Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 15, 2009
WAR: Out of Bluff

McQ rounds up commentary from Armed Liberal and Spencer Ackerman on how the ascension of Obama to the presidency means anti-Iraq-War left-wingers (Obama included) are going to have to put up or shut up on choosing between their natural anti-war inclinations and their rhetoric about how important Afghanistan is.

This is part of a broader phenomenon I've noted before in left/liberal political argumentation: the tendency to be hawkish about whoever the United States is not in immediate conflict with, and the subsequent tendency to back down when a conflict actually approaches. The Democratic shift from hawkishness on Iran in 2002-04 to dovishness on Iran in 2005-present (see here for one example) is one of the more glaring examples. (It's not actually limited to foreign policy, but that's another day's argument). For all the huffing and puffing about Saudi Arabia, for example, you can be sure the left would drop all its complaints about the Saudis in a nanosecond if the United States actually tried to confront them.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:46 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Man did you hit the nail right on the head-during the 80s the only country the left wanted us to confront was South Africa. After the first Gulf War, which a majority of them voted against, they were complaing about why Saddam was still in power. All during the Clinton era they were for confronting Iraq, up to and including the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Of course, like characters in the book 1984, they have forgotten now about everything they said and did regarding Iraq from 1990-2003.

In the lead up to the Iraq War they instead were for invading Iran and Saudi Arabia ( the place where we had military bases and all the holy shrines of Islam are). At that point in time, I called out a bunch of lefties I knew on this and told them that when it came time to deal with Iran they would be doing the same old song and dance. Of course they denied they would, but when they started doing exactly what I had predicted they would, suddenly they "forgot" all their prior positions, comments and arguments.

Now Iran needs to be dealt with, they, as usual, develop that liberal amnesia (aka libnesia) about the last 30 years of Iran's low level war against the US, and others, by using terrorism and proxies.

Crank, it is almost like they are totally full of crap and really never want to confront anyone, but since they know that would be a ridiculous and electorally destructive position to publicly state, they just create these "straw men' arguments to give themselves cover and pretend to be serious about security issues.

Posted by: dch at January 15, 2009 2:47 PM

OK, let's see. While many were a bit nervous about going into Afghanistan, where so many countries got chopped up, we knew we had to. And the Bushies went in and clobbered the Taliban. With, uh, the army Bill Clinton left them. Oh wait, I forgot, we didn't go in with full force, since we let the Taliban get away.

Not to worry, we went into Iraq based on, what we now know to be false premises. And now you say we have to deal with Iran. Duh.

But, oh yeah, had we gone into Afghanistan with sufficient force, we would indeed have our full military might on their border, with Afghanistan. While their blood enemy, Iraq under Saddam would still be to the South, keeping the Mullahs in check.

And yet you are already blaming the left. Good one.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 15, 2009 3:18 PM

Oh, the next 4 years are gonna be fun.

Q: What is your policy?

A: The Bush Administration screwed up, I don't like Bush, I think Bush did bad things.

Q: Um, OK, so what should we do now?

A: I believe the Bush Administration is at fault, I really, really don't like Bush, I disagreed with Bush at the time and continue to do so.

Q: Ah, all right, what do you say is the proper step to take, you know, going forward?

A: Bush was wrong .....

I have had so many of these conversations in the last two months it's ridiculous. And it's exactly McQ's point: at some point, when you win elections, you have to actually stand up and say what it is you think is the right thing to do now. I suppose there's still five more days to hide under a rock; I'll be glad when those days are over and we can get down to brass tacks with no more excuses.

Posted by: Crank at January 15, 2009 3:29 PM

"I'll be glad when those days are over and we can get down to brass tacks with no more excuses."

Don't bet on that! The new administration will comeup with excuses we could never even dream of! And the MSM will back them!

The next 4 years is gonna be hell!

Posted by: Lee at January 15, 2009 3:39 PM

I just want to get to the point where they tell us what they intend to do and try to defend it as being a good idea. Eventually, they have to do that if they're going to do anything at all.

Bush, Republicans and conservatives have been accused of many things in the last 8 years, but nobody can deny that we said what we wanted to do and argued for it as being good policy.

Posted by: Crank at January 15, 2009 3:48 PM

I'm still waiting for the day that Bush will stop blaming Clinton...anyway...yes, it is harder to lead than to prosthelytize...always is...and Obama is a Chicago-style "make the trains run on time" kind of politician...it would surprise me not at all that the fringe left would be angry with him...I think Obama has always talked about pragmatism, not philosophy...Bush was about PNAC not pragmatism...

Posted by: AstrosFan at January 15, 2009 3:50 PM

Thanks for making most of my points-the camps in Afghanistan opened and trained thousands of jihadis during oh yeah the administration of President Peace Dividend-running out of Somalia, Sudan offering Bin laden to the US multiple times, the embassy bombings, the Cole remember any of that-if Clinton had done his frigging job and flattened those camps-no Al queda and no 9/11.

