The Historian Who Denounced the Military for "Baby-Killing" Tactics





Breaking News (11-17-02): Saint Xavier University has announced that Mr. Kirstein has been suspended from teaching for the remainder of the semester. He has been officially reprimanded. In the spring semester, while on sabbatical, his scholarship and record will be subjected to peer review. In addition:"Any future faculty contract(s) extended to Professor Kirstein will include a binding addendum specifically requiring him to adhere both to institutional policies and to the norms of the American Association of University Professors in matters relating to the proper exercise of academic freedom and extramural activities." Click here for more details.

Last month HNN'S HISTORY GRAPEVINE reported that Saint Xavier University historian Peter Kirstein has encouraged members of the United States armed forces to disobey orders should President Bush order an invasion of Iraq. Since then the professor has become embroiled in another controversy which has led to calls for his resignation or firing.

L'Affaire Kirstein began in late October when a student at the Air Force Academy, writing by email, asked Kirstein to help advertise an upcoming annual academic forum on international relations. This is the letter the student wrote:

Dear Sir or Ma’am

The Air Force Academy is going to be having our annual Academy Assembly. This is a forum for mainly but not only Political Science majors, discussing very important issues dealing with politics.

Right now we are in the planning stage for advertising and we would appreciate your help in the follow [sic] areas. Do you know of or have methods or ways for interschool advertising and or communications? What would be the best way for us to advertise at your school whether it is sending you the fliers and you making copies or by perhaps putting an advertisement in your local publication? We would appreciate your input and the cost of what your recommend. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very Respectfully,

Cadet Robert Kurpiel

In response, Professor Kirstein, who teaches U.S. history, sent the following email:

From: Peter Kirstein
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 1:46 PM
To: Kurpiel Robert C4C CS26

Subject: Re: Academy Assembly

You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage. Help you recruit. Who, top guns to reign death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world? Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour [sic].

No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries without AAA, without possibility of retaliation. You are worse than the snipers. You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us. September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra.

You are unworthy of my support.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University.

A firestorm erupted at the Air Force Academy when Kirstein's email surfaced and began circulating on the Internet. Complaints soon reached the president of Saint Xavier, Richard Yanikoski. Within days of the initial exchange of emails Yanikoski announced that Kirstein had apologized for his "intemperate, angry words." Subsequently, the director of the Air Force Academy's forum issued the following statement:

November 4, 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen,
There has been considerable attention given to an e-mail received by a Fourth Class Cadet here at the United States Air Force Academy from Professor Peter N. Kirstein of Saint Xavier University. Dr Kirstein's e-mail was a response to an e-mail he had received concerning the Academy Assembly. The Academy Assembly is a forum to promote academic discussion of important issues of our day and to allow the student delegates from all over the North America to draft a report that is widely disseminated. This year our theme is America's Challenges in an Unstable World: Balancing Security with Liberty. I am pleased to say that a "cyber-episode" that started poorly has evolved into a more professional and academic discussion. Please find below a letter of apology from Dr Kirstein which I received this morning, accompanied by a phone call. I have drafted this message in response to his correspondence and with an advance copy to Dr. Kirstein.

On behalf of the Academy Assembly I accept this apology in the same sincere manner in which it was given. Furthermore, I would like to offer my own apology to Dr Kirstein for the way his original message, which was intended as private communication, was spread throughout the Air Force Academy and beyond. Since that e-mail was forwarded with such great vigor to many individuals both within and outside the Air Force Acadmey [sic] I would ask that you, the reader of this letter, please forward this e-mail to anyone to whom you sent the original message.

Two results of this are obvious and I want to share them with you. The first is that through well considered words and messages a situation that was initally [sic] highly inflammatory has become one in which diverse ideas can be compared and discussed; this is the essence of the Academy Assembly. Second, though emotions have run understandibly [sic] high throughout the USAFA Cadet Wing in response to this e-mail, replies to this e-mail from our cadets have been, almost without exception, marked by great maturity and professionalism. I was presented nearly forty proposed responses to the the original e-mail from cadets, but the one that best encapsulates the opinion of the cadet wing is a quote from their book, Contrails, which serves as not only a statement for others, but an admonition for themselves.

"It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag." ~Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, Sergeant, USMC

I would dare to add one thought to the above quote; that we in the military, as servants of the public, must carefully guard and cherish our relationship with the civilian community. We must always remain open and responsive to legitimate criticism that is presented in a spirit of willingness to improve the forces that guard our country and make them an institution that all Americans can take pride in. I am pleased to say that this discussion, of which many of you only saw the first portion, has moved towards that high plain.

Respectfully yours,

Captain Jim Borders, USAFA
Director, Academy Assembly
Instructor, Political Science
6L-134
333-8060

Kirstein reproduces the captain's letter on his own website, to which he has attached the following statement of apology:

Dear Captain Borders,

I have expressed to Cadet Kurpiel my regrets over what I communicated to him in my e-mail. I did not mean to impugn his character. I am sure he is of the highest character. I should have written him in a more thoughtful and contemplative manner. As one who believes in non-violence and the avoidance of conflict, I could have been more circumspect and creative in my communication with him.

Cadet Kurpiel has sent me several generous, thoughtful and impressive e-mails. He has also expressed "apologies" for the unwarranted national distribution of a private e-mail correspondence which has caused me and others to receive 100s of e-mail messages. I hope this update on my response and the cadet's kind communication will serve to inform the public that this issue has been resolved with dignity and honour between myself and Cadet Kurpiel.

I remain respectfully yours,

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University

Although Professor Kirstein's apology may have mollified Captain Borders, others remain upset, as is evident from the comments people have sent to the president of Saint Xavier University, who posted them on the university website along with his own responses:

Here is a brief summary of what I have heard so far, and my responses.

COMMENTS MADE TO THE UNIVERSITY

- "Prof. Peter Kirstein's initial email to a cadet at the Air Force Academy was tasteless, unprovoked, rude, unprofessional, and indefensible." I agree completely.

- "Prof. Kirstein's apologies seem less than genuine to some who have read his remarks." It always is difficult to look into a man's soul, but I believe Dr. Kirstein's apologies to be genuine. However, apologies are insufficient by themselves. Fortunately, the cadet has graciously accepted Prof. Kirstein's apology, as have others at the Academy, and conversation now is proceeding in a courteous, professional manner.

- "The forthcoming Academic Assembly at the Academy is an event worth supporting. It's a shame that Saint Xavier's response was so negative." Prof. Kirstein did not speak for the University in his first response. Saint Xavier University intends to identify and support one or more students who will attend the Assembly.

- "Prof. Kirstein has spoiled the reputation of the University, particularly if his views or the manner in which he expressed them are reflective of the University's attitude." Prof. Kirstein's views are solely his own and do not reflect the University in substance or tone. Saint Xavier University stands for reasoned discourse and educational practices based on "respect, caring, and justice." Prof. Kirstein's email to the cadet reflected none of these attributes. Crude language is not and will not be tolerated.

- "Prof. Kirstein should be summarily fired." As president, I am exploring all options for ensuring that such behavior never again occurs. While I understand why many request his immediate dismissal, I have to weigh very carefully matters of due process, academic protocol, legal precedent, and the greater good. I assure you that I will do what is right in this matter. I also will follow the University's policy of not discussing personnel matters with third parties.

"Academic freedom is not a legitimate defense for the kind of language used by Prof. Kirstein." I agree. Academic freedom is about the right to search for truth, the right to hold views at odds with the majority, and the right to teach unencumbered by rigid orthodoxies. It does not justify hate speech, vile language, etc. Professors here and elsewhere are expected to be respectful at all times, to engage in genuine, reasoned discourse about controversial matters, and to distinguish personal views from institutional positions when necessary for the sake of clarity. Thus, Prof. Kirstein is free to hold views critical of the military if he wishes to do so, but he is not free to issue demeaning, degrading statements AS A PROFESSOR in or outside of the classroom. In other respects, he enjoys the same freedoms of speech extended to all citizens.

I deeply regret the hurt that has affected so many. As both president and former USAF, I offer my most sincere apologies to all in the military and beyond whose sacrifices and intentions have been denigrated by Prof. Kirstein's words. I ask for your understanding as we attempt to rectify this unexpected situation. Please know that the University is taking this matter very seriously and will do its best to bring the matter to a proper close. You have been heard! My goal is to seek a just solution, a practical response, and a lasting form of resolution that will uphold the integrity of both the university and the military.

To those who are current or former members of the military, I offer my heart-felt gratitude for your service to the nation and I extend my personal best wishes on the occasion of Veterans Day.

Sincerely and respectfully yours,


Dr. Richard Yanikoski, President Saint Xavier University


Reader Comments


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Peter N. Kirstein - 10/26/2008

Of course. Your ideological posture wants to purge those of us that oppose racism, imperialism, obscene militarism and a transformation of this violent nation into silence. I am quite sure you do support those whom I consider protagonists which is why this country is worth fighting for in the realm of ideas and justice.


Peter N. Kirstein - 10/26/2008

Of course. Your ideological posture wants to purge those of us that oppose racism, imperialism, obscene militarism and a transformation of this violent nation into silence. I am quite sure you do support those whom I consider protagonists which is why this country is worth fighting for in the realm of ideas and justice.


John R Holtke - 3/7/2007

Yes, we remember you, and we will heckle you until the end. Freedom does ring and brightly so thanks to those you despise.


Peter N. Kirstein - 4/1/2006

My suspension was entirely caused by an effort to persecute me for my political beliefs. AAUP is correct when it delimits suspension only when immediate harm is likely to occur. That was never invoked. I apologised for the e-mail. The Air Force Academy apologised to me. That was not enough for a certain university president who after telling me the incident was over, then suspended me because of external pressure to silence me. Well I will not be silenced or intimidate by hecklers or anyone else. Let freedom ring!!


John R Holtke - 12/30/2005

Glad your coming to Austin as I live here. I will ensure the forum is full of VFW members. Bring a bullhorn.

Regards,

-SSGT. John Holtke


Peter N. Kirstein - 8/4/2005

Nice try. But the Vatican opposed this war in Iraq and I believe my views are consistent with that. Also I think given the events that have transpired since my e-mail, I was right to denounce American militarism and its "aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage." 123,000 Iraqi civilian casualties as of this date. Where is the outrage at this carnage? I am so glad this incident happened because I have an even broader audience to communicate my views on peace and justice. I will not be silenced; oh no, I am a war resister and I will be heard!!
http://people.sxu.edu/%7Ekirstein/southtown/


Andrew A McFadden - 4/15/2005

Having grown up in what St. Xavier's web page calls the "scenic neighborhood of Mt. Greenwood", I am particularly appalled that St. Xavier has moved so far from its roots. It is a school founded and funded by Catholic immigrants on the far southwest side of Chicago.

It is outrageous that a professor would insult the values and beliefs of those who brought the school into being.

The fact that this behavior is condoned by the administration of SXU is more appalling than Kirstein's behavior.


Peter N. Kirstein - 7/7/2004

I meant Apocalypse 1945 now Now. The error is benign in that both the book and the movie depict the horror of war.


Peter N. Kirstein - 7/7/2004

The occupants of HNN's Hot Seat might also include university presidents, governing boards and publishers that lack the fortitude to defend radical professors on the left or the right who cross the line through acts of conscience.

I happen to have benefited greatly from this surreal experience in which an e-mail became a cause celebre. I only wish the incident had happened earlier in my life. I don't know how the other Hot Seaters have fared, but I can tell you this event changed my life and only for the better.

I will be speaking later this summer at a conference organized by historian David Irving. While I do not agree with his views on social or ethnic matters, I am indebted to his scholarship: particularly his Apocalypse Now: The Destruction of Dresden. It was one of the first books that galvanized my interest in history.

I also believe that revisionist historians, no matter how offensive they may be to some, must be afforded protection to engage in scholarship and extramural utterances. Irving's work on Goebbels was removed, due to public pressure, from St. Martin's press and a book of the month club offering becauses it did not conform to the perceived canon of certain groups.

I stand in solidarity with all, repeat all historians, on the right and the left who I believe are coerced or silenced. Check my webiste in the upper right hand corner for a link to that event.
http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein

I am grateful to the New York Times for publishing this letter on Abu Ghraib. In a sense it was the ultimate achievement of demonstrating that I will not be silenced nor intimidated by anyone.

http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein/newyorktimes.html

Peace and for those who read this, feel free to respond.

Peter N. Kirstein


Peter N Kirstein - 2/25/2004

"How did an individual such as yourself become as passionate as you are about political issues. We all have our "origins". What is yours?"

My family was quite liberal for the time and voluble about politics. Another “origin” was Vietnam.


"Did you ever dream that a rather simple act of an e-mail would cause such a ruckus in a nation deeply divided over ideology?"

None of the parties did but it demonstrates the emotional nature and intensity of the culture wars.

"Has this event transformed or altered your perceptions of America or contributed to any major transubstantiation of your ethos and ideology?"

No one has asked me that one before. I feel more goal oriented in terms of communicating my beliefs. I suppose I am more determined and openly progressive due to my fervent commitment to free speech and academic freedom. I have become bolder and much more confident in myself and my positions.

I had two choices. Retreat, become diffident, pray for survival, or challenge the enemies of free speech, take advantage of my unexpected prominence and use it to pursue issues of peace and justice with directness and sense of purpose. I chose the latter.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/24/2004

Professor,
I did not expect or know if you would answer this. Thank you.

If I may I would like to know:

How did an individual such as yourself become as passionate as you are about political issues. We all have our "origins". What is yours?

Did you ever dream that a rather simple act of an e-mail would cause such a ruckus in a nation deeply divided over ideology?

Has this event transformed or altered your perceptions of America or contributed to any major transubstantiation of your ethos and ideology?

This will be my last posting on this topic as I know you are probably quite busy with other matters.

Most respectfully,

BJC


Peter N Kirstein - 2/23/2004

I appreciate your comments and am attempting to demonstrate that those of us with progressive views will not be silenced or intimidated.


Peter N Kirstein - 2/23/2004

I appreciate your comments and am attempting to demonstrate that those of us with progressive views will not be silenced or intimidated.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/23/2004

Professors should be able to engage in advocacy without coercion in the US.

Professors should be lauded who maintain thier commitment to principles despite enormous pressure to render a recantation.

University administrators should validate nonconformity and passion that emanates from moral acts of conscience.

Brandt Julian Driscoll


Peter N Kirstein - 1/27/2004

I saw it above. I remember once when I was at SAC.

Peace is our Profession. I almost fainted.

Like the Peacekeeper MX or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Those spinmeisters are something else.


Peter N Kirstein - 1/27/2004

How are you? If you want peace, reduce armaments, stop lying to the American people about WMD, end the arms race, reduce the militarisation of American society.

Have not heard from you for awhile. Glad you are ok.


Peter N Kirstein - 1/27/2004

Your post sounds just as vituperative as my e-mail.
Emerson wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" but I think it somewhat inconsistent for you to disagree with my tone of communication and yet adopt it for yourself.

I feel I had every right to make that statement to the air force cadet. People had every right to attack me for it. I apologized for the tone; they apologized to me. I need to show the public that those of us who denounce American imperialism and war will not tolerate the persecution of their beliefs or egregious suspensions intended to satisfy the ravings of public opinion.

I will tell you this. I would defend YOUR right to attack me and denounce me. I would hope you would do the same. The anger against me was due to my beliefs sir, not my lashing out at the cadet. It was due to my rage against the military and the barbarism that war represents.

Sorry, but I have the right to my beliefs and not to be punished for them.

Take care and remember, peace is better than war.

I was right to oppose the Iraq war and all the needless sufferings and deaths it has caused.


SSGT. John Holtke - 1/23/2004

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum


SSGT. John Holtke - 1/23/2004

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Cordially, Your Dearest Friend

-SSGT. John Holtke


Brad Harris - 1/21/2004

I think we have strayed from the original thoughts that started this "self promotion" escapade in the first place. Nobody cares if you criticize the government or foreign policy or even the leaders. The reason people are disgusted by the thought of you is that you sent a vicious verbal attack towards a person who is doing exactly what you claim to be doing yourself. How does this create the 'peace between all people' you claim to be the centre of your teaching? You tried to cut someone down to size when they asked you to possibly make some copies of a flyer if you had time. All of this to make yourself appear to be superior. You call yourself a pacifist? You are the sick individual who can not complete a paragraph without telling us about some stupid award you have won or basing your patriotism on the fact that your dad was an Army Captain. He was an honourable person whereas you are anything but. Keep spewing your filth across the world Peter. Keep listening to the same media that you disown in so many of your postings. They are the ones who tell you that the world is anti-American; they are the ones who tell you that you have the world on your side. Coming from a proud ex-pat, I can tell you that the world doesn’t need people like you. You are the American full of hatred that the world doesn’t like. You never have and never will give a sincere apology, but at least you can admit to the world that you are a waste of breath and incapable of producing any positive other than a degree and a plaque on the wall. If this is personal attack #1000 it is from the millions that you should have to listen to.

Brad Harris
Average American
Hobart, Tasmania
Australia


Peter N Kirstein - 1/9/2004

The event was not in a classroom nor was it related to a course or a student of mine. So you are making assumptions that are baseless. Also historians have the right to be "social protestors" and even articulate unpopular beliefs that the promilitary culture in this country finds objectionable.


Peter N Kirstein - 1/8/2004

Two final points.
You might reread the HNN summary of my case and reconsider if I was sanctioned or punished. Most would consider a suspension, a public reprimand as such. I will make no further comment on the specifics. They are on the public record.

"You sound like a weather underground reject." This type of hyperbolic rhetoric insinuating that I supported violence and terrorism is despicable. You should be ashamed of yourself for making that comment.

Good luck to you Ms or Mr Smith.


S.A. Smith - 1/8/2004

You: What drove this was the "shame" of attempting to silence a professor for his political beliefs.

I: "Silenced" for your "famous" email, eh? Who tried to silence you? How? Have you lost your job? Have you been thrown in the tower of london? Pure narcissism. Give me a break.

You: I would think a patriot such as yourself would be disgusted that free speech, in this case, was vitiated in such a manner as to make a mockery of academic freedom and basic rights of free expression.

I: I don't believe in "patriotism", per se. One should support one's government if one deems it worthy of support; not simply because it is one's government. Most expressions of patriotism make me uneasy. On the other hand, I support current US foreign policy. The only flag I own is the one given to me by the honor guard at my father's funeral. He also was not a blind patriot.

You: The only reason why my email, which I am now thankful was written, became a worldwide event was due to the political rage that I expressed toward the militarization and glorification of war and the destruction of innocents.

I: You sound like a weather underground reject. And again the self-aggrandizement. Now, why would you be thankful that your world famous email--no less than a modern day J'Accuse! the email heard round the world--If you aren't aware that all your letter might have achieved is to have alienated mainstream Americans (i.e., swing voters) then you are aware of nothing at all. Why has the left always been so inept at communicating to the working classes? I suspect it's the underlying contempt. Yours not theirs.

You: The military has an almost sacred, special status in our society, and if it is allowed to retain that without moral or ethical challenge, then we merely lose another weapon in the struggle to end the ruthless violence that this nation perpetrates on "non-white peoples" throughout the world.

I: What, don't Serb deaths count as much as Iraqi deaths? Don't Serb babies deserve at the very least an asterisk after "'non-white peoples'"? Save that stuff for your classroom captives. But otherwise I agree with what you've said.

You: With regard to the dead babies, I think the US should recognize that its preemptive, violent approach to foreign policy, cooked up in the West Wing of the White House and the Pentagon, inevitably leads to random or even wanton disregard for the lives of innocents. If I can contribute even an iota to the recognition that war has not merely political and diplomatic consequences, but significant impacts on the civilian population, then I would have done a service.

Me: As I said earlier people like you hurt the antiwar cause. Every time I see some screaming, sneering wannabe Stokely Carmichael reading the typical list of grievances ("hands off iraq," "Zionism = Nazism," "no justice no peace," "no blood for oil," and my favorite, the inevitable calls to "free mumia") I can't help but chuckle knowing that countless numbers are being pushed to the right, many of whom used to vote Democrat. Which is of course a shame because it hurts them. Nominate McGovern: you get Nixon. Nominate Dean...oh, sorry. (and McGovern was a genuine war hero!)

You: I might also add to conclude this, that your country killed more innocent Iraqis, or at least a morally equivalent amount, as President Hussein did. Combine the Gulf War, with the WMD of sanctions, and the current illegal invasion of a sovereign state, and the US can claim its "collateral damage" killed hundreds of thousands of innocents. It is a record of "shame" and I urge others to protest it with the same vigour, if perhaps in a different style, as I did.

I: My country has killed many people. And has done many rotten things, some of which were actually immoral mistakes--removing Saddam however was not one of them. And then there are the times when we should have killed but didn't.

You: I welcome the controversy that I have caused and I am in this for the duration. I will not be silenced or intimidated by talk shows, Wall Street Journal editorials, Internet campaigns to destroy me and take away my livelihood or pressure from militants who play the New McCarthyism game of patriotism and blind allegiance to an immoral foreign policy.

Me: I will write an email to the president of your college demanding that he/she stop silencing your voice, no matter how crackpot or idiotic it may be. Furthermore, I will email the editors of NY Times and insist that they stop refusing to publish your op-ed submissions simply because you dared to speak truth to power (or in this case an 18-year-old cadet) in an epoch-defining email. You are Voltaire and Solzynitsn combined, even though you haven't suffered any real punishment or censorship and, to top things off, you appear to enjoy the attention.


Peter N. Kirstein - 1/7/2004

As I have noted for over a year, I addressed the issue of the appropriateness of my famous email to the cadet directly and vice versa. There were mutual apologies. What drove this was the "shame" of attempting to silence a professor for his political beliefs. I would think a patriot such as yourself would be disgusted that free speech, in this case, was vitiated in such a manner as to make a mockery of academic freedom and basic rights of free expression.

The only reason why my email, which I am now thankful was written, became a worldwide event was due to the political rage that I expressed toward the militarization and glorification of war and the destruction of innocents. The military has an almost sacred, special status in our society, and if it is allowed to retain that without moral or ethical challenge, then we merely lose another weapon in the struggle to end the ruthless violence that this nation perpetrates on "non-white peoples" throughout the world.

With regard to the dead babies, I think the US should recognize that its preemptive, violent approach to foreign policy, cooked up in the West Wing of the White House and the Pentagon, inevitably leads to random or even wanton disregard for the lives of innocents. If I can contribute even an iota to the recognition that war has not merely political and diplomatic consequences, but significant impacts on the civilian population, then I would have done a service.

I might also add to conclude this, that your country killed more innocent Iraqis, or at least a morally equivalent amount, as President Hussein did. Combine the Gulf War, with the WMD of sanctions, and the current illegal invasion of a sovereign state, and the US can claim its "collateral damage" killed hundreds of thousands of innocents. It is a record of "shame" and I urge others to protest it with the same vigour, if perhaps in a different style, as I did.

I welcome the controversy that I have caused and I am in this for the duration. I will not be silenced or intimidated by talk shows, Wall Street Journal editorials, Internet campaigns to destroy me and take away my livelihood or pressure from militants who play the New McCarthyism game of patriotism and blind allegiance to an immoral foreign policy.

