VDH UltraAngry Reader 09-02-2021

From An Angry Reader:
Subject: Tribune Editorial
Mr. Hanson:

You no doubt consider yourself to be an objective journalist, but I suggest that you are little more than a shill for Donald Trump and his sycophants. Your so-called editorial, “There’s a problem in the upper reaches of our military,” is blatantly one-sided; so much so, that I cannot take the time required to adequately critique it.

Suffice it to say that you completely ignore the disastrous drug-deal negotiated by Pompeo with the Taliban on Trump’s behalf, which included the release of FIVE THOUSAND Taliban prisoners. I just wonder how many of those 5,000 Taliban participated in the recent Taliban offensive? I wonder how many of those 5,000 currently encircle the Kabul airport? Did you bother to contemplate those questions while drafting your laundry list of those that ” …have managed to birth a new terrorist haven…”? Oddly enough, your lame excuse for an editorial also failed to include Mike Pompeo’s photo opportunity with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Question: Were you able to find a photo of Joe Biden or Antony Blinken posing with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar? …or any Taliban fighter?

You strike me as one of those many middle-aged right-wing Republican hawks, like John Bolton, that are ready to fight to the last drop of someone else’s blood. You have no skin in the game; you didn’t serve, and neither will your children or grandchildren. What’s more, you probably won’t even agree to have your taxes raised to pay for the wars you find so very patriotic. But you are, nonetheless, quite comfortable in the armchair warrior role.

You purport to be a military historian…may I remind you of which party was responsible for the folly of invading, and then occupying, Afghanistan in 2001? I mean, that idea worked so well when the USSR decided to invade Afghanistan and turn it into a Marxist state. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, and I suspect that is where our common experience ends. I don’t work in a conservative think-tank, but I have 38 years of service in the Army and Army Reserve, and have practiced law for the last 39 years; I know horse shit when I see it.


Daniel E. Speir
LTC, JA, USAR (Ret.)


Dear Angry Reader Daniel E. Speir,

I stomached your Angry reader rant until you descended into the usual ad hominem potty talk (e.g., “horse-sh*t”). Otherwise, your letter is full of the usual contradiction, misinformation, personal venting, general incoherence, and appeals from your purported authority. Almost everything you said is either untrue or ahistorical.

1) I am not “an objective journalist” but rather an opinion writer, tasked with providing editorials on the day’s events from a more traditional and conservative perspective. I am neither a reporter nor a journalist, but an opinion writer, who looks at current events and tries to offer commentary and analysis of them.

2) Please don’t resort to the ancient rhetorical trick of “I could say so much, but I simply don’t have the time.” The sophist employs such apophasis when he otherwise has not much to say.

3) You fail to deal with the central truth: 65 percent of the American people wanted out of Afghanistan after 20 years; and yet 70 percent do not like the way Joe Biden did it.

Start there. Trump crafted a plan to get out, negotiated a withdrawal, and then had established conditions which if violated would result in the sort of the punishments and reprisals he was known for in bombing ISIS out of Syria and taking out Iranian General Soleimani. That is why he left office without 1 dead American in his last 12 months, a viable Afghanistan, and 2,500 troops supplying air support and logistical help for the Afghan national army, as well as the possession of Bagram airbase and the U.S. embassy, and protection of American civilians and billions of dollars in U.S. hardware.

Those are the facts. Joe Biden followed that paradigm until late spring. The Taliban then began testing him. He did not respond in deterrent fashion because he wanted out and cared little how was it done, only that it was done, apparently, for high-five purposes, by the iconic September 11 date. That rush required him to mislead the nation by claiming there was no chance of a Vietnam-like implosion even as he secretly was calling the Afghan president to urge him to lie by assuring the world that the situation was not bleak in Afghanistan and thus did not endanger a rapid and complete U.S. withdrawal.

Biden also lied in assuring the Afghan government that it would have continued U.S. air support when he had no intention of doing so. This is not my conclusion but that of most of the American people, our NATO members, the Western alliance, and many in Biden’s own party.

