Revisiting the taxonomy of positions on the WoT (UPDATED)

In the aftermath of the attacks in London there’s been quite a bit of commentary emerging from the blogosphere. There’s also been quite a bit of posturing on all sides.

Shortly after I started this blog I attempted a taxonomy of positions on the War on Terror in the blogosphere see here and here. This looks like a good time to revisit the question.

In doing this analysis I’ve concentrated my attentions on the top 100 blogs from the TTLB Ecosystem. I’ve attempted to characterize the recent positions of blogs fairly. If anyone believes that I’ve mischaracterized a blog’s position, please draw my attention to a post on the relevant blog that contradicts what I’ve written and I’ll issue a correction.

There appear to be a fairly small number of positions being staked out these days:

  1. Pacifist
  2. Anti-American or anti-Western
  3. Denial
  4. “Fortress America”
  5. Focus on the real WoT
  6. Neocons
  7. A shorter, tougher war
  8. Kill ’em all


Pacifists categorically oppose war on moral grounds and frequently (although not always) do so for religious reasons. Genuine pacifists are rare in the blogosphere but they’re out there. But not in the top 100 blogs in the TTLB Ecosystem.

Anti-American or anti-Western

Bloggers who take this position believe that the United States and its allies have whatever happens to them coming to them, that it would be better for the world if the United States were severely less influential in the world (or ceased to exist altogether), or both. This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon point-of-view but I do not believe that any of the bloggers in the top 100 in the TTLB Ecosystem take this position.


Advocates of this position generally believe that there is no actual threat or that there is a threat but nothing can be done about it. The attack on September 11, 2001 was an isolated incident. The attack in Madrid on March 11, 2004 was an isolated incident. And so on. This is frequently joined with a conviction that the Bush Administration has exploited the 9/11 attack for political purposes.

This position does appear to have adherents among the top 100 blogs. Both Atrios and Talkleft appear to hold this position.

“Fortress America”

Adherents of this classic Jeffersonian position believe that there is a threat and that our actions in the War on Terror should take the form of strengthening homeland defense: port security, nuclear plant security, etc. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo appears to hold this position.

Focus on the real WoT

Advocates for this position believe that Iraq is a sideshow or red herring and that we should be concentrating our attentions on apprehending Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants and rounding up al Qaeda members. kos appears to hold this position. Oliver Willis has a recent post in which he makes this argument as well as anyone has.


This Wilsonian policy is, essentially, the position of the Bush Administration: invade Iraq, implement a liberal democratic government there, transform the region. The partisan Republican blogs, e.g. Captain’s Quarters, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt and most of the libertarian blogs e.g. Instapundit, Wizbang take this position. That’s most of the blogs (by count but not in links or traffic) in the top 100.

A shorter, tougher war

This is a position that I’ve seen articulated more frequently lately. Advocates of this position believe that there is a real threat and that the longer the struggle is prolonged the greater the likelihood that the United States will kill more innocents. The jihadis and their supporting population need to be killed or subdued quickly. There’s a stronger focus on removing enemies and less on democratization. None of the blogs in the top 100 appear to support this position but Jeff Medcalf of Caerdroia has stated it pretty clearly.

Kill ’em all

This loathsome position has its advocates but none in the top 100 in the TTLB Ecosystem. But they’re out there and not difficult to find.

It isn’t terribly surprising that blogospheric opinion has coalesced around positions 3—5 and 6 in the left and right hemispheres of the blogosphere, respectively since these are the positions of the Democratic Party and Republican Party, respectively.

UPDATE: I see that others are thinking along similar lines. On Winds of Change Dan Darling points to a column in The Guardian by Nick Cohen:

“All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we’ve got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair’s fault but there wouldn’t be indiscriminate murder because ‘the threat’ was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him.”

Those are positions #2 (Anti-American and/or anti-West) and #3 (Denial), #3 expressed in its classic form.

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