Here is a website link you may wish to consult.

http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein


S.A. Smith - 1/7/2004

Wait, did you say "dead babies?" Which ones? Yeah, we like dead babies; we think of them as trash. Do you actually desire to be taken seriously?

But while we're on the subject of babies, let's talk about live babies, such as the ones who will grow into adulthood in an Iraq not ruled by Saddam or his sadistic sons. Or the baby girls in Afghanistan who now have a shot of growing up into something other than chattel. If you could speak to those who won't be tortured and murdered, what would you say to them? There is action and there is effect. There is also inaction and effect.

You know I was once a self-righteous leftist like you, but even then I would never have written the kind of childish rant you sent to that kid from the Air Force Academy.

I'm curious, did you feel any genuine shame?


Peter N. Kirstein - 1/6/2004

Oh I think "passionate frenzy" is just fine particularly when directed at the military establishment in this country. We need anger; we need civil disobedience; we need to cross the line; we need to denounce killing; we need to resist efforts to suspend and destroy professors who tell the truth about babies being killed by America
s "fighting men" and labelled as so much garbage as collateral damage.

Collateral damage? Babies?

Happy New Year


S.A. Smith - 1/6/2004

"I agree that the Baathist Regime was autocratic."

"Autocratic." Finally you've managed to control the passionate frenzy that is the trademark of your political rhetoric.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/23/2003

Mr Baker wrote: "I am against anything radical if it includes a form of civil unrest resorting to violence."

I strongly support civil unrest but never advocted violence. In fact my radical pacifism is opposed to all violence. Yet I embrace civil unrest as a means of resisting this horrid preemptive unilateralism. Nonviolent civil disobedience is an aggressive form of resistance and I support it and will continue to advocate it regardless of the consequences.

Dr Peter N Kirstein.


Peter N Kirstein - 12/23/2003

I meant blue water fleet and the diminution of Russian naval power.


Peter N Kirstein - 12/23/2003

Mr Baker,

American imperialism is one topic that even the Bush administration would agree with me on. There is little question that the deployment of American forces in dozens of nations, the only nation with a white-water fleet, the expenditure of military funds greater than most of the world combined, are just a few examples of the projection of American power.

The French were correct to refer to the US as a hyperpower. With the demise of the Soviet Union, there is an absence of a countervailing power to challenge American preeminence. Yet as we are learning in Iraq, the empire will strike back.

I think if you look at the cases of Berthold, De Genova and Kirstein, you will see that the public places limits on what is acceptable radical, political ideology among the professorate. I however will never acquiesce to public opinion to any efforts to define for me what is acceptable public discourse. This is my mission and my life.

You are referring to my response to a vicious article in American Legion that castigates the left in academe as unAmerican. My website for interested parties is http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein/

Peace and freedom Mr Baker


Peter N Kirstein - 12/23/2003

Mr Baker,

I appreciate your comments. As I said on Frontpagemag.com, I do not believe that the invasion of a sovereign nation that was not a threat to the United States can be justified under any circumstances. I agree that the Baathist Regime was autocratic.
I also believe that the US support for Saddam in the 1980s accelerated its power and the US opposition to it and waging war against it in the 1990s compelled it to take even more drastic actions against its population.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/23/2003

Mr Baker,

Thank you for your comments. I have the right to denounce military academies, the training of its students to kill human beings and to profess an aggressive pacifism against American terrorism and militarism.

I concur that my tone with the cadet was excessive and I apologized early on. The AFA also apologized to me for the release of my e-mail without my authorization. I was punished for my beliefs and for nothing else. Both conservative and liberal organizations rallied to my defense.

I was denied even the basic elementary rights of academic freedom and I will use this event to speak even more forcefully against the use of force as an illegitimate means to pursue the imperial ambitions of the United States.

Vietnam was a disgrace, a war crime and an event far worse than the crimes of President Saddam Hussein. Millions were killed for nothing and I will never stop denouncing that vicious and evil war.

Best wishes.

Dr Peter N Kirstein


Fred B. Baker, II - 12/18/2003

Sir,

In the American legion Magazine you stated, "I find it reprehensible that McCarthyism has re-emerged, in which radical dissent and protest against American imperialism and colonialism is labeled as un-American."

Before you get too high and mighty and too strong with your rhetoric, you should define "radical dissent and protest." I am against anything radical if it includes a form of civil unrest resorting to violence.

When you finish that, please explain the "American imperialism and colonialism." I have looked all over the map of the globe and find no boundries of an empire of the U.S.A., nor of any colonies held by the U.S.A. There is a territory of Puerto Rico, who in democratic elections chose to remain as a territory. There is the former territory of the Phillipines, who in democratic elections decided to gain its own sovereignty, with the blessings of the U.S.A. These are the largest territories that come to mind. I just can't associate them with colonial rule as would require such radical dissent and protest.


Fred B. Baker, II - 12/18/2003

Sir,

In the American legion Magazine you stated, "I find it reprehensible that McCarthyism has re-emerged, in which radical dissent and protest against American imperialism and colonialism is labeled as un-American."

Before you get too high and mighty, you should define "radical dissent and protest." I am against anything radical if it includes a form of civil unrest resorting to violence.

When you finish that, please explain the "American imperialism and colonialism." I have looked all over the map of the globe and find no boundries of an empire of the U.S.A., nor of any colonies held by the U.S.A. There is a territory of Puerto Rico, who in democratic elections chose to remain as a territory. There is the former territory of the Phillipines, who in democratic elections decided to gain its own sovereignty, with the blessings of the U.S.A. These are the largest territories that come to mind. I just can't associate them with colonial rule as would require such radical dissent and protest.


Fred B. Baker, II - 12/18/2003

Sir,

Your remark: "I do believe I have the right to my opinions and that to attempt to silence and suspend those who inflame or antagonize large numbers of persons is anti-American."

You have grossly missed the point! I would defend to the death your right to your opinion. It was not your opinion that enraged me, but the mindless berating of a young student in a true fascist form of embarrassment. I have always thought that the best and brightest teachers brought out original thought from their students. It would appear that your students agree with your thinking or they are berated or embarrassed to your "correctness." I would imagine that your version of the Viet Nam era would not be recognized by one such as I who actually lived through it. After all, to you I am a mindless baby killer. To me you are much more dangerous. You give your version based on your opinions, seen through rose colored glasses of how you believe the world should exist, rather to hold the United States military up as the villian than to admit that a military action might be the most prudent form of negotiation. Understand, to the oppressed, the flag releasing their bonds is righteous. How long their opinion of that flag's righteousness lasts, depends on the oppression it in turn imposes.

One final note of history that I am certain you don't teach. As a former soldier in Viet Nam, I would remind you that most of the "babies" killed in that war had satchel charges attached to them by soldiers of the Viet Minh, who also detonated them.


Fred B. Baker, II (CW-2 67-71) - 12/18/2003

I see that Peter Kirstein's humble apology of last year has gone the way of defiance toward the might of the military machine.

Sir,

If you truely wish to give the facts and cover all that the public has the right to know, then I challange you to comment upon the following facts:

If you have a chance to watch any TV reports, or read newspapers, you would think Iraq under the Americans is going to hell in a handbasket. Here are some of CPA's hard, cold facts you need to keep in mind when talking about Iraq. And these don't even include the benefits accruing to the Iraqis through Task Force RIE, whose story has yet to be told.....

"Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1...

.... the first battalion of the new Iraqi Army has graduated and is on active duty. .... over 60,000 Iraqis now provide security to their fellow citizens. .... nearly all of Iraq's 400 courts are functioning. .... the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent. .... on Monday, October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts -- exceeding the prewar average. .... all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools. .... by October 1, Coalition forces had rehab-ed over 1,500 schools - 500 more than scheduled. .... teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries. .... all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open. .... doctors salaries are at least eight times what they were under Saddam. .... pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons. .... the Coalition has helped administer over 22 million vaccination doses to Iraq's children. .... a Coalition program has cleared over 14,000 kilometers of Iraq's
27,000 kilometers of weed-choked canals which now irrigate tens of thousands of farms. This project has created jobs for more than 100,000 Iraqi men and women. .... we have restored over three-quarters of prewar telephone services and over two-thirds of the potable water production. .... there are 4,900 full-service telephone connections. We expect 50,000 by year-end. .... the wheels of commerce are turning. From bicycles to satellite dishes to cars and trucks, businesses are coming to life in all major cities and towns.
.... 95 percent of all prewar bank customers have service and first-time customers are opening accounts daily. .... Iraqi banks are making loans to finance businesses. .... the central bank is fully independent. .... Iraq has among the worlds most growth-oriented investment and banking laws. .... Iraq has a single, unified currency for the first time in 15 years. .... satellite TV dishes are legal and everywhere. .... foreign journalists aren't on 10-day visas paying mandatory and extortionate fees to the Ministry of Information for minders and other government spies. .... there is no Ministry of Information. .... there are more than 170 newspapers. .... you can buy satellite dishes on what seems like every street corner. .... foreign journalists (and everyone else) are free to come and go. .... a nation that had not one single element -- legislative, judicial or executive -- of a representative government, now does. .... in Baghdad alone residents have selected 88 advisory councils. Baghdad's first democratic transfer of power in 35 years happened when the city council elected its new chairman. .... today in Iraq chambers of commerce, business, school and professional organizations are electing their leaders all over the country.
.... 25 ministers, selected by the most representative governing body in Iraq's history, run the day-to-day business of government. .... the Iraqi government regularly participates in international events. Since July the Iraqi government has been represented in over two dozen international meetings, including those of the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, the World Bank, IMF and the Islamic Conference Summit. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is reopening over 30 Iraqi embassies around the world. .... Shia religious festivals that were all but banned, aren't. .... for the first time in 35 years, in Karbala thousands of Shiites celebrate the pilgrimage of the 12th Imam.

.... the Coalition has completed over 13,000 reconstruction projects, large and small, as part of a strategic plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. .... Uday and Queasy are dead -- and no longer feeding innocent Iraqis to the zoo lions, raping the young daughters of local leaders to force cooperation, torturing Iraq's soccer players for losing games, or murdering critics. .... children aren't imprisoned or murdered when their parents disagree with the government. .... political opponents aren't imprisoned, tortured, executed, maimed, or are forced to watch their families die for disagreeing with Saddam. .... millions of long-suffering Iraqis no longer live in perpetual terror. .... Saudis will hold municipal elections. .... Qatar is reforming education to give more choices to parents. .... Jordan is accelerating market economic reforms. .... the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for the first time to an Iranian -- a Muslim woman who speaks out with courage for human rights, for democracy and for peace. .... Saddam is gone. .... Iraq is free.

Iraq under U.S.-led control has come further in six months than Germany did in seven years or Japan did in nine years following WWII. Military deaths from fanatic Nazi's and Japanese numbered in the thousands and continued for over three years after the WWII victory was declared. Taking everything into consideration, even the terrible loss of our sons and daughters in this conflict, no one else in the world could have accomplished as much as the United States in so short a period of time. It isn't over yet, but it's better than what you are hearing. You can be proud of the work you are accomplishing, often under hardships and against odds others may never understand."

If you had your way we would be demonstrating about how our country's harsh sanctions were hurting the people of Iraq. AND HUSSEIN WOULD STILL BE IN POWER!!!


- 12/12/2003


Peter N. Kirstein - 11/22/2003

I disagree. I would support your rights and anyone's rights to articulate views even if unpopular. It is ironic that those who claimed that I was unaware of how the military defended my rights of speech, were the first to urge that I be fired or suspended.

Peter N. Kirstein


TI Tim Lawrence - 11/15/2003

The professor is free to discuss any subject he wishes to . I as a veteran I fought to give him that right but he seems not to want to help me or any other person maintain that freedom and keep that right


Peter N Kirstein - 7/24/2003

Once again my website URL changed although there is a 30 day forwarding. It is http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein/
Thanks for contacting me SSGT. Holtke and good luck to you.

Peter N Kirstein


Peter N Kirstein - 7/24/2003

I meant 2000 election of course! Point remains however!


Peter N Kirstein - 7/24/2003

I love being challenged and few people in the academy have been tested as I was in terms of resolve and the capacity to recover so quickly professionally without sacrificing my values. I can assure I don't resent and don't shirk criticism, and as the runner-up in the 2002 presidential election would put it, "Bring 'em on."

My e-mail was definitely private although I never claimed it was of a private, "personal" nature. It was sent to an individual who had distributed a spam annoucement to 60 or so persons. I think the reason both the cadet and Captain Borders apologized to me, was due to its unauthorized dissemination. However, I am not hiding behind that distinction.

I would urge persons still interested in this case to compare the treatement I received and that of Professor De Genova at Columbia Univ. One was sanctioned; the other was not. Many conservative organizations rose to my defense includeing FIRE and NAS. Speech may offend, to paraphrase Stanly Kurtz in the National Review online,and the way to combat that is with more speech, not silencing those who dare condemn American imperialism.

For those who wish to consult my website on recent statements I have made on this matter, I respectfully link it.
http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein/

Peter N Kirstein


Daniel Fleming - 7/24/2003

Too often those who purport to uphold free speech are so appalled when their speech is challenged. We're all free to say what we want, but anyone who makes controversial statements, then runs behind the first amendment, doesn't understand what the right of free speech is all about. It's about presenting ideas, and then presenting conflicting ideas. Mr. Kirstein seems to pride himself on challenging traditional authority. Now he's being challenged, he should be happy about that.

To add a couple of other points. The emails in question were not 'private' emails, but official correspondence in Mr. Kirstein's capacity at the University.

As far as stereotyping the US Military, this position is ignorant. Granted, some military personnel do abuse their position, but if all true men of character abandoned the military, as Mr. Kirstein has suggested, what state would that leave the military in.


SSGT. HOLTKE - 7/24/2003


Thank you for your reply. I'll look at your site and let you know. Thank you also for the correction as I couldn't find the other link.

-JHoltke


Peter N Kirstein - 7/21/2003

This is a valid directory of my updated website. The one I posted above in this thread is incorrect. Sorry if it inconvenienced anyone but technology changes awfully fast. PNK

http://www.sxu.edu/history/pkirstein/


Peter N Kirstein - 7/21/2003

Actually SSGT.Holtke, I believe my "old ways" are the guiding spirit of what I stand for, and I never abandoned them due to public pressure or outrage. I do not think I am smarter than anyone else, and I have never claimed that. I do believe I have the right to my opinions and that to attempt to silence and suspend those who inflame or antagonize large numbers of persons is anti-American.

I link a recent debate I was in on FrontPagMag in case you want to see how committed I am to stand on principle.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=8746

Sincerely,

Peter N Kirstein


SSGT. John Holtke - 7/19/2003

We'll see about that one. We're still upset and this last tidbit seems to just let us know that your the same guy you began this thing as. Too bad, most people would have learned something. I guess when your a professor though, you learn so much to begin with and you think your much smarter than anyone else so you just stop learning and your thinking is internalized.

Casualty reports from liberal media..Hmmm..Probably alot of others who just stopped writing facts and espouse opinion.







Peter N Kirstein - 6/20/2003

I saw (on TV) the military fire into the Palestine Hotel where reporters were staying. I saw ground forces firing wildly in Baghdad, a city of 5 million people. I read the AP report that said a minimum of 3200 civilians were killed; I read the Guardian that suggested 10,000. War is a war crime and those who wage it must not be beyond the pale of criticism and condemnation.

While this country would love to banish and coerce professors into admiration for and respect for this nation's conduct of foreign affairs (Berthold, Kirstein, De Genova), I can assure you I will not be intimidated or silenced. EVER.

Check out my webpage to see if I "learned my lesson."

http://www.sxu.edu/academ/artsci/history/pkirstein/

Peter N Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University


Peter N. Kirstein - 6/18/2003

It is perfectly appropriate to critique the military and the conduct of its soldiers in combat. It is not enough in my estimation to merely say,"they were following orders." While it is true that people, like myself who served in the military, should not be stereotyped based upon service alone, if we worship the military and allow its critics to be subjected to the new McCarthyism, then the militarisation of American will be complete.


Peter N Kirstein - 6/17/2003

Perhaps the Iraq war, an illegal criminal action that was probably predicated on disinformation and deceit in which possibly 10,000 civilians may have been killed, might suggest the veracity or at least require further exploration of Mr Moriarty's comments.


Peter N. Kirstein - 4/8/2003

I think once again Spc Chiles seems to be engaging in hypocritical rhetoric. His general thesis is that the military is responsible for our freedoms and yet twice has encouraged a critic of the military to leave the country. It would seem that a more responsible position for a member of the military would be to engage in specific argumentation without becoming personal and wishing someone move to another nation where he or she might possibly suffer materially and professionally. My impression is the soldier does not wish to hear from those who are harshly critical of the United States and DESIRE it to reform in a progressive manner.

I think it remarkable that SPC Chiles has twice asserted that if you criticize the military and its savage methods of conducting warfare, bombing cities for example, you are somehow disloyal to the United States--as if the United States and the military are the same--and unworthy to live here. I would think a member of the military would welcome and indeed encourage harsh criticism since they claim to be defending it so heartily with JDAMs, bunker busters, Apache helicopters and other evil implements of war. While I recognize the importance of the military, I do not think that a harsh critic of the military necessarily hates America. In fact, a patriot maybe one who condemns, criticizes and spurs dialogue that is meant to improve the nation. In fact a patriot may see the military--as a failure of humankind to love and respect one another—and urgently searches for means to reduce and eventually eliminate an institution that kills other peoples children throughout the world. I am not however advocating unilateral disarmament or a disarmament that would endanger the national security of this nation.

One does not have to wrap oneself in the American flag or engage in blind patriotism to be considered loyal. To equate pacifism-- the loathing of war and the resentment of the militarization of American life and culture-- as disloyal is somewhat arrogant if it means that the first test of loyalty is blind obedience to the military and the foreign policy adventures of the United States.

I would like to end with this challenge if it is appropriate for a thread here: If Spc Chiles would like to debate me on this topic I would be happy to accept and would eagerly travel to his unit or his hometown. I do address groups all over the country including veterans groups--recently the Korean War Veterans of Wilmette, IL--and would be honoured to do so with you. My e-mail is on my website which I am sure you have seen. I am sure it would be very interesting since you appear quite intelligent and well-informed.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University
Chicago, ILL


SPC Chad M Stiles (WV Army National Guard) - 4/8/2003

I think my statement was taken a little bit out of context by Dr. Kirstein. I never said "Those who disagre with me need to leave." My point is "Before you knock America, take a look at how other countries punish their citizens for speaking out against the government's foreign policy." I agree with you that there are some flaws in our foreign policy and national policy, however, they are alot better than a lot of others country. Perhaps, Dr. Kirstein would be interested in reading about how Cuba has just punished several dissidents this past week. I do believe the punishment ranged from 12 to 27 years in a Cuban jail. The government used secret agents that sat in on dissident meetings and then later testified agains the dissidents. Each trial was only a day long, and the dissidents met their attorneys only a few minutes before the trials began.

Also, I do believe if you live in America, you should love the fact that you have the freedoms that you have. And at least appreciate how you got those freedoms (bottom line: the military fought for those freedoms in the Revolutionary War).

I want to possibly rephrase my statement earlier about living in another country. I think I was misunderstood. I was questioning the reasoning for people who hate America and it's policies to continue to stay in America if they didn't like it so much. I just wondered why you would want to live in a country that you didn't like? As far as Dr. Kirstein's statement about leaving family and career behind goes, I say that you can take your family with you, and find another job in the country that you find ideal to live in.

Sincerely,
SPC Chad M Stiles
Task Force Benedum
West Virginia Army National Guard


Peter N. Kirstein - 4/3/2003

Military personnel who desire that those whom they disagree with leave or be exiled by the United States are somewhat inconsistent. They claim that the military is responsible for our freedoms and yet urge those who are critical of American foreign policy and imperialism to leave their families, their careers and move elsewhere. This notion of "loving America or leaving it" is indeed UnAmerican if we truly stand for democracy and the need to entertain a divergence of views.


Military - 4/2/2003

We are not robots. I have not seen one shed of solid proof from anyone that soldiers in the U.S. military have followed illegal orders to purposely kill or target innocent civilians (including children) without being court-martialed for it. The news media is not solid proof. If anyone in the military is given an order to purposely kill civilians or children, we will not follow such an illegal order. However, the situation in Iraq,it is becoming harder and harder to determine civilians from Iraqis military, who are violating the Geneva Conventions and also dressing up like civilians, which in turn, the Iraqi military is endangering its own civilians, because the Iraqi military doesn't care about its civilians. Nuff said.


SPC Chad Stiles (WV Army National Guard) - 4/2/2003

I have to disagree with both views, however, I agree that everyone has the right to free speech, however, Mr. Kirstein is an academic professor who is expected to set an example of how to be a mature, thoughtful, and respectable person. How can one show respect to someone who blatantly and purposely disrespects others? I understand that Mr. Kirstein apologized for this and I respect that, however, it shouldn't have been said in the first place.

As with the article posted by Mr. Wernerhoff, I read the article. I say spend a year as a citizen living in North Korea or Iraq (before the war began) where all press is state-run, controlled by the government. Where if you say things that do not agree with the government, you'll be executed, no if's, and's or but's about it. If you talk to any other country's media, you have to have a government moderator with you at all times, and afterwords, if that moderator didn't agree with what you said, you'd be executed or thrown in prison (I'd rather be executed). If you don't like America so much, and show so much distaste in our government's policy, then why are you living here? Why would you want to live in a country that you hate so much? It just doesn't make sense to me.

I've also heard some comments (not necessarily within this post, but relevant to the topic), that no one person should be able to send soldiers overseas to risk getting killed and it's the President's fault so many soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, etc. are dieing. As far as that goes, I'm a proudly serving member of the West Virginia Army National Guard. I've been here for almost three years (since April 15, 2000). I volunteered to serve my country. Every soldier of the military knows at the moment they enlist, that they could very well get killed in action, be taking prisoner of war, or be declared missing in action. We know that risk, and we willingly take it. Why? Because we're proud to serve our country and die for the freedoms, just like our forefathers, great-grandfathers, and grandfathers were. We would still be under England's control if it wasn't for the American military. So don't tell me that the military has nothing to do with your freedoms to speak your mind. I have nothing against your rights to freedom of speech, all that I am saying is that just be glad you have that right (in the end, you wouldn't have it if it wasn't for America's military) and if you don't like it here so much, why don't you just move to another country (like North Korea or Iraq for example) and see how much you like it here.

Sincerely,
Specialist Chad M Stiles
West Virginia Army National Guard


John Gillette - 3/31/2003

Hmm since we have not seen any further supporting documentation by Mr. Moriarity I guess we need to assume he decided to "shut the hell up." I'm not too surprised, that's a very common response to a request for verification.


jeffery oliver - 3/31/2003

I HOPE U BLOW U ALL UP ONE DAY I CANT STAND U PEOPLE I HOPW U GUYS GO TO HELL ONE DAMN DAY


Peter N Kirstein - 3/11/2003

Mr Wernerhoff is obviously an individudal whom I would not disagree with. I thought I would attach a fairly recent response I wrote in the Weekly Standard. Since it is in PDF and I don't know how to download it here I am cutting and pasting the old fashioned way!

