Last night's CNAS 5th anniversary celebration was a tremendous amount of fun. Although the precedings were off-the-record, I don't think I'm breaking any rules by confirming numerous reports that Gen. Marty Dempsey called out this blog a number of times, wryly noting the way I've given him a hard time for his reading list and for his Pentagonese.
It says a lot about the health of the United States and about civil-military relations that the most powerful military officer in the country is willing to have a good-natured back-and-forth with a blogger who has criticized him. (That's not the case, for example, in Egypt, the recipient of $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, where the military leadership is so lacking in confidence that it throws critical bloggers in jail.) The United States has the most powerful military in the world, and it sends a strong message to military officers in other countries when our officers hold themselves accountable to the people they serve. (And have a sense of good Irish humor about it in the process.)
It also says a lot about Twitter and other new media that @Martin_Dempsey noted I rather liked his speech at Duke and is willing to use social media to have a conversation with the public. A few months ago, I marvelled at a back-and-forth between former senior State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter and George Washington University student Dan Trombly on the Responsibility to Protect. How cool, I thought. Any medium that facilitates egalitarian conversations between generals and bloggers on the one hand and between the former head of policy planning and an international relations student on the other hand is pretty darn amazing.
I felt really blessed last night to work at a place like CNAS. But I also felt blessed to live in this kind of country -- and at a time when technology is democratizing the public discourse to an extent never seen before.