Its fascinating that 8 years later, lefties still do not understand the historical,legal, logistic, strategic and tactical differnences between the War in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq. One (Iraq) was against the 3rd largest army in the world on a flat terrain, with easily identifiable tanks, units, command/control centers, ammno depots, etc that is easily accessible by air land and sea and from neighboring countries. The other is against a bunch of non-uniformed hit and run fighters in perhaps the most inaccessible terrain in the world. Totally different war. Love the talk of our "full military might"-you could put the entire US military in the those mountains and it wouldn't matter. The tactics and troop structures we are using in Afghanistan are the correct ones for that theater.

Again see my prior comments abou libnesia-there was a cease fire agreement entered after the first gul war-the deal was as long as Iraq abided by the terms of that agreement they would be leftv alone-gfor 13 years they were in total violation of that agreement-you and all the the rest of the lefties can state whatever you want about false premises-they were in violation of the cease fire agreement and what 15 UN Security Councxil resolutions and we were at all times between 1990-2003 totally,legally justified to attack and overthrow them. Which just to refresh your memory was the position of the Clinton administration and the democrats in Congres-but you don't remember that, right?

Do you deny that Iran has been using terrorism against the US directly or by proxies for the last 30 yearst?

Do you deny that before the Iraq war the left was advocating for invading Iran instead?

Be honest.

Posted by: dch at January 15, 2009 4:08 PM

Daryl writes: "And the Bushies went in and clobbered the Taliban. With, uh, the army Bill Clinton left them."

...and we went into Iraq largely based on the Intel Bill Clinton left them too.

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at January 15, 2009 4:52 PM

"While their blood enemy, Iraq under Saddam would still be to the South, keeping the Mullahs in check."

This has always been one of my favorite talking points from the Left. Please tell me how Saddam kept the Mullahs in check? In what tangible way? Was he holding them back from invading Jordan?

Posted by: andrew at January 15, 2009 5:32 PM

All I want is for Obama to go after al Queda.

Posted by: MVH at January 15, 2009 6:36 PM

Crank, are you actually saying we're "not in immediate conflict with" al Qaeda?

Posted by: D. Aristophanes at January 16, 2009 8:20 AM

Another thing -- you seem not to have learned at all the most obvious lesson of Iraq, which is that going to war is a serious, complicated and bloody business that should be the absolute last resort of this country or any country.

And what's wrong with 'huffing and puffing' about a nasty regime like Saudi Arabia without wanting to invade the place, with all the forseeable and unforseeable crap that would stir up? Would you rather that people give the tyrants in places like Zimbabwe and Iran a pass, because maybe we don't want to immediately bomb their populaces or send in the troops? It's like, hey, you can't complain about Mugabe, pal, because you're not calling in airstrikes on Harare RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I spent nearly a decade in Thailand and came to hate the Burmese junta. I could totally fantasize about the US leading a coalition of countries to invade the place and depose those nasty bastards. But the reality is that such an operation would just as likely create more misery for the Burmese people as less, as well as having the additional 'value proposition' of potentially triggering a global conflict with China. There's a thing called the 'is/ought gap' ... you should look into it.

As for Afghanistan, it's different because we already have plenty of skin in the game there. It's a job we've already taken on and need to complete. I see no reason why we shouldn't increase troop levels and operations there to achieve our objectives of shutting down al Qaeda and removing the Taliban's stain on that country.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes at January 16, 2009 8:46 AM

Another thing -- you seem not to have learned at all the most obvious lesson of Iraq, which is that going to war is a serious, complicated and bloody business that should be the absolute last resort of this country or any country.

And what's wrong with 'huffing and puffing' about a nasty regime like Saudi Arabia without wanting to invade the place, with all the forseeable and unforseeable crap that would stir up? Would you rather that people give the tyrants in places like Zimbabwe and Iran a pass, because maybe we don't want to immediately bomb their populaces or send in the troops? It's like, hey, you can't complain about Mugabe, pal, because you're not calling in airstrikes on Harare RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I spent nearly a decade in Thailand and came to hate the Burmese junta. I could totally fantasize about the US leading a coalition of countries to invade the place and depose those nasty bastards. But the reality is that such an operation would just as likely create more misery for the Burmese people as less, as well as having the additional 'value proposition' of potentially triggering a global conflict with China. There's a thing called the 'is/ought gap' ... you should look into it.

