Keith Olbermann Iraq ‘Betrayal’ Special Comment

Keith Olbermann’s most recent Special Comment was indeed quite special.

Watch the video:

He has accused the Democratic leadership of “betrayal” for caving in on the Iraq supplemental.

The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

He also invokes history:

Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War. All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.

When compromise with the elected president constitutes “betrayal,” there’s something terribly wrong. Olbermann is being widely cheered in the left blogosphere, though.

Olbermann believes this controversy will have a major impact on the Democratic nomination and force a strong anti-war candidate to the forefront. Presumably, that means Barack Obama, since Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich would appear to be non-factors. At any rate, the internecine warfare will be interesting to watch.

Full transcript below the fold.

A Special Comment about the Democrats’ deal with President Bush to continue financing this unspeakable war in Iraq—and to do so on his terms:

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

* The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
* The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
* The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
* The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”
Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning… is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.
Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President!
How shameful it would be to watch an adult… hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.
But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.
You lead this country, sir?
You claim to defend it?
And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.
Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.
A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.
Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.
You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”

That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?

Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.
All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
The Democrats have merely streamlined the process.
Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening?
See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided… tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

* Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats… have failed us.
They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
* Mr. Bush and his government… have failed us.
They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course.
That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.
We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.

They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.
Because, on the subject of Iraq…
The people have been ahead of the media….
Ahead of the government…
Ahead of the politicians…
For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics… is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies?
To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Actually, I sort of have to agree with Olberman. The people who support the war are morally in the clear. Whether good or bad, they at least are supporting the war out of a belief that it is the best policy choice we have. The various democrats who ran on ending the war have no such recourse, however. If one believes, as they claimed to believe, that a monstrous wrong is being committed, but refrain from doing anything about it for fear of harming their political careers, it’s hard to describe it as anything other than a betrayal.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    He also invokes history

    not to mention instantiating Godwin’s Law. If the Democrats are Neville Chamberlain and “compromising” (it’s not actually compromise) with President Bush is declaring “peace in our time” then President Bush is ….

  3. Anderson says:

    I am working on Anderson’s Law, which would be a ban on the invocation of Godwin’s Law …

    I suppose the Dems have problems like Lieberman jumping ship & flipping the Senate. Given that they can’t override the veto, it seems prudent to fold on the timeline issue in order to keep control of the Senate and keep those hearings coming.

  4. Bithead says:

    Well, it WOULD be interesting, if the RINOS were not so intent on giving away the country by means of the immigration bill. That controversy would seem to be the realtive equivalent on the right, to the war issue on the left. At the moment, both sides are infighting.

    However, getting out of horserace mode, I’ll say to Dragon, that those not supporting the war are doing so for political reasons…. reasons that simply do not hold up under serious scrutiny… even their OWN scrutiny. Which is why we see the Democrats caving on this stuff. In reality, the nutroots are ticked that the congressional Democrats gave in to reality.

    One hopes that both they and the Republcians will do so, and soon.

  5. Invoking history or rewriting it? Neville Chamberlain’s “moment” came from thinking mere words on a piece of paper was all that was needed to stop a madman intent on taking over the world, rather than preparing and dealing with a festering problem before it became a real threat to his country’s way of life and its very survival. I agree that the Democrat’s are having a “Neville Chamberlain moment” but it isn’t because they’ve suddenly caved in on the country’s trying to fight back.

    Oh, and if the Democrats are Neville Chamberlain, that makes George Bush Winston Churchill rather than Adolf Hitler. Hmmm…, if Mr. Olbermann s going to start using the “Neville Chamberlain moment” analogy, is that an implicit acknowledgment that terrorism is as big a threat as Nazism? Otherwise, this is all just overblown hyperbole, but to be fair, that is Mr. Olbermann’s stock and trade.

  6. Matt T says:

    those not supporting the war are doing so for political reasons…. reasons that simply do not hold up under serious scrutiny…

    Let’s examine the reasons FOR war, and how they hold up to serious scrutiny:
    1. If we leave, the terrorists follow us home.
    Terrorists have the ability to multi-task. They can come get us here and fight over there at the same time.

