October 14, 2002
Philip Shropshire's Big But

After mulling it over for thirty-eight days, Philip Shropshire has finally answered the Shropshire Challenge with a resounding "Yes, But". (I won't give him a link, but it was posted on the moribund WarbloggerWatch site at 1:59 this morning.) Although it would be possible to get to Iraq in less than a week for less than $1,000, he will only go if we give him $23,000 and six weeks to get there. He wants half the money up front, the rest in the hands of a neutral third party. He wants to keep all the money even if he doesn't manage to get into Iraq, either because the war has already started or because he is stopped at the border. (In that case, he wants three more weeks to get to Israel or Venezuela instead. Both are dangerous places, but neither is even in the 'top 10' of most dangerous places in the world at the moment.) Either of his release conditions is quite likely to occur. In six weeks the campaign against Iraq is likely to be in full swing. Even if it is not, it would be easy enough to arrange not to be allowed in at the border. Here is a plausible scenario:

"Either you let me bring in this laptop, this big box of Arabic translations of The Book of Mormon, this autographed copy of Saddam's Bomb-Maker, and this anatomically-correct blow-up plastic doll dressed in traditional Iraqi garb, or I'm going to turn around and go right back home! Really, I will! I have principles! I'll turn right around and leave! I'm leaving now! What? You want to discuss this? What's to discuss? I was just leaving to go back to Jordan! Leave me alone! I was just leaving!"

Just as Grady Olivier claims to have accepted the challenge, but only with a condition he knew would not be fulfilled,* Shropshire wants moral credit for showing his courage without actually having to do so. It is interesting that he does not give any reason why it should take six weeks to get to Iraq: nothing about finding a babysitter for his children (assuming he has any), or giving his employer (assuming he has one) sufficient notice of resignation to avoid a suit for breach of contract, or getting his passport, visa, and immunizations in order (don't forget the anthrax shots!). It is perfectly obvious that he has no intention of going, and figures that there's an excellent chance the war will have started before the six weeks expire.

Of course I am not seriously complaining about Shropshire's unwillingness to go to Baghdad. I would only go there myself if I had to, which is to say if I were drafted, and that is extremely unlikely at my age, even if the war on Islamicist terror heats up considerably. If Shropshire did go and get himself killed, I would feel bad about my part in urging him on -- though not as bad as I would feel if just about any other fellow American were to be killed in Iraq. What I do object to is that Shropshire continues to slander 'warbloggers' as cowards, partly in words, partly with a not-very-funny T-shirt picture at the top of his post. Again, I do not claim to be more courageous than Shropshire: I just think that he, like everyone else who uses the terms 'chickenhawk' and 'chickenblogger', is a filthy hypocrite to urge others into danger while shirking it himself, and a fool if he thinks his hypocrisy is not obvious. All I asked in my original challenge is that he cut out his pose of moral superiority, and stop slandering his opponents. I guess that was too much to expect of people like Shropshire, the rest of the boys at WarbloggerWatch, 'Hesiod', and a few others whose names escape me at the moment.

There's not much reason to examine the rest of Shropshire's pathetic post, though two points are worth mentioning:

  1. He claims to believe that the Bush administration may attack Israel with nuclear weapons. (This is if Iraq attacks Israel with biological weapons. The idea is that evil Bush cares less about the people of Israel than about preserving the Iraqi oil fields from destruction by the Israeli counterattack that would inevitably follow.) He seems to attribute this argument, in whole or in part, to Noam Chomsky, whom he also claims as his hero. Perhaps he only believes this at 1:59 AM, and perhaps not even then unless he's been drinking.
  2. He is confident that attacking Iraq is not good for Israel, but does not explain why the Israelis disagree, and why he thinks they should defer to the judgment of some guy whose life is not at stake, and never will be unless al-Qaeda comes to Pittsburgh.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

*Olivier will only go to Baghdad if James Lileks meets him there. Why Lileks and not any other 'warblogger'? Because Lileks has columns to write, a book to finish, a mortgage to pay, and (not least) a two-year-old to care for. If Olivier had said "any warblogger", there was a chance that one of the younger ones, less encumbered by family ties and long-term employment, would have taken him up on his offer. That is why he added the condition, and that is why his offer is fraudulent.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at October 14, 2002 10:13 PM

I find the term chickhawk very appropriate in your in case for some reason.