JANUARY 20, 2003
KIRSTEIN STRIKES BACK
JED BABBIN IS DESCRIBED by U.S. News &
World Report as an “old tough guy
columnist.” He certainly lived up to that
characterization in the December 2 issue
of THE WEEKLY STANDARD with his
denunciation of my e-mail misadventure
with Air Force Academy cadet Robert
Kurpiel (“When Professors Attack”).
While he labeled the inflammatory email
as “barely literate,” he might have
been more favorably impressed by my
anti-military expertise had he quoted it
correctly. I wrote, “No war, no air force
cowards who bomb countries without
AAA,” not “with AAA.” I was referring
to the indiscriminate use of high-altitude
bombing and the incapacity of our socalled
enemies to seriously challenge our
airpower. It would be rather difficult to
bomb a nation with AAA since anti-aircraft
artillery is a defensive weapon that I
presume a former undersecretary of
defense would be familiar with.
I suspect that the undersecretary was
not primarily enraged with the obvious
lack of decorum and respect in my missive
with the cadet, but that I would so
harshly and passionately attack the sacrosanct
military establishment that has
brought so much devastation and misery
for so many peoples throughout the
world. As a son of an army captain who
served in the Aleutians with bravery and
honor in World War II and as a veteran of
the United States Army Reserves during
the Vietnam era, I am not quite the
stereotypical leftist professor that Babbin
so obviously loathes.
Interesting, isn’t it? We fight zero casualty
wars for American troops that
invariably lead to excessive noncombatant
deaths among the innocent. We
cravenly refuse to publish KIA or WIA
estimates of “enemy” troop or civilian
deaths, for fear the public would become
disenchanted that America’s wars are not
so honorable as they generate untold
numbers of orphans, widows, and quadriplegic
children. We claim our Joint
Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and
new-fangled evil weaponry are “smart,”
with unprecedented precision, as if the
decision to kill people in distant lands is
not the most immoral and indefensible
human activity. We show videos of smart
bombs and missiles destroying bridges,
cars, barracks, and other vital infrastructures.
We exclude the press from combat
photography and frontline reporting for
fear that DoD propaganda and disinformation
might be exposed by a David
Halberstam or a Seymour Hersh. Can’t
let a My Lai and No Gun Ri become public
knowledge. It might create a recrudescence
of protest against the armies of the
night.
Babbin and thousands of others have
tried to silence me and remove me from
the classroom for being patriotically
incorrect. I suspect the undersecretary
equates patriotism with blind obedience,
reverence for the military, and always
“supporting the troops” without questioning
the policy where their unrivalled
power enables them to kill other parents’
children with near impunity.
I assure you no one defines for me
what patriotism is and whether it is even
always desirable, as those of us on the
pacifist, antiwar left strive for a more
peaceful, integrated global environment
that eschews nationalism and undiminished
state sovereignty.
As a realist I am deeply concerned
with America’s loss of prestige in the
world and the growing resentment of its
power, unilateralism, and contempt for
international law and comity. Our
national security depends not merely
upon wars against terrorism, wars against
Islam, and wars against the next imaginary
enemy, but a redirection of our foreign
policy away from power maximizing
and imperial hegemony toward treating
other peoples and cultures who dare
diverge from our own with respect and
patience.
I am grateful to Undersecretary
Babbin for one thing. Perhaps his diatribe
contributed to my receiving the
andrewsullivan.com Sontag Award
(Honorable Mention). That and my suspension
I wear as a “Red Badge of
Courage.”
PETER N. KIRSTEIN
Chicago, IL


Carl Wernerhoff - 3/9/2003

I concur entirely with Prof. Kirstein's views, but more importantly I maintain that he has a constitutional right to express them. I don't know what makes the US military think it's exempt from civilian criticism, including criticism from radical pacifists (which is what I take his position to be). This is just another tawdry episode of the industrial-military complex's totalitarian takeover of American society.

Eisenhower warned America that this was happening, but nobody listened. Now the whole country has degenerated into a country in which the least hint of leftwing opinion is persecuted with the fanaticism that was once reserved for religious heresy. Under military-industrial domination, America looks more and more like Spain in the heyday of the Inquisition or China during the Cultural Revolution than the free and democratic republic it was originally supposed to be. None of these vindictive military buffoons attacking Prof. Kirstein seem to have noticed that they are denying him his free speech rights, and that they have encouraged the University employing him to persecute him for his pacifist opinions. What a scandal America is today.

As for the ludicrous idea that everything good in America is owed to the military, please read the following:

The Lie Of The U.S. Military

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, March 7, 2003
http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford/



Jacob - 2/19/2003

this is fucking rediculous, someone
loses his job because he responds to a
robot's propaganda? who here hasnt flipped
out on telemarketers before?
GOD.
Its a communist choice (RPG slang)
you are offered two answers, but
there is only one real answer; "Yes."
"No" results in prosecution.








g. thomas fisher - 1/11/2003

kudos!, amens! for mr lollini's identifying the core attribute of kirstein's response to the AF cadet. i read with interest many responses in the numerous threads herein by some so-called intellectuals,some rather intelligent folks and some not so intelligent folks. i missed, however, any reference to the idea that our military serves the people of this nation and that it does so on the orders of the peoples' elected officials, ie,the politicians. we get who and what we elect/tolerate. to attack the defenders of our way of life shows ignorance beyond any right to teach, and, i might suspect, any courage to similarly serve. kirstein should direct his energies at the politicians and consider a little respect for the people who guard his front door.

combat infantry, combat wounded, vietnam vet


Professor Peter N. Kirstein - 12/28/2002

I would prefer a different subject here but free speech for all--even antiwar professors who engage in rude antiwar protest!

I admit I am somewhat bemused in that my e-mail, that was circulated all over the world, would be erroneously quoted in a manner that would seem to detract from my knowledge of military-related matters. Shocking isn't it? What the e-mail said was: "No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries WITHOUT AAA." [My emphasis] Why here and elsewhere the word "without" magically became "with" is perhaps testimony to the errancy of mob-like reaction to an intemperate missive.

I argue that the United States frequently attacks nations that are incapable of responding with AAA against American aircraft. I argue that in particular high-altitude bombing that eliminates virtually any threat to aircraft and crew is by definition indiscriminate and inaccurate as it rains its payload of death and devastation against unsuspecting and frequently noncombatants below. Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Yugoslavia (Serbia) were basically without any serious SAM or AAA capacity. That was my point and I believe it is a valid one.

See you in the next antiwar march against American imperialism.

Peter N. Kirstein


Geoff Egan - 12/23/2002

The reactions of Dr. Kirsteins and his various nasty attackers put me into mind of a famou quote from Gandhi. This lattr worthy was asked if there were in causes which he could see allowing him selve be killed for, to whichreplied "Several". Yet when the follow-up of if there was any cause for chich he would be willing to kill, he replied firmly-None!!).


Professor Peter N Kirstein - 12/20/2002

A fellow St. Louisan no less!! I have not lived there in decades but I still wear my Cardinals jacket in Chicago. Another testimony to my swimming against the tide amidst majority opinion or popular culture!

I would advise you even in passionate colloquy, to avoid using the term 'hordes' when referring to ethnic groups. It has implications that might be construed as racially insensitive, although, I presume that was not your intent.

With regard to ANWR and oil, of course geostrategic incentives play a role in our imperialistic ambitions of a Pax Americana but I have not used the term "evil" and I don't believe American interest in controlling Iraq is motivated merely from securing adequate supplies of oil. Without war, we have unfettered access.

A related point that was made elsewhere: Nations that don't accept international arms control agreements and refuse to deposit accessions to international treaties should not be immune from condemnation for their actions. Ergo, the fact that the great hegemon gutted ABM--under a farcical invoking of the supreme interests clause-- does not remove it from criticism for attempting to erect a defensive shield that is bound eventually to reignite a new arms race and to divert more of the world's resources away from combating hunger, HIV/AIDS and social injustice.

That's it until a new participant comes on line.

Peter N Kirstein


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/20/2002

You call to equally condemn those countries "allegedly attempting to acquire WMD but also those such as Israel who have acquired them covertly and outside the regime of IAEA safeguards and the NPT." Israel is not a signatory of of the NPT. Those other countries "allegedly attempting to acquire WMD" are signatories, and as such have acquired knowledge and materials relevant to nuclear matters essentially in exchange for their signatures. It would be nice if Israel could join the treaty, but I would put first emphasis on those who have joined, have benefited from joining, and have violated the treaty. Then again, that's just me -- I don't lump the lawbreaker with lawobservant. In any case, Iraq faces a different problem: they signed an additional instrument that burdens them even further. Perhaps there's a lesson there -- if you start a war of aggression, don't lose it, or you might take on additional legal burdens as a result.


Basil Duke - 12/20/2002

Thank you for your prompt, thoughtful reply.


I have absolutely no faith in Israel's self-proclaimed enemies' willingness to abide by any plan that delivers anything less than the obliteration of Israel from the world's map. (Indeed, to this day, the PLO refuses to acknowledge the country's very existence. Arafat's lapel pin depicting the contours of his anticipated nation wholly swallows Israel.)


Perhaps I was too hasty in extrapolating your personal view of the Middle East into a general disenchantment with college professors in general. It was a silly generalization. For that, I apologize. However, it bothers me a great deal to hear Israel tarred with the brush of the oppressor for allegedly occupying Palestinian land. Israel has been attacked in three general wars since its birth. By the grace of God and American guns, it won all three conflicts, and, having successfully repelled the hordes of Egyptians, Syrians and Saudis who had vowed their utter immolation, the Israelis - as have victors in wars throughout history - seized territory that the Palestianians now (falsely) claim as their ancestral lands. I see nothing invidious about this, especially considering the fact that Israel did not initiate any of the aforementioned wars (unless one wishes to consider the birth of a nation from the ashes of Hitler's ovens to be an act of aggression.) Has the IDF responded ruthlessly to the ceaseless acts of cowardly terror perpetrated against its citizenry? Yes. And I would do precisely the same thing. Arafat cannot continue to coax out another batch of crocodile tears to share with the world while giving the thumbs up under the bargaining table to his lunatic homicide bombers.


I asked about ANWR only because I keep hearing from Democrats that (1) Bush is going to war in Iraq because he lusts after that ME oil and (2) Bush is evil for wanting to develop America's own oil reserves by drilling in Alaska. The two points are mutually exclusive, and yet both are leveled against the president with a straight face. Wasn't trying to set you up; was merely curious how you stood on the subject.


Merry Christmas from a fellow St. Louisian.


Professor Peter N. Kirstein - 12/20/2002

FOR SOME REASON, THE TRANSMISSION OMITTED THE FIRST PARAGRAPH. HERE IS FULL STATEMENT

I don't speak for others or pretend to represent the professoriate and obviously one should not assume that an individual's ideas are representative of an entire profession. I think it is not inappropriate or "pathological" to strongly urge restraint and the avoidance of conflict in the matter of Iraq. This is not meant to affirm or support the policies of Saddam Hussein but to express alarm about the pain and suffering that would be inflicted on the innocent Iraqi people who did not participate in the selection of their government. Also, if one can believe the Bush administration--a rather tall order I must confess--they have abandoned the hegemonic declaration of regime change and are now emphasizing disarmament of so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction as their chief policy objective in Iraq.

I don't believe Israel is blameless in its occupation of Palestinian land, in it provocative settlement expansionism or in its treatment of these stateless, colonial subjects. Furthermore, Israeli "survival" cannot be perpetuated merely through US military largesse and military supremacy but through a negotiated settlement based upon land or peace and in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions, Oslo, and the confidence building measures of the Mitchell Plan. In any event, my comment was specific and direct. If the United States is to present a credible policy of nonproliferation before the world community, it would enhanced its position to condemn not only those nation-states who are allegedly attempting to acquire WMD but also those who have acquired them covertly and outside the regime of IAEA safeguards and the NPT.

On drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, I must confess I have a lot on my plate these days and normally confine myself to issues of international security and the pursuit of a global order based upon peace and justice. However, I think that demand reduction is more sensible that merely focusing on supply enhancement in the matter of energy extraction but I am not professionally trained in this area and do not pretend to know all the details of our energy needs.

Peter N Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University


Professor Peter N Kirstein - 12/20/2002

I don't speak for others or pretend to represent the professoriate and obviously one should not assume that an individual's ideas are representative of an entire profession. I think it is not inappropriate or "pathological" to strongly urge restraint and the avoidance of conflict in the matter of Iraq. This is not meant to affirm or support the policies of Saddam Hussein but to express alarm about the pain and suffering that would be inflicted on the innocent Iraqi people who did not participate in the selection of their government. Also, if one can believe the Bush administration--a rather tall order I must confess--they have abandoned the hegemonic declaration of regime change and are now emphasizing disarmament of so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction as their chief policy objective in Iraq.

I don't believe Israel is blameless in its occupation of Palestinian land, in its provocative settlement expansionism or in its treatment of these stateless, colonial subjects. Furthermore, Israeli "survival" cannot be perpetuated merely through US military largesse and military supremacy but through a negotiated settlement based upon land for peace and a two-state solution in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions, Oslo, and the confidence building measures of the Mitchell Plan. In any event, my comment was specific and direct. If the United States is to present a credible policy of nuclear nonproliferation before the world community, it would enhance its position to condemn not only those nation-states who are allegedly attempting to acquire WMD but also those such as Israel who have acquired them covertly and outside the regime of IAEA safeguards and the NPT.

On drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, I must confess I have a lot on my plate these days and normally confine myself to issues of international security and the pursuit of a global order based upon peace and justice. However, I think that demand reduction is more sensible that merely focusing on supply enhancement in the matter of energy extraction.

Peter N Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University


Basil Duke - 12/20/2002

Professor - The State of Israel wouldn't survive five days if it relinquished its store of nuclear weapons, and you know it. That arsenal - the source of so much enmity and loathing among America's ivory tower types - is Israel's "Life" card. Only a mad man would suggest that the country tear it up in exchange for the promise of good intentions from the likes of Arafat and Saddam. A nuke-free Israel? Picture the entire nation as a larger version of southern Lebanon after Barak stupidly impaled his cheek on Bill Clinton's hook and withdrew IDF forces. I think we all remember that wretched chapter in the Middle East 'peace' process (is there any other kind?), the Israeli troops literally running for their lives on the heels of the usual Hezbellah suspects and their Lebanese Christian allies left to be slaughtered on the altar of Slick Willy's need for a legacy.


It never ceases to amaze, this almost pathological need for the college professiorate to contort and debase themselves to shield a psychotic mass murderer like Saddam Hussein while pointing a damning finger at the most enlightened nation in the Middle East, whose chief "crime" is a willingness to survive.


A somewhat related question before I sign off: Do you support George Bush's plan to drill for oil in ANWR?


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/13/2002

Of course I failed to mention Scott Ritter, "chief inspector of the United Nations Special Commission to disarm Iraq (UNSCOM)" -- as you put it. That's because Ritter was not "chief inspector of UNSCOM" -- Richard Butler was (those pesky little facts). Ritter, as was appropriate for an intelleigence officer, was chief inspector only of the concealment mechanism used by Iraq (he wasn't chief inspector, he was a chief inspector).

In any case, Ritter resigned (and you can check contemporary accounts of his resignation, including his own statement) because even the much more effective UNSCOM was ineffective inasmuch as the US would not back it in aggressive inspections (Albright kept cancelling, through Butler, inspections expected to turn up violations, because the Clinton Administration didn't want a showdown). At least that was what Ritter said before he received almost a half million dollars from an Iraqi to finance a film project. I offer this quote from Ritter's piece, entitled Saddam's Trap, in the Dec. 21, 1998 issue of the New Republic:


"Yet, in a real sense, this exercise is a sham that will almost certainly play right into Saddam Hussein's hands. Since Saddam has blocked the inspectors from conducting any meaningful information-gathering for the past four months, the targets of their "surprise" inspections will most likely be drawn from a list of suspicious sites dating to last summer. Today, surely, those facilities will be empty, their contents having been moved to secret locations elsewhere. In effect, Saddam will have managed to have his cake and eat it too. He will have prevented the inspectors from gathering any real evidence against him, while at the same time appearing to give them unfettered access to sensitive sites."

Given that was his view after four months of no inspections, imagine how much more they apply after four years' absence. Ritter, a more than competent intelligence officer, has lately developed a head the size of, say, a college professor, as he now holds himself out to be expert in nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and their manufacture (something which came as quite a shock to Richard Butler and David Kay -- they never knew that UNSCOM, too, had such a renaissance man on its staff).



BTW, at a recent college appearance, Ritter was asked why he had changed his mind. He said he hadn't changed his mind -- he had "evolved". I predict a solid future in politics for Scott Ritter.




Peter N Kirstein - 12/13/2002

We will see who's right won't we? I noticed you failed to mention Scott Ritter, who was chief inspector of the United Nations Special Commission to disarm Iraq (UNSCOM). His position on Iraq's nuclear capability is identical to the one I am articulating.

I know one thing. There is another nation in the region, the State of Israel, that does have atomic and possibly thermonuclear weapons and the sounds of silence out of Washington are deafening. Washington should be gravely concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East among those who have secretly acquired them and those with nuclear ambitions. Both categories should be addressed to add more legitimacy to America's concern about nuclear proliferation. I would like to see it pursue a Nuclear Free Zone in the region but creative diplomacy has been supplanted by bellicosity and the persistent threat of violence.

Peter N. Kirstein


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/13/2002

If you are familiar with the history of the atomic age, as you claim, and the history of inspection reports, then you'll be familiar with the Compton Report and other such studies which have consistently underestimated the rate of progress towards atomic and nuclear weapons on the part of our adversaries -- both the Russian atomic bombs and nuclear bombs came on-line years before the "best" estimates of our "experts". Moreover, you must be familiar with Blix's last tenure. I'll just quote a little from Gary Milhollin's article of Nov. 26:



"There is a reason why Iraq's friends preferred Mr. Blix. He already had an unsurpassed record of failure in dealing with Saddam Hussein. From 1981 to 1997, Mr. Blix headed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body responsible for inspecting nuclear sites around the world--including Iraq's--to make sure they are not cranking out atomic bombs. As late as 1990, the same year Iraq invaded Kuwait, Mr. Blix's inspectors rated Iraq's cooperation as "exemplary." But all the while Saddam was running a vast A-bomb program under their very noses. Iraq produced both plutonium and enriched uranium for nuclear weapons in clear violation of the IAEA's rules. Some of the work went on at the same places that were being inspected, and was hidden with the help of an Iraqi official who was himself a former IAEA inspector. (His knowledge of inspection techniques helped dupe his former colleagues). Had the Gulf War not intervened, Iraq might have made its first bomb without anyone being the wiser.
Mr. Blix's spokesman at UNMOVIC has tried to explain away this embarrassment by claiming that Mr. Blix had only limited powers under the IAEA's rules. But the facts are otherwise. Mr. Blix had a lot of discretion, and he always used it to reduce the effectiveness of inspections.

For example, Iraq possessed more than 45 kilograms of highly enriched uranium before the Gulf War, far more than the 25 kilograms that the IAEA officially said was enough to make an atomic bomb. Iraq had imported the uranium from Russia and France as reactor fuel, but it would work in a bomb just as well. Now, when a country like Iraq has more than a bomb's worth of weapon-usable uranium, the IAEA is supposed to inspect it every three weeks, because that is all the time it is supposed to take to fashion it into a warhead. Under Mr. Blix, however, the IAEA was inspecting it only every six months. Why? Because the uranium was stored in a number of separate "material balance areas" (where the inspectors went to measure it) and there was less than a bomb's worth in each!

The areas were only a mile or so apart, so the whole thing was absurd. The stuff could be assembled in days, if not hours. But rather than annoy the Iraqis with frequent inspections, Mr. Blix chose the head-in-the-sand approach--which the Iraqis were quick to exploit. Immediately after the last six-month inspection before the Gulf War, they diverted the uranium to a crash nuclear weapon effort, which only the war prevented from succeeding.

Mr. Blix maintained this user-friendly stance even after the war. In May 1991, at the close of the first U.N. inspection, Iraq had accounted for the 45 kilograms of uranium it had imported, so Mr. Blix wanted to issue a report saying that everything was fine. But a minority of the inspection team wouldn't go along. They just couldn't understand why the Iraqis had torn out the foundations of bombed-out buildings as far as several meters down, while leaving other buildings untouched. They suspected that by removing the floors, Iraq had concealed evidence that the buildings had been used to process uranium domestically. Mr. Blix had no sympathy for such suspicions; he was determined to issue the report anyway. The minority (two American weapon experts) nevertheless held the report up until an Iraqi defector revealed a vast home-grown uranium processing program--saving Mr. Blix from humiliation."


I repeat. You have no expertise or special knowledge in intelligence matters, none in nuclear engineering and weaponry, and no on-site experience in Iraq. You are, ostensibly, a historian. But even what you should know as a mere historian ought to be enough to induce a little humility in your claims to knowledge -- it apparently hasn't.


Professor Peter N. Kirstein - 12/13/2002

I stand by my statement that Iraq has no nuclear weapons and the Bush administration knows it. My area of specialization is the atomic age and I have read numerous reports from inspector teams and the appropriate literature and there is no evidence that Iraq has ever tested a fissile device or that it possesses a deployable nuclear weapon.

Last year, on the Chicago PBS station Channel 11, during the hysterical rampant speculation that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda might possess fissile-atomic weapons, I stated it was absurd to assume they were a nuclear power. I was right then and I am right now and no amount of sarcastic colloquy can change these facts. Obviously, I cannot predict the future, however, in terms of horizontal nuclear proliferation.

I repeat, however, Iraq is not and has never been a nuclear power. On the issue of bacteriological and chemical weapons, I await the final disposition of those inquiries. However, if Iraq does possess the latter, it would not rise to the level of a casus belli on the part of the United States.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/12/2002

From the pen (or keyboard, if you will) of that most careful of "scholars", Professor Peter N. Kirstein: "Iraq has no nuclear weapons..." The professor does not say that the Bush Administration has not shared whatever evidence it may claim to have. He does not say that Iraq, in all probability (based on public information), has no such weapons. No, he "humbly" submits the asertion that Iraq has no such weapons. Prof. Kirstein is a man of incredible talents. He combines the talents of a nuclear scientist, a weapons designer and manufacturer, and an intelligence gatherer and analyst, all to proclaim on the subject of Iraq and nuclear weapons from the safety of Chicago. We could save a lot a money if we simply employed Kirstein and his ouija board for all the above functions -- and we would get a professor of history (of sorts) in the bargain!! Leonardo, move over. We have found our age's renaissance man.


Professor Peter N Kirstein - 12/10/2002

I presume many are interested whether subsequent to my e-mail incident with Cadet Kurpiel of the United States Air Force Academy, I would continue to address issues of international security. I humbly submit this statement on the implications of potential military action against Iraq. I believe also many are curious whether I would be allowed to do so in a nation that purportedly defends free speech.