    2. If we establish a timeline, they’ll just wait us out.
    It doesn’t matter if we advertise when we’re going to leave or not. Even with no advertisement, the terrorists could still up attacks en masse when they got up one morning, looked around, and realized there were no Americans.

    3. We must “Support the Troops”(TM).
    3,400+ Troops supported and counting. Order more yellow ribbons.

    4. We’re fighting for our Western values and way of life.
    The terrorists don’t hate us because we watch American Idol and eat BBQ. They hate us because of our foreign policies and how those policies have negatively impacted Muslims worldwide. I’m not saying America has no right to act in its own self-interest, nor am I even remotely suggesting America deserved 9-11, but far too many people misunderstand the basic concept of why we are fighting the GWOT. While radical Muslim fanaticism is the cause, American interventionism has at least something to do with the creation of Muslim fanaticism. This is not “Blaming America First,” or BDS, but simply rational thought. It’s amazing how Ron Paul’s statement of these facts at the Republican debate, being grounded in common sense, were treated as the heresy of all heresies.

    5. We have an obligation to the Iraqis to prevent genocide.
    This seems to me to be the most true and correct of all reasons for war, but seems to be the last to be shouted from the mountain tops by this Administration and its supporters. It’s time to bring in the rest of the world to help deal with the death and destruction in Iraq, even if that means swallowing some national pride.

  7. bobdevo says:

    Compromise with this president constitutes treason and total betrayal of the Consitution of the United States (e.g., warrantless wiretapping, unitary executive, habeas).

    Not to mention that “compromise” implies the Dems get something out of this deal – and they don’t.

    The same cowardice that prompted them to vote for the AUMF is behind this sell out. They should have passed the same funding bill and sent it back to Bush. Let him veto the funding bill. The headline is: Bush Vetoes Troop Funding.

    In an unscientific poll on MSNBC the other day, 88% of the over 500,000 respondents said Bush shoudl be impeached. The public is WAY ahead on this issue; the pols in Washington are virtually with few exceptions- (Kucinich,Feingold, et al)are gutless bloviating hacks.

  8. A response to the points in the previous post by Matt T:

    1. If we leave or stay, the terrorists will follow us home. The important thing is to continue to fight them rather than imagining that any kind of appeasement will make them stop.

    2. The response is a non sequitur. In any battle theater, announcing you will leave does allow the enemy to plan accordingly.

    3. Your support for the troops is duly noted. Unfortunately, bloodless war never has, and never will, exist. Except, of course, in Star Trek episodes.

    4. Sorry, not buying what you’re selling. Muslim fanaticism, militarism and aggression existed before there even was a United States. What is happening now is more of a response to a perceived weakness in the West than anything else. I’m certainly not claiming our hearts or deeds have always been pure, but the drivel offered by bin Laden and others for why they are attcking us is clearly having its intended effects on its intended audience.

    5. So stopping genocide is only legitimate if it is the shouted from the mountaintops first? Oh, and the rest of the world is more than welcome to come and help out anytime they want to get in the game. Be careful what you wish for.

  9. Pug says:

    Keith does seem a little overwrought about all this but, in fairness to his position, there was an election last November and George Bush’s policy in Iraq didn’t fare well at all. His response has been a “screw you” to American voters, the Iraq Study Group, any and all critics and now Congress as he pushes ahead with another wacky idea that originated at the American Enterprise Institute.

    His stubbornness is why the few who still support him love him so much. However, if I were Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Gordon Smith, Chris Shays or any elected congressman from anywhere outside the Old Confederacy, I’d be starting to sweat a little. This capitulation by the Democrats will blow over in a few weeks and Republicans will be left with full ownership of the unfolding catastrophe in Iraq, accompanied by rising American casualties. Good luck with that, GOP.

