Ken Mehlman on Hardball VIDEO

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman was on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last night discussing the Iraq War. Some video excerpts at YouTube, courtesy the RNC:


YouTube – Ken Mehlman on MSNBC

Particularly noteworthy is this quote about Rep. John Murtha’s call for immediate withdrawal:

If we had followed the approach that Mr. Murtha suggested, we would have withdrawn last November. Think of what’s happened since November that wouldn’t have happened if we had followed his approach. We wouldn’t have gotten Zarqawi; 40,000 troops, Iraqi troops, would not have been trained; the government probably would not have been formed; would the election have been held? That’s all happened since then. We got 200 people in the last few days, just since they’ve gotten Mr. Zarqawi. We have a treasure trove of intelligence and information. All of those things wouldn’t have happened if we had followed that approach.

Now, of course, we’ve also lost well over 400 American soldiers during that period and perhaps 5000 Iraqi innocents. But there has indeed been substantial progress.

UPDATE: To be clear, I’m not dismissing what Mehlman is saying here at all. He’s absolutely right and this level of achievement in a six month period, especially following claims that things were hopeless, is impressive indeed. I merely note that one can’t tout one’s gains without some mention of the losses.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. You have to look at what it costs now, what the costs will likely be in the future and what the benefits are likely to be. The lefts position that they don’t like how it got started, don’t like how it has been handled and want to quit now is all rear view thinking. You also need to look at what is going forward.

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    James, cannot help but wonder how many would have died if Zarqawi had been left to his own devices by a field absent of any U.S. forces. Imagine Zarqawi free to expand his influence to say, this country. There are those that would say it could not happen, but who would think the scion of a Saudi construction company would cause the damage Bin Ladin has. Certainly Clinton didn’t foresee what was possible, for he had BL in his hands, so to speak.

  3. ghostcat says:

    Your error … and it is a doozy … lies in your implication that Iraqi innocents would not have died had we cut and run. Have you no memory, sir?

  4. Steven Plunk says:

    Keep in mind that Hardball is not the most neutral venue for policy discussions. Mehlman is essentially in a situation where he must push his positives knowing the host or other guests will push the negatives. Like trial lawyers in court the primary responsibility of a spokesman is to advocate one position and let your adversary advocate the other.

  5. Ugh says:

    Your error â?¦ and it is a doozy â?¦ lies in your implication that Iraqi innocents would not have died had we cut and run.

    Melman’s error is in assuming that the things that happened would not have happened had we redeployed our troops as Murtha suggested (his other error is mis-characterizing Murtha’s proposal).

  6. Michael says:

    “You also need to look at what is going forward.”

    You can’t look at what is going to happen, you can only make projections about what is going to happen. Future projections are always a gamble, you may win the next hand, or you may lose, you don’t know. But if you stop playing now, you at least know what you will walk away from the table with.

    If you take the position that Zarqawi’s death proves that staying in Iraq was the right decision, you are also implying that if he had not been killed it would have been the wrong decision. And if you agree with that implication, then quitting Iraq 12 months ago would, by that implication, have been a good decision. You would also be left in the position of having to justify staying in Iraq now that Zarqawi is dead.

    Now, if you think staying in Iraq would have been the right decision regardless, then Zarqawi’s death can’t be used as proof that you were right.

    I’m not saying his death wasn’t a good thing, I’m glad we took him out and can now take out those we were using to get to him. I’m just saying don’t use his death to measure the correctness of the decision to stay and fight.

    I also have to agree with Ugh, I don’t recall Murtha ever calling for the US to abandon Iraq outright.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Ugh and Michael,

    Yes, Murtha was calling for a complete withdrawal. Read his own press release.

    My plan calls:

    To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
    To create a quick reaction force in the region.
    To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
    To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

    My take on it at the time here.

  8. Anybody want to take a wild guess on how many Iraqis will die within 90 days of the US pulling out if we leave now? How about if we leave this November? How about last November?

    I’m only trying to point out the lunacy of treating calls for withdrawal before the mission is complete as anything other that loony. When Iraq is ready to join the family of nations with a functioning government that can guarantee internal and external security let’s talk again.

  9. Tell you what James. Lets have a beer bet. Loser buys the brew. How many times has MSNBC reported the things Mehlman talked about. How many times have they reported the US soldiers deaths and Iraqi citizens deaths. If they have highlighted “the other side of the story” less than what Mehlman talked about, then bad on Mehlman for not being more balanced. If they highlighted the other more (especially significantly more), then Mehlman is using his few seconds of camera time to just try to get the rest of the story out there.

    p.s. I like Shiner Bock, so its not even an expensive brew.

  10. Michael,

    Are you sure about that? We can’t know the future with certainty? What a revelation. Such insight. I especially liked this piece of logic.

    “If you take the position that Zarqawiâ??s death proves that staying in Iraq was the right decision, you are also implying that if he had not been killed it would have been the wrong decision. And if you agree with that implication, then quitting Iraq 12 months ago would, by that implication, have been a good decision. You would also be left in the position of having to justify staying in Iraq now that Zarqawi is dead.”

    So the fact we didn’t kill Z man 12 months ago means we should leave now? But now that we have killed him we have to find a whole other reason for being in Iraq? Who can argue with logic like that?

  11. kb says:

    “We got 200 people in the last few days, just since they�ve gotten Mr. Zarqawi.”

    And how many people would have been saved if bush had signed off on the plans to kill zarqawi whilst he was in kurdish iraq in 2001/2/3 ?

    Of course that might have interrupted the plans to attack iraq to save us all from the dweadful,dweadful wmds chalabi was being paid to tell the US about.

  12. kb,

    And how many people would we have saved if Clinton had gotten OBL? And how many would we have saved if Wilson had stepped up to the pig trough after WWI and grabbed the US some colonies. We could have had a peaceful Iraq as a territory of the US like Guam or Puerto Rico. I tell you its all those evil democratic presidents fault for everything that has gone wrong in the world.

    Now, wasn’t that fun. Your turn to meaninglessly point fingers.

  13. kb, if you want to play that game, how about mentioning all the chances Clinton passed up to take bin Laden out of circulation? Gee, then the liberation of Iraq never would have happened at all.

  14. Tweedle says:

    Pretty low opinions regarding Iraqis vis Zarqawi. When Iraqis are no longer willing to tolerate the presence of al Qaeda types, they will eliminate them much faster than the U.S. could ever hope. That’s what Iraqis say, and it makes sense by itself. The idea that the U.S. is required to prevent a terrorist takeover of Iraq is but mere dishonest rhetoric. The presence of the likes Zarqawi in Iraq is irrelevent to the discussion of troop deployment options. Anyone who suggests otherwise is not serious and should be ignored.