Unprovoked military action against Iraq would be a criminal war. Regardless of the supine-Congressional authorization for the use of force, there can be no justification for a preemptive attack against a defenseless adversary. Iraq has no nuclear weapons and in all probability cannot reprocess plutonium or enrich uranium in quantities adequate for making atomic bombs. Even if it can deploy weaponized chemical and biological agents, it does not possess long-range delivery systems to attack the United States. Instead, the main threats to America's strategic interests are a ruinous, unilateralist foreign policy and non-state actors with a capacity to kill large numbers of innocent civilians.

This past decade has amply demonstrated Iraq's incapacity to project military force beyond its borders. While the imperial-minded Bush administration has rhetorically abandoned containment, such an approach has successfully rendered the Iraqi regime militarily impotent and incapable of unleashing offensive military operations against third countries. As testimony to Iraq's weakness, despite a decade of American and British air patrols of two no-fly zones, not a single aircraft has been lost to anti-aircraft artillery.

Then why the thirst and desire for war? The answer is certainly geopolitical. With Iraq under American military domination, the entire oil-rich Persian Gulf, with exception of Iran, would fall under United States hegemony. This thirst for regional dominance cannot be justified as a legitimate war aim. One might conclude that the reason for America's egregious rejection of the International Criminal Court is concern that its senior-national leadership might be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University
CHICAGO, USA



Richard Henry Morgan - 12/1/2002

I noted Moriarty's post, and there seems to be a trend. Just yesterday, on C-SPAN, I saw a journalism professor at Berkeley (Mark Danner) assert as a preface to a question, during the couse of an interview with Howell Raines and his boss (Jr.), that "since it is a matter of public record that the US essentially greenlighted Sadaam's invasion of Iran..." I've wondered about that wonderfully evocative word, "essentially". Why did not the good professor suffice without that word? It sure does give a lot of wiggle room, doesn't it?

That style of bald assertion seems also on the rise. I was taking in Paul Begala's interview on Buzzflash, wherein he emits the following ejaculations: "...Clinton's a model parent..."; "...by any standard of measure, he's a good man..."; and of course, who could ever forget "...If it was about lying under oath -- we actually know that Clinton certainly was deceptive, as most people would be about their sex lives -- but, in fact, he did not lie."

If it's a matter of public record, then cite the source, or if you can't, then please just shut the hell up.


SSGT. John Holtke - 11/29/2002

Sir,

With utmost respect, I disagree with your post as unbecoming to the Marine Corps, the spirit of this discourse and unbecoming to its values and its tenants. I don't believe you truly are an officer in the Corps, but rather an imposter. A Marine Officer would show more thought and presence of mind.

I spent 13 years in the Marines and served honorably. I will not accept that this is your true statement, if in fact you are a Marine sir.

Thank you.


SSGT. John Holtke - 11/29/2002

Gents: After serving in Panama and in Desert Shield and Storm and most recently in locations around this globe, I will tell you this.

It is unfortunate that you believe that civilians are intentionally targeted. That is incorrect at the most base of assumptions or assertations. Such orders, if given, are immoral and would not be followed by US military personnel. We are not robots who simply execute orders without thought or personal convictions and values. We are highly educated individuals who hold in highest regard, the value of ALL human and animal life. We will not take life unnecessarily. It is that reason that this whole volcano of passion has erupted. We hold the value of life in the highest esteem.

I will not go into dictum on the differences of opinion between Professor Kirstein and I, as they are vast. I have recently read all of Dr. Kirstein's work that I could find, and find it highly informed, thoughtful and profound works of historical fact and introspection.

I am overly glad that we still live in a country where disparate view points can be discussed and by doing so, seek to understand different points of experience and learn in the process. I am saddened also by the fact that so many civilians died in Japan at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, however, we didn't start that war either. Bad policy did, but that was done at the ink on paper level that is supposed to provide peace, not war. But in expressing these view points, Dr. Kirstein keeps in balance the thought that peace can be derived from the pen, instead of the sword. Until that day which we all long for, may we be free and at peace. And until then, rest assured that civilians are not targeted, the ones who want to bring down our society in a violent manner will be.

I am one of the multitude of military people who e-mailed in several weeks ago. But enough is enough. After all, Dr. Kirstein is an American, and he deserves to have his work, his career and his reputation restored.




Stuart Howard - 11/25/2002

In response to Matthew Moriarty's ridiculous assertion that "the US Military has issued directives to combat active troops in Afghanistan to shoot and kill unarmed women and children of the Taliban and its supporters." I can't even imagine what would motivate him to put such stupidity in writing. Where is this directive, who signed the order?. The published Standard Operating Procedures and Rules of Engagement for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM clearly forbid this. The military issues very specific orders; there is no “kill ‘em all” wink and nudge after the official orders are published. I challenge Moriarty to show your proof or sit down and let the adults discuss world events. Don't just parrot the propaganda you hear at the student union.


Ben Roberts - 11/24/2002

Kirstein the Banty Rooster......While it is obvious to me that you are a pacifist and have never made any attempt to serve and defended your country , never stood up for the oppressed , never appreciated the military people who have died to guarantee the freedoms and liberties that no other country has, one has to ask the question "is there anything that you feel strongly enough about that you would put yourself in harms way to protect the liberties and lives of others." Strutting around like a Banty Rooster spewing anti American thoughts to classes of young impressionable people is certainly unworthy of your profession. Your appologies are as shallow as you are and I seriously doubt you have any true remorse other then trying to save your acidemic tennure. In your next job I suggest you try parking cars for a living and interacting with as few people as possible because you have very little to contribute to society.


Chuck Heisler - 11/23/2002

It is interesting that the Professor feels the need to correct the "typos" in his e-mail communications. The entire exchange posted above makes me wonder where academia is going with communication skills. I am shaking my head over all the mispelled words, butchered syntax, and general lack of articulation from the Professor, the cadet, and the cadet's supervisor. It is no surprise that we miscommunicate so easily.
That, however, is beside the point. I have taught at the college level, off and on, for over 30 years and I cannot imagine a situation that would cause me to be so ungracious to a student. These young people, whether they are members of our college or not, do not deserve to be abused to the extent that is very evident in Prof. Kirstein's reply to the Cadet's invitation. No matter how passionate we are about our convictions, is there not a better way to express our distate?
I have watched the reduction of academic communication to spitting matches since the 60's and the debate on Vietnam. I can well remember my disappointment with professors during that time. When rational discourse was needed, far too many of these "educated" men chose to engage in emotional, disrespectful, and outright belligerent didacticism. This intolerance for other points of view has not improved on college campuses over the last 40 years. The liberal point of view has allowed itself to shout down both conservative and moderate points of view throughout academia, has censored opposing thought, and, like some Jerry Springer show academic sideshow, is reduced to screaming at students that are complete strangers!
I think the days of the liberal left controlling campuses may well be over. The last election was instructive with liberalism not even being able to put words and policies before the electorate that were understandable and acceptable. It will soon be the same on our campuses and the passing of the Political Correct Ones will not be mourned by real scholars--they have stood in the way of real scholarship for decades, impeded meaningful discussions of and obfuscated the real problems with and solutions for issues such as politics, gender, and race. Kirstein, in this instance, is an exemplar of the behavior that will not be missed.
However, as a conservative, and believing, as conservatives do, in freedom of speech, I think it is an overreaction to even think about terminating Professor Kirstein. The man has publically acknowledged that his communication was improper, he has apologized to the student, and the apology has been accepted.
I assume that the Professor was hired because he was of value to the University, is a scholar, and is, for the most part, good with his students and therefore, should be left alone to do his job. This aberrance should end with the lessons learned. Terminating the Professor for one act of imprudence is unthinkable--academic freedom is a real thing, a valuable thing, and should protect Kirstein in this matter.


Peter N Kirstein - 11/23/2002

Could you kindly post my second email that corrected the typos
of "imperialism" and "demonization." I believe you received that shortly afterwards and would appreciate it if you would post my edited version of the two words. Thanks, PNK


John Gillette - 11/23/2002

military policies I was ever in a position to have to enforce. It was a major factor in my decision to resign my active commission. In 1979 there was another wave of repression in South Vietnam which resulted in another wave of boat people. Carter and his State Department decided that if the US Navy did not assist boat people and they were exposed to hazards on the high seas, the humanitarian Vietnamese administration would not let them leave. Therefore the USN in the area was issued orders to the effect that boat people were not to be assisted unless they were in iminent danger of dying. We could not take them aboard unless the boat was actually sinking and could not be repaired, we could give them a compass or a chart, not both, we could not give them navigation advice, etc etc. We were given orders to avoid small craft by using radar to determine courses to avoid. At one point when we came across, and could not avoid a drifting boat with two smaller craft in tow, we sent a Machinest Matre aboard and he fixed their engine. Was an extremely distasteful occurence as it turned out that some of the crew actually knew some of the refugees from previous service in small craft in South Vietnam. After several months the policy was changed and orders were given to pick up all they could find and units involved were given Humanitarian Service Medals. Those of us earlier just got the dirty duty. Just because he went to the Academy doesn't mean he was common sense smart.

(For bonafides - I was a JO in OPS on the ship that was the flagship for Cruisers-Destroyers Seventh Fleet, several times I was relieved by the OPS Officer to go wake up "Bud" Edney when he was Chief of Staff and he got to get the staff spun up and they had to go to CINCPAC for guidance, who went to State)


John Gillette - 11/23/2002

Force of Arms in 1776 there were no arms. What, Oh, I thought this was the Bellesiles threads. Never mind


John Gillette - 11/23/2002

Since it is a matter of record, how about posting a link to some kind of offical documentation of this matter of record. Oh and a statement in some media is not a record. How about a copy of the order or orders to that effect. A real record. Maybe the court-martial minutes for issuing such an illegal order.


kirstein - 11/23/2002

There is no doubt that I used unnecessarily offensive and hurtful language toward a person I did not know. I also, despite the Wall Street Journal's--who misspelled the cadet's name--assertion that I was forced to apologize, did so independently within two days of my e-mail and before this became a national story.

For me to resist American militarism, imperialism and violence, I must recognize that both my tone and rhetoric may undermine and interpose the message. I stand by my career, my publications and my activist resistance to preemption, unilateralism and the demonization of our "enemies." I also know that pacifism requires not just opposition to violence and war, but creative communication--even in e-mail messages--that is also mindful of whom we speak to.

Peace,

Peter N. Kirstein


Peter N. Kirstein - 11/23/2002

There is no doubt that I used unnecessarily offensive and hurtful language toward a person I did not know. I also, despite the Wall Street Journal's--who misspelled the cadet's name--assertion that I was forced to apologize, did so independently within two days of my e-mail and before this became a national story.

For me to resist American militarism, imperialsim and violence, I must recognize that both my tone and rhetoric may undermine and interpose the message. I stand by my career, my publications and my activist resistance to preemption, unilateralism and the demonziation of our "enemies." I also know that pacifism requires not just opposition to violence and war, but creative communication--even in e-mail messages--that is also mindful of whom we speak to.

Peace,

Peter N. Kirstein


Matthew Moriarty - 11/22/2002

It is a matter of record, but that the US Military has issued directives to combat active troops in Afghanistan to shoot and kill unarmed women and childern of the Taliban and its supporters. Field operatives are instructed to perceive even children as a potential deadly threat. This is rarely, if ever true, but killing the families of designated enemies has been an effective tool in instilling fear and demoralization within enemy ranks. There are many, almost countless, examples where this targeting of civilians has been purposeful and integral to US military tactics and strategy. Why reprimand Prof. Kirstein for speaking the truth?


J. Murphy - 11/21/2002

The school newspaper for St. Xavier is reporting that Prof. Kirstein will be back in the classroom next fall after a previously scheduled sabbatical, according to the University President. Go to http://www.sxu.edu/xavierite/news.html for the full story.
The story, in characterizing Prof. Kirstein's email to the Air Force Academy cadet, reports that the Professor "noted his disdain for what he termed the 'aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage' allegedly used by the military." Although this is more accurate than local Chicago news reporting (which said the Prof. was disciplined only for calling the cadet a "disgrace to this country"), it leaves out the other charges made by the Professor, such as: "You are worse than the snipers." The military "reigns (sic) death and destruction on the nonwhite peoples of the world." "You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us." "Air Force cowards..." "September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts..."
The Professor's entire email is only 10 sentences long. Why don't they reprint it in full so the reader can understand the reaction of so many? Why not interview someone who wrote or called the University in protest? This story manages to imply that the University and Professor were unfairly criticized (the old "unwarranted distribution of private correspondence" excuse) and the Professor's provocation was relatively mild.


Matt M. - 11/20/2002

I was also a student of Mr. Kirstein's in 1991. His lack of professionalism and judgment in this matter does not surprise me. I found Professor Kirstein to be easily upset and somewhat difficult if you did not agree with his views. His fueds with some of the faculty/coaches in the athletic department were well documented and often carried over to the classroom. During what was a great 4 years at the school, one of the few complaints I had was Professor Kirstein. I believe he is an emabarrassment to the university, not for his views, but for the way he conducts himself.


nick werle - 11/20/2002

The instructors at our instutions of higher learning in Hedileberg must remember that the German Military execute orders that come from me to run concentration camps. They are bound by their oath, honor and by law to do so. Teaching our college aged youth otherwise is to dishonor truth. "Adolf Hitler"


Charles V. Mutschler - 11/20/2002

Mr. Fought, thanks for the response. I'm not sure that there is a weblog or newsgroup on academic behavior. I haven't encountered it on my own. The subject certainly ties in well with what we have been discussing here for the past year or so. Your remark about the erosion of a professor's sense of fallibility and social skills ties in well with some of the interest in Joseph Ellis, Michael Bellesiles, Stephen Ambrose, Kerstein, etc. This is not an area I have done much research in. (Im a historian with emphasis in late 19th / early 20th Century US business and technology)

As always, thanks for the reasoned and thoughtful comments. CVM


John G. Fought - 11/20/2002

It seems I was wrong about the complacency: I apologize. I must have been confused by the literacy. I do still think that many superficially civilized academic disagreements lead nowhere, but then, I must admit that many uncivilized ones do too. For a long time I have thought that the position a professor occupies, in classrooms even more than in department and other faculty meetings, may slowly erode one's sense of fallibility, and some social skills also. I can imagine a weblog or a newsgroup devoted entirely to academic lore on that theme. Do you know if there is one already?


Clayton E. Cramer - 11/19/2002

I agree with Mr. Colon. If Kirstein had said this during a class, I would be a bit more sympathetic to a suspension. Professor Kirstein is pretty typical of the history profession today, as near as I can tell. He makes a good argument for why taxpayers shouldn't be funding a profession that has abandoned all pretenses of objectivity and accuracy.


Charles V. Mutschler - 11/19/2002

Mr. Fought, you wrote: " I detect a whiff of complacency in your postings here." Actually, I think your responses to Benny Smith on the subject of Mr. Bellesiles prove the point I was trying to make very well. It is much more effective to demonstrate the accuracy of your position with factual information and logic than it is to engage in name calling. My point was that most of the people responding to Professor K. were taking issue with his remarks but not stooping to the unprofessional methods he used in his response to the cadet who wrote him.

As for your comment about "well-dressed bullying" - well, isn't bullying unprofessional conduct?

Thanks for reading - CVM


Bill Phillips - 11/18/2002

One of the silly things about the anti war movement is that it tries to talk detail without understanding any of it. They should grasp the importance of “If you wish for peace, study war.”

Here is my analysis of this rant:

“You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage.”

Get a dictionary and look up “collateral.” Collateral damage is not a tactic; it is a side effect.

“Help you recruit. Who, top guns to reign death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world?”

The “Top gun” course is about air-to-air combat, it not about reigning death on anybody.

“Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour [sic].”

IMHO you cannot resign and serve with honour.

“No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation.”

As already pointed out, AAA is Anti Aircraft Artillery.

“You are worse than the snipers.”

Can I assume that the professor will join me in condemning terrorist snipers?

“You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us. September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra.”

As far as I know the USAF has never attacked the Palestinians. The VC is probably not relevant to the Muslims who carried out September 11. The Serbs were killing Muslims, so the professor thinks Muslim extremists were taking revenge on the US because it protected Muslims in the former Yugoslavia! Finally the army that was retreating at Basra had invaded a Muslim country and was fighting several other Muslim countries.


Alec Lloyd - 11/18/2002


Mr. Todd writes: “Most of the poor judgments of the allied air forces were driven by their distaste for anything which placed them under either army or navy command. The problem with this is that the only targets in which the army and navy do not already have a vested interest
tend to be civilians.”

Of what poor judgements does Mr. Todd speak? The fact is that “precision raids” were impossible to achieve given the technology of the time and the difficulties of flying in heavy flak—not to mention German interceptors. Oil refineries, ball-bearing plants and aircraft factories were viable strategic targets. Indeed, the destruction of Germany’s oil infrastructure speeded the end of the war considerably. Yet Mr. Todd seems to blame the USAAF with failing to achieve 100 percent hit ratios.

It is unquestioned that JDAMs are more accurate than Norden bombsights, however Gens. Spaatz, Arnold and LeMay didn’t have 50 years to wait for them to be invented.

Strategic air forces were of course different from tactical formations—and this was reflected in their use. When faced with a static front which permitted the lengthy fueling and arming process and long inbound flight time, strategic bombers did have a tactical use. However, such opportunities were few and fleeting. Once the breakout from Normandy occurred, it was simply impractical to try to keep cumbersome heavy bomber formations “on-call” all the way back in England for fleeting targets of opportunity in France and Belgium.

Furthermore, as air commanders on both sides realized, the strategic bombing campaign was a vital part of the overall war effort. Once Luftwaffe was neutralized (the primary goal), other industries could be effected and Allied tactical airpower could have unfettered reign over the battlefield—a decisive element in an army suffering from inferior tanks and inferior anti-tank weaponry.

The air commanders’ strategy was not without mistakes, but to ascribe such oversights to a desire to kill civilians because all the other targets were “taken” is ludicrous. Certainly LeMay and co. overestimated the effectiveness of strategic bombing raids, however every service branch tends to do the same.

This takes us to Mr. Todd’s second remark:

“The United States Air Force is not prepared to face the fact that its founding fathers Hap Arnold and Curtis Lemay were capable of doing terrible things rather than admit they had made mistakes. This is the Air Force's "big lie." Confronting the "big lie" is the only way to break the cycle of violence.”

Good heavens! The Air Force has a cycle of violence! Imagine, a military service embracing a warrior culture!

Mr. Todd perhaps thinks all Air Force officers are like Slim Pickens in “Dr. Strangelove.” The opposite is true, of course. If anything, Air Force leadership is more risk-averse than the other branches, since replacements for both pilots and crews are hard to come by. If Mr. Todd has issues with their deployment and use, he should contact the White House, which together with Congress picks and chooses when and where they are used.

As a side note, when Air Force officers are allowed to pick their own targets (as opposed to having LBJ or other civilian leaders try to make “political points” with bombs) the campaigns are focuses and quickly over. AF aircrews want to hit the target and go home. The baby-killing they leave to the despots like Saddam and Pol Pot.


John G. Fought - 11/18/2002

How I enjoy the lofty detachment, the cute use of @, the Berrigans brought into this in manacles, and most of all, the abject failure to grasp the point: the communication was not
private. Reread the signature block.


Richard Henry Morgan - 11/18/2002

I should have written "Adams' wife", not "Adams' widow".


Richard Henry Morgan - 11/18/2002

As a matter of current law, one can't slander the Air Force. But this remark by you could use a little work:

"As for the suggestion of slander to the Air Force, the notion of "seditious libel" has been rejected since the Zenger case in (1735?)."

Not quite true, I'm afraid, though you could say there was a sentiment in that direction at the federal level that led Jefferson and the Republicans to victory in 1800. Adams' passing of the Sedition Act did have one advantage over state laws concerning "seditious libel" -- one could offer truth as a mitigating factor. After railing against the Sedition Act, Jefferson then turned around and encouraged the attorney-general of Pennsylvania to prosecute his (Jefferson's) critics under state sedition laws. This was taken to heart in New York, where a charge of seditious libel was brought against Harry Croswell, publisher of a Federalist paper called The Wasp.

Croswell had claimed, we now know correctly, that Jefferson had paid James T. Callender (of Sally Hemings fame) to smear Washington and Adams (something Jefferson, in his not unusual economy of truth, denied in a letter to Adams' widow). Croswell was convicted of seditious libel, and Alexander Hamilton, representing him on appeal, delivered what is conceded by many to be one of the greatest defenses in American legal history. The appeals court, evenly divided between Federalists and Republicans, split along party lines, and the original conviction stood. BTW, during the proceedings, Croswell issued a subpoena for Callender, who, quite conveniently for Jefferson, then drowned (supposedly drunk) in a puddle of water before he could testify. Where is Oliver Stone when you need him?

The point is that until the incorporation of the 1st Amendment follwing the passage of the 14th, were it not prohibited by state law, seditious libel was still a very real concept at the state level.


J. Murphy - 11/18/2002

When I first wrote to the University to complain of the Professor's abusive behavior (not speech) towards a college freshman, I received a reply saying the Profesor's father served as a field surgeon during WWII, and the Professor himself served in the Army Reserve. Based on his age, this would have been during the Viet Nam eta.


Edward J. Trout - 11/18/2002

Analogous to the Sixties urban legend of anti-war "baby-killers" myth? Yes. Jesuits will be jesuits, alas a good reason why e-mail wriitten in a "down-angry-post" without looking @ what one just communicated as a mentor is a path to disaster. Dr. Kirstein will be, I'm sure much more thoughtful in the future and the 1st amendment a bit poorer for this over-reaction to a private communication.The Berrigan Brothers would of course side with the frank Doctor Kristein.


R. B. - 11/17/2002

As a grandmother and mother, I simpatize with Prof. Kirstein, outrage. We have right now the result of sanctions on the Iraq people thousands and thopusands of children dead, malnuriched and a whole country bracing themselves for a war that they have no say in it. Reality is that americans(from south to the white north) benefit from the death of this people. Reality is that an economy that is based in fossil fuels will go on killing in order to keep Exxon, and the oil cartel chuging along the path of environmental destruction, while creating poverty and despair. As a historian, with more knowledge than he can possibly impart, he is probably feeling the desesperation, that I also feel.
How can anyone account for the bloated budget of the pentagon and the huge military aid that is given to Israel and the lousy world economy and the powerlessness we all fell, knowing really well that this air cadets are being prepared to die for multinationals and rich elite?
I for one would have written the same letter.
If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention to what the governments and big business are doing in your name.


Stan - 11/17/2002

John... I believe that the exact words were "... Kirstein is a Scumbag." (Although scumbag might not have been capitalized)

God love "Uncle Sam's Misguided Children" (USMC)


William E. Paxson - 11/17/2002

During the 1975-76 school year I took a class in American History at St. Xavier University from Dr. Kirstein. He was a first year instructor, and I found his class interesting, non-prejuditial, fair-handed, and thought-provoking. He gave no indication of a pre-disposition to any particular political view of history, and I am sure he still maintains fairness and integrity. I do not agree with him, but this was a private communication between himself and another person, and I believe it was Ben Franklin that said, after captured letters from other delegates to the Philadelphia congress were published in the papers in 1776 and angered everyone - "I do not read other people's mail." Advise worth taking.