  10. Matthew J. Stinson says:

    (The following is heavily influenced by repeated watching of public affairs shows on Chinese state television. You have been warned.)

    Matt T: While radical Muslim fanaticism is the cause, American interventionism has at least something to do with the creation of Muslim fanaticism.


    Saddam? Forget removing him from power, let alone the first Gulf War. We should’ve let him have Kuwait like April Glaspie promised. Why needlessly stick a thumb in the eye of Muslims by meddling in their internal affairs?

    Israel? Who cares about a few Jews if taking their side hurts our relationship with hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world? For the good of the many, and all…

    East Timor? Why did we let our puppet-allies the Australians needlessly provoke the Muslims of the world by intervening in the so-called “bloodbath” there? Can’t all thinking men accept that the Bali bombing was likely a form of blowback from these aggressive Australian policies?

    Finally, don’t get me started on our persecution of the Taliban. How dare we judge their way of life when our nation benefited from 300 years of slavery?

    But there’s no use lamenting the failed policies of the past. We have to look forward. If we could all just come together as a nation and get our troops out of Iraq, start voting against Israel in the UN, issue a statement deploring the election of Sarkozy in France, and stop harassing the poor Sudanese over this silly Darfur business, Muslims would begin to respect America again and the fanatics would put down their suicide bomb vests and return to their favorite pastimes of banning music and beating women.

    (In fairness to Matt T, his comment deserved a more substantive response. But he got that from Charles Austin.)

  11. Pug says:

    If the left wing is sincere about feeling betrayed my main electoral politics question is: will left-liberals sit on their hands if the party fronts anything less than a strong anti-war candidate? (Not being particularly left nor liberal I cannot answer this. Any takers?)

    Don’t expect “left-liberals” to sit on their hands in the next election. The American public wants the Iraq War over, not just so-called “leftists”. They demonstrated that in the last election.

  12. Matthew J. Stinson says:

    In seriousness, the shallowness of the Republican field left me thinking the Democrats were up for a Hillary or Obama cakewalk in 2008, but I get the feeling from reading Olbermann’s transcript — didn’t watch it — that a few on the left wing of the Democratic party would dearly love a 1968 convention-style fiasco if they deem the chosen candidate a “betrayer.”

    If the left wing is sincere about feeling betrayed my main electoral politics question is: will left-liberals sit on their hands if the party fronts anything less than a strong anti-war candidate? (Not being particularly left nor liberal I cannot answer this. Any takers?)

  13. Robert says:

    Matt T and Charles Austin are both wrong.

    If you want to know why we are at war and why we can’t stop it, use the age old adage: Follow the Money.

    Corporations drive this country (into the ground) and these are the real constituents of our politicians.
    They don’t want the profiteering gravy train to stop until there is no more money to be made.
    So the politicians, on both sides of the aisle (Hooray for the 2-party system!) are just doing their bidding.

    War is the product they are selling.
    Fear is how they market it.
    Profit is the end-game.

  14. Eneils Bailey says:

    I am an old poot.

    Keith Olbermann reminds me of those lost souls of the sixties and early seventies who used to roam the streets of San Francisco.

    Guitar in hand, tin cup extended, a magical combination of instrumental and lyrical doo-doo, that listened to and abided by while in an intoxicated state seemed to make sense.

    I grew up, too bad Keith is still picking and grinning.

  15. Anderson says:

    Sigh. Wasting my time, but here’s a rebuttal to Mr. Austin:

    If we leave or stay, the terrorists will follow us home.

    How, exactly, does this make any sense? Do you imagine for a moment that Qaeda wouldn’t rather hit us in America than in Iraq? They *haven’t* hit us here because they *can’t*. But, with the prestige & money they are raising via our Iraq adventure, they *will*.

    (2) Announcing our intent to leave is not comparable to a “theater of war.” This is an OCCUPATION, which is impermanent by nature. Of course we are going to leave, and everyone knows it. We do not have an obligation to sacrifice American lives to keep the terrorists from feeling cheery.