Posted by: Jimmy on October 14, 2002 10:39 PM

Gee, I think someone who gives an indeterminate name like 'Jimmy' and an obviously fake address has more claim to be called 'chicken' or 'chickenshit' or 'chickendick' than I ever will.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on October 14, 2002 10:44 PM

Its obviously one of Hesiod's six-grade classmates, Weevil. Well, I think Shropshire's "acceptance" is amusingly parallel to Saddam's fake "acceptance" of inspectors. But my pledge is still good.

Posted by: Robin Roberts on October 14, 2002 11:03 PM

Since 'Jimmy' calls himself 'Bob' elsewhere on this page, I've banned the lying weasel.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on October 14, 2002 11:07 PM

Reminds me of something RAH said,

'Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay--and claims a halo for his

-Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by: MonkeyPants on October 14, 2002 11:36 PM

Inspired by the anti-Warbloggers, I asked a Vietnam veteran to comment on the term "Chickenhawk."

He responds quite eloquently here.

More people should read it.


Posted by: Dean Esmay on October 15, 2002 12:07 AM

Hey, let's make it three weeks to get there. (I was planning to go by train, which might take more time and no I won't be bringing any of my blow up dolls...)

Make counter offers fellas. I know you're not into the negotiation thing but that's how the world works--unless you really want and need to blow people up.

Philip Shropshire

PS: How about those Bali bombings...Yet, I was under the impression that bombing Afghanistan had crippled Al Qaeda. Seems like those people were wrong, huh? Now, these id, uh, "people", are telling me that we have to invade Iraq or, what? We won't stop Al Qaeda...hoookayyy. It's not about the oil or anything like that...

Posted by: Philip Shropshire on October 15, 2002 12:04 PM

If it were truly about the oil - wouldn't the US just invade Canada?

Posted by: James Durbin on October 15, 2002 12:50 PM

Am I the only person reading this who finds Shropshire's gloating over the Bali bombing disturbing?

Maybe he didn't intend it to be this way, but he comes across as being thrilled that al Qaeda is still a threat on the global stage (as if anyone denied this; it is precisely the fear that Saddam Hussein will equip al Qaeda with WMD that is driving us towards war with Iraq).

This guy considers himself a peace activist?

I guess it is all in how you define peace.

Posted by: Iron Fist on October 15, 2002 01:51 PM

Well, it's not just Bali, it's also Yemen and what's happening in Kuwait. But let's recap the argument:

The warbloggers claimed that by bombing Afghanistan that we had dealt a severe blow to Al Qaeda.

People on the other side (myself included) that you're not fighting a war against states but against an organization that exists in 60 or more countries. We argued that you did nothing to stop terror by attacking one country--and that if you did pick one country you were probably better off picking either Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Furthermore, not only would unilateral action not be effective against terror cells (As if you could stop the IRA by bombing Belfast...) but the completely opposite tactic, namely compromise and joint actions, would be needed to win the war on terror. However, to mix uses of force, to initiate joint operations with other countries, and use other incentives and punishments (other than killing the other guy) requires deeply intelligent leadership--which is something that we really don't have.

Some conclusions: You were deadly wrong about Afghanistan and you're probably wrong about Iraq. Not only are you not winning the war against terror, your dumb bombing frell the world attitude is making the world a deadlier place. I might note that none of these actions make me feel safer as an American.

