Friday, October 29, 2010

Boycott Lifted - an olive branch to Tom Ricks

Maybe because I'm feeling magnanimous this week or maybe it's because of yesterday's serious drama, but I'm officially lifting my boycott of Tom Ricks at The Best Defense. My opinion of Tom has ebbed and waned over the years, starting with very high esteem after I read Fiasco while in Iraq during the Surge. That book was one of the biggest reasons I'm in the business I'm in now - it had a huge influence on my professional life. But I slowly became disappointed with his writing and what I perceived as a lack of analysis in his new role as a blogger (and fellow at CNAS). This is only because I expected so much more from him after Fiasco and my expectations were not met.

However, those were my expectations - not any promises Tom made to me (after all I've only met him once or twice in person and very briefly at CNAS events) or any of his other readers. After consideration, it's not fair to him for me to project my own expectations on his work. He also runs a blog all on his own and posts multiple times a day (granted with many, many guest posts) and if I did that I would post plenty of things most of you would disagree with as well. This does not mean that I agree with everything he writes (or posts from guest bloggers), but the man still drives a lot of the conversation on defense issues in this town and around the interwebs because of his vast experience in the field when he covered it for a number of news outlets. When I look at what gets posted on the internet as a whole, Tom's blog is definitely towards the top of sane and reasonable. Even if I disagree with a lot of his content.

So Tom - your blog is back in my reader and my boycott is lifted. I do apologize for the snarky (and probably rude) things that I've said on this blog. I stand by the critiques of your work that I've written, but not the tone of some of them. And I'll probably continue to critique your work I disagree with in the future as well as point out when I agree and I think it's particularly good.

9 comments:

  1. Is this newfound (and ill-conceived) politeness one of the inevitable negative consequences of your recent unmasking? I'm so disappointed.

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  2. It's all part of the process. I'd been thinking about this prior to my decision to fully remove the veil of anonymity. It's just the right thing to do.

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  3. Process is exactly the right word to use as we move from a world of digital immigrants to digital natives.

    Blogging can be the intellectual equivalent of embarrassing Facebook pictures. (At least for the likes of me.) Whatever this process has been for me, it's been out in the open - from attending Dave Winer's open meetings at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, to my current stint at the group blog Chicago Boyz. Lately, I've felt a yen to return to the book and art blogs and stay away from all of this foreign policy stuff. I don't seem to have the stomach for it. I am too emotional. I stayed well away from MK's posts for a reason.

    *I always say that I'm going to stay away from the Abu M Axis of Blog, and yet, I never do. After you read blogs like this, the television news and the papers can seem static and dull. When you ask a question, who answers back? I suppose there is C-SPAN. I'm just the sort to start calling in, too. The hilarity that would naturally ensue. How do the hosts keep a straight face?

    **At any rate, your gentle posts are some of the nicer ones on the internet. I don't remember any truly rude posts, just slightly exasperated ones, which is understandable given your experiences in Iraq.

    I wish I could scrub my internet history completely clean but I suppose this is the future for a lot of people. Ha ha. Maybe in the future you can buy a digital removal package like some people remove tattoos these days!

    Or, maybe, it will be normal for digital natives to have embarrassing online phases just like they have embarrassing real life phases. Everyone will just accept it.

    Brave New World: the banal, everyday version. Wait, wasn't that the point?

    By the way, I know this is the millionth time I've mentioned it, but I really do feel bad about my occasional nasty-furious meltdowns over at Abu M. He seems very nice and doesn't deserve a lot of the stuff thrown his way. Unfortunately, I think his blog is a proxy for the frustration a lot of people feel about certain foreign policy issues. So, he gets the heat.

    Not fair, really.

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  4. Whoa. What was that novel all about? It's Friday. I gotta go! Rats. I'm always late for stuff....

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  5. Rubber Ducky welcomes Ink Spots back to the fold...

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  6. Fritz, I'm a bit disappointed. Most of Ricks' analysis these days is shallow and your criticisms have been spot on. Please don't join the CNAS centered circle of analysts and scholars who absolutely refuse to criticize each other. That mutual admiration society is big enough and it doesn't do policy or the scholarship any favors.

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    "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." --Robert E. Howard

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  8. @ Anonymous - Please note that I said I'm lifting my boycott - which means I'm actually reading his blog now and nothing more. Also note that I said I'll continue to critique.

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    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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