    (3) Of course wars aren’t bloodless, which is one big reason why you don’t fight a war unless you have no better choice. We have a better choice than continuing the occupation: get the hell out.

    (4) If you want to be totally, abysmally ignorant, go ahead. Nobody has ever attacked the U.S. because of our Victoria’s Secret commercials.

    (5) Genocide is happening NOW, in slow motion. Stopping a bus and shooting everyone with a name that sounds Sunni or Shiite? That’s genocide, my friends, and stuff like that happens every week.

  16. Robert says:

    Enels Bailey might be the last to know, but here goes:
    The hippies were right.

  17. Eneils Bailey says:

    “The hippies were right.”

    If you and your constituency had collected any support and become a political force we would have Dennis Kuncinich as a front runner in the democrat party. Maybe Keith for Veep.

    Ummm, maturity and detox brings a whole new perspective to world.

  18. Robert says:

    That’s right.
    Viet Nam was a big winner for the U.S. (LOL)

    You keep eating the crap those in authority feed you. Just don’t complain that your breath smells like shit.

  19. Michael says:

    They should have passed the same funding bill and sent it back to Bush. Let him veto the funding bill. The headline is: Bush Vetoes Troop Funding.

    In case you missed it, the headlines ran “Bush Vetoes Withdraw Timeline” the first time, what makes you think they’ll change it the second time?

  20. Michael says:

    Eneils, surely you don’t think Vietnam would have been won using the strategy they were using, if only there was more support back home?

  21. Tlaloc says:

    When compromise with the elected president constitutes “betrayal,” there’s something terribly wrong.

    Indeed. We have one brach refusing to serve america and a second branch now enabling that behavior.

    Honestly though I didn’t expect the dems to take a big dramatic stand. In september the politics will be more on their side and they’ll make more of an effort to end the war. And if they fail we’ll almost certainly get a dem president who will make a hasty withdrawl.

  22. Eneils Bailey says:


    Get a grip.

    I was in no way referring to VN.
    I was referring to the socialitial and the political disruption brought upon our country based upon a world-wide revolution that had no place to go until people realized like myself , that revolution for revolution’s sake without a place to go without being stoned was an endless journey.

  23. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I want to ask Pug, if the election of 2006 was about the war in Iraq, why is Joe a senator not Ned? There was no Iraq mandate. Period. If there was, what was all that BS about Foley, Cunningham and Abramoff? I remember Democrats vowing to clean up congress. Is that what Murtha is doing, bribing freshman congressmen to keep from being censored by the House? If Ted Kennedy had not pushed immigration to divide the Republicans, you were going to get stomped in the next election. No candidate that appeases the left will be elected to national office. Olbermann is a fool. Notice to market share he gets. The only way to find out what Olbermann has to say is to read about it on the blogs because no one watches. Listening to Herr Olbermann is akin to listening to Hitlers speeches. Difficult to comprehend and full of illogical rant.

  24. Eneils Bailey says:


    I agree with you, the war could not have been won using the strategy that the democrats employed. Support back home did dwindle over the years.

    Military assertion, based upon proper tactics early in the conflict could have ensured victory within a fortnight.

    I did not not make my statement about a street minstrel, roaming the sidewalks of San Francisco, begging for change, strumming for attention, and humming to the tune for words he did not know to indicate that I agreed with any national policy.

    I have never seen such a quantum leap in logic since I attended a global warming indoctrination.

  25. “Because, because, the corporations…” — Alec Baldwin in Team America


    Anderson, here goes…

    1. We are in a long battle with radical elements of Islamofascism now whether we want to be or not, whether we caused it or not, whether we deserve it or not, etc. As Eowyn said in The Two Towers, “Those without swords can still die on them.” More attacks in America, Americans, and American interests and those of our allies are coming. Maybe the forces we have arrayed however imperfectly to interdict them are working, at least to a level sufficient to have prevented more attacks thus far. As General Patton said (paraphrasing), “nobody ever won a war by dying for his country, you win a war by making some other poor bastard die for his.” Do you, like John Edwards, believe we aren’t really at war?