Posted by: Philip Shropshire on October 15, 2002 02:42 PM

One other point: while I'm still waiting for you to come up with a counter offer, keep in mind that the $10000 fine has to be covered. That's because if it isn't covered the finee is probably looking at jail time. That's non-negotiable. Even if I just took the $2300, I'd still have to have that $10000 grand in place...

Where are your counter offers? No wonder you guys have to kill people who disagree with you. You lack the ability to find creative solutions...Pathetic. I will use the word chickenhawk every opportunity that I can...

Posted by: Philip Shropshire on October 15, 2002 02:48 PM

My counter-offer is simple and obvious:

You stay snug and safe in Pittsburgh, as you obviously have every intention of doing anyway, admit that you are no more courageous than the average 'warblogger', delete the offensive T-shirt depicted on your latest post on WarbloggerWatch, stop using the terms 'chickenhawk' and 'chickenblogger', and apologize for ever using them in the past. In return, I will keep my opinion of your moral character and intelligence to myself, and encourage other 'warbloggers' to do the same. In short, stop acting like an asshole and you can gradually get your reputation back, though it will take a while.

Alternatively, you may keep on insulting your betters and lying about your own willingness to risk your life for . . . what exactly? Not your country, or your beliefs, or any higher cause, but for a big pot of other people's money. (More money than some warbloggers have made so far this year, by the way.) Do you realize just how greedy, mercenary, and stereotypically Republican that makes you look?

Of course, the $10,000 fine is a red herring. It might apply if you went to Baghdad as a human shield, but you insist that you would only go as a writer. Has the U.S. government ever fined or jailed a journalist for going to Iraq? I doubt it.

Of course, we guys don't kill people who disagree with us, only people who try to kill us. So Shropshire is safe, but Saddam is not. Seems (relatively) fair to me.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on October 15, 2002 03:21 PM

If not Canada, how about Saudi Arabia or Kuwait? Lots more oil than Iraq. Our troops are already there, and those countries have no WMD that we know of, nor do they have much of an army, navy, or air force. Therefore, less risk for our troops. Also, what should the US do to protect itself, if not go after the terrorists in their own backyard?

Posted by: Theo on October 15, 2002 03:50 PM

What's that chickenhawk? Gawd you guys make me sick. It's obvious that I'm serious. You send the check and I will go. I'll make another concession being that you're a stereotypical ugly American and think that compromise is for weaklings: If I'm not fined, then let's return that $10000. Here's another offer coward: Of that $13000 remaining, I'll split it with a Warblogger and we'll go someplace dangerous and yes I do think that Israel and the surrounding territories are fairly dangerous places but remember I'm open minded. Please suggest other dangerous places that we can visit. I believe in compromise, negotiation, meeting the other guy halfway...Try it some time:


Philip Shropshire

PS: By the my, my belief in the hypocrisy, stupidity and yes the cowardice of the warblocracy is deepened by your every hollow shrilly exchange...One other point: I explained my thing on the money very carefully. Ted Rall got 8 grand. I'd like some money. There's a very good chance I won't be coming back. You don't mind if I get a paycheck do ya'? I thought you guys were capitalists, ready to invade Saudi Arabia for some oil? Gawd what cowardly pathetic hypocrites, on every frellin' level...

Posted by: Philip Shropshire on October 15, 2002 04:08 PM

Philip Shropshire: Fuck you, you greedy lying coward. You are now banned from this site. Go write your filth on your own site.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on October 15, 2002 04:13 PM

[Cruel, mocking laughter]

Bravo, bravo.


Good Dr., I think you may have ruptured his brain :-)

[More laughter]

This is priceless:
"Ted Rall got 8 grand. I'd like some money. There's a very good chance I won't be coming back. You don't mind if I get a paycheck do ya'?"

Word to Phil: most mercenaries try to stick around to cash their paycheck.

[Slowly shake head]

It certainly doesn't help your side of the argument to have a public nervous breakdown. Waxing incoherent makes you look, well, incoherent.