Vern - 11/17/2002

A whitewash is what this is. The professor was given a paid vacation.


Vern - 11/17/2002

It sounds like the professor was rewarded rather than pumished. I would like a paid vacation for a year myself.


A Complete Whitewash - 11/17/2002

What a joke.


tony miller - 11/17/2002

Um...maybe it would be more effective if you sent a letter to the administration at Saint Xavier University. Otheriwse, the folks at Xavier might think you're a complete moron.


Nick Hale - 11/16/2002

Prop. Kirstein's asinine views are a firm argument for mandatory military training. Had he been REQUIRED to don a uniform as a young man he would have received a modest taste of what America's warriors go through, and he would have met a few who contributed more to this nation in five minutes than he is likely to do in a lifetime. Living in America is not a right, but a privilege, won by force of arms beginning in 1776, and never finished.


Garry Perkins - 11/16/2002

So many people are angry about what was said, but that is not the issue. A university professor failed in his position. His goal is not to be a zealot fighting his personal political battles, but rather to educate students while advancing knowledge in his field. If he did not whish to help a student in a non-academic function, he should have simply declined.

Unfortunately, too many historians are shirking their responsibilities to have more time for their own non-academic affairs. Perhaps more history departments should hire committed historians rather than PhD-holding social protestors looking for a day job.


Thomas Gunn - 11/16/2002

The following links to a further statement by Kirstein.

http://www.sxu.edu/academ/artsci/history/pkirstein/apologia.html

Click the back button on the above page to get to the professors homepage.

While I find Kirstein's comments distatsteful and the manner in which he delivered them more so, I do feel he has a right to hold such views and express them in such a way as to preclude a connection to his employer and his teaching duties. I do not feel he has the right to promote those views in the classroom.

The question of politics and history have come up repeatedly of late. There is a feeling that one may not interpret the facts of history but may only report them. It seems to me that it is impossible to separate ones self from ones feelings, but an ethical and honest professor will do his very best to provide every side of any controversy and not bury or hide conflicting facts.

We've seen one professor resign in disgrace when he allowed his politics to interfere with reporting the true facts at hand. History, and historians seem to be taking a beating recently. The unfortunate result is that good honest historians are tarred with the same brush reserved for the cheats, liars and charlatans.



thomas


J. Murphy - 11/16/2002

Today the University issued a statement from the President describing what steps are being taken regarding Professor Kirstein. They include suspension of teaching duties this semester, administrative reprimand in personnel file, and early review of tenure (which the Professor volunteered). For the complete statement go to http://www.sxu.edu/news/kirstein_statement.htm


Ralph E. Luker - 11/16/2002

Mr. Czervik, I regret that you find my focus misplaced. Elsewhere on this comment board, I did refer to Kirstein's original e-mail as an "intemperate rant." Obviously, I think he was out of line. I don't feel obliged to prescribe a punishment for his misdeed as some people here do. Firing strikes me as overkill. The comments posted here by a person or persons who refer to themselves as M. K. Gandhi and Nukem All use language which, it seems to me, is even more offensive than Kirstein's and, as his e-mail was not addressed to me, I was responding to language which was so offensive that its true author wouldn't even accept responsibility for it. However out of line he was and however offensive his language, Kirstein at least had the courage to sign his name and, thus, be responsible for what he said. As for Bellesiles, I argued long and hard that there was no point in shooting at his judges while the decision was yet out. The decision is in. I see no reason now to argue with the findings of his judges or the actions of his former employer.


Al Czervikjr - 11/15/2002

Mr. Luker,

I agree with your comments regarding this particularly pathetic individual. I am puzzled, however, by your focus in such matters. With regard to both Kirstein and Bellesiles, you seem to be far more passionate in attacking their critics for their real or imagined offenses than in addressing the conduct of Kirstein or Bellesiles' that is at issue.

Your critique is particularly puzzling given the fact that, despite Kirstein's extreme and inflammatory comments, the vast majority of his critics, both on this board and among the administration, faculty, and cadets at the Air Force Academy that were the target of Kirstein's attacks, have been admirably civil and respectful.

Sincerely,

AC


Ralph E. Luker - 11/15/2002

M. K. Gandhi and Nukem All can avoid being known as a coward by posting under his real name. Unfortunately, this passive/ aggressive primate would still be a bigot.


Nukem All - 11/15/2002

You idiots and Professor Kirsten are the ones that need sensitivity training.


Sympathetic Onlooker - 11/15/2002

FYI: The University has issued a formal statement in response to this episode:

http://www.sxu.edu/news/kirstein_statement.htm


Andrew Todd - 11/15/2002

To: Rick Shenkman, History News Network

Some further comments:

I stand corrected about QB VII. I read it about twenty years ago, and my
memory is not what it once was. However, Harry Pool has made my point: to
successfully prosecute a libel case, you do have to be pretty well above
reproach. A more recent example would be William Westmoreland's libel suit.
The specific facts of what Westmoreland knew and when he knew it got
inevitably swamped by the more basic facts that Westmoreland was a "chateau
general," and that, having lost tens of thousand of troops, culminating in
the Tet offensive, he did not feel obliged to collect himself an M-16 and go
forward to settle accounts with the Viet Cong personally. By contrast,
"Vinegar" Joseph Stillwell was in the habit of getting a stalled unit moving
by going forward and walking point until the troops followed him for very
shame. Stillwell was the sort of man who might have won a libel suit-- but
then, he had no need to sue.
C. P. Snow (_Science and Government_, 1960) and Robin Higham (_Air
Power: A Concise History_, 1972) have both made the point that city bombing,
that is, bombing of noncombatants, tended to compete for resources with other
kinds of air operations, notably tactical bombing and air transport. For
example, the allied air forces could have devoted much greater resources to
anti-submarine warfare. This would have had the effect of saving allied
sailors, rather than killing german and japanese civilians. The sinking of
the cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis, at the very end of the war, is eloquent
testimony to the insufficiency of ASW efforts. Similarly, in the summer of
1944, Field Marshal Montgomery was allowed to borrow the allied bomber force
for a short period. The bombers punched a series of holes in the german front
line, winning the Battle of Normandy, and probably contributing materially to
the decision of the german officer corps to attempt the assassination of
Adolph Hitler. Similarly, the Berlin Airlift is a classic example of the use
of logistics in a kind of "indirect approach." Most of the poor judgments of
the allied air forces were driven by their distaste for anything which placed
them under either army or navy command. The problem with this is that the
only targets in which the army and navy do not already have a vested interest
tend to be civilians.
The United States Air Force is not prepared to face the fact that its
founding fathers Hap Arnold and Curtis Lemay were capable of doing terrible
things rather than admit they had made mistakes. This is the Air Force's "big
lie." Confronting the "big lie" is the only way to break the cycle of
violence.
I don't know whether "M. K. Ghandi" is a coward or not-- I suspect he is
young enough to make the question meaningless. Courage and cowardice are
primarily characteristics of mature adults. However, he is obviously not the
real M. K. Ghandi, and if someone will not stand forth under his true name,
even when issuing denunciations on behalf of the government, he must resign
himself to being held of slight regard.

Andrew D. Todd

editor wrote:

> Andrew,
>
> I'll post your thoughtful comment.
>
> Rick
>
> Rick Shenkman
> Editor
> mailto:editor@historynewsnetwork.org
>
> History News Network at George Mason University
> http://HNN.us
>
> To subscribe to our newsletter click here
> http://hnn.us/articles/821.html
>
> HistoryNewsNetwork was created in June 2001 and features articles by
> historians about current events. HNN is the only website on the Internet
> wholly devoted to this task; the site is updated daily in response to
> breaking news. HNN is funded by George Mason University. The magazine
> features articles by historians on both the left and the right. HNN is a
> 501c3 nonprofit. We average 2 million hits a month.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew D. Todd [mailto:adtodd@mail.wvnet.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2002 6:20 AM
> To: History News Networrk, Ed
> Subject: Re: Peter Kirsten
>
> To: Rick Shenkman, History News Network
>
> Sir:
>
> I should like to present a summary discussion of the issues
> relating to Professor Peter Kirsten.
> Professor Kirsten did not publish his comments, but delivered
> them privately. Thus they cannot be slanderous of an individual.
> As for the suggestion of slander to the Air Force, the notion of
> "seditious" libel has been rejected since the Zenger case in
> (1735?). As for the comments being insulting, given the distances
> over the internet, these remarks presented no danger of a
> fistfight. It is extremely doubtful whether they could even be
> called "fighting words." I suppose we have all lost our temper
> and chewed someone out at some time or another-- at least if
> someone claims otherwise, he will have to convince me that he is
> not either a liar or a hypocrite. In fact, none of Professor
> Kirsten's critics seem prepared to apply standards consistently,
> and in a manner which would apply to their own conduct. They are
> actually promoting the claim that it ought to be a crime to
> criticize the military openly and in forceful language. In other
> words, the idea of seditious libel as defined by the former
> Soviet Union.
> In libel law, there is the notion of "damages of one penny,"
> meaning that the specific allegations are incorrect, but that the
> plaintiff's conduct has been such that he is not capable of being
> defamed. For example, the writer Leon Uris was assessed damages
> of one penny in a case which he afterwards wrote a novel about
> (QB VII). The Nazi concentration camp commandant had not murdered
> the precise numbers of people at the precise dates specified by
> Uris, but he had murdered a few thousand people. That said, the
> fact is that the United States Air Force has killed, at one time
> or another, at least a million noncombatants, notable episodes
> being Tokyo, Hiroshima, Dresden, etc. (see Michael Sherry, _The
> Rise of American Air Power_, 1987). The fact that someone is an
> enemy national does not create an unlimited license to kill. The
> whole basis of western law rests on the rights of the individual,
> and noncombatants are therefore never, repeat never, legitimate
> targets of retaliation. Actions such as hostage taking are
> clearly illegal. All of this, I might add, is clearly specified
> in the applicable United States Army regulations. Air forces,
> however, have appropriated themselves exemptions from rules which
> are clearly binding on ground soldiers. The ethical basis of air
> bombardment is extremely dubious unless it can be confined to
> strictly military targets. About the only defense the Air Force
> can offer in the matter of civilian casualties is one of
> necessity, and that can potentially be challenged by detailed
> criticism. This would be debatable enough that it would be
> effectively impossible to demonstrate "a reckless disregard for
> truth." The evidence simply will not support a verdict of libel.
>
> The Schenk case has been suggested as justification by people
> who call for punishing Professor Kirsten. With the benefit of
> hindsight, the Schenk case was not only bad law, but bad law in
> the service of a bad cause (see Richard Polenberg, _Fighting
> Faiths_, 1987). The judgment of history is that the first world
> war was an utterly senseless war, with no identifiable political
> or moral purpose, save killing as an end in itself. It was an
> accidental war which forms a possible means to understand a
> possible nuclear exchange (for example, see Marc Trachtenberg,
> _History & Strategy_, 1991). In nearly every country it touched,
> the war bred totalitarianism. In the United States, it powered a
> resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Within ten years of the war's
> ending, received opinion in the United States had come to the
> view that American involvement in the war had been driven by war
> profiteers, intent on making money by supplying the western
> allies with munitions. In the last analysis, and I admit I am
> taking some liberties here, Schenk was an exercise in war
> profiteers putting on sheets to persecute Jews for saying, from
> their own experience, that a military alliance with Russia was
> not a good cause.
> A closely analogous case, incidentally, would be the trial of
> Dr. Benjamin Spock, et. al., during the Vietnam war. Again,
> within ten years the defendants were politically vindicated. When
> government authorities resort to force against their critics,
> that is almost invariably a tacit admission of error and/or
> wrongdoing. It means that the government authorities have decided
> that they are not willing to accept a democratic system of
> government.
> It has been observed that the basis of civil law is the
> public peace. That said, there is a strong presumption that
> someone who rejects violent solutions does not create a clear and
> present danger, but on the contrary, tends to suppress it. Given
> the fact that the United States has its own continent (both
> Canada and Mexico being in what amounts to a state of unilateral
> disarmament), the necessity of foreign wars is rarely if ever
> such that they cannot wait a year or two.
> Parenthetically, there seem to be very few women posting on
> History News Network. As she is apparently the sole
> representative of half of the human race, I would counsel you to
> take "Jaelle" (Jaelle N'ha Mellora?) very seriously.
>
> Andrew D. Todd
> 1249 Pineview Dr., Apt 4
> Morgantown, WV 26505
>
> adtodd@mail.wvnet.edu
>
> http://rowboats-sd-ca.com/



Vern Cole - 11/15/2002

I am still waiting to see what punishment the University is going to hand out to Kirstein for this slander.

If these views that Kirstein expressed to the cadet is the views that he is teaching his students he is not teaching history, but expressing opinions as historical facts.

Does Kirstein receive grants from the tax payers? These grants should be repaid in full. These tax dollars makes what he teaches the business of every tax payer and he does not have the right to express his opinions in his class room. He only has the right to teach facts. Facts are what the students pay tuition to learn. If the students want opinions they need to only buy newspapers, which are a lot less expensive than tuition.

I am still waiting for a real apology from Kirstein and the University.

If Kirstein is not fired for this slander then the University is just as guilty as Kirstein himself.


J Murphy - 11/15/2002

I have seen the Professor's email which appeared to be forwarded from someone who got it directly from the Academy. The copy I have seen uses the word "without," not "with." In doing some internet searches I have seen versions using "with" and "without" on various sites and blogs. I am sure the Professor knows the right word to use. I do not know which country our Air Force has bombed which does not have AAA. I can't think of any (Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia, Viet Nam and Germany all shot down our aircraft.)


Al - 11/15/2002

I find it interesting that the military is placed on the blame line. I dare say that if a military member or unit was to take up arms and go out to "kill babies", they would be arrested, tried and convicted not only in the press but in our Federal Court system. The military for all it "power and glory" does nothing without the direction of Congress and the Executive Branch of government. If you have a problem with how the various military engagements were handled, maybe you need to focus on electing new representatives. Most military people I know would be delighted to not have to go in front of bullets in far off places to possible not return. They would much rather stay at hoome with their families and watch their kids grow up. However, they have made the decision that the greater good of the nation is worth more than their life. Hopefully, the elected representatives will remember this as they make the decisions to commit the military to this or that endeavor.


Harry A Pool - 11/15/2002

"cowards who bomb countries with AAA" Is that cowards using AAA to bomb countries or countries with AAA being bombed by cowards?

I think Kirstein intended the first meaning, and that's how I interpreted his phrase when I first read it. Still, given that AAA is Anti-Aircraft Artillery, the second interpretation at least uses AAA properly.


Harry A Pool - 11/15/2002

Your recollection of QB VII is faulty. Uris had not accused the Polish doctor of having murdered thousands of Jews when the doctor had murdered only dozens or hundreds. Uris had accused the Polish doctor WHO WAS HIMSELF IMPRISONED IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP of having sterilized thousands of Jews in as a willing participant in medical experiments on Jewish prisoners in the camp.

The doctor, who had survived the war, emigrated to Great Britain, and had been knighted for medical services he'd provided in the British Empire, sued Uris for libel. In the eventual decision, the jury awarded the doctor a farthing (a quarter of a penny in the old pound-shilling-pence British currency) in damages when Uris could only show that the doctor had sterilized about fifty or so Jews rather than thousands.

As QB VII is a fictionalization of Uris' experience when he was sued for libel because of statements he'd made in Exodus, the brief description is somewhat inaccurate. In QB VII, Uris creates a Jewish fighter pilot named Cady to represent himself, and the Polish doctor who sues Cady is also a fictional creation representing the real doctor. For the points I'd like to make, lets take the paragraph before this as accurate.

When I saw QB VII in the TV miniseries (with Anthony Hopkins playing the Polish doctor), I thought the doctor could have established a much more effective defense by saying he himself had been a prisoner in the camp for over five years and been ordered by the Germans to perform the sterilizations. He had performed his medical procedures as well as the facilities and supplies in the concentration camp would allow, and, had he refused to participate, the Germans would have executed him and found another doctor to take his place. [I remember being angered when the British lawyer representing the defendant Cady in the libel action sneering about how the Polish doctor "had worked his passage" by helping the Germans. Easy to say in a British courtroom, not so easy to do when you're in a concentration camp, don't know when or even if you'll ever get out, and have seen the guards casually kill other prisoners for not obeying orders.]


Harry A Pool - 11/15/2002

Your recollection of QB VII is faulty. Uris had not accused the Polish doctor of having murdered thousands of Jews when the doctor had murdered only dozens or hundreds. Uris had accused the Polish doctor WHO WAS HIMSELF IMPRISONED IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP of having sterilized thousands of Jews in as a willing participant in medical experiments on Jewish prisoners in the camp.

The doctor, who had survived the war, emigrated to Great Britain, and had been knighted for medical services he'd provided in the British Empire, sued Uris for libel. In the eventual decision, the jury awarded the doctor a farthing (a quarter of a penny in the old pound-shilling-pence British currency) in damages when Uris could only show that the doctor had sterilized about fifty or so Jews rather than thousands.

As QB VII is a fictionalization of Uris' experience when he was sued for libel because of statements he'd made in Exodus, the brief description is somewhat inaccurate. In QB VII, Uris creates a Jewish fighter pilot named Cady to represent himself, and the Polish doctor who sues Cady is also a fictional creation representing the real doctor. For the points I'd like to make, lets take the paragraph before this as accurate.

When I saw QB VII in the TV miniseries (with Anthony Hopkins playing the Polish doctor), I thought the doctor could have established a much more effective defense by saying he himself had been a prisoner in the camp for over five years and been ordered by the Germans to perform the sterilizations. He had performed his medical procedures as well as the facilities and supplies in the concentration camp would allow, and, had he refused to participate, the Germans would have executed him and found another doctor to take his place. [I remember being angered when the British lawyer representing the defendant Cady in the libel action sneering about how the Polish doctor "had worked his passage" by helping the Germans. Easy to say in a British courtroom, not so easy to do when you're in a concentration camp, don't know when or even if you'll ever get out, and have seen the guards casually kill other prisoners for not obeying orders.]


Thomas Gunn - 11/15/2002


Professor Luker is correct.

M. K. Gandhi has no business responding to Professor Kirstein's missives in the manner shown.

I'm not sure how Ralph determined Gandhi's cowardace but I agree both Gandhi and Kirstein could benefit from some sensitivity training. Maybe they could sit side-by-side at Xavier University, and 'study group' together.

Oh! Ralph, do you hold the same judgment for Kirstein's words as Gandhi's?


thomas


Allen Campbell - 11/15/2002

Yes there are others who agree. Mr or Ms. Gandi is out of control.


Nelson Warner - 11/15/2002

Hear! Hear! Coe and Chrzanowski


Mike S - 11/14/2002

Asshat is as asshat does...


Ralph E. Luker - 11/14/2002

Are there others here who wish that the cowardly bigot posting here as M. K. Gandhi would either keep his thoughts to himself or enroll immediately in sensitivity training?


M. K. Gandhi - 11/14/2002

[[noncombatants are therefore never, repeat never, legitimate targets of retaliation.]]

Don't be an ass. If you can invent a bomb which only kills combatants and can only damage military facilities, I guarantee that the US Air Force will use such weapons exclusively; it would remove the tiresome sound of you weak bitches pissing and moaning every time a perfectly justified US bomb kills some sandal-footed drone who got in the way.

Until that time, we're stuck in a world where cowardly enemies hide their military stuff in and around schools, hospitals, and mosques. Well, boo-fucking-hoo, that means a goodly number of dead ragheads.

So what?




M. K. Gandhi - 11/14/2002

>>noncombatants are therefore never, repeat never, legitimate targets of retaliation.


John G. Fought - 11/14/2002

Your magisterial tone is unwarranted. There is a wide variety of backgrounds, motives, and assertions already represented in this thread. Your claim that all critics of Prof. Kirstein are guilty of inconsistency and are promoting the notion that criticism of the military should be criminalized is preposterous and insulting. Your claim about the meaning of the original exchange misses the mark by failing to take into account one very significant element: Kirstein was not addressed privately by the cadet; he wasn't even addressed by name, but as a professor in a particular institution. However personal his feelings might have been at the time, Kirstein was not acting in a private capacity when he wrote back to the cadet either: he replied in his professional identity, thus dragging his University into a position it did not willingly take.


Andrew D. Todd - 11/14/2002

Professor Kirsten did not publish his comments, but delivered
them privately. Thus they cannot be slanderous of an individual.
As for the suggestion of slander to the Air Force, the notion of
"seditious" libel has been rejected since the Zenger case in
(1735?). As for the comments being insulting, given the distances
over the internet, these remarks presented no danger of a
fistfight. It is extremely doubtful whether they could even be
called "fighting words." I suppose we have all lost our temper
and chewed someone out at some time or another-- at least if
someone claims otherwise, he will have to convince me that he is
not either a liar or a hypocrite. In fact, none of Professor
Kirsten's critics seem prepared to apply standards consistently,
and in a manner which would apply to their own conduct. They are
actually promoting the claim that it ought to be a crime to
criticize the military openly and in forceful language. In other
words, the idea of seditious libel as defined by the former
Soviet Union.
In libel law, there is the notion of "damages of one penny,"
meaning that the specific allegations are incorrect, but that the
plaintiff's conduct has been such that he is not capable of being
defamed. For example, the writer Leon Uris was assessed damages
of one penny in a case which he afterwards wrote a novel about
(QB VII). The Nazi concentration camp commandant had not murdered
the precise numbers of people at the precise dates specified by
Uris, but he had murdered a few thousand people. That said, the
fact is that the United States Air Force has killed, at one time
or another, at least a million noncombatants, notable episodes
being Tokyo, Hiroshima, Dresden, etc. (see Michael Sherry, _The
Rise of American Air Power_, 1987). The fact that someone is an
enemy national does not create an unlimited license to kill. The
whole basis of western law rests on the rights of the individual,
and noncombatants are therefore never, repeat never, legitimate
targets of retaliation. Actions such as hostage taking are
clearly illegal. All of this, I might add, is clearly specified
in the applicable United States Army regulations. Air forces,
however, have appropriated themselves exemptions from rules which
are clearly binding on ground soldiers. The ethical basis of air
bombardment is extremely dubious unless it can be confined to
strictly military targets. About the only defense the Air Force
can offer in the matter of civilian casualties is one of
necessity, and that can potentially be challenged by detailed
criticism. This would be debatable enough that it would be
effectively impossible to demonstrate "a reckless disregard for
truth." The evidence simply will not support a verdict of libel.

