Antiwar.com’s Man of the Year: Thomas Fingar

by , December 22, 2007

It’s the end of a year that sets a record for American casualties in Iraq –and yet, we are told, the "surge" is "working." We’re well into an election season in which the American voting public overwhelmingly opposes this war, and wants our troops out by the end of ’08 – and yet the "major" presidential candidates of both parties are pledged to keep us in, indefinitely. As we look back on the events of 2007, we can’t help but detect this strange pattern of inversion, which I have previously dubbed the "Bizarro World effect."

According to my theory, the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11 tore a hole in the space-time continuum, and we slipped into an alternate universe where metaphysics and morals are stood on their heads. This has been pretty much confirmed by the events of the past six years – and yet ’07 was a bit different. I’m pleased to report the Bizarro World effect appears to be wearing off, at least in certain areas: I’m speculating, here, but it looks like the further away one is from the sites of the 9/11 attacks – New York City and Washington, D.C. – the more likely one is to have recovered one’s senses.

So it wasn’t all bad: the past year has given advocates of a more peaceful foreign policy some reason for hope, and that’s the point of handing out these year-end awards:

Antiwar.com’s "Man of the Year" – No, it isn’t Vladimir Putin: unlike others, we don’t think he’s the Devil incarnate, but neither is he an angel, and it’s certainly an odd choice for an American magazine to make. Instead, Antiwar.com chooses Thomas Fingar, the principal author of the recently-issued National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. As the Guardian put it: "Almost single-handedly he has stopped – or, at the very least, postponed – any U.S. military action against Iran."

Fingar is a top intelligence analyst at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a former head of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, with a Stanford degree (in political science) and lots of experience with the State Department’s China desk. He is in charge of producing and overseeing the President’s daily briefing, among other duties, was reportedly opposed to the Iraq war, and has consistently been a voice of reason within the administration.

Fingar has apparently been fighting the War Party – notably, John Bolton – in the corridors of power, and his recent victory in the NIE matter marks a turning point in the fight to re-take American foreign policy from the neoconservatives who hijacked it so effectively after 9/11. The Iran NIE augurs the rollback of the Bizarro Effect even in Washington, the very epicenter of the distortion. With the triumph of the "realists," and the retreat of the neocons, George W. Bush’s last months in office may be a whole lot safer than we ever imagined possible.

Liberal of the Year – Glenn Greenwald, whose column at Salon.com is must-reading for all those concerned with our crazed foreign policy of global intervention, and its domestic consequences – the PATRIOT Act, and the rise of the surveillance state – has always been one of my personal favorites, but this year he’s taken a turn for the better with his spirited defense of Ron Paul against the attack dogs of the sectarian Left.

This column on why the liberals operate under a double-standard when it comes to judging politicians, and his calm, reasoned refutation of the left-neocon smear campaign, is yet more evidence that here is a liberal who actually means what he says about opposing U.S. imperialism, and who doesn’t put his defense of civil liberties on the back-burner in order to provide a left cover for the Democratic party. He’s a populist, too, and that has something to do with it: he doesn’t see himself as part of the Establishment, nor does he aspire to be the next Thomas Friedman. He’s a true liberal, in the old sense of the term, meaning a rebel against the status quo – and since the status quo, today, is perpetual war abroad and authoritarianism on the home front, he’s pro-peace and pro-liberty. As I said here, Greenwald is well along the road, along with thousands of others inspired by Ron Paul’s candidacy, from liberalism to libertarianism.

Conservative of the Year – John Derbyshire, the author, mathematician, and writer for National Review, who has consistently bucked the neocons, annoyed John Podhoretz to no end, and is capable of writing the following:

"From Kimberley Strassel’s piece in the Dec. 14 Opinion Journal:

Paul rallies heave with voters waving placards and shouting ‘Liberty! Liberty!’

"Are those supporters crazy, as some colleagues tell me?

"Perhaps they are, to be shouting for liberty in 2007, after decades of swelling federal power and arrogance, of proliferating taxes, rules, and interests, of gushing transfers of wealth to politically connected elites from working- and middle-class grunts, of the college and teacher-union scams, of the metastasizing tort-law rackets, of ever more numerous yet ever more clueless intelligence agencies, of open borders and visas for people who hate us, of widening cracks in our sense of nationhood ("Press one for English …"), of speech codes and race lobbies and judicial impositions.

"If those people are crazy, though, I want to be crazy with them. I’m for liberty, too. That’s why I’m for Ron Paul. And why
do we have 75,000 soldiers in Germany?"

Activist of the Year – Trevor Lyman, the Ron Paul supporter who conceived and was instrumental in organizing the two recent Ron Paul "money bombs," neither of which were affiliated with the official campaign, and both of which were roaring successes. Here is an example of self-generated, self-organizing activism of the sort that other campaigns only dream about. A man with a vision – with no previous political experience, and no demonstrated fundraising ability – can make political history, and it’s no accident that he accomplished this on behalf of the Paul campaign, and not, say, one of the "major" candidates. It’s all about the ideas, as Ron Paul says, and, in Trevor’s case, it’s all about the war, and the complete inability or unwillingness of a Democratic congress to act on its electoral mandate and put an end to it. That’s what inspired him – and he has inspired us all.

Webmaster of the Year – Our own Eric Garris, who has been the real mover and shaker behind Antiwar.com (although I often, wrongly, get the credit), and without whose dedication this site would never have been created, let alone survived for over a decade as the world’s premier news-and-opinion site dealing primarily with US foreign policy and international affairs. Eric is always working – yes, even on Christmas, he’ll be slaving away. Surely he is the webmaster of the year – any year.

This Christmas, we have a lot to be grateful for, as well as a lot to worry about, and, when it comes down to it, the good and the bad just about balance each other out. I thought, however, that I’d accentuate the positive, for once – in hopes that the new year, which is already almost upon us, will be an improvement over the last. There are many signs that the prospects for peace are getting better by the moment, and the American people are – finally! – beginning to wake up from their post-9/11 slumber. And not a moment too soon….

Read more by Justin Raimondo