Thursday, October 22, 2009

Take Two Wars and Call Me in the Morning

Your car is making funny noises. You need to find out what is wrong. Do you

take it back to the dealer who charges more than twice what other shops charge and always

seem to find extra things wrong? Maybe you ask your brother-in-law who put your battery

in backwards and wrecked your entire electrical system. Of course, you could take it to the

local mechanic down the street; but he was just featured on a "60 Minutes" hidden camera

sting using fake parts and lying about what work was performed. Credibility is what you want.

You want an honest assessment of the problem and a realistic way to fix it. Bad advice will

cost you both time and money.

President Obama is reassessing his strategy in Afghanistan and is seeking advice.

This is good, but what I don't understand is why anyone connected with either Iraq or

Vietnam should be in the room when this advice is requested. The corporate media is

showcasing the very people responsible for the debacle in Iraq and seeking their input

on what the President should do. I have yet to see one interview in which a former architect

of our Iraq policy was asked how he could have been so wrong and why we should expect

his advice will be any better this time.

Senator John McCain is a frequent guest whose opinions are sought on Afghanistan.

McCain is quite loud about the need for the President to listen to his generals and send

more troops. No one has asked McCain why he didn't listen to the generals in Iraq when

they wanted more troops to start the war. No one asks him about his opinion that Iraq

would be a quick war or that American troops would be welcomed; or how about his grand

illusion that Iraqi oil would pay for the war. McCain has yet to be asked about the years

he praised President Bush's strategy until he didn't like it anymore. It would seem McCain

has yet to meet a war he doesn't like.

Hillary Clinton faces a similar dilemma. In her judgement, Iraq was a war worth

fighting. Iraq was a threat to American national security. Saddam Hussein was hiding

weapons of mass destruction and had to be removed. She did not raise an objection to the

Bush strategy; and to this day she still thinks her vote was correct.

The corporate punditocracy has no credibility on this subject at all. No one on

Faux News can be considered for a credible opinion based on their blind loyalty to the

Republican agenda. War to them means higher ratings. It means the same thing to CNN

and MSNBC, but for Faux it is the red meat they use to juice their audience. Barnes, Hume,

Krystal, Krauthammer, Aliason, and Williams all told us there would be a mushroom

cloud in Manhattan if we didn't invade Iraq. They were not alone. There were no voices

of opposition from CNN pundits and very little opposition from the talkers on MSNBC.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is a special case. Recently ranked

as number one by Washington insiders as a writer whose column they read and who

influences their thinking; Friedman's credibility on foreign affairs could not be worse.

He wrote column after column calling for an invasion of Iraq. He called on President Bush

to take out Saddam Hussein. He touted weapons of mass destruction and Hussein's

connections to terrorists. He was wrong on every aspect of that war and is directly

responsible for influencing members of Congress and the public that war was necessary.

Nothing he can write or say about Afghanistan should be given any credibility whatsoever.

Along this very same line, Condoleezza Rice recently gave a speech calling on

the President to increase troop strength in Afghanistan or face "losing" the war. Very few

people have less credibility on national security matters than Rice. As National Security

Advisor in 2001, she informed the President that Saddam Hussein was contained and not

on our radar. After September 11th, suddenly Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and

was a grave threat. Rice declared aluminum tubes Hussein was importing were for an

atomic weapons project. Despite her own scientists at Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee saying

the tubes could not be used for a nuclear program, Rice went on national television to

declare Saddam was close to having a nuclear bomb which he could give to al Qaeda to use

against us. All this despite CIA director George Tenet testifying to Congress that Hussein

at no point had any ties to al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.

If Rice doesn't have any credibility left, where should the President turn? How

about former Vice President Dick Cheney? Maybe we should ask the opinion of the man

who flat out guaranteed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The man who wanted

Hussein taken out in 1992 during the first "gore in the Gulf" (only to have his boss George

H.W. Bush ask him who we would replace him with). Cheney had no answer. But if not

Cheney, who? How about Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gingrich, McConnell, Boehner or maybe

former President Bush himself?

President Obama is being told to listen to his generals. Maybe he should ask

former General Tommy Franks about strategy in Afghanistan. He could ask former

members of the Joint Chiefs under Bush or perhaps the retired generals who signed full

page advertisements and appeared on TV to advocate for war.

The advice the President is getting on Afghanistan, or rather those bringing

pressure on him to increase troop strength, are the same usual suspects who championed

a disastrous war in Iraq. You can't turn on the TV without seeing this same gang fomenting

fear, threatening defeat, spinning out end of the world scenarios if Afghanistan were to

fall. At no time, during any of their appearances, are they ever asked how they could have

been so wrong about Iraq; and yet somehow, have this absolute confidence in being right

about something equally critical as Afghanistan.

Anyone (talk show host, pundit, member of Congress, military officer, etc.) who

advocated for the disaster that is Iraq should have no place in this debate unless they are

forced to defend their previous catastrophic errors in judgement and explain why they

are right this time or why they deserve a second chance with our trust. No one should

be able to opine on national security who cost the lives of almost 5,000 American soldiers,

one million Iraqis, and spent over one trillion dollars on a continuing disaster which hasn't

contributed to increased national security in any way.

When you watch this debate unfolding in the media, ask yourself a simple question.

What was their position on Iraq? If they were in favor of that war, I suggest you treat them

like your know-it-all brother-in-law and ignore them. If you hear someone spouting about

the need for more troops, but they can't define victory or say how long the troops would

stay in Afghanistan, I say write them off! Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are ghosts of wars

past, present, and future. There was no "winner" in Vietnam; we simply walked away leaving

the nightmare behind us. At present, we're trying desperately to walk away from Iraq; but

no matter how hard we try, we can't. So now we stand at the crossroads with Afghanistan.

Are we so blind as a nation that we are beyond the lessons history and war teach?

Afghanistan is not a special case with it's own unique key for foreign occupation; it's a

country of people, determined people, who do not want us there! This is not a time for

politics as usual in America. We need new opinions and NEW creative options. There is

one thing, however, that we should by now be convinced of; the President needs to avoid

advice from anyone with a track record on Iraq. Will he do that? The American taxpayer

and especially American parents hope he takes his job seriously enough to do so.

What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them


1 comment:

  1. Lion, you do a good job in showing us that the War Without End, Amen policy seems fine to certain 'Liberals' like Ms. Clinton. Even 'progressives' tend to pass over lightly the Mother Of All Issues -- which is who did what on 9/11/2001.
    One Exception: Peter B Collins. Let me ask everyone who reads this to go to and listen to podcast Number 43.