Seek counseling. You are obviously nuts.

Posted by: Iron Fist on October 15, 2002 05:48 PM

Give Phil a rope, and he hangs himself. How typical. And how predictable as well.

Once again, Phil, thank you for the inadvertent comic relief. Long may you amuse.

Posted by: Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 15, 2002 07:41 PM

Note the complete inability to employ simple logic. The bombing in Bali simply does not establish that the war in Afghanistan ( it was more than just bombing ) did not deal a severe blow to Al Queda. In fact, it has been the Bush administration that has repeatedly - like nearly daily - made the point that the war on terror was worldwide in scope. It is basically a lie to infer, as Phil does, that the Bush admin was only focused on Afghanistan.

Ralph Peters ( someone who - unlike Phil - has some knowledge of the topic ) argues that the bombing in Bali really showed how disrupted Al Queda was.

Posted by: Robin Roberts on October 15, 2002 09:47 PM


Phil's previously shown himself to be absolutely immune to logic. He has a death-grip on this reality he has fabricated, and no amount of evidence invalidating his views will make a shred of difference. He ridicules religion but maintains a steadfast faith in karma. He thinks his lofty position as a comic book reviewer lends some weight to his opinion. He can post an opinion and completely ignore your answering post that utterly destroys all his supporting evidence.

After repeated blows to the block of intellectual granite that is Phil, I decided that some people will cling to their own beliefs no matter what. Despite his scorn for religion, Phil is showing all the evidence of medieval devotion to the church of Rall.

On the other hand, it could all be deliberate. It's possible that Phil has, like Rall and Michael Moore, figured some moneymaking angle and is attempting to exploit it. If I had any evidence at all for this I'd be leaning hard in this direction, because it's hard for me to accept that anyone can come by such determined blockheadedness naturally.

Posted by: David Perron on October 16, 2002 07:05 AM

"Do you realize just how greedy, mercenary, and stereotypically Republican that makes you look?"

Dr. Weevil, I love your site, and have very much enjoyed watching you rip dear Phil a new one, but.....that was a low blow. Not to him, to me! The very thought that by being Republican I could possibly be in the same solar system as that man is truly nauseating.

Posted by: Vicki on October 16, 2002 09:51 AM

I don't remember the wording of the original challenge, but was it open to negotiation, anyway? Wasn't part of the "challenge" that you would go if X amount of money was provided, no if's and's & but's? Shroppy's right to say you can bargain, but he can't complain if you decline. Pick up the challenge or shut up.

I still can't get over the delerium involved in being a "human sheild for peace". For the sake of "peace" these people would be willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a tyrant who's killed many times more of his countrymen on purpose than the US military conceivably could by accident? A whole lot of accidents? Of course, I'm sure Shroppy & co. would believe the US military will kill civilians on purpose, gleefully. . . .

Posted by: Whackadoodle on October 16, 2002 10:05 AM

One of the things that is so stunning about Shropshire's comments is that there already ARE people in Iraq, serving as human shields. And while I think they are foolish and idiotic, I respect them, insofar as they are actually willing to put their lives on the line for what they believe. And, if they survive, they face the prospect of the same fines and punishments that Shropshire bleats and whines about.

Shropshire manages to demean THEM as well, by essentially making this into a money-making operation. And, for all that I think Rall is scum, he IS a syndicated cartoonist, which is more than Shropshire is, AFAIK, so claiming a right to make as much money as Rall is hubristic as well (who'd have ever thought I'd say that being like Rall was HUBRISTIC??).

If Shropshire had the courage of his convictions, he'd at least do a better job of appearing to believe his own "anti-war principles," and appear less like a mercenary.

Just a thought...

Posted by: Dean on October 16, 2002 11:48 AM

Doc, do we have to ban Phil? I realize it must be frustrating to have to deal with Shrops, but he provides endless entertainment.
I mean, come on, how can anyone possibly think that Al Qaeda is a strong as it was before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan?
And the comments about oil? Priceless. You can't find that kind of humor anywhere short of Saddam's cabinet officials.