    2. Sarcasm and misinterpretation of my comments serves no useful purpose. I’ll try to avoid doing the same. The are many, many reasons we ar in Iraq right now. I really don’t know how to respond to a statement that claims I believe we are doing it keep the terrorists from feeling cheery.

    3. Of course, you are aware that five years of war under Bush have resulted in the death of half as many people in uniform as died during the eight years of peace under Clinton, right? I fully concur that you only go to war if you are serious and have a damn good reason. I believe we have a damn good reason, but I do wish we were substantially more serious about it.

    4. Ok, I’m abysmally ignorant. Good one. Point taken.

    5. I don’t believe what you described is genocide. It is terrorism, really bad and totally unacceptable, and thank goodness we are doing what we can to stop it. I must admit though that I can’t figure out whether you are agreeing with me or not that we need to stay to try and prevent a genocidal situation from developing in Iraq.

  26. Tlaloc says:

    Wow, charles. You managed to regurgitate every diproven perspective that the whitehouse has come up with in 6 years in just one post.

    I suppose some sort of congratulations are in order. It’s hard to fit that much BS in so few lines.


  27. confused us says:

    Dear Eneils,
    Just to update you, “our constituency” became a “political force” and we did pull out of Vietnam.
    And Iraq will follow suit since “our constituency” is the dirty hippy 70 percent. I guess that means you 28 percenters are “more mature” and “detoxed”.

  28. Eneils Bailey says:

    Charles Austin,

    Good reply, a reasoned response to unbridled ignorance.

    Everything at this point in time, is trying to discredit the US, simply because George Bush is President.

    Let a democrat sit in the White House and all this would be interpreted as defending the US, and the ACLU would go to wanting to hang the enemies of the US instead of trying to find ways of giving them Constitutional rights.

    “The World Turned Upside Down,” There is a concert scheduled at Yorktown , Va. for all you democrats.

  29. Eneils Bailey says:

    Dear confused,

    And how appropriate. You gave us Jimmy Carter, after George McGovern.

    And after more Islamnist terrorists attacks, you give us…?…

  30. Eneils Bailey says:

    “are “more mature” and “detoxed”.”

    At least you nailed that one.

  31. confused us says:

    and you gave us a two billion dollar a month unwinnable war by a detoxed child?

    remember you dopes the soviets spent eleven years pounding the Islamists and there was no “liberal press” to undermine the effort. They gave up. Any lesson history has to offer people like you excel at ignoring.
    How’bout two billion a month to secure the airports, for the INS, the border, the sea ports, for the FBI. No pour it down the dummy drain so you can feel good about hating democrats.
    Maturity passed you and took intellect with it

  32. Eneils Bailey says:


    That you are.

  33. Eneils Bailey says:

    Thanks guys,

    I really enjoy the agreement, the disagreement, and the friendly banter.

    I think all of you guys are really intelligent, and i enjoy the ideas and thoughts put forth.

    Have to go now, had a contractor in the house all day and I have enjoyed the exchange.

    Gotta go and get five animals to the Vet this afternoon.

    and all others.
    Check you out later today.

  34. Anderson says:

    Mr. Austin:

    (1) The “flypaper” theory makes no sense, for reasons oft stated. It didn’t stop the Madrid or London attacks. Our analysts believe that the Iraq war is strengthening al-Qaeda, not weakening it. They’re already rebuilding their training structure, this time in Pakistan, and with funds raised on the Iraq war. (Leaving aside the grotesque notion that we are deliberately sending kids to get blown up in Baghdad to spare civilians from getting blown up in Manhattan.)

    (2) Maybe if your opposition to timelines made some sense, I would have more than snark to reply with. Look: we tell Iraq “achieve goal X by date Y, or we’re outta here.” If they DON’T achieve the goal, then what is the downside of leaving? Like the insurgents can’t figure out that the gov’t is failing? They will have firsthand knowledge of that fact, trust me. WITHOUT timelines, we’re back to “now, now, Diem, we really need to see some progress ….”