The Schenk case has been suggested as justification by people
who call for punishing Professor Kirsten. With the benefit of
hindsight, the Schenk case was not only bad law, but bad law in
the service of a bad cause (see Richard Polenberg, _Fighting
Faiths_, 1987). The judgment of history is that the first world
war was an utterly senseless war, with no identifiable political
or moral purpose, save killing as an end in itself. It was an
accidental war which forms a possible means to understand a
possible nuclear exchange (for example, see Marc Trachtenberg,
_History & Strategy_, 1991). In nearly every country it touched,
the war bred totalitarianism. In the United States, it powered a
resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Within ten years of the war's
ending, received opinion in the United States had come to the
view that American involvement in the war had been driven by war
profiteers, intent on making money by supplying the western
allies with munitions. In the last analysis, and I admit I am
taking some liberties here, Schenk was an exercise in war
profiteers putting on sheets to persecute Jews for saying, from
their own experience, that a military alliance with Russia was
not a good cause.
A closely analogous case, incidentally, would be the trial of
Dr. Benjamin Spock, et. al., during the Vietnam war. Again,
within ten years the defendants were politically vindicated. When
government authorities resort to force against their critics,
that is almost invariably a tacit admission of error and/or
wrongdoing. It means that the government authorities have decided
that they are not willing to accept a democratic system of
government.
It has been observed that the basis of civil law is the
public peace. That said, there is a strong presumption that
someone who rejects violent solutions does not create a clear and
present danger, but on the contrary, tends to suppress it. Given
the fact that the United States has its own continent (both
Canada and Mexico being in what amounts to a state of unilateral
disarmament), the necessity of foreign wars is rarely if ever
such that they cannot wait a year or two.
Parenthetically, there seem to be very few women posting on
History News Network. As she is apparently the sole
representative of half of the human race, I would counsel you to
take "Jaelle" (Jaelle N'ha Mellora?) very seriously.


Andrew D. Todd
1249 Pineview Dr., Apt 4
Morgantown, WV 26505





J Murphy - 11/14/2002

There is no doubt the professor's email purported to speak for the University. Both correspondents were acting in official capacities discussing official business (an invitation for students to partake in an excercise in free academic discourse to be sponsored by the Air Force Academy) as representatives of their respective institutions using their institutions' email accounts. They did not know each other before the exchange of emails, and had no reason to communicate, except on the business of the two institutions. There was nothing "private" about this exchange.
The University President, in his published apology, made it clear that the University did not hold such vile views, and the professor was NOT speaking for the University in that email. Of course professors have the right to their personal and professional opinions. The duties of a professor to clearly identify his role when speaking is well established (dates back to 1940) and clear. The American Association of University Professors sets the standards in these matters. The policy, as you might expect, is designed to protect the rights of professors to freely speak their minds. However, the professor has professional and ethical obligations to do certain things in order to make it clear he is not speaking on behalf of the University (and implicitly on behalf of other faculty members). Professor Kirstein's web page used to provide a link to these standards, none of which, by the way, he attempted to follow in his email to the cadet. The link to these standards were removed (as were several other items of iterest) from his web site a few days after the emails were circulating on the web.


Lance O. Lollini - 11/14/2002

Kirstein's original response reflects most accurately his innermost thoughts. He thought he could hide in the cloak of academic freedom when he trashed the cadet and the military. People like Kirstein are too cowardly to serve their country and they would never put their life on the line to defend the freedoms that they so heartly enjoy. He is not sorry for the words or intent of what he said, he is just sorry that he got in trouble saying it. His apology was weak and meaningless. In my opinion, Mr.Kirstein is basically a cowardly liar and he should be fired. People like Kirstein have no business teaching the youth of this country.


John G. Fought - 11/14/2002

For example, I detect a whiff of complacency in your postings here. Reasoned, polite discussion may well lead nowhere, simply postponing indefinitely what may be needed changes, and thus perpetuating abuses that one party may be unwilling ever to give up voluntarily, in the light of sweet reason or anything else short of the threat of dismissal. An inflexible but cheerful stand may be a way of baiting the other party into compromising on your terms rather than his. In such cases, and I have known many, what passes for reasoned discussion is simply well-dressed bullying, or perhaps a polite tantrum. Kirstein is different from many professors only in leaving out the smiles, or more often, the smirks.


Chuck Snow - 11/14/2002

Since I (In your words) "attacked" the professor after I fully discussed the issue, I think "Ad Hominen" doesn't quite fit.

"Asshat" is a colloquialism referring to someone who is smart but generally does stupid things.

No it doesn't make me anything like him, since I clearly stated my point using facts. I based my calling him an "Asshat" on his demonstrated behavior. He a college professor, yet appears shockingly ignorant, intolerant, and intemperate. That in my opinon makes him an asshat.

But back to the real issue here...




Charles V. Mutschler - 11/14/2002

Mr. Snow,

You disappoint me. Your response started out well, but by the end you managed to lower yourself to the same position as Professor Kirstein. Please re-read the last line of your posting. How does stooping to an ad hominem attack help you make your case? Doesn't it make you come across as almost as closed-minded as Professor Kirstein?

CVM


Charles V. Mutschler - 11/14/2002

Mr. Luker,
Thanks for your apology. A point which needs to be made is that actual intellectual discussion is better served by polite exchanges of ideas. Regardless of what one thinks of Professor Kirstein's ideas, his method of expounding them was quite unprofessional.

I think this is one of the failings that academics should confront. It may not be currently fashionable to argue for objectivity and open minded skepticism, but that would seem to be a better place to start exchanges of ideas than any sort of emotional, opinionated outburst that smacks of delegitimizing the opposition. Which is why Professor Kirstein's reply is so inappropriate. One would like to think an intelligent person, who has attained an advanced degree in his discipline would use a thoughtful, logical appeal to reason in any response, especially when responding to to a person talking from a point of view that is opposite from his own.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the concept of teaching from one's personal viewpoint, as informed by that belief that 'the personal is the political.' We all have personal political beliefs, but those are not necessarily appropriate in our professional lives. The sewer-mouthed responses of some of Professor Kirstein's detractors are every bit as small-minded and inappropriate for reasoned discussion as was the professor's initial response to the cadet. To steal a line from one of my professors who taught Historiography, "We must agree to disagree agreeably." Precisely the point - no ad hominem attacks, or smearing the other party, please. We all might learn something from each other if we would would listen and treat each other with respect, rather than disdain when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.

Thanks for reading. CVM.


Chuck Snow - 11/14/2002

Aside from the obvious irony of the professor amping when a member of the military asks for help setting up a Political Science conference. “What! You want to learn to understand all forms of government in order to avoid future conflict? BABY KILLER!”

Let’s take a closer look at “professor” Kirstein’s E-mail in order to determine why it has set off such a firestorm of protest.

“You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage.”

Note 1) I defy anyone (no matter how well educated) to explain to America how asking a simple question is equal to “Baby killing tactics” or “Collateral Damage”. I’d like to see anyone defend this statement, not say “I defend it” but actually defend it, justify it with logic.

“Help you recruit. Who, top guns to reign death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world? Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour....”

Note 2) The Air Force does not have “Top Guns”, that’s the Navy. While the Air Force has more than it’s fair share of the best fighter pilots on the planet, “Top Guns” are those pilots who have completed the Naval Fighter Weapons School.

Note 3) One would assume it’s “Rain” death and destruction, not “Reign” death and destruction.

Note 4) Was the Cadet serious about asking a U.S. History Professor about Political Science? My Guess would be yes.

Note 5) Cadets have NO commission. They are working harder than they ever have in their young lives trying to EARN a Commission. Also, here in America, we spell it “Honor” not the foreign way of spelling it as he does. “Honour”.

“No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation. You are worse than the snipers. You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us. September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra.”

Note 6) AAA stands for Anti-Aircraft Artillery. You don’t bombs countries with it. You shoot it at fighter planes to knock them down.

Note 7)The VC had, and demonstrated daily the ability to shoot down U.S. Aircraft. The Serbs Shot down at least 2 of our aircraft. The republican guard (retreating at Basra) still had the ability to shoot down our aircraft. None of these people are the innocent nonwhite civilians Mr Kirstein hints at.

Note 8) Simply asking a question of a professor is worse than the murder of innocent and unsuspecting civilians? Is this what the University stands for? At some point the university will realize the professors right to shoot his mouth off is exceeded by the university’s need to be a credible and tolerant learning institution.

Note 9) So, it is the U.S. Military’s attempt to defend its country that is to blame for September 11th? Exactly WHO is Professor Kirstein working for?

Note 10) The U.S. Military has only had one interaction with the Palestinians (I expect a U.S. History Professor to know that much.) In 1983 the U.S. Marines safely escorted Yassir Arafat and the PLO out of Lebanon. For their troubles in safeguarding the PLO the U.S. Marines were blown up at the Beirut Airport by PLO supporters funded by Iran.

Note 11) The VC was an Army we were at war with, an Army that SLAUGHTERED innocent civilians, never more viciously than during the Tet offensive when it was caught on film and reported by hundreds of witnesses and survivors.

Note 12) The Serbs are not “Nonwhites” as the professor proclaims, and they also generously took part in ethnic cleansing.

Note 13) The retreating Army was a heavily armed military unit escaping from a theater of war laden with gold and valuables stripped from a defenseless nation. Is this the type of action the University supports? The raping and pillaging of small nations?

“You are unworthy of my support.”

Note 14) No, it is the professor who is unworthy of support. It is not his views that he should be fired for; it is ignorance, aggressiveness, Anti-American agenda, and most of all his shocking lack of grasp on American history. All he knows about the Military is that he hates it.

If he can have a complete nervous breakdown when some one sends him a simple email, how does he react when a strong freethinking individual questions him in class? Has he yet resorted to physical abuse? I bet that’s next.

What I find most ironic are the two words “No war”, a nice sentiment to say the least, but ironic, because the uncompromising adherence to rhetoric as shown by Kirstein almost makes war inevitable.

If the professor didn’t know of all the falsehoods in his little hate speech diatribe then he’s too ignorant to teach.

If he did know, then he is no better than Joseph Goebbels, issuing his propaganda in order to infect minds.

That’s why this asshat absolutely has to go.


Tony Bayer - 11/14/2002

Let me help you closed minded liberal with some answers to your half wit questions:
So is every word a Professor writes or says written or said on behalf of his university? Duh? No, but the professor does have the responsibility to distinguish between his personal anti-American screed and that of the Universities position - as he did sign the email with both his position and the University.
Does taking up a university appointment entail relinquishing one's right to express one's views freely? Duh again? The half baked professor can spout all day long just not under the banner of the University - is this really that hard to figure out you guys? By simply stating: "The following remarks are my own and do not represent that of the University" would have separated him from the University. - duh? Just a little fore thought (not a professorial trait, I know) would have avoided the situation but since these type of America hates will jump at any chance to spit in the face of our fine service men and women - no fore thought required….
Duty, Honor, Country....


Scott Ryan - 11/14/2002

I see him as more of an ideological ass than a true threat. His comments regarding the bombing "non-white peoples" and his sweeping ignorance of military matters mark him as an all to typical case of a leftist sock puppet who mouths slogans devoid of real content or meaning.

I feel sorry for his students as they are getting a heavily slanted viewpoint of late 20th century history. Hmmm, I suppose post modernists have a point after all!

College Professors put up a hue and cry over a guy like David Horowitz exposing their biases - but it seems he has nailed this one.

Regards,
Scott Ryan.


Ralph E. Luker - 11/14/2002

Mr. Mutschler,
Your point is well taken. I apologize to those of Kirstein's critics who have avoided potty mouth.


M. K. Gandhi - 11/14/2002

Thus the succinct nature of my condemnation for this useless collegiate waste-wad.

He's only expressing the usual leftist-academic loathing for the men and women who put their lives on the line for his dead fat ass - the only difference being that he's stupid enough to flaunt his spittle-flecked screed in public. That he's enough of an idiot to confuse the honorable service of an Air Force cadet with the direction of the American military at the highest level[1] makes me wonder how he ever achieved a position at an institute of higher learning - indeed, how he managed to pass Poly-Sci 11.

[1] As Professor Kirstein is undoubtedly too fuckin' stupid to figure out what was meant by this sentence, let me explain that I mean that he's pissed off at George W. Bush and taking it out on some harmless serviceman.


Howard Hotson - 11/14/2002

Chris Scott wrote: "One other thing to remember is that Kirstein's remarks are not fully protected by free speech because he wasn't speaking for himself. As a Professor, he was also speaking for his university."
So is every word a Professor writes or says written or said on behalf of his university? Does taking up a university appointment entail relinquishing one's right to express one's views freely? It would seem to follow that university professors are the only individuals in the United States who lack freedom of speech. So Chris Scott and the people who would like to see Kirstein sacked for his intemperate email are trying to turn academic tradition on its head and render the universities the ONLY place in American society in which a citizen cannot speak his of her mind. To co-operate with such an agenda, in my view, would be a far greater and more public disgrace to St Xavier University that a single private email, however intemperate, could ever be. I hope and trust that the senior management of that distinguished institution will have more wisdom and perspective that to go down that road.


Charles V. Mutschler - 11/14/2002

Mr. Luker, permit me to politely suggest your reply is a little unfair to the majority of Mr. Kirstein's critics. When you say "In dramatic contrast to both Kirstein's intemporate rant and to the obscenities of Kirstein's critics, David Gerber addresses the issue reasonably and intelligently," the implication is that all of Mr, Kirstein's critics are obscene. I think you are being unfair to many of the critics, who have politely, if pointedly expressed their unahppines with Mr. Kirstein's comments, which you fairly characterize as an intemperate rant.


Jeff - 11/14/2002

Bob -

you've obviously never heard the term "blanket party"...

;-)


R. George - 11/14/2002

No, he should not serve food for any of our military men and women, because he would probably poison it or something. Instead, I propose he be forced to work EOD, or be a minesweeper.


R. George - 11/14/2002

I am a cadet as well and I respectfully disagree.

Some of what he said, especially his message for military members to disobey their commanders, is in direct contravention of the U.S. Constitution.

It is easy to defend, theoretically, ANY speech by saying that the First Amendment protects it. But that allows for the condition of the Constitution protecting speech that is in direct contrast to it. Besides -

Freedom of speech is NOT absolute, regardless of what anyone says:

Schenck vs. US (1919)

"During World War I, when the United States was at war with Germany, Congress passed the Espionage Act, outlawing any attempt to foster insubordination or obstruct the draft. Charles Schenck, general secretary of the Socialist Party, was arrested for conspiring to print and circulate leaflets that would obstruct and hinder the enlistment service of the United States. Schenck argued that the Espionage Act violated his rights to freedom of speech and press. The Supreme Court held that in a time of war, extraordinary conditions may take effect where Congress has the right to forbid printed materials or speech aimed at hindering the war effort. The test for "a clear and present danger" was formulated to deal with questions regarding freedom of speech."

I would argue that Kirstein's words urging us to disobey our commanders is directly aimed at hindering the war effort, should we engage in a war with Iraq, and therefore no different than Schenck's. Not only is he a terrorist sympathizer, he is a traitor; a domestic enemy of the Constitution, an enemy of the state.

"Defend the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic"...

If his 'agenda' includes disseminating propaganda which attempts to hinder the war effort, this would constitute a clear and present danger to the security of the United States; in which case he should not only be fired, but arrested and imprisoned.


Ralph E. Luker - 11/14/2002

Amen. In dramatic contrast both to Kirstein's intemperate rant and to the obscenities of Kirstein's critics, David Gerber addresses the issue reasonably and intelligently.


David A. Gerber - 11/14/2002

I, too, support Kirstein's right to express himself freely and, against the claims of his employer, to do so as a Xavier University professor. This is the easiest statement from a political point of view that I can make about this matter --- easy in the sense that, though many will find such a statement the most important judgment to come out of thinking about Kirstein's situation, I do not. What stands out in my mind is not the question of his rights, but rather the self-indulgent, stupid and insensitive way Kirstein chose to express himself. Everything he said with such overbearing and intemperate language could have been said infinitely more effectively if Kirstein could have gotten control of himself and his language, and realized that as an intellectual he might have contributed a great deal more to stimulating some thought about the purposes of the American military in the present moment, if he had assumed a different tone and an analytical voice. Instead, he indulged himself in a rant that I find contemptible for its complete unwillingness to judge his role, his audience and his purpose correctly, and for its complete lack of concern for the feelings of the stranger, about whom he really knew nothing yet on whom he was willing to heap all sorts of insults. Really, if American intellectuals want anyone to listen to them, beside the usual herd of independent minds, they have to understand that screaming about how dumb and immoral everyone else is won't get them anywhere. Yes, we have rights, and yes, we need to struggle to maintain them. But I challenge Kirstein to grow up, and use his rights wisely, so that he can contribute something to improving the world beyond the self-serving exercise of his own virtue.


Josh - 11/14/2002

As a member of the Cadet Wing, I must disagree with you there. Mr. Kirstein has a right to say whatever he wishes. Now, granted, he definitely should have phrased it better, as he was acting as a representative for his university. I do not agree with what he said, and I found his words to be extremely prejudiced, unfair, and disrespectful, but one of the reasons I took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is so people like him have a right to voice what they will.

From a personal standpoint, Kirstein's email sparked a firestorm here. I know that I was offended. We had several discussions about the role of the military and civilian interaction, and, as such, I believe that we benefitted from it. Heaven forbid it happen again, but I don't think the man should be labeled a "terrorist" for sending a poor version of his beliefs.

Doesn't mean I wouldn't like to deport him or anything.


Ben Roberts - 11/14/2002

In this time when our nation needsto band together in patriotism and the defense of our of our homeland and the constution the last thing this country needs is a little man hiding behind his tenure as a history professor teaching young minds anti-American and thoughts and hate for those who have served our country . We served our country to protect our liberty and freedom. Kristein has done nothing for this country and his no business in any teaching profession. His appologies are not real. He has been turned in the the FBI, The Homeland defense and "other" security agencies. Now he can spend the rest of his little life looking over his shoulder wondering when the knock will come one his door.


J. Murphy - 11/14/2002

As a cadet dad, I can confirm that famnet(a listserv for parents of cadets) quickly spread the word. Many parents responded to the Professor and University president. Proud to say all the letters I have seen from parents did not respond in kind to the Professor, but were thoughtful, respectful and restrained.


Ben Roberts - 11/14/2002

In a time when our nation needs to band together as patriots and defend our homelands the last thing we need is a History professor preaching hate and anti-American propaganda aimed at destroying young minds and the Constution. Kristein has never done nothing in defense of our nation and speaks more like a terrorist that a citizen of the United States of America. He enjoys the freedoms we have fought for without lifting a finger. This man has no place educating our young peoplewith his posion or even being in the being the United States. He is a terrorist. He has been turned into the Homeland defense force, the FBI, and and his college president. He is not appologetic..He is a pathetic little man trying to hide behind his college tennnure. He will get what is coming to him.


Bob Greene - 11/14/2002

Jeff I appreciate your sentiment but what do you have against the Marines? Why should they have to endure that slimeball?


Bob Greene - 11/14/2002

Jeff I appreciate your sentiment but what do you have against the Marines? Why should they have to endure that slimeball?


RC from Anaheim - 11/14/2002

To: FORTIN, ROGER A, Academic Vice President

I hope that I am not the first to contact you and urge that if your University has any credibility at all, that the administration should fire this dangerously misguided traitor. Advising members of the US military to ignore orders is treason pure and simple, and it reflects on your so-called "religious" university.
RC from Anaheim


RC - 11/14/2002

This asshole is not only wrong, he is a traitor. Certainly he has a right to say whatever he wants in this country. But I am ashamed to have him as a countryman; one who places the interests of a lying and murderous despot like Sadam Hussein in front of his brave countrymen. Plus I guess the Jesuits didn’t butcher any of our “non-white” native friends in South America now did they? If he wants to see a baby killer, one who has the potential to kill some of our own “babies” by not supporting them in time of war, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

I suggest that all who agree with me drop a line to what must be a real liberal shithole over there at Xavier University. And tell them how you feel. This should hurt them. I’m sure that Dr. Roger A. Fortin, Academic Vice President, would love to hear from you. I’m sure he has nothing better to do than to pass your feelings on to others in the administration. Have fun with this, I am.
RC from Anaheim

FORTIN@xu.edu


Scott Rhode - 11/14/2002

Tell us how you REALLY feel! Seriously, though, I think you kept it simple and concise using only four words. Outstanding! Brevity is very important when writing personnel evaluations.


Jeff - 11/14/2002

Nice concept for some poetic justice, Dr. C, but I have to disagree with you. Instead of serving chow at the service academies, he should work in a field kitchen for a Marine Expeditionary Unit. And have to bunk in with the MEU's Force Recon company.


Jeff - 11/14/2002

it's "cherished" and "hostile"...and I'm just a right-of-center dumbass with a commuter-school business degree. I don't know where you got your doctoral degree, but consider asking for a refund. And read a biography of Jimmy Carter, too, while you're at it.


Jeff - 11/14/2002

Why, why, WHY is it that you fine, nuanced intellectuals of the Left are so on your high horses about your right to free speech, but always so ready to scream "AIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! McCarthyism! Witchhunt! Fascism! Censorship!" when people exercise THEIR constitutional rights to call you a bunch of seditious jackasses?


Jeff - 11/13/2002

The freedom you have to spout such garbage was bought and paid for by the blood of people you aren't fit to share the same planet with. If out country is soooo nasty and evil, WHY DON'T YOU JUST GET THE HELL OUT OF IT?


R. George - 11/13/2002

I just thought it funny that Baghdad Pete had no idea that things like his response spread around the Cadet Wing at light speed. Within a day, every cadet had read Kirstein's response and the assembly people had to ask ops center to issue an order for us not to reply to him pending an official response by the Assembly.

Also, I can only speculate upon the magnitude of the wrath that has been dealt upon Kirstein by the moms on the Famnet... surely some cadet leaked the message to them. Nothing like 4,000 cadets' moms being told their sons and daughters are baby-killers.


Michael Kelley - 11/13/2002

I wonder if Mr. Paterson gives any thought to what he is saying. The cadets at the Air Force Academy make it possible for people like Mr. Paterson to express their thoughts.

However, it gets old when Mr. Paterson, et. al. offer no solutions except to ridicule the military. It is an example of the shallow minded thinking that previals in many liberals.

I would love an alternative to military action as I served in Vietnam and can relate to the horrors of war. But I have yet to hear of any alternative.

I would like Mr. Paterson to engage in some intellectual discussion not trite statements which exhibit his ignorance.


FormerStudent - 11/13/2002

Dr. Kirstein was best teacher I have had during my time at SXU. I learned more from him than any other teacher at that school. He never imposed his views on students and when he would state them he always encouraged students to argue with him if they disagreed about something. I was able to attain an A in his classes and we pretty much didn't agree on anything politicly. (He votes with the green party while I am more republican in my leanings).


Stephen Dowdy - 11/13/2002

I must disagree with this wholesale all-emcompassing statement.

I served in Haiti after the fall and we military folk did the best we could to build roads, schools and maintain a civil peaceful way of life in our assigned areas. The people feared the x-FAHD and other Baby Doc killers not us.

In Somalia the different tribal factions would kill hundreds for no good reasons except to get thier tribal way. Do you know how difficult it is to live in that environment? My Somali ex-pats are thankful to be alive in the USA, most of all NCOs, officers, educated persons have been killed by Somailis...not by the US.

