petraeus -- of "betraying" the nation he has sworn to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. Many top Democrats -- accepting backing from MoveOn and refusing to take a public stance against the organization's very public condemnation of the general -- are also guilty by association.

Further, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, whose column appears on NRO, asserted on the September 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report With Brit Hume that "[y]ou can be against an unpopular war, but once you go against the military, you've crossed the line." As Media Matters for America has documented (here and here), media outlets often uncritically air or repeat attacks on Democrats and progressives for criticizing the performance of senior military officers, without reporting similar criticisms made by Republicans.

Nor is this the first time Ledeen has criticized an American military commander. In a June 16, 2006, entry on The Corner, Ledeen posted an open letter to Gen. Michael Hagee, the commandant of U.S. Marine Corps, in which Ledeen accused the general of "preemptive surrender" and repeatedly called his behavior "an outrage" for his actions against the Marines alleged to have been responsible for the Haditha massacre.

From the September 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

BRET BAIER (guest host): Charles, is there an issue here for MoveOn.org? They sent out a survey to all of their readers on email saying, "How are we doing?" Is that a sense that this was a really bad week for that organization?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, they made the cardinal mistake that the antiwar movement had made in the Vietnam era. You can be against an unpopular war, but once you go against the military, you've crossed the line.

And the reason why Democrats have been hurt for 30 years as a result of opposing the war in the Vietnam era, which, in the end, America rejected, is because they attacked soldiers. And we saw that with [Sen.] John Kerry's [D-MA] -- the testimony he gave many years ago in which he accused American soldiers of all kinds of atrocities.

That is a line that the MoveOn ad had crossed, and that's a mistake. That's why Democrats are very wary of this. If it just happens once, it'll be forgotten. But if it happens again, either by some Democratic or left-wing group, or by a politician or candidate, it becomes a trend, and it becomes a real issue.

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