    (3) “Supporting the troops” is vapid logic. Were we going to starve them? Surrender them to the enemy? The point isn’t “support,” the point is: Do we have a military objective that we can accomplish with the resources at hand? No. We do not.

    (4) Matt T ridiculed the “fighting for our Western values and way of life” rationale. You had nothing meaningful to say in response to that point. We do not face any existential challenge from Islamic terror, the way we did from Soviet nukes. Frankly, to echo the House of Lords, Western values are much more jeopardized by trading habeas rights for torture, than they are by anything Osama has done or could ever hope to do.

    (5) If you don’t think there’s genocide going on now, then I’m not sure that the results of our leaving would strike you as genocide either. I call setting out to murder (in a given territory) everyone of a particular race, creed, or culture “genocide.” If you think these murders are being done just to scare enemies into fleeing, then call it “ethnic cleansing.” Either way, we can’t stop it, and we aren’t preventing it.

    See this from a Brit who was governor of an Iraqi province a coupla years back.

    The problems in Iraq are now so deep, complex, and intractable that they cannot be solved by surges or new tactics. They can only be solved by Iraqi political leadership and Iraqi political processes. * * * My instinct is that Iraqis can overcome their problems and create a functioning nation. But even if I’m wrong, I believe that what good we can do we have done. We should leave now.

  35. Anderson,

    1. Conversely, I believe the flypaper strategy has worked and continues to work, though I’m not sure the administration deserves the credit you want to give them for it. Demanding a utopian ideal of never having another attack anywhere else as a measure of success isn’t really a serious argument. FWIW, I am not certain that the flypaper strategy is morally and ethically a good one. It strikes me as a variant of a NIMBY argument, where we consciously shift the collateral carnage of innocents to someone else’s neighborhood.

    2. My emphasis isn’t on timelines, but victory. I wish I knew how long it would take, but I don’t, and neither does anyone else. I’ve worked on many large engineering projects as designer, developer, project manager and program manager. We always start by developing schedules and budgets, but we never confuse the end dates and total spend created when we begin with being complete. Requirements can change and sometimes projects have become to difficult or too expensive to complete and they have been cancelled, but cancelling them is not then considered as having completed them. Some new variant of the project is usually initiated because the need that created the project is still there. What amazes me is that anyone, the administration included, thinks this is anything less than a very long haul. I know that I’m a out on a ledge here, but I’ve said it before, what if this is as good as it gets?

    3. I think we accomplished the military objective a long time ago, about three weeks after we started IIRC. Everything since isn’t really a job for the military, but it’s the only tool we have to try and take care of it that has the ability and the resources to even make the attempt, especially since the UN and most of the rest of the world refuses to seriously engage.

    4. We’ll just have to agree to diagree regarding the existential threat. Perhaps you meant to include the adverb imminent, in which case I’d probably agree. The existential threat isn’t imminent, but it is real. IIRC, Osama bin Laden himself claims this, so am I supposed to believe him or not? As to the our sins or their sins argument, it is a false dichotomy and perhaps an appeal to authority as well.

    5. Pulling over a bus and killing everyone on it for racial/religionist/ethnic/whatever reasons is really, really bad, but in and of itself does not constitute genocide. Frankly, I think this is just a means to an end. Ultimately, I believe the Sunnis/Shia’s/Al Qaeda/whatever really want to enslave the Shia’s/Sunnis/Iraqis/whatever more than they want them all dead.

    I respect the former British governor’s opinion, and he has knowledge and experience that I don’t have, but I disagree with him. FWIW, General Petraus has a lot of knowledge and experience I don’t have as well, but I don’t think he would agree with the governor’s assessment. Certainly most of the uniformed servicemen and servicewoman with multiple tours of duty in the Sandbox who continue to reup would not agree with him either, but then that’s one of the problems with the appeal to authority error.