Did you have to listen to the daily SITREPS of Iraqi atrosities inflicted on the Kuwaiti people (women, men and children)? We were ready to end this mindless barbaric treatment of thier invaders! Later, during the invasion we began to pity the poor, mistreated Iraqi soldier. Many were Kurds who were released from prison to earn thier "freedom". I'm sure you know what Sadam has done to the Kurds.

I also supose you really have no information on how the Al-Quida and tailban treated thier prisoners? Haven't you seen the mass graves and the "Souvinor Videos"? You know the ones where they cut off the head of thier foes and send them home as a relic of thier rite of passage "Jihad" experience? Remenber Daniel Pearl?

You really must get a grip on the facts of the atrocities not done by us but by them!!!


Richard Hayse - 11/13/2002

I am a retired US Army Special Forces Officer and currently a high school principal in a private high school in Dallas, Texas. As both a military veteran and educator, I was appalled at Professor Kirstein's uncalled for and openly biased ranting (literally) response to the Air Force Academy Cadet asking for his advice and/or help with a planned conference discussing serious issues directly related to the professor's purported areas of educational expertise. I was also not satisfied with the weak apology to the cadet and Professor Kirstein's ignorance of the fact that e-mail, once sent, is a matter of public domain that may be accessed by whomever, and used in ways and for purposes it may never have been intended. Such feigned ignorance of today’s e-world from a professor who, I am sure, uses passages from such private communications to “spice” up both private and public discussions, is not a very forthright claim on his part.

As a principal, I would be reluctant to--at the very least—-renew Professor Kirstein's contract for extremely poor performance and judgment after observing his actions in this matter. After reading what he's chosen to post on his official school website, I can only conclude that he is trying to paint himself in the best light possible to prevent the university from ending his tenure, and the university is seeking to get this foul matter as far away from their previously good name as possible.

For someone as educated as his website claims, Professor Kirstein's actions in this matter indicate that he may be recognized as being intelligent but sorely lacking in the wisdom that should be associated with someone holding a position of great responsibility such as his. Rest assured that I will never waste any of my time ever reading anything he now publishes.


Richard Dyke - 11/13/2002

I have had a few laughs reading some of the responses to Professor Kirstein's folly. Terms like "traitor" and "dumbfuck leftist shitbag" certainly got down to the gutter level with his own inappropriate remarks, but it's better than shooting with guns.

It's really all a tempest in a teapot. I prefer to think he got a turd caught crossways or perhaps is unhappy that HIS view isn't winning, and simply had a temporary fit, which I know he must regret.


Richard Carnahan, Ph.D - 11/13/2002

Kirstein's published opinions are symptomatic of liberal malaise and intolerance that have oozed into the academic mainstream in recent years. The logic of such statements refuses to understand why or how such inanity is even allowed to continue in our ivory towers.

Kirstein should, indeed, be fired. In fact, I'd submit he should be sentenced to serve meals in one (or more) of our military academies for a period of not less than one year.


mtalbert - 11/13/2002

Sadly, too many who are given the power of the classroom are just that, merciless bullies. Sadly that is all too widespread among those who treat the cuccoon of academia as a right. The professor proves that in his teaching philosophy drawn out at his website. The fact that he would call a college freshman a baby killer when the student asked for help in spreading the word about a debate of ideas makes me wonder what his classes are like. I notice a total absence of defenders from his classroom in this forum.


Jaelle - 11/13/2002

"What is the problem with Prof. Kirstein's comments? They are totally correct. I would have written the same."

Same here! The problem is really not with the content of his statements but the fact that he told the unvarnished truth. That's why you're seeing all this personal vitriol against the man. This is the United States of America after all, and no country in the world worships its military like Americans do. You're not supposed to condemn the military, you're not supposed to tell it like it is about this military that rampages around the world mass murdering and slaughtering with total impunity poor people, usually non-white people, and their families. Kiersten's flaw is that he dares to do what all his critics don't: believe that the lives of the people targeted by the US military actually have equal value to American lives. It's a revolutionary concept here in the US, I know, very difficult for Americans to grasp, living in a cocoon as they do, but Kiersten's one of the few who actually believes in that concept. Strange, huh?

Kiersten's absolutely correct: THE AIR FORCE AND THE ENTIRE US MILITARY IN THE POST-WAR WORLD IS NOTHING MORE THAN A BABY-KILLING MACHINE. Tough shit, whiners, you can't handle the truth.


Allen Campbell - 11/13/2002

Let's not forget Xavier University in New Orleans.


J. Murphy - 11/13/2002

The cadet involved was a freshman (that's what C4C means), had been in college all of about two months, and is probably 18 years old. I corresponded with the President of the University, and made the same point: the University should enforce their disciplinary policy concerning mistreatment of students. He responded that he dealt "firmly" with the Professor, but gave no details.


James Wolf - 11/13/2002

Colonel Co, I'm sure Captain Borders is as furious as you are at Professor Kristen assine email. But as a sering officer he regretably has to be polite to the little sphincter.


John J. Olson - 11/13/2002

According to Kirstein's apology he "did not mean to impugn his (Kurpiel's) character." Yeah, right: He told Kurpiel "You are a disgrace to this country...an air force coward...worse than the snipers" but he didn't mean to impugn his character. Kirstein is entitled to his own political beliefs. But, when a college professor claims that you can describe a man as worse than a serial murderer without impugning his character, it shows you how intellectually contemptible American colleges have become.


Andrew Thomas - 11/13/2002

...sincerity emerges when no one else is looking. I think we all saw the depths of Dr. Kirstein's sincerity in his initial response to the cadet.

"Cadet" -- let's remember that Dr. Kirstein, as a Ph.D., a representative of the pinnacle of the academic community, and a grown man, berated, insulted, and slandered a STUDENT, for goodness sake.

Leaving aside, for the moment, the political content of Dr. Kirstein's outburst, I'd be interested to know what the University's policy is regarding such professorial misconduct towards students.


Jeff Brokaw - 11/13/2002

Too different universities. St. Xavier is in Chicago, Xavier is in Cincinnati. Please correct your webpage.


M. K. Gandhi - 11/13/2002

...whadja expect?


Dana Drenkowski - 11/13/2002

Bravo to Mr. Greene's comments about idiotic statements and the freedom to step forth in the public eye and be called an idiot.....


Uncle Sam - 11/13/2002

Anybody who agrees with Kirsten is a scumbag traitor who needs to die!!!


Rudyard Kilping - 11/13/2002

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!


Michael Hankamer - 11/13/2002

Agreed; but he is more than a disgrace, he is an insult, as I noted in my email to him (reproduced below). MH
-------------------------------
Sir:

I have just finished reading the email sent you by a cadet at the Air Force Academy, your response, your 'apology', and the Academy's response.

You, sir, are a shame to the academic profession, and an insult to the many fine professors who taught me and guided me through my doctoral studies. You insult me, as I once was proud to call the University faculty home. You insult my son, who has voluntarily chosen to serve his country as an Officer in the United States Navy. You insult the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States who serve this country with distinction during difficult and trying times.

Worst of all, you insult the millions of citizens of the United States of America, immigrants all, who savor the freedoms that can only be dreamed of elsewhere.

Dr. Kirsten, take your own advice. As you told Cadet Robert Kurpiel in your email: "Resign [from the faculty] and serve your country with honour."

Most Sincerely,

Michael Hankamer, PhD


J. Murphy - 11/13/2002

Another quote: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell


Alec Lloyd - 11/13/2002

I seriously doubt the man is who he says he is. By the time any officer reaches the rank of Major, let alone Lt. Colonel, he should have far more dignity than to denounce fellow officers and service members for taking a measured and restrained response to utterly baseless attacks.

Would the could Colonel have us open fire on the campuses? Perhaps launch a bayonet charge into the faculty lounge? I'm only a stupid enlisted man, so such questions are beyond my pay grade. Still, I think the AFA has handled this quite well and has come out looking far more intelligent and thoughtful than the "professional" academy.

Meaning no disrespect to those officers (who may or may not be) present,

Alec H. Lloyd


John G. Fought - 11/13/2002

Good for you, Stan, for quoting Kipling. I almost put my favorite line from Tommy Atkins in my earlier posting, the line about 'making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep.'
It looks like you left off the quote from Coe: what is it?


J. Murphy - 11/13/2002

The cadet involved was a freshman, has been in school about two months, and is probably 18 years old. The Professor's apology says the two of them have exchanged emails, but the subsequent emails have not been published, so there is no basis to say the cadet is thin-skinned. I have seen one other email from a cadet to the professor, which very politely disagreed with the Professor's statements, while strongly acknowledging his right to say them. (How much stronger can one acknowledge the Professor's right to free speech than be willing to die for it, as the cadets are?) The Professor's response to this other college freshman was dismissive and snotty.
The cadets are a tough group, a very tough, bright, honorable group. However, the military risk their own lives to minimize collateral damage, and understandably resent being called cowardly racist baby killers. Once the Academy became aware of the problem, the cadets were instructed not to write the Professor or University. Thus, their personal views are represented only in the official letter from the Academy.


Stan Chrzanowski - 11/13/2002

Oh... I almost forgot...

GO ARMY... BEAT NAVY !

7 DEC 2002... a date that will live in Infamy!


Stan Chrzanowski - 11/13/2002

I was only a First Lieutenant (USACOE) some 30 years ago during what was a rather unpopular war at the time, and yet I've noticed that the defining aspect of character of many of our most popular fictional characters of the last 30 years (Rambo, Magnum, Riggs from Lethal Weapon) was their service during that unpopular war.

Samuel Johnson observed that "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea."

When writing about Tommy Atkins, Kipling observed that "It's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, and chuck him out, the Brute!" But it's 'Saviour of 'is Country' when the guns begin to shoot"

I don't think either man summed up my feelings as eloquently as LTC Mickey Coe, USMC (Ret.).

In


Allen Campbell - 11/13/2002

There are many fine women in our military who do not deserve this kind of response. I again take issue with this gentleman for including USMC behind his name. He does not represent the Corps nor should his words be taken too seriously.


Allen Campbell - 11/13/2002

I am somewhat curious as to Mr Coe's current status in the United States Marine Corps. I would suggest that in writing such responses you,perhaps, are not quite in control of yourself. It would also, be better if you left USMC off of your title until you present a better view of how an officer in the Corps presents himself.


Lt Colonel Mickey Coe, USMC (ret) - 11/13/2002

read my comments about the "Political Correctness" of Captain Borders and the AFA. You should be teaching them where to find their balls when they are confronted by such uneducated drivel such as that from Kirstein.

You should be teaching them to stand up, and tall when confronted, rather than sitting to urinate.


Thomas M. Carpenter - 11/13/2002

I am impressed that the Captain Borders and Cadet Kurpiel accepted the apology. I am at a loss to understand how the professor's comments were not intended to impugn the cadet's character since that is exactly what they did. Further, I am struck that in America an academic dedicated to free thought would be bothered that others read his comments when he sent them over the internet because he was unwilling to take the time to write a private note. Of course, had he taken such time, he might have realized how inappropriate his attack on a freshman was in the first place. My initial comment, when I read this e-mail, is that the professor was a bully. That impression has not changed, it has merely been tempered by a realization that he also cares more for his job than his ideas. I am pleased that the balanced position of the military and its cadets will gratefully accept "apologies," that are obviously disingenuous and insincere.


Mickey Coe, Lt Colonel USMC - 11/13/2002

Number one, Kirstein is a scumbag.

Number two, Captain Borders is a scumbag for his "Politically Correct" response and I am glad I don't serve with him

Number three, the AFA should have forwarded the whole mess to the Sec of Defense and to the President and let him deal with Kirstein and the Comrade's "University Career".

Xavier is a scumbag school for keeping him on the rolls.


mj talbert - 11/12/2002

I sent the following e-mail to the good professor
Dear Peter,
As one stranger to another I wanted to say:
I was fascinated to see the Wall Street Journal disparage your "typorrhea" (a problem I have in almost a degree to match your own) with a world class blowing of the name of Cadet Kurpiel with a tranposition of two important letters in his name. It caused me nearly as much bemusement as your own ham-handed insult to the cadet. Being a former Marine pfc myself, I should have been pleased to see a future officer so raked over the coals. However, if you were going to so belabor him, you really should have done so with more decorum. I have been more effectively chewed out by gunnies who were high school dropouts and who thought the eff word was an appropriate substitute for any adjective or adverb, most prepostions and verbs, and frequently nouns. That they were doing what they thought was a proper task allowed me to respect them despite their linguistic malaise.
I like you, am a historian-political scientist (political science is an oxymoron) by inclination, though lack of academic credentials have barred such from my professional options. I was inclined to treat this as a tempest in a teapot, which it really is. But before dismissing the Wall Street Journal editorial (I treat screed of all wings with equal skepticism, even when I agree with it) I looked up the salient factors on the internet, including your web page.
It was in looking at your teaching philosophy that I became totally mystified about your response to the cadet. You went totally the opposite of what you professed in tenet nos. 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 11 on your canon, thereby violating tenet No. 1. If you had reviewed your intellectual honesty before posting, you would not have attacked in such gratuitous terms someone who was seeking your help in pursuit of a forum that perhaps would have been a chance for you to present your viewpoint. Ideas are worthless if they aren't allowed to mingle in hostile waters. As you must know from reading the new testament, Jesus thought his moral reforms must be preached to sinners, prigs and tax collectors if they were to make the world better.
I have many questions about the morality of war-- which may be a mute point because apparently belicosity may be part in a gentically ingrained pack behavior, especially in light of research among several communities of the great apes. This writer feels a more appropriate response to the cadet would be to say that you are glad a debate like the AFA forum is occuring at Colorado Springs, that you have strong pacifist feelings and that you would like to have an opportunity to voice them.
I know you won't be reading this, but I enjoyed venting.
By the way, I am more troubled by the tenets in your teaching philosphy that I haven't enumerated because they seem to contradict the ones I have: but I have decided that since you are teaching political science, you think consistency is not a part of politics.
Respectfully yours,
MIKE


Anonymous - 11/12/2002

If you can't appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in this country, maybe you should move to Palestine and become a suicide bomber. Save my kids from being taught ideals from people like you.


Major Carson Tavenner - 11/12/2002

I teach Modern World History at the Air Force Academy. The developments surrounding Kirstein’s letter have engaged the cadets and my fellow faculty in numerous in-class discussions over a military’s role in a democracy, and how fundamentally different that relationship is compared to the role it has in authoritarian governments (examples in world history abound, of course). If there is any good that has come of this entire matter, it is probably found in the fact that recently there has been a huge surge of awareness within the Cadet Wing regarding the importance of maintaining the good civil-military relationship that this nation has worked hard to develop, and how good, clear communication is critical to any meaningful exchange.

Due to this issue we're discussing here, in combination with the question of war with Iraq (which I myself faced as a cadet in '90/91), the conversations the cadets have had with each other in their dorm rooms recently have probably done more for their professional development and education than the hundreds of hours of instruction they are given every year on military professionalism, ethics, philosophy, character development, and discipline. I am very proud of them, and I think you would be, too, if you could visit with them for a few hours.


Jim Wager - 11/12/2002

having been following this situation closely, I would like to retort to your last message Mr. Smith. Your points on how elected officials are far from the only safeguard we have in controlling our military's action is quite true. However, do you believe that every soldier, salior, airman, and marine has the same mind set? Do you not recognize the large number of service men that have families of thier own? Does our military not encompass all parts of society and work jointly with a wide viarety of international nieghbors? Our military in under constant scurtiny from the international community and at home. This close eye is another safe guard that I believe will not allow another attrocity or hostile coup as you have stated above. Yes attrocities have taken place in the past, but what of today? In every conflict civilians will lose thier lives, smart bombs miss, soldiers without uniforms look just like civilians, and the fog and friction of war are undeniable even in this age of modern technology. Another note, most of the admitted harder and more constitutional doubious parts of the "USA PATRIOT ACT" are all set to expire and be revoted on by congress. This act was made to help resolve a situation, not begin the march toward a totalinarist government. Lastly, it is all important to question these things though, blind acceptance will gain no ground for the greater good!


howard Cooper - 11/12/2002

In a perfect world; we wouldn't need a military, we wouldn't need money, there would be no class system, there would be no need for police, everyone would get along regardless of race creed or religion. Unfortunately we don't and never will live in a perfect world. I love this country right or wrong. When I see something wrong I try to change it for the good. I vote, I speak out, without the fear of retribution. Remember the old saying "What comes around goeas around"? Well I belive that someone who wrongs another will be repaid in-kind. You may say my vote doesn't count. Well if you don't vote how will you ever know. The citizens who make an effort to pull that lever have every right to complain about the state of affairs in this country. Those who don't vote still have a right to voice an opinion, but who can they blame for troubles in the nation, other than themselves, when no effort was made to elect who they thought could do a better job. I am a veteran. Please speak out, please protest, please be American. Be heard VOTE.


John G. Fought - 11/12/2002

You seem upset. As far as I know, retreating soldiers such as those around Basra who are not actively trying to surrender are still combatants. You would do well to look into the military regulations defining lawful and unlawful orders before invoking your personal version of higher law. I'm troubled by some aspects of this administration's policies too, but in the end, I realize, I may have to choose more intensive political activity in hopes of changing things, or accepting things as they are, or leaving for another country. I'm free to do any of these; so are you. A childish tantrum as a way of getting what I want is not on my list. Finally, your last sentence is a Grand Slam winner, slandering a lot of Germans and a lot of Americans evidently more honorable than you. But please don't apologize: it wouldn't be worth accepting.


Ardys Parrish - 11/12/2002

I admit that I have not read through all of the e-mails concerning Prof Kirstein so if this question has already been addressed please excuse. I am sure that I am not the only one who is alarmed about the possible content of Prof Kirstein's classes-surely the e-mail letter he sent discloses a prejudice and mind set which if followed through in the classroom would lead to brain-washing at the most and confusion at the least. Did one have to blindly accept his premises in order to pass his classes? Was he capable of conducting a fair and balanced class? Did no student ever protest the conduct and content of his class? Did anyone in a position to judge ever sit through (anonymously) one of his classes? Were no red flags ever raised? Did he lead any cult-like groups on campus? These are just some of the questions raised by his intemperate e-mail. Sincerely, Ardys Parrish.


Robert Sloan - 11/12/2002

It is hard to believe that Kirstein is a professor of history. The title presumes a degree of knowledge and perspective terribly lacking in the author of the letter. Frankly it is disheartening and frightening to think that such a polemicist has a history degree and is teaching!.

Apparently many college curricula are devoted to indoctrination in "isms" such as "Racism","Sexism", etc. Western civilization and the white male are the demons of this "history" and "Multiculturalism" is the panacea.




Reciting these absurdities qualifies one for a degree in
the "social sciences"


Luther Campbell - 11/12/2002

I am a graduate of West Point in 1945. I,also,was an instructor in the Social Science Department from 1952 to 1954. I taught courses in Economics, History and International Relations.
The ex-President of the University of Pittsburgh,(then a Captain in the Air Force)Wesley W. Posvar and I organize and ran the first and second Student Council on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA). Dr. Posvar took the idea with him when appointed the head of the Social Science Department at the newly formed U.S. Air Force Academy at Lowery Field, Colorado.
Apparently, Captain Borders is having the same problem that we had 50 years ago. There was limited money; hence, the reason for the selective requests for advertizing in other university media.
unfortunately, the request fell into the hands of a professor in torment. I have lived a long time. I have never read such an outpouring of vitrol. I am glad that Captain Borders cooled things down with his excellently constructed letter. However, I am still hot under retiree collar. The professor should be severly punished and his tenure should be challenged. If he represents just 1% of college professors active in the United States today, his lack of objectivity is a danger to learning process.


Thomas Smith - 11/12/2002

You know, that tired refrain, "I was only following orders" should have been discredited by the Nuremburg trials but apparently not in the mind of present day "American Patriots." I applaud him for forcing people like yourself to reveal exactly what you believe, that the murder of innocents in pursuit of our national oil policy is none of your concern. Patently illegal orders to bomb civilians, to murder retreating soldiers (as happened at Basra), and to violate the Constitution of the United States by treating both American citizens and non-citizens in violation of all norms of both our law and international law are orders to be disobeyed as the good professor urged. Your honor, sir, is a conceit if it does not aknowledge a higher moral law to your fellow man than the orders you are given. When the concentration camps come for those who honestly dissent this war, will you then decide to awaken your sleeping conscience or will your "oath of honor" compell you to look the other way since the "legally elected" officials of our nation have ordered it? We have reached a sad pass when the thundering voice of the mob decries a passionate and honest moral reaction to the disgraces of our dying republic. Feel free to report me to AG Ashcroft and his "USA Patriot Act" goons. I will not be "good german."


Alec Lloyd - 11/12/2002

Mr. Wade first criticizes using patriotism for political purposes and then proceeds to do so himself.

The clear implication is of course that the GI who stands guard on his liberty isn’t nearly as patriotic as the New Democrat voting for higher income tax brackets and participating in an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup. With all due respect Mr. Wade, the level of sacrifice involved in being shipped halfway ‘round the world and placed under hostile fire does at least SLIGHTLY exceed that of throwing a beer can into the trash bin.

I’m sorry, but in the current struggle against radical Islam, Audie Murphy is of far more use than Woodsie the Owl (“Give a hoot, Osama, don’t pollute!”)

The American military is the corner stone of our freedom. Without its protective shield, no amount scathing editorials or popular demonstrations would matter. The crowning achievement of America is that its military VALUES liberty and over the course of two centuries has not a single coup. Being fallible (like any institituion) it has been used and abused, just as other freedoms, including the freedom of expression (to incite mob violence) or religion (in inflame hatred).

Our soldiers are nothing more than fellow citizens, people impelled by temperment or circumstance to protect their country. More than any other military, they are moral, as the American public is moral. The My Lai massacre, favorite cudgel of the anti-military radicals, was brought to a halt not by a well-written leaflet or a rally, but by other American soldiers outraged at the atrocity. Every new recruit is taught its lesson and learns that immoral orders have no place in the American military.

It is precisely that culture of duty, honor and conscience that makes our military so formidable. Our politicians never have to fear a coup, no matter how much abuse and denegration they heap upon the armed services.

The military makes a convenient and easy target, which is why self-important activists like to puff themselves up by criticising it.


Brian C. Ragland, LTC, USA, ret - 11/12/2002

I have read Professor Kirstein's email, his apology and the Xavier University president's comments.

I find Kirstein to be a man without honor. Had I the authority he would have already been dismissed from his post.

The instructors at our instutions of higher learning must remember that the United States Military execute orders that come from our civilian leaders. We are bound by our oath, our honor and by law to do so. Teaching our college aged youth otherwise is to dishonor truth.



BRIAN C. RAGLAND
LTC, USA, ret


Meg Clancy - 11/12/2002

Could it be that the professor is off his nut? It is the only thing that seems to explain this matter. There is not an ounce of intellectual thought in anything he wrote. I must assume that at some point in his career Dr. Kirstein had it all together. Right? Or, are Xavier's standards just that low to begin with? Does anyone know anything about their History department? Is it a backwater for fools and idoits? Dear God, just think, there are people paying $25k to $30k per year to send their children to school there!