While I did not support such photo-ops and any prisoner releases, I look at the results. And under the Trump withdrawal schedule, there were graduated sequences subject to conditions; and when they altered, Trump relented and kept troops at Bagram. And when he left office, the Afghan National Army was viable, because the Taliban believed that Trump would hit them if they violated the conditions of the agreements and so kept quiet until Biden took office. Then the Taliban bet, correctly, that Biden would simply skedaddle, although I doubt they ever imagined so quickly, shamelessly, and with such abandonment of billions in U.S. weaponry.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 on a joint resolution of the Congress, and with UN authorization, empowered to drive out Osama bin Laden from his sanctuary or kill him, to stop Afghanistan being used as a terrorist haven, and to depose the Taliban that had empowered the 9/11 killers. That mission was largely completed and what followed was subject to controversy as the U.S. role expanded to creating a Western social welfare state, at great cost to us, but with limited viability in a traditional and essentially pre-industrial Islamic society. Americans disagree about the ensuing mission creep, but they do agree that Joe Biden in a few days destroyed any chance of a viable Afghanistan without the Taliban or al Qaeda—and empowered our global enemies in the sordid process.

4) The rest of your letter is an ad hominem mishmash.

I am a registered Independent not a Republican. I have been critical of John Bolton. I leave the decision of my children to join or not join the military up to them. You know nothing about my grandchildren, or their general health or welfare, and to suggest you do reveals your nature not mine.

What an egocentric, strange assumption that only soldiers have won the right to comment on one’s national policies, as if Generals Milley and Austin have some divine right to be assumed wise on their reckless exit from Afghanistan or because of the ribbons plastered all over their chests. Ditto your reference to “39 years” (why not 45, 60,40, or 70?) of practicing law, as if the law de facto is a profession known for its ethics, legality, and wisdom. Your own letter suggests legal training is divorced from the art of either argumentation or common sense.

I farmed for much of my life, and found the combination of heavy equipment, chemicals, and often violent people not always a safe occupation. Under your own logic you have not won the right to talk of national food policy or agriculture in general since you may know nothing about how food is grown or produced. If we were all soldiers, how would we eat? Who would educate us?

Your logic ends in incoherence. I visited Iraq twice during the surge of 2006 and again 2007, and tried to travel to as many front-line areas as possible. I have taught at the US Naval Academy and spoken at a lot of U.S. military institutions. From all that I know that soldiers are people. Some are in front-line units; some never. Some have dangerous jobs; some no different than their civilian counterparts. To say that you have some claim on military wisdom or morality depends on the nature of your service, and is as valid or not as valid as your other narcissistic references to your degrees.

A B.A., M.A., Ph.D. may or may not suggest historical competence. Some of our greatest historians had no such credentials; some with them had no historical aptitude. What distinguishes you from me, aside from your absence of civility, is your self-referencing. I am not criticizing your poorly argued views on the basis on affiliations, degrees or awards earned, or any other argument from authority, but simply your own lack of logic and coherence, and your unprofessional resort to ad hominem invective.

I don’t think the Hoover Institution is necessarily “a conservative think-tank”; most of its fellows in toto more likely voted for Joe Biden than the few of us who voted for Donald Trump. I spent much of my life farming, while teaching 4-5 courses a semester at Cal State Fresno to mostly minority students. I think one could argue that rural Fresno County where I live is not always a safe place, so your blanket generalizations are just that.

Oh, one other point: I will not sign off with a conglomeration of letters after my name to suggest authority to compensate for the lack of coherence.

Victor Hanson

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22 thoughts on “<span class="ultra-flag"><i class="fas fa-lock"></i>VDH Ultra</span>Angry Reader 09-02-2021”

  1. Prof. Hanson,

    You are spot-on, as always. Your analysis and commentary reflect reality, as well the opinion of those of us, who actually fought in Afghanistan. I’m a Green Beret, who was part of TF-Dagger in 2001, during the invasion and fought in five subsequent rotations there. However, make no mistake what you are doing certainly helps our country, more than I did. Keep up the fight Brother!

