The Awards!

The good, the bad, and the downright ugly

by , December 23, 2009

I love tradition, and after all these years of writing this column – seems like one hundred, but it’s actually closer to ten – it’s high time to start one (a tradition, that is). Thus, the Antiwar.com awards are born!

Taking our cues from another tradition – the Sicilian tradition of revenge – I’m going to name these various awards after certain well-known persons, people who are famous for one reason or another, that is, well enough known so that the mere mention of their name evokes the characteristic that the award memorializes. And so, right off the bat, we have the Andrew Sullivan Award for ideological blindness and utter hypocrisy, which goes, this first year of its existence, to none other than … yes, you guessed it: Andrew Sullivan.

The Sullivan Award goes to the person who brazenly condemns others for shortcomings he (or she) epitomizes, and who blames others for the consequences of policies that he (or she) once loudly advocated, and now is desperately trying to run away from. That Sullivan has truly earned the award that’s named after his sorry self seems beyond dispute. After all, here is someone who now disdains the "excesses" of the Bush years – the warmongering, the bloodthirstiness, the hair-trigger belligerence – and yet called for dropping a nuclear bomb on Iraq because he had talked himself into believing (on the strength of zero evidence) that the anthrax attacks were masterminded by Saddam Hussein.

Yes, the author of "The Daily Dish" has half-assedly apologized to his readers for his past views, with all sorts of exculpatory excuses and qualifications, yet it is telling that he has never apologized for or even retracted this call to genocide. And he’s supposed to be some sort of Christian, a Catholic I believe. What a hypocrite! He deserves this "award," and in spades.

As sweet as revenge can be, it can’t be all about that – after all, we need something positive, something uplifting and inspiring: in short, we need the Ron Paul Award, to be given to the person who has done the most to talk foreign policy common sense to the broadest sectors of the American people in a way that is both understandable and informed. And who among us could credibly claim this prize other than Ron himself?

Sure, there are plenty of others whose books, articles, and public pronouncements have done their bit in educating the American people as to the whys and wherefores of non-interventionism, but no one else has done it in such a systematic and ultimately appealing way – and all without compromising his message one bit. And when one takes into consideration his audience – who, after all, would dare to get up at a Republican presidential debate, no less, and say the 9/11 attacks were "blowback" generated by US foreign policy? – one has to salute his courage and persistence.

Ron Paul is The Man!

While Rep. Paul’s clear-sighted vision and burgeoning success in building a lasting anti-interventionist movement on the Right is cause for optimism, there is still a dark side to the conservative mentality, and this is especially true of the paleoconservatives, for whom gloominess is an occupational hazard. The old ways are gone, and nothing can bring them back, they keen: we’re doomed! Doomed, I tell you! And no one of this tribe is gloomier than Daniel Larison, the Eeyore of the paleo-right. If a Republican member of Congress so much as whispers criticism of Obama’s Afghanistan policy, or even comes right out and says we ought to withdraw and start tending to our own problems, Larison is right in there assuring us that he (or she) doesn’t mean it, can’t mean it, and is merely "pretending" to mean it, because, you see, they deviate on some other point, or just because they’re modern conservatives, who can’t, after all, be anything less than bloodthirsty monsters.

In order to qualify for this award, it isn’t enough that you kvetch and nitpick – because anybody can do that. I’ve done it myself. No, you have to kvetch and nitpick whilst defending the interventionist policies of the present administration, i.e. the Afghan "surge," thus doing precisely what you criticize others for doing. It also helps if the nominee for this particular award writes in the dull, gray, lifeless style of someone about to overdose on Prozac.

And so the Daniel Larison Award for simultaneously nitpicking and double-talking goes to … Daniel Larison!

Okay, back on the "positive" side of things, we have the John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt Award for Speaking Truth to Power. This goes to those writers who, in stating an obvious truth – one that has only been whispered while looking over one’s shoulder – have ignored the peril this places them in professionally, and gone ahead and published. It took real bravery to point to the elephant in the room that practically everyone wanted to avoid noticing – the Israel Lobby’s unprecedented and intolerably unhealthy grip on the making of US policy in the Middle East – and Professors Mearsheimer and Walt certainly deserve an award that is the anti-interventionist equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, exposed the real power behind the American throne, one that is hurting us in ways we will be experiencing for many years to come. The smear campaign that followed publication of the book was truly horrific, but the crudity of the attacks backfired: far from marginalizing the authors, the Smear Brigade only publicized a book that might have fallen between the cracks, a fate shared by many far less weighty tomes.

Going from the sublime to the grotesque, we present the very first Charles Johnson Award, which goes to that individual in the public eye who has no compunctions about stabbing his former friends and allies in the back and attacking them for the very traits he or she exemplifies. Johnson, who is, as you may know, a blogger with a reputation for giving a forum to vilest sort of anti-Arab racism, and whose blog, "Little Green Footballs," became a haven for the hateful, has now repudiated his awful past in favor of his equally awful present – which consists of smearing those who fail to toe the Johnsonian line on everything from the role of religion in public life to the reality (or non-reality) of global warming. Having succored racists and Islamophobes of the most extreme sort for years, Johnson has now taken to denouncing these very same racists as the vilest creatures on God’s green earth – without, of course, mentioning his key role in encouraging, organizing, and egging them on. Although he wouldn’t cite God, you see, because, having abandoned the epithet he used to defame Islam as (sarcasm on!) "The Religion of ‘Peace,’" he has now decided that all religion (except one, of course) is the Enemy. Think of him as a cut-rate Christopher Hitchens – an intellectual hooligan without the erudition, or the accent – incapable of writing a blog post longer than a few short and mostly cut-and-pasted paragraphs, albeit with the Hitchensonian nastiness intact.

The Charles Johnson Turncoat Award – this is an "honor" Charles has earned several times over.

And last, but not least, we have the Justin Raimondo Award for Verbosity in the Face of an Intractable Deadline, otherwise known as the Annoying Hack of the Year prize, which recognizes in the recipient several characteristics rarely found in a single writer.

First, one must write often – not weekly, not twice weekly, but at least thrice-weekly, even when you haven’t got all that much to say. Furthermore, one must say it while getting in all sorts of little digs and vicious asides at people one finds annoying, preferably in the most tasteless manner imaginable. It always helps nominees for this particular award if their prose is undisciplined, far too casual given the seriousness of its ostensible subject. And, most importantly, it is absolutely necessary for the recipient of this much-coveted honor to alienate and even insult as many of his or her readers as possible. For example, if you know half your audience consists of committed liberals who sympathize with your foreign policy views, but hate your domestic political agenda, why you simply must emphasize the latter – preferably by rubbing their faces in it without making any real attempt to persuade. That‘ll show ‘em!

I have to say, I am humbled to be the first recipient of the Annoying Hack of the Year Award, and I just want to thank all the little people who made it possible…

That’s it for this year, folks. Please do send me your nominees, because we really should be giving these awards out more often than on an annual basis.

With Christmas upon us, and the New Year beckoning, we’re all of us busy: but don’t worry, Antiwar.com is standing at the parapets, keeping watch on the War Party. We’ll let you know if something comes up. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas – I’m taking a very short break this upcoming weekend, so there will be no column on Friday, but I’ll be back on Monday, bright and early, earning my award…

Read more by Justin Raimondo