As for Afghanistan, it's different because we already have plenty of skin in the game there. It's a job we've already taken on and need to complete. I see no reason why we shouldn't increase troop levels and operations there to achieve our objectives of shutting down al Qaeda and removing the Taliban's stain on that country.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes at January 16, 2009 8:46 AM

Maryland, are you actually blaming Clinton for bad CIA intel? It's simple really: without question the CIA screwed the pooch. So after 9/11, when it became clear that the CIA's "stupidence" (can you really call it "intelligence?") regarding the middle east was wrong, Bush and company should have discounted it, instead of relying on it to go to war.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 16, 2009 8:51 AM

Bush believed only the intel he wanted to believe...no revised CIA intel program would change that... We needed a different president to interpret the intel if we wanted pragmatic decisions...

Posted by: AstrosFan at January 16, 2009 12:19 PM

"Oh, the next 4 years are gonna be fun.

Q: What is your policy?

A: The Bush Administration screwed up, I don't like Bush, I think Bush did bad things.

Q: Um, OK, so what should we do now?

A: I believe the Bush Administration is at fault, I really, really don't like Bush, I disagreed with Bush at the time and continue to do so.

Q: Ah, all right, what do you say is the proper step to take, you know, going forward?

A: Bush was wrong ....."

That and the "The liberal MSM is always against us..." line is so tired, so played, so pathetic. Please come up with some new material.

Posted by: jim at January 16, 2009 1:31 PM

It's like, hey, you can't complain about Mugabe, pal, because you're not calling in airstrikes on Harare RIGHT THIS SECOND.

And when a dictator calls your bluff, like Saddam did, you guys were exposed for the posturing sissies you actually are. And the irony here is that you think the U.S. is not respected because we actually do something when our bluff is called but if we'd just "run away" like you guys always want, then we'd be respected.

Please come up with some new material.

After 8 years, I think our host is telling you who needs a different act.

Posted by: spongeworthy at January 16, 2009 4:29 PM

To quote that outstanding American, Joe Biden:

Gird your loins!

Posted by: Lee at January 16, 2009 4:52 PM

Sponge,

Sorry, the incessant whining about everything has become ridiculously unbecoming. At first the "It's Bush's fault" line was sorta funny coming from people who TO THIS DAY blame Bill Clinton for, hmm, everything. Now? It's pathetic and sad and really, really old. And everyone thinks the whole "media is against us" stuff was played out a really long time ago. Yeah, you need new material or the asskicking you got in 2008 is going to look like a day at the freaking beach compared to what y'all will end up with down the line. Whining is boring and that is pretty much what you have settled into.

Posted by: jim at January 16, 2009 4:57 PM

You are missing the point jim. Republicans never used Clinton as an excuse to not propose a policy.

So I put it to you this way: starting Tuesday, what should Obama do about Afghanistan? Try answering the question without using the words "Bush" or "Iraq".

Posted by: Crank at January 16, 2009 5:07 PM

I'm sure Obama will not use those two words in the snarky little context that you and yours attempt to illicit. He's too smart to start with something like, "Bush's not so good idea to invade Iraq..." which, while accurate, doesn't really move the meter that much. Perhaps y'all would let him become President before insisting he implement policy. All your buds in the "media" don't ("this is Obama's Recession" is one of the more glaringly insane stuff making the rounds these days).

Again, get off the "Don't blame Bush for anything" bandwagon. He screwed the pooch royally and deserves a whole crapload of blame for lots of things. If you all are going to go with that you'll eventually have to avoid U.S. History all together.

Posted by: jim at January 16, 2009 5:15 PM

You guys are hilarious. Terrorists supported by the Taliban in Afghanistan attacked us. Many pacifists opposed attacking them, but most "lefties" were all for it. We'll regret how much treasure and blood it will cost compared to what we could have done in Afghanistan if the crazy people had not wanted to attack Iraq, but the claim that we do not want to fight the Taliban comes only from your great love of just Making "Stuff" Up.

Posted by: Jim at January 16, 2009 9:43 PM

You guys are hilarious. Terrorists supported by the Taliban in Afghanistan attacked us. Many pacifists opposed attacking them, but most "lefties" were all for it. We'll regret how much treasure and blood it will cost compared to what we could have done in Afghanistan if the crazy people had not wanted to attack Iraq, but the claim that we do not want to fight the Taliban comes only from your great love of just Making "Stuff" Up.

Posted by: Jim at January 16, 2009 9:43 PM

And when a dictator calls your bluff, like Saddam did, you guys were exposed for the posturing sissies you actually are.

What bluff? What posturing? Again, it's possible to criticize a regime or a dictator without hollering for an invasion of their country. Saying, for example, that the Russian or Chinese governments are brutal, oppressive regimes but AT THE SAME TIME it would be unwise to go to war with them is not a 'bluff' or 'posturing'. It's better characterized as 'sanity'.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes at January 17, 2009 1:33 AM

Crank asked the libs/Democrats:

So I put it to you this way: starting Tuesday, what should Obama do about Afghanistan? Try answering the question without using the words "Bush" or "Iraq".


