Robert Bateman

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Robert Bateman is an American military officer, historian, author, and web and newspaper columnist.

Role as educator

Bateman taught military history at the United States Military Academy. He was a commander in the 7th United States Cavalry, and served in Iraq from 2005 through 2006. He was once a "military fellow" at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is currently assigned to the Pentagon. He teaches at Georgetown University. He writes a bi-weekly column as a media critic/ethicist for the Committee of Concerned Journalists where he is known to be extremely critical of the New York Times[1]. That site is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the journalism program of the University of Missouri. He is also a regular columnist for the military-intellectual site Small Wars Journal[2]


His books include Digital War, A View from the Front Lines (1999) about the Revolution in Military Affairs, and No Gun Ri, A Military History of the Korean War Incident (2002) an academic history. From Iraq he wrote weekly columns for the MSNBC.COM weblog "Altercation," hosted by left wing commentator Eric Alterman, and the right wing newspaper the Washington Examiner. He has published editorials in the right-leaning New York Postand has appeared on several National Public Radio programs, as well as on Public Broadcasting Service programs. He currently blogs for Alterman at The Nation. He works in the Office of Net Assessment in the Pentagon.

On No Gun Ri

Bateman's first major run-in with a major media establishment was during his archival research into No Gun Ri. During the research he established that the Associated Press team which had first publicized the story of No Gun Ri had relied upon false testimony from at least one veteran who was a complete fake, and probably two others who were not there as well. This information was widely repeated by the political Right. [3] and the Skeptical Inquirer [4] He further contended that the AP's evidence was insufficient to support their apparent conclusions from a historical point of view, noting particularly the lack of bodies found in the aftermath.[5] According to his book, he informed the AP team of this error, but was not believed. The AP team won the Pulitzer Prize two weeks later. Bateman claims that he then presented his archival research materials to reporter Joe Galloway, then at US News and World Report. Galloway's subsequent articles on the issues and evidence led to a media-fight between the two institutions. The Associated Press then tried to have Bateman’s book stopped, but their efforts were publicized and the efforts aborted.[6] Ultimately the "witness" confessed. He went to prison.

On Carnage and Culture

In the Fall of 2007 Bateman brawled with neo-conservative classicist Victor Davis Hanson's over the latter's book Carnage and Culture and the 2,500 year thesis it claimed. Bateman said the book was factually challenged and historically unsupported and unsupportable during a four-part series on the blog of Eric Alterman. Bateman started with a general attack on Hanson’s lack of scholarship as a modern military historian, as Hanson was educated as a “classicist.” [7] He then attacked Hanson’s depiction of the battles of Cannae [8] and Poitiers [9] as being intellectually inconsistent or factually unsupported, while his conclusion focused upon an allegation that Hanson actually holds professional military members in low-esteem based upon Hanson’s description of modern paid soldiers as “mercenaries” in his book [10]. One of Bateman's major points was that Hanson essentially skips 1,700 years in the middle of his 2,500 year period, by failing to provide evidence during that stretch. The debate between the two was picked up by the influential historical site History News Network. [11] On his own blog Hanson accused Bateman of being in the pay of liberal fundraiser George Soros, unaware that Bateman actually worked for the alleged neo-con Andrew Marshall. Hanson said that Bateman was "mentally unhinged" for making his critique and that Bateman's commentary had been a commissioned "hit piece" by the website Media Matters for America. He said that Bateman was a liberal mouthpiece. Hanson provided no evidence for these claims.[12] Bateman, appears to have initiated the series himself and has previously noted that he receives no monetary compensation for his essays. He did not respond to Hanson. Among other elements of the debate Bateman noted that Hanson is "widely known" among historians for being "notoriously thin skinned." This may be supported. Hanson posted more than 16,000 words in response to Bateman's four short essays. Bateman has also published portions of the debate on the military-insider website Small Wars Journal, where he is also a contributor.

On Blackwater, Inc.

In October 2007 Bateman published an Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribune entitled, "Blackwater and Me, A Love Story It Ain't." In the essay he presented unflattering first-person descriptions of the Republican-friendly private military corporation Blackwater operatives in Iraq based upon his own observations in Iraq in 2005-2006.

Viral Essay

Bateman’s former roommate, journalist Joseph Galloway used an essay Bateman wrote about wounded soldiers visiting the Pentagon as his 2007 Memorial Day column.[13] The article went viral, particularly on the Right but in many cases was reposted with an added two sentences at the end which Bateman did not write and which he publicly contends were added by an anonymous third party to buttress their own political point of view.[14]