    De Oppresso Liber,

  2. I call you The Great VDH – this designation is confirmed every time I read your articles or listen to your podcasts.

  3. Oh, Oh… He had to know that would happen. His letter is full of inaccuracies about you that even a casual listener could spot. I guess I could thank him for offering us the entertainment in your response.

  4. Victor,
    You are my champion.
    God bless you and keep you,
    Let His face shine upon you.
    Memphis, Michigan……

  5. Catalin M Stoica

    Outstanding response Victor. People like him have no shame and the only way to win a point of view is violent language and intimidation. That’s weakness not power. Any argument should be followed by strong evidences and civilized language. People like him feel unsafe around others and usually they are scared to loose an argument using harsh words and unsustained points of view.
    Thank you for sharing with us this letter, it means that you have character and you are open to any type of discussion.

    With admiration-Catalin Stoica

  6. Thank you for teaching me more Dr. Hanson. A reasoned argument from a disciplined mind is a pleasure to experience. Your incisive comments allowed me to re-read the angry letter with fresh eyes and see what you saw so clearly. I consider myself so fortunate to live in an age where I can see so many quality individuals from our society grapple with existential circumstances with such inspiring strength. I remember an old quote from a source called Seneca (I am not educated enough to know that source) that resonated to my core: the bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggle with adversity. Right now there are many men who see what exactly is at risk in our modern time and inspire me with their struggles. You said recently that it is incumbent on everyone with the wherewithal to do their part to save our hard won liberties and I salute those efforts YOU have made and I am glad to share in your efforts in some small way. Thank you.

  7. “It’s better to remain silent and though a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln/Mark Twain. VDH, you always attack the arguments, not the person, and that is why you are such a profound thinker, superb writer, and consummate gentleman. Touche! The LTC should be careful when entering your “arena”. It’s like a gladiator fighting an unarmed merchant…never a pretty result! Thank you for all you do for our country. You give perspective, sage insight, and comfort to many of us struggling with the outcome of this war. Saying that you were not in the military and have no right to opine on such matters is child-speak. I spent 30 years in the Navy and anyone who doesn’t take advice from experts or the simple sailor that offers common sense is a fool. You need not wear a uniform to offer different or helpful perspectives. That is one of the problems with today’s military: insulation from outside thought. That has certainly led to the downfall of many empires, old and new. BTW, anyone who has served that long in the Army (38 years) and never progressed beyond the rank of LTC tells you something about that person. Consider the source.

  8. You are a wonderful example of well thought response to criticism. I appreciate these letters. They are so instructive. May we all learn to be thoughtful champions for our great nation.

    Thank you.

  9. 38 years in the Army and Army Reserve. Practiced law for 39 years. Unless he is well over 100, I have to assume that he was a lawyer while he was in the Army. That does not mean he is unqualified to comment on geopolitics, but it certainly does not bolster his credentials in any way.

  10. As usual, VDH is the voice of reason in a fog of invective. Thank you for all you do for our wonderful country. You speak for so many of us who are trying to find our way back to our Founding Principles giving clarity amid the noise and confusion.

  11. Once again you graced a sloppily conceived and pretentiously written criticism with so much more thought, wisdom, precision and good manners than it deserved. If I were tasked with finding something for which to criticize you, it could only be for taking any time to address that petty, narcissistic and foolish little man, which time that could have been used to create another brilliant article or insightful video that reached a wider audience. Nonetheless, I must confess that these Angry Reader segments are something of a guilty pleasure for me. Even if anyone might criticize you for time less well spent personally addressing dolts than talking to those wider audiences, your well tempered slicing and dicing of those who bring their pen knives to match your rapier logic is most deliciously satisfying for those of us who only dream of wielding the blade as well as you. Bravo…again.

  12. There’s a kind of narcissism and condescension involved when people attached all their accolades, achievements, and labels to their signature/identity, isn’t there? They think it validates them – actually (in this case anyway), it lowers their credibility when it’s attached to a letter with so much garbage. This was great – thanks, VDH.

  13. Victor,
    Your response was detailed and specific as usual. Thank you for helping me think about my abilities to reason with those whom I disagree with. Spot on as usual. When I grow up, I want to be just like you!

    Jim Souza – Visalia

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