On a more serious note, Phil, you need to get your act together. While I vehemently disagree with your opinion, I do think you serve a necessary purpose in the public discourse. While I don't think there is a significant portion of the U.S. population that wants to annex the Middle East, it isn't necessarily a bad thing to temper the opinions of the more bloodthristy crowd (no, Doc Weevil is not a member of this community.) Unfortunately, you're only fanning the flames of anger with your ad hominem attacks and unsubstantiated claims.

Posted by: Trevor on October 16, 2002 01:33 PM

Philip Shropshire is the best thing that's happened to this site. A rare voice of reason in the blogosphere. Cheers to Shropshire! May we be able to genetically engineer more like him in the future!

Posted by: Charles H. Godwin the Third on October 16, 2002 02:58 PM

I wish people could get over this whole "it's all about the oooiiillll..." thing. If it were all about oil, why wouldn't we just lift the sanctions and buy it?

To me, any time I hear someone use the 'oil reaction' to war with Iraq, I instantly know their level of common sense and reasoning.

Posted by: amy on October 16, 2002 03:01 PM

Also, given Philip's reasoning, I am not allowed a voice in the pro-choice/pro-live debate because I have not have children or an abortion. I am not allowed a voice in the reparations debate because I was not a slave-owner or a slave. Oh wait! That would mean no one was allowed to have a voice in that debate. Whoops. So how does that work Philip? Am I only allowed to voice my opinion on matters that I have intimate knowledge of? If that is your stance, would please let me know where you get your meds. Thank you. Please drive through.

Posted by: amy on October 16, 2002 03:23 PM

Wait!!!! I just thought of something even better. Does this mean only people who actually know something about building a web site should be able to have one?!?!?! If so, bye-bye to the likes of hesoid.

Posted by: amy on October 16, 2002 03:26 PM

If we're sending the twit, my pledge for $20 still stands. As a Jacksonian, I'll let Andy Jackson do the talking!

And yeah, I found his cackling glee over the Bali attacks atrocious as well...

Posted by: BarCodeKing on October 16, 2002 03:57 PM

Well, since I'm a bonafide military officer in a combat-related field (special ops helicopter pilot), I have a few choice words for this jack-off Shropshire. First off, just because we haven't caught every terrorist asswipe in the world doesn't mean we aren't getting the job done. I can personally attest that we are hunting these fuckers down and we're not being distracted by any of this media amplified bullshit everyone in the States has to put up with. Second, even if you are a past or current member of the combat arms (ie actually had or have a chance of getting your ass shot), you really don't have a leg to stand on with this whole chickenhawk thing. According to this logic, just because I like to fly around in body armor, sweating my ass off, my opinion on Iraq is automatically more valid than 99% of everyone else in the U.S.(most of them a lot smarter than me, I'd bet). Sounds kind of stupid, dontcha think? Finally, get a grip, dude. Everyone has strongly held opinions but damn, it's only the internet. No ones going to hold you to some stupid wager or challenge you to unarmed combat. Now you've gone and got yourself banned. Now we'll miss all that witty shit you were fixing to lay down. Better luck next time. That's it for me, next two privates, quickly!

Pave Low John
Operation Enduring Freedom
Somewhere very hot and dusty.

Posted by: Pave Low John on October 16, 2002 05:04 PM

Pave Low John,

A formal bow of respect.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Thank you, sir.