No lib man enough to answer this question? Tuesday is only a few days away!

Posted by: Lee at January 17, 2009 9:20 AM

spongey,
Lest you forget: We went into Iraq to show the world how strong we are. The world now knows how stupid we are.
Mission Accomplished!

Posted by: Berto at January 17, 2009 1:07 PM

I wouldn't pretend to know enough about the situation to make an ass out of myself by suggesting some plan for Afghanastan here. What a ridiculous statement. Let's see, as far as I know, no one here sees classified intelligance about the situation, talks with military experts on the ground or has a fleet of advisors who have dealt with the Middle East (in theory) for many, many years. Yes, let's get the plans of bloggers to decide what to do with a highly volatile, incredibly complex foreigh affair. Yes, that's sounds like a super idea.

Posted by: jim at January 17, 2009 1:15 PM

Jim,

OK, so now when you are asked for your plan all you can say "Un duh, I don't know enough to suggest anything". But of course you know enough to say all the other stuff in your posts.

Life is tough when you actually have put up or shut up!

Posted by: Lee at January 17, 2009 8:21 PM

Lee,

No I just no when I am not qualafied to answer a question. Please point to the posts where I have asserted policy positions on such matters. An OPINION about whether something is a good idea or not (invading Iraq for instance) is a far cry from a position about what our diplomatic and military strategy ought to be over the next x amount of months. Please, enlighten us all with your clearly well informed and researched knowledge about the best course of action for Afghanastan. Please cite the military, diplomatic, classified intelligance and governmental sources you use to come to your glittering and solid state conclusion.

I don't have to put up or shut up. I have nothing to do with it. Based on your assinine statement I am glad (or at least hopeful) that you don't either.

Posted by: jim at January 17, 2009 8:56 PM

Blackberry typing. The second "NO" is clearly supposed to be "KNOW".

Posted by: jim at January 17, 2009 8:57 PM

Jim,

Convenient answer; sounds like the Obama.

Since you can't give us an informed answer, how about just your opinion? You seem to be able to generate those easy enough.

Posted by: Lee at January 18, 2009 11:25 AM

Lee,

Must be tough being as funny as you are. You apparently don't have any sort of answer. I have an opinion on it. But, no doubt, whatever I would write would be the worst thing ever so for your little imagination just pretend I said the thing that would make you roll your eyes the most. That's my opinion. Whatever pisses you off the most is likely my position. You can have your assumptions about my opinion and I can have my assumptions about what your opinion would be which, I no doubt would think was puzzling. We can then avoid all the nonsense of posting as we both will be convinced the other is wrong. Fortunately for me I know that neither of our ideas or opinions mean anything more than bunk since neither of really knows shit about this when you come right down to it.

Posted by: jim at January 18, 2009 11:37 AM

I'm trying to stop wasting time in these fora, but some statements are so inaccurate they demand responses. The problem with the fella who wrote the post on which I'm going to comment is not his lack of knowledge but that he knows so many things which don't happen to be true.

"And the Bushies went in and clobbered the Taliban. With, uh, the army Bill Clinton left them."
WRONG! Clinton's army (at least its leaders) wanted to build up to hundreds of thousands before invading Afghanistan. Rumsfeld chose to use Special Forces and the CIA in concert with the Northern Alliance and assorted warlords.

"Not to worry, we went into Iraq based on, what we now know to be false premises."
WRONG! Three premises existed for the invasion. 1. Get rid of a cruel regime that sponsored terrorism. 2. Introduce representative government and a changed attitude to the Near East. 3. Get rid of WMDs which all Western intelligence services believed were in Iraq in large numbers.

Two out of three ain't so bad.

Posted by: Dai Alanye at January 18, 2009 8:55 PM

There is a larger problem here, and that is the inability of either the Dems or the Repubs, since the end of the Cold War, to define our national interests in a way that leads to a consistent foreign policy. I'm not saying it would be easy to do so - I'm just saying it's a problem.

Under Clinton, we had no foreign policy at all, which meant an ad-hoc response to whatever crisis appeared at the moment. Bush went in the entirely opposite direction, the terror doctrine, which was so broad and unambiguous that we could be invading any number of states.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

1) Gulf War I - Good - why? Iraq, having Kuwait and troops at Saudi Arabia's border, could have asserted de facto control over OPEC. US national interest: Oil. We need a divided OPEC, given that it is already a cartel.

2)Somalia - Ugly. No US national interests at stake.

3)Haiti - Ugly. No US national interests at stake.

4)Afghanistan I - Good. They harbored al Queda, which is obviously in our interests to destroy.

5) Gulf War II - Bad. Saddam was effectively contained, no oil interest threatened, no significant connections to al Queda, no WMD. If we needed boots on the ground to go after al Queda, Afghanistan was the place.

Posted by: MVH at January 19, 2009 8:29 AM
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