  36. Anderson says:

    Thanks for the response; I’ll just confine myself to noting that neither Bush nor the Dems seem to be committed to putting in the kind of effort you (perhaps rightly) think necessary.

    In which case, we may as well get out now, rather than years from now after lots more Americans troops are dead.

    The British governor’s piece (which is well worth clicking through to, y’all) is persuasive to me most of all b/c he emphasizes that we cannot create “Iraq” for the Iraqis — they have to do it themselves. And to adapt a phrase, they will not *begin* to stand up, until we stand down.

  37. Concur, thanks. FWIW, I’m desperately trying to remove snark from my commentary, but it is harder than I thought after many years of it. My apologies if any of my comments and counter-arguments come across that way. Given the state of the blogosphere these days I think it is more important to be civil than to be right. If we are to get something other than lost time out of these exercises we need to elevate the discussion a little bit, and I’m trying to do my part. I hate to sound too naive, but we (the royal we) can and should agree to disagree a lot more than we do without having to question motives or suppose stupidity with those who think differently. But I digress.

  38. Anderson says:

    Snark is too deeply-rooted a vice of mine for me to renounce it, but I do apologize for any hurt feelings.

  39. Eneils Bailey says:

    Not many people ever betrayed an idea or thought because someone insulted their person.

    It’s like banana grease coconut oil, you work it in to the recipe in bits and drabs until they are eating out of your hand.
    It is truly a pleasant feeling to win the hearts and minds without kicking the asses and butts.
    I have done both, I prefer greasing the skids, as opposed to to killing the ideas.
    It is an an idea that was instilled in me many years ago.

  40. Jim Henley says:

    Bill Richardson counts as “strongly antiwar,” and needn’t end up as the nonfactor Kucinich and Dodd will.

  41. Alex says:

    Please tell me exactly how it was a ‘compromise’ rather than ‘caving’.

    Well played, well played. Democrats try to pass a bill that provides perfectly adequate funding to the troops ALREADY IN THE FIELD, Bush VETOES THE FUNDING, and somehow the Democrats are ‘denying funding to the troops’. Because you see, Bush isn’t accountable for his veto or anything else he does – he’s actually physically incapable of signing a bill that’s anything other than what he specified he wanted. It’s not like he could have gotten this funding to the troops months sooner by just signing the bill ad then wrangling over deadlines. It’s not like Congress has control over funding and has the right to stipulate conditions. No no, the President has the right to do anything he wants and the Congress are just an annoyance in his way. Why do we even have one anyway?

    You may have fooled the Democrats, scumbags, but if you think this will amount to any increase in public support for you or the war, you’re mistaken. Understandable that the only idea of ‘victory’ that remains for you is simply dragging the other party down into your muck. Congratulations.

  42. “Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War. All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit. The Democrats have merely streamlined the process. Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impunity.”

    Isn’t it perversely hilarious to watch Keith “Uberman” invoke Nevellie Chamberlain in the same rant that he vigorously advocates a Neveille Chamberlain strategy for America in Iraq? Keith believes there is no threat from radical Islam if America retreats from Iraq and that the best course for America is a complete capitulation in Iraq that Al Qaeda will trumpet as a huge victory, that will turbo charge Al Qaeda’s recruiting and fundraising, and that will allow a strengthened Al Qaeda to focus its full attention on attacking our homeland. He also feels comfortable that Iran will not add Iraq to its military alliance with Syria and use the combined force to overrun the Middle East oilfields that contain 2/3 of the world’s oil supply. Even though America imports over 60% of its oil consumption, Keith is not concerned that control of most of the world’s oil supply by America’s worst enemies could result in a cutoff of oil to the USA, the collapse of the American economy, and the devastation of the financial well being of every American including the “Uberman” himself!

    Keith is the media Neville Chamberlain of our era. He and people like him must be stopped for the same reason!

    If you believe the scenario above is alarmism, please visit my url or the link below before you support Keith’s insanity.