Posted by: Iron Fist on October 16, 2002 08:10 PM

I would have banned him just for using Farscape slang.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 16, 2002 11:13 PM

One thing I can't understand is why everyone on the pro-war side is afraid to deal straightforwardly with the left's accusations "that it's about oil". To paraphrase Christopher Hitchins, of all people, "Do you mean to tell me oil isn't worth fighting for?" Let's not bullshit ourselves, of course it's partially about the oil. Why would we want some megalomaniac asshole to potentially be able to control 50% of the worlds oil supply? That could result in the total destabilization of the world's political order and perhaps a worldwide economic depression. The democrats who say Bush should be worrying about the economy rather than Iraq don’t seem to have considered the big picture. At the present time, and for the near term foreseeable future, oil is absolutely essential to the world economy. I don’t even know what the “no blood for oil” statement is supposed to mean. It is hopelessly pseudo-moralistic, na´ve, and wrongheaded. Every human war, revolution, or major conflict has at bottom been about economic issues one way or the other. This is no different.

Posted by: Peter on October 17, 2002 01:25 AM

Okay, I just followed the bastard's link and noticed he had a picture of Mr. Spock and the caption 'MY HERO: HE ALWAYS THINKS HIS WAY OUT OF PROBLEMS.'

I know this will forever brand me on the Day of Judgement when the big GEEK ALERT comes down, but:

Anyone remember THE ENTERPRISE INCIDENT, the original series episode based on the U-Boat / Destoyer stories of the North Atlantic? The previously unseen Romulans sneak attack a Federation outpost then cloak and run for home. Everyone expects SPOCK, superpacifist, to counsel against military action, but SPOCK, using his SUPER VULCAN LOGIC, correctly deduces that this murderous sneak attack must be dealt with savagely; the Romulans MUST be destroyed, NEVER allowed to return home successful, because LOGICALLY, to do so would to convince them that the Federation was weak and therefor invite further attacks.

So, to put a fine point on my Shropshire Web Site Analysis...PAY ATTENTION, YOU BLOATED FUCKING GASBAG MORON COCKSUCKER. Any idiot knows there comes a time when you have to fight. Even a supergenius from another world can figure that one out. Take the advice FROM YOUR OWN FUCKING HERO and try and show a semblance of balls for once, you slithering hypocritical idiot.

Posted by: Proteus on October 17, 2002 03:14 AM

The chickenhawk arguement was a bust from the beginning. Civilian control of our military has been our way from day one. In any other circumstances, these same people would scream about the generals being out of control. Now, because the turd is on the other sneaker, they scream about the civilians being out of control.

We are a GREAT POWER. Why shouldn't we act like it? This half assed reluctance we have to recognizing that we are IT in this time and place is stupid. OK, maybe we don't want to be another Rome or British Empire, but, damn, Sam, there are things we can do as number 1. And removing a sick, perverted, madman killer as ruler of Iraq certainly qualifies. Oil, shit, yes, let's keep the oil, too. Our fine for Saddam being dumb and ugly in public.

And... Iraq is a much nicer place for our troops to be based than Soddi, and more centrally located for other housecleaning chores like Iran and Syria.

Posted by: Chuck on October 17, 2002 04:06 PM

I pledged $1000 to send the heroic Shroppers on his mission of peace. Now that's a bust, here's another suggestion: how about we set up a collection to buy one of these so we can drop it on his house?

Posted by: David Gillies on October 17, 2002 06:11 PM

Oh, but David -- some innocent rats and mice and cockroaches might get hurt.

Posted by: Andrea Harris on October 18, 2002 02:12 AM


You refer not to the episode "The Enterprise Incident", but to "Balance of Terror". (And yes, I am a geek, why do you ask?)

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto on October 18, 2002 03:27 AM

I know, Andrea, but I was so looking forward to a nasty lump of high-explosive ironmongery falling on PS, and if I am thwarted in my aspiration I shall get very cross. I feel the mice and cockroaches represent acceptable collateral damage.

On second thoughts though, a JSOW runs at about $250,000 for the basic model. If you want the one with the electric sunroof and anti-lock brakes they're even more than that. Perhaps a nice JDAM would be the thrifty option. Surely we can whip up $18,000? It's in a good cause.

Posted by: David Gillies on October 18, 2002 08:09 PM