Bob Greene - 11/12/2002

Mr. Wade's rejects the notion that our military is responsible for our liberty. He gives credit to protesters. He then goes on to argue that patrotism should be redefine with agreement to a very left wing social agenda His first contention is absurd. There would be no country, no constitution, no bill of right without the patroits who fought the Revolutionary war and their succesors who have fought or been prepared to fight our enemies throughout the years. We take our security for granted in this age of being the sole superpower but constant vigalence by our military and a citzenry backing them up is all that stands between freedom and those who would destroy us.
Mr. Wade's then posits a few quite sensible ideas; being against litter and favoring punishment for crooks is admirable. I would add to defense countractors and Enron types welfare cheats, ILLEGAL immigrants,traitors, murderers etc.
His ideas on taxes and trade betray great economic illiteracy. The rich already pay their fair share. the top 5% pay 50% of the income taxes a per centage that goes up with every tax cut. To wit the top 5% paid 37% of total income taxes in 1980. Those were the good old days of 70% marginal rates.
Finally he demonstrates that knee-jerk opposition to free trade because there are always some loosers. Some jobs are sent overseas but more are created here. Free trade is Always a net plus.
I am one of flag wavers whose Old Glory flys proudly from my house. I also love our national anthem. It never fails to send shivers down my spine. If Mr. Wade wishes to burn his flag he is free to do so and I am free to call him a cretin IF he does.
I will continue to sing The Star Spangled Banner loud and off key and think about what was happening when Francis Scott Key wrote those immortal words.
I for one know many ordinary,quite average Americans full of gripes some legitament some not who, when the chips are down, Know what is important


Bob Greene - 11/12/2002

The right to free speech, to criticize American foreign policy does not confer upon the practicioner of that right immunity to criticism. You are free to say idiotic things,as the good Professor did. However you have to expect that someone will call you an idiot when you do so.


Dieter Sellers - 11/12/2002

Sir,

I will not disagree on your point in general. However the point that was being made is that by soldiers willing to fight and die, all the freedoms flow. It allows the editor to be able to fight for freedom of speech. This is the true intent of the quote, that at sometime, somewhere, the Armed Forces of the USA were willing to die to keep our cherished freedoms, and all the freedoms that follow.


Scott Ryan - 11/11/2002

Please forgive the typo's and such. I was a bit rushed and am not familiar w/ this forum format.

Regards,
Scott Ryan.


Scott Ryan - 11/11/2002

All;

Professor Kirstein, besides being more than a bit of an ass in his response to an innocent query, does not appear to be much of a scholar either judging by his comments. I offer the sample below for analysis;

[B][QUOTE]You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage. [/B][/QUOTE]
The good professor is in need of a Logic class as he make several assumptions and launches into an ad hominem in his first sentence. VERY poor form professor, I hope you don’t teach your students in this fashion.

[B][QUOTE]…top guns to reign death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world? [/B][/QUOTE]
The use of non-white people’s is very interesting (and loaded). I suppose his point is either that killing non-white peoples is much worse than killing white people or that the US military is inherently racist and their just going about doing what they always do. Neither point is supported in any case.

[B][QUOTE]…no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation. [/B][/QUOTE]
A previous poster pointed out the professors ignorance of military matters. Isn’t it helpful to know a bit about that which you criticize so vociferously? Again, I hope that the professors students don’t get the impression that a weak command of the facts are the norm in historical instruction.

[B][QUOTE]You are worse than the snipers. [/B][/QUOTE]
And the proof of this absurd assertion would be found where? Perhaps because the snipers are non-white the professor feels they possess a certain moral superiority to the US military. (note: this is an opinion only and has been noted as such!)

[B][QUOTE]…the VC[/B][/QUOTE]
The VC as innocent victims?? Hmmm. Leaving aside the issue of US involvement in Vietnam (and we can pretty much infer how the professor feels about that), portraying the Viet Cong as innocent victims of Imperial aggression turns history on its head. The fact is South Vietnam fell via a conventional military invasion by North Vietnam, not a popular peasant uprising led by the VC – they just weren’t that popular. Ironically, many of the good soldiers in the VC, who supported the North for so long, ended up in re-education camps beside their ARVN opponents. It would appear that once again, inconvenient interpretations are ignored when they get in the way of this professor’s biased thesis.

[B][QUOTE]…a retreating army at Basra. [/B][/QUOTE]
Does the professor realize that a retreating army is not the same as a surrendered army? And, in the absence of a direct invasion of Iraq (which the professor would no doubt deplore), destroying as much of the Iraqi military as possible was a militarily sound decision.

[B][QUOTE]You are unworthy of my support. [/B][/QUOTE]
And you professor are unworthy of your profession.

Regards,
Scott Ryan.


John Cunliffe - 11/11/2002

There is a very real difference between legitimate criticism and intemperate vilification coupled with the advocation of sedition. What was being expressed in this instance can in no way be considered the former, and only those obdurately intent on espousing a similar political agenda would consider it anything but the latter.


Michael Reynolds - 11/11/2002

Bagdad Pete's alleged apology was clearly the usual, cover-my-ass to keep my cushy position, after the fact protestation of innocence. Maintaining that he is simply misunderstood by all of the great unwashed proves his elitist and anti-democratic attitudes. He believes that he is above and beyond any form of review or rebuke by others.


John Kipper - 11/11/2002

Dr.Van Davis, Mr Kirstein's first sentence in his vitriolic reply to the cadet was "You are a disgrace to your country." He later suggests that the cadet should reclaim his honor by resigning from the Air Force Academy. That you should suggest that this type of personal attack is what the Founding Fathers meant by civilian control of the military is only proof of sloppy thinking. What ever happened to civil discourse? Or intellectual honesty?


Mark House - 11/11/2002

He made the claims, where are his facts. What you are asking me to do is prove a negative, which is impossible.

The points I made are as following, and I will repeat them slow for you.

1. The Viet Nam War has nothing to do with how radical Islamic Fundamentalist view us. ZERO impact. They do not care about events that happened more than 30 years ago. I am sure that the Comedy Channel would be interested in your explanation on how this is true though.

2. The United States has NEVER attacked Palestinians, ever. This is a FACT and inarguable.

3. The United States intervened against Serbia to protect Muslims and attacked Orthodox Christians. Certainly this professor is not arguing that the United States, acting in the interest of preventing "ethnic cleansing" against the Muslim population of Kosovo, contributed to the hatred these people have against the United States. If this is a contributing factor then they are crazier than we can even comprehend.

If you want to "debate" history then be my guest. However, by claiming that history is "debatable" without debating the issue is meaningless. I may be guilty of "absolutism" but I stand by my statements.


Charles V. Mutschler - 11/11/2002

Professor Davis, IIRC, Mr. Carter was an Annapolis man. So he served honorably in the Navy before he went on to a career in politics.


Harry A Pool - 11/10/2002

I assume we can take "rude" as a given. My conclusion that he is stupid is based on his words "cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation." He obviously doesn't know that AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) is what the countries being bombed fire at the "cowards" who are doing the bombing. AAA is what Jane Fonda sat on when she was photographed in North Viet Nam. [Admittedly, the "with AAA" might be intended to modify countries rather than bomb, but the "without ... retaliation" makes it clear Kirstein thinks the "cowards" use AAA, not the target countries.]


Pat Bixler - 11/10/2002

I am amazed that Gabridl Landdepp wrote:

If the cadet acted so thin-skinned in response to a verbal attack, I hate to think how well he will respond when enemy forces are actually trying to kill him.

Did I miss that part of the correspondence? Actually he did not act thin-skinned but must have the patience of Job to refrain from responding how I, (even as a liberal democrat) might have responded to so personal an attack---the student isn't even out of school. Kirstein should come here to the DC area and then he can talk about how the cadet is worse then the sniper; and he should realize that the cadet is a bit young to be responsible for what was done to the VC, etc. A teacher should know better.


T. Harris - 11/9/2002

Such words originating from a person who supposed to be "educated" and holds the title of "Dr" is a disgrace to all American men and women who died to give Mr. Kirstein the right to speak such distateful words. He is a disgrace to the community of professional historians.
This episode only proves that the most vile form of social rubbish can find sanctuary in the world of academe. Moreover, this episode is further proof that any creature can become a "Dr" of Philosophy. This episode is a disgrace to the title "Doctor of Philosophy.


Chris Scott - 11/9/2002

Gabridl Landdepp is mistaking an abrogation of freedom of speech (censorship) for what is actually the natural repercussions of protected speech. You are protected to say (almost) anything you want to - but I'm allowed to respond, in (almost) any manner I see fit. If I'm louder, bigger, or just happen to own my own media company, that's not censorship.
One other thing to remember is that Kirstein's remarks are not fully protected by free speech because he wasn't speaking for himself. As a Professor, he was also speaking for his university. The university is allowed to determine its own positions, designate its own speakers, and determine appropriate punishments (within bounds, such as tenure laws). If there is any censorship on this issue, it's being practiced by Prof. Kirstein against his employing institution by usurping its right to determine its position on this matter itself, without his help.


John G. Fought - 11/9/2002

As I understand it, Prof. Kirstein and Cadet Kurpiel were acting on behalf of their respective institutions; neither had a personal reason for communicating with the other. The letter was not even addressed personally to Prof. Kirstein. His apology covers only his impugning of Cadet Kurpiel's character, and graciously accepts a needless apology from Kurpiel for distributing Kirstein's original email response. Presumably, then, his remarks about the US military and its policy of killing babies are meant to stand. Cadet Kurpiel was, I believe, within his rights to circulate correspondence addressed to him personally: correspondence belongs to the recipient. When he emailed it, Kirstein lost any rights to control its circulation. Had he wished to, he could have directed it to the Academy instead of the cadet.
The military services and their academies have been carefully and apparently successfully rebuilding ties with civilian higher education for a long time. I am sure that it has required a full measure of the discipline they are trained in to put up with the still numerous Kirsteins out there. I admire Capt. Borders' dignified response, and I was moved by the quoted passage by Dennis O'Brien, a man who bears two titles not often seen together. It will be interesting to see what now happens to Kirstein. Perhaps some public service at a VA hospital would be useful.


Dr. Van Davis - 11/9/2002

The members of our armed forces are doubtless brave individuals. However, they are always subject to civilian control as wisely mandated by the Constitution's framers. I cannot understand why one of our most charished freedoms is not the right to criticize military policy from the outside without hostle response for veterans. Serving one's country can be done in ways equally important without putting on a uniform. To wit, the wonderful contributions of ex-president Jimmy Carter.


Michael Budd - 11/9/2002

liked your post - see mine RE: the military,our freedoms, and patriotism - the bonus marchers provide an example of the complexity & the problem with posing the military as the villain - "we have met the enemy & they are us"


Michael Budd - 11/9/2002

...the bonus marchers come to mind as well - nonetheless, it might be argued that our military establishment continues to provide a progressive model in terms of overall restraint in risking lives, in the advancement of peace-keeping methods, and in its relations with civil govt. - but you are right I think in the sense that the military operates in the context of a larger free society with all the flaws you note.


Michael Budd - 11/9/2002

I wanted to thank you for your response - whether its spelling or keeping a civil tone - this new technology puts a different frame on how we communicate. Although it speeds up transmission, it is also a form of publication - and the asynchronous mode offers more opportunity for reflection, editing, etc., which confers more responsibility on participants than is the case in casual hallway conversation.


Michael Budd - 11/9/2002

I don't agree with everything in your comment but as a teacher & academic who has studied but never been to war, I appreciate the main thrust of what you write & the issues you raise in terms of the "pot calling the kettle black," the question of who makes the real choices & sets policy, and the gulf between studying any past event & its actual experience. Thanks


Michael Budd - 11/9/2002

"tainted by such virulent idealogy [sic]"? - and who is free from such taint? we are all subject to ideological influence - the tenor of some of these replies demonstrates the same sin committed by the professor - but that's OK - it's part & parcel of free exchange - it's the absolutism inherent in your comment that I find disturbing - the history of US foreign policy is not as obvious as you seem to imply - it is as open to debate as anything else - history is not a settled & finished product -it's an ongoing process that benefits from sometimes heated debate - in any event until you have heard his full view and examined his actual evidence, how can you call what he says indefensible? And where are your facts? Let's forgo the off-topic debate mode and adopt some of the humility of the authentic historian.


Michael Wade - 11/9/2002

Captain Jim Borders' response to Prof. Kirstein's remarks was admirably thoughtful, and one suspects that he is, in his own way, a better role model for students than is Prof. Kirstein. That said, and meant, I think that the quote he selected about the military's giving us our freedoms is quite misleading. While it may indeed reflect the cadet wing's opinion, it is nonetheless historically inaccurate. Reporters & editors willing to go to jail to protect their views and their sources have had far more to do with protecting and providing freedom of the press than soldiers. John Peter Zenger, anyone? In fact, the military historically has been much more closely associated with censorship than freedom of the press. Soldiers have perhaps their greatest influence during times of conflict; it is precisely at those times that restriction of the press, and of free speech, is most obvious. Anyone in doubt should check the domestic history of any major American war; WW I might prove especially instructive.
Much the same might be said of the right to demonstrate, in peace or in wartime. As often as not, soldiers (and police) have been sent out to restrict (sometimes necessarily) and/or quell the demonstrations. The most blatant cases were perhaps the use of soldiers as strikebreakers, as in the Pullman Strike. One can debate the rectitude of these actions, but not their reality, and they don't necessarily add up to protecting freedom.
As for flag-burning, that political equivalent of waving a red cloth at an angry and not-overly-cerebral bull, isn't it about time we had a more demanding standard of patriotism than the mind-numbing, robotic rituals that are served up to the American public as the essence of national fealty? Not to say that flags aren't important symbols, but they are emphatically not the country or its people. Our national anthem, which celebrates the flag more than anything else, is a ditty written by a lawyer and set to the tune of an English drinking song. Hard to sing, even by those who can, and easily butchered, it's most recent mangling came courtesy of the vocal cords of Natalie Cole at the World Series, bringing not sensations of patriotic fervor, but the gnawing fear that Roseanne Barr was in the building.
What about a standard of patriotism that asks for more? For a clean country, free of litter, of unnecessary pollution? For the rich (corporate and individual) to pay their fair share? For the ending of government welfare for corporations, western ranchers, mega-farmers and others of their ilk who feed on taxpayers' hard-earned dollars? For defining the systematic sending of jobs overseas as intrinsically unpatriotic? For defining legislators who promote joblessness in American industries, and pollution in American lakes and rivers and the air as unpatriotic? For harsh, mandatory prison time in maximum security prisons for corporate crooks who ruin people's lives, and for defense contractors who cheat the public and the military? That, of course, is only the beginning of a redefinition, but I am willing to wager that it would revive public spiritedness in this country in a way that harping on the flag never will. After all, how much patriotism can we expect in the long run from the victims of the short-list of abuse and unpatriotic privilege outlined above? Will any of this perhaps be part of the Air Force Academy's forum?


Michael Goldberg - 11/9/2002

I'll go a step farther. I support a vigorous anti-imperialist and anti-racist agenda, and Kirstein's comments are likely to harm both. As someone else has written in another thread, he was contacted in his capacity as a professor and educator, and he violated the most basic standards of both. And in that public capacity, he has no "right" or expectation of privacy unless he expressly asks for it, especially given the tone and content of the remarks. Ironically, it's the two central military figures in this affair that came out looking the best, which might serve as a reminder to those supporting an anti-imperialist, anti-racist agenda that individuals in the military are not, simply by their presence in that organization, villains. Further, except for pacifists (which I'm not), those embracing this agenda might want to rethink their attitudes towards the military in general. I, for one, would have liked to see an earlier commitment of land forces in Kosovo (and a more multilateral force), as well as some kind of US-involved, UN-led intervention in Rwanda. It's time we stopped being simply "anti" and deal with the complexity of global issues.


Alexander Anderson - 11/9/2002


A good deal of what is written on this website has little or nothing to do with history. Some of it is uninteresting and irrelevant to boot. This particular triviality is not about history, nor does the fact that the professor involved is a professor of history signify anything beyond random coincidence, however the matter IS nevertheless relevant to HNN.

Rude e-mails being fired off in haste are a common occurrence here, as elsewhere, and they detract from the purposes of learned inquiry, fruitful discussion, the sharing of information and the public exchange of ideas and opinions.

It seems that Professor Kirstein has learned a lesson or two lately. It is to be hoped that other e-mailers, including HNN e-mailers, may learn from this episode as well.

AA



Bob Kane - 11/9/2002

First, Professor Kirstein--as a private individual--can say anything that he wishes and in any manner that he wishes. However, the USAFA cadet's original request was not addressed to Kirstein, the individual, but to Professor Kirstein, professor of history, Xavier University, and the professor could have--should have--replied in a professonal manner as a member of the university's faculty. And, he could have expressed his personal opinion in a more befitting manner.
Second, Professor Kirstein--as a professor of history--should also remember it was not Americans who gassed hundreds of Kurds or started an eight-war with Iran that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. It was not Americans who invaded Kuwait in Aug 1990. It was not Americans in Afghanstan who forced women to completely cover themselves and mercilessly beat them when the covering slipped. It was not Americans who did not allow these same women to obtain an education.
Finally, Professor Kirstein should also realize that it is soldiers, sailors, marines, and airman--like the cadet who had sent the original request--that gives him the privilege--not right--to hold and freely express dissenting views.
I, as a 26-year member of the USAF, am still amazed how little people who hold views about the US military such as Professor Kirstein, knows so little about what the US military has done im many places around the world to save lives.


charles knicely - 11/9/2002

Greetings,
It is sad to see that yet another hot head hits first then apologizes only when threatened with removal. America and it's military are judged buy what our representitives do. An academic represents an opinion from library wars and research police actions, an is a great view for the world. Why? If a student would be so disrespectful and attacked, that person would face disciplinary action. The professor should also.
Firing is as wrong as his attack, but the attack shows his lack of control. Opinions are fine but should be shared in a civil tongue and with respect for the other. This was missing and that was a shame. Protest by someone who has been in the trenches of war and have had to make their mind up in split second, always runs the risk of the academic, in his chair, and has never faced war looking back and crying foul.
The protest should be from those have seen action. It does not hurt to oppose a hawk like Bush, but the problems were there long before him and this poor Cadet.
9/11 surely was was the fault of ill concieved and misdirected policy. It was not the Cadets fault that he made a request. As the rest of the people who read this ponder what I am saying, please look at this from my point of view.
First, hind sight is 20/20 and it is easy to find fault, but discourse should be civil.
Second, Has anyone ever laid blame on the 50% of people who let hawks gain unlimited power by not voting? (Lots of blame there)
Third, Anyone else who would attack in such an unprofessional way would face judgement.
Fourth, Academics should have freedom to teach all sides of a issue.
Fifth, Academics that attack the military should remember that those who defended freedom should be the last attacked, those who made the policy where the criminals. ( Macnamara)
Finally, if one is willing to attack someone with little thought as was shown here, pray, what is the difference between what he voiced opposition to and himself? Little difference I should think. It was a half cocked responce by a hot head, aren't most wars started that way?


Mark House - 11/9/2002

This is not a matter of academic freedom it is a matter of competence. Kirstein obviously has no understanding of the role of the military in a democratic government. His simplistic understanding of the world, and the military's role in defending the interests of the United States is at the level of a undergraduate student at best and far below the required level of a full Professor of History.

His statements are utterly indefensible, not on a idealogical basis, but a factual basis. His main assertion is that United States foreign policy from essentially 1964 on caused the September 11th attacks. Clearly this is ridiculous. The Viet Cong has a connection? He really thinks that the bombing of Christian Serbs in defense of Southeastern European Muslims contributed to the radical Isalmic's hatred of the United States? When has the United States directly attacked the Palestinians?

If all of his work is tainted by such virulent idealogy and lack of historical basis then you should start the termination process on this guy right now, apology or no apology, intital e-mail response or not.


Emiliana P. Noether - 11/8/2002

Professor Kirstein's language was intemperate, to say the least. He could have, and should have, phrased his reply in words that would have made clear how he felt, without going to extremes. A proper command of language allows for the expression of one's feelings clearly without recourse to excesses. Perhaps he should take lessons in anger control.


Ben Alpers - 11/8/2002

Surely the problem _is_ the very nasty way he served them up...or do you really think that professors shouldn't have a right to express pretty radical (or reactionary) ideas?


Tristan Traviolia - 11/8/2002

His original email is revolting.


Michael Budd - 11/8/2002

Is America the kind of place where strong feelings and intemperate words cannot be expressed for fear of losing one's job? Professors are as human and prone to error as anyone else -in addition,the ease of rapid fire cyber communication has caught more than few in the act of writing before thinking. Although I agree with some of the sentiments underlying the professor's tirade I am more impressed by the reason & civility of Captain Jim Borders response. It is interesting how focused folks seem to be on punishment/revenge in this matter. P.S. I would ask for a conference but would never fail a student for expressing themselves passionately about anything.


Larry Nederlof - 11/8/2002

looks like the choice between the cabbage and the goat - I can wholeheartedly associate with professor Kirstein's feelings about the way wars have been waged in Vietnam and on that famous road out of Kuweit. There is a lot of truth in that. But the wording of his reply is beyond Neanderthal and almost certainly below even the standard of some of the members of the White House war fraction.
Is it possible to approach a problem like this in a professional manner, and not in the today so popular "patriotic" manner which reminds me of the not so nice antics of many WWII personalities on both sides.....


Gabridl Landdepp - 11/8/2002

I don't agree with Prof. Kirstein's position, and I find the tone of his initial email inappropriate. But so what? Are we now firing professors for rudeness? How is that not censorship? The problem with rudeness is that it is perceived, not real. It seems that people now care more about how they feel about what is said than about what is said. And if that is the case, it doesn't matter what anyone says—if someone claims to be offended, well, it's "hate-speech." I could say "Boo" and someone could claim I needed to be fired for scaring them. Who wants to live in that kind of society?

I thought we had a military to defend our freedoms. One of those freedoms is freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to express opinions other people find abhorrent. If the cadet acted so thin-skinned in response to a verbal attack, I hate to think how well he will respond when enemy forces are actually trying to kill him.


Bill Henslee - 11/8/2002

Webster's defines 'circumspect' as: attentive to the consequnces of one's behavior; discreet.

Mr. Kirstein doesn't apologize for his ideas, merely for not hiding them better. He'd simply prefer that no one take cognizance of some pretty radical ideas, served up in a very nasty way.


Hector Colon - 11/8/2002

It's not what Kirstein said, it's how he said it. He could have respectfully declined the cadet's request by citing philosophical reasons, but instead the professor chose to respond in a mean spirited, neanderthal-like fashion.


Hector Colon - 11/8/2002

Mr. Kirstein's E-mail was juvenile and unprofessional. If one of my students (I teach Participation in Government at a NYC high school) submitted a paper or assignment like this, he or she would automatically get an F.
We have a saying in NY: When an educator behaves worse than the students, he or she disgrace's the institution. In this case, Prof. Kirstein has clearly shamed Xavier University, and it's time for him to go.


William Paterson - 11/8/2002

Dear all,
What is the problem with Prof. Kirstein's comments? They are totally correct. I would have written the same.

Subscribe to our mailing list