Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Preemptive strike for me but not for thee (in which I passive-aggressively call out the much missed Curry King) (*Updated*)

I'm a good liberal (sort of). I certainly read Think Progress most days. 'Tis a fine source for right-wing goofs and hypocrisy. But recently, with the whole Obama vs. McCain on Pakistan thing, I mean come the fuck on.

First (well, probably not actually first, but the first thing I read), there was "McCain: I could send US troops 'anywhere' for 'a long period of time.'" Ooh, McCain, that warmonger! He'll send us to war again! Worse, he'll create more "long term occupations" (as if this particular long-term occupation is the only thing that's made this war not-so-peachy-keen). But look at what he said: does any US presidential candidate deny this basic philosophy? We already do have a military presence in many places of the world. There are currently soldiers in South Korea. Maybe some of them will be transferred to Oman tomorrow. Others to Colombia the day after that. Maybe they'll bomb Mogadishu while they're at it. The man speaks the truth! What're you gonna do about it?

Ugh, but then: "Would McCain Have Authorized the Strike that Killed a Senior Al-Qaeda Commander Last Month?" Don't be naive. Of course John McCain would approve. Of course he's just trying to score little political victories. But should this be met with "ra-ra Commander-in-Chief Obama!" militarism, the sort of blind faith in "actionable intelligence" and CIA and Pentagon "models" that Think Progress itself has mocked, for example with respect to military planning against Iran?

Who would see this "actionable intelligence"? The good, noble President Obama and his stouthearted Cabinet, who, being Democrats, could never make the sorts of secretive decisions later to be called deceptive and disastrous by the public? Is this not a recycled form of the "ticking time bomb" scenario justification for torture, so vigorously attacked by liberals when Republicans (Republicans alone, of course) utilize it to legitimize torturing Kalid Sheikh Mohammed, but apparently hunky dory when multiple civilians can be killed (not tortured -- killed) by an airstrike in such a scenario? Who, in fact, are killed in shameful numbers as it is?

Oh, and then there's this: "Obama's Pakistan position endorsed by Bush in '06." I give up. I just don't know what to do with this. What is the point here? "Obama is as wise as Bush once was, if only Bush would admit it"?

So, to sum up: (1) McCain made a factual claim, the basis of which will never be questioned by any candidate, (R) or (D), but which we should consider a call for expanded (Republican) war; (2) Obama made a claim for expanded (Democratic) war, which John McCain is all of the sudden too unintelligent to endorse (it's CIA-approved, after all!); (3) if McCain and Bush weren't so busy "deceiving" people, they would see that Obama and Bush share a common goal of bombing sovereign nations against their will. (Which McCain is too stupid to endorse -- except when he does! But he's a Republican!)

If this is the petty point-scoring game we can expect from liberals this campaign season, where "actionable intelligence" is good when the person pondering it with the American war machine at his fingertips has a little (D) next to his name, but bad when he's a Republican, you can count me out. If the game is such that we're all supposed to line up and cheer when a Democrat rains down missiles on another country, simply because it has the supremely bad luck of being where Bush didn't lead us to war ("He's diverted us from the true war front!" "What happened to the good war?"), then the game is seriously rigged towards ignorance and injustice.

Everyone think for your fucking self.

UPDATE: I see from the quickest of glances around the net that sophistry is alive and well on the left. Media Matters, always the humorless blunt object, is perhaps the most laugh/cringe-inducing. Behold the hair-splitting:

"Contrary to McCain's assertion [that Obama would "bomb" Pakistan - scantron], Obama did not say he would take action against Pakistan -- he made any action against 'high-value terrorist targets' inside Pakistan conditional -- and he did not specify what the action would be."

McCain said "bomb." Obama said "action." Who's to say what that action would be? It could be any number of things, such as inviting the high-value terrorist targets to a tea party, or to his daughter's soccer game, for example.

Oh, wait:

"Tapper wrote that Cordesman 'told me that Obama is correct, what he's talking about militarily would not be considered an 'invasion' .'"

So it is military. But it's a bombing, not an invasion! A bombing-not-invasion-conditional-on-actionable-intelligence action. A distinction sure to be appreciated by Pakistani civilians should President Obama bomb-not-invade them.

As if Media Matters needed to look even dumber, let's nonetheless turn to Obama's own words, and the words of his website's "fact checker":
But relying on Pakistan while we fight the wrong war in Iraq has not worked. Because of that policy, bin Laden and members of his inner circle who bear direct responsibility for the murder of 3,000 Americans are plotting new attacks. If Pakistan cannot or will not take out these high-level terrorist targets and we have actionable intelligence about where they are, then I would take action to protect the American people.

I firmly believe that if we know the whereabouts of bin Laden and his deputies and we have exhausted all other options, we must take them out [this could still mean anything! we could take them out to a movie - scantron].

I have never called for an invasion of Pakistan. You don’t need thousands of American troops to take out a meeting of high-level terrorists. Any student of the American military knows that we have many options to target terrorists with limited force, many of which involve no American boots on the ground. To suggest that targeting terrorists in Pakistan would be tantamount to an invasion is to misunderstand the capabilities of the U.S. military or to misrepresent my position.
Because if Cuban war planes bombed America for harboring people accused of terrorism against it, the American military would readily acknowledge the distinction between "invasion" and "bombing."

From the fact checker:
The Pentagon Favors the Obama Approach: The Pentagon is very concerned about the sanctuary. According to the New York Times, "the Pakistanis are still years away from fielding an effective counterinsurgency force. And some American officials, including Defense Secretary Gates, have said the United States may have to take direct action against militants in the tribal areas."
I'm sorry if I'm getting all Chomskyite all the sudden, but the semantic tricks played above are patent bullshit and need to be called out. That Obama was talking about military action is painfully obvious to anyone not intentionally trying to turn plain English into Linear B.

As for the invasion/bombing Humpty Dumpty logic, there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two when you're on the receiving end, especially if your country just voted out Musharraf's party and his special "relationship" with the U.S. in the "war on terror." Over a thousand civilians have died in terrorism-related deaths this year in Pakistan, yet strangely the Pakistanis seem to want nothing to do with a U.S. military presence in their country -- in fact the number is something like 9 percent. How interesting that when U.S. citizens don't experience nearly the same level of terrorist violence (in fact the level is non-existent), the automatic response of the government is expanded war-making, yet those most affected by al Qaeda in Pakistan reject such notions. Perhaps this sort of arrogance is what Democrats feel entitled to, but until the debate changes to reflect the reality of the desires of the Pakistani people, not to mention basic ideas of national sovereignty, I consider it a sham.


Blogger Robot said...

Alain Robbe-Grillet is dead and this is all you can think about?

As Jeffrey Herf's latest annoying but ringing-with-truth post at Open University reminds us, Obama's in deep shit if he doesn't play up the aggressor card. Because, as people on the right and the far left will agree, as you yourself state: (D) or (R), you've got little to no future as the executor if you're not willing to preemptively bomb a country here and a country there. It's just par for the course. Could you imagine an American President who wouldn't bomb a country? I don't think we've had one since at least Chester A. Arthur.

Back to Robbe-Grillet: 1) The Voyeur was probably the best book I read in the Izenberg trilogy; and 2) This marks one less person Big G can no longer famously declare is "very much alive."

10:05 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Curry King is oddly quiet...

10:39 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home