National Review Online today posted three great commentaries on the whole TNR/Beauchamp episode, and all three are worth reading.
First off, we have James S. Robbins, who summarizes:
It is a shame that in a conflict filled with stories of valor and charity, of service and sacrifice, so many column inches are being devoted to a self-absorbed soldier who seems to have accomplished little more than showing up and nurturing a crummy attitude. Our country, our military, is so much better than that. So while it is necessary, even critical, to expose the fraudulent tales and those who tell them, take time also to promote the stories of the men and women who are going above and beyond the call of duty. Celebrate that which affirms the human spirit in the face of those who seek to tear it down. For every exaggerated tale of the brutal or bizarre, there are a hundred true accounts of bravery and benevolence that more clearly and accurately represent the spirit of our fighting forces. Maybe that is not news, but it should be.Followed by Jeff Emanuel, who opines:
The New Republic, offered stories by Beauchamp which validated their views of the military and of the war — and which were written by the future husband of one of their researchers — bit hard, and came up worse than empty. What they published was shown not to be simply “inaccurate” or “exaggerated,” but false — and TNR, along with its defenders, went to the mat for it.(emphasis Emanuel's)
The motivation for this is likely not as sinister as some ascribe to TNR — it is highly doubtful that they went to press with a story that they knew to be false, from a source they thought untrustworthy. In all likelihood, they simply found a story that validated their views about the “morally and emotionally distorting effects of war,” which also served as “a startling confession of shame about some disturbing conduct, both [the author’s] and that of his fellow soldiers.” Thinking the source unimpeachable, they ran with it.
A massive part of the problem with TNR and others who seek to run to press with the first available scandal is that, to them, such behavior is the rule in the United States military, rather than the exception (as it is in reality).
Last, but by no means least, the incomparable Charles Krauthammer writes:
We already knew from all of America’s armed conflicts — including Iraq — what war can make men do. The only thing we learn from Scott Thomas Beauchamp is what literary ambition can make men say.That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?