Getting The Job Done

by digby

I'm not sure if Donna Brazile fell into a time warp and woke up thinking she was a member of the Bush administration circa 2003 or if these are the sanctioned talking points of the Obama administration. Either way, this is just awful:

Blitzer: [Michael Moore] would also like the president to take bold leadership right now and simply get out of Afghanistan and do it as quickly as possible. Listen to this:

Moore: he's got to stop sending troops there, he's got to start to bring the troops home. Otherwise we will stop thinking of this war as bush's war and start thinking of it as Obama's war. This is a losing proposition, he must know this, history has proven, nobody can win there.

Blitzer: remember, this comes from Michael Moore who greatly admires president Obama, just wants him to pull out of Afghanistan.

Donna Brazile: Well Wolf, this is a very volatile situation. I think the president has already made a commitment by sending troops earlier this year to finish the job. And the troops have an important mission, that is to destabilize and destroy Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I think the time for us to pull out is when we have made significant progress in destabilizing the government.

Yes, she really said that, but I have to believe she just misspoke. But her real point is just as mind boggling. Haven't we been "destabilizing" the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan for eight years? Is there really some hope of "finishing the job" and destroying them if we just send in more troops?

But it got even worse, with the GOP mouthpiece starting to babble about Islamo-fascism and Brazile getting a little bit stroppy with Blitzer.

Blitzer: Michael Moore reflects a lot of Democrats on the left. they would like president Obama to pull out as quickly as possible as well.

Brazile: I think the most important thing the country can do right now is finish the job and bring our troops home when we've been successful at making sure that the people who attacked us on September 11th do not rearm themselves and and attack us again. That's important.

Huh? Rearm themselves with bigger box cutters? What the hell?

Blitzer: This isn't just on the left though. George Will, the conservative columnist recently wrote, "you know what? It's time to get out of there as well."

GOP strategist John Feehery: A lot of libertarians feel the same way. The fact is that the president campaigned that Afghnanistan was the "Good War" the war we had to win. We had to shift our responsibilities from Iraq to Afghanistan. If he now says that we have to pull out immediately, it puts a lie to everything he campaigned on. The fact of the matter is that Donna is absolutely right. we cannot leave without leaving in a way that will fix the problem, that takes on Al Qaeda, and that makes us a more secure country. i think if we pull too quickly, we're in big trouble.

Sadly, Feehery is right that Obama (and the rest of the Democrats) boxed themselves in with their short term strategy of portraying The Good War as something that they would "win" if they got elected. But that doesn't mean they have to stick with it. After all, George W. Bush ran on having a "humble foreign policy" and then turned into Atilla the Hun the minute he got the chance. Somehow I doubt that when he said he was going to be humble that he really meant it. He was running against the Clinton-Gore policy of intervention in the Balkans and Somalia, back when the Republicans were pretending to be worried about quagmires and exit strategies, which they now view as the mark of feckless nancy boy politics. They love wars, and Bush himself proclaimed before he was installed that if he had the "chance" to run a war he would make the most of it.

Let's just say that neither party can boast of much integrity when it comes to foreign policy on the campaign trail. So let's just forget about campaign promises and deal with what they do, ok? It's a waste of time to do otherwise.

Then Blitzer brought up the dreaded "V" word:

Blitzer: We used to hear that argument about Vietnam all the time and you know what, the US pulled out and now there's full diplomatic relations between the United states and Vietnam.

Feehery: I don't think Afghanistan and Vietnam are the same things. I think Afghanistan is really a small Islamic Fascism that is so much different than the naitonhalized war that was being fought in Vietnam.

Blitzer: But Michale Moore's point is, and you'll see the full interview in our six pm hour, Michael Moore's poiint is you know what, any foreign occupying force that's gone into Afghanistan over hte centuries, they get kicked out eventually and the US should learn from that history.

Brazile: President Obama clearly knows the history. But so does General McChrystal, who said this is about the Afghan people: "if we leave those people the civilians there now to the Taliban and Al Qaeda then we will have left the situation worse off." And to the Afghan women who proudly went to cast their ballots, we should not leave them alone.

Did they accidentally send Brazile some Karen Hughes talking points or what? This is just ridiculous.

Not that I'm surprised. There's a reason that old coots like Bob Dole used to refer to "Democrat Wars." They've never exactly been opposed to them --- at least until massive amounts of blood and treasure have been wasted.

The Dems walked into this problem and now they are facing a huge amount of pressure to escalate, which was entirely predictable. Blitzer is absolutely right to bring up the Vietnam analogy, because it's should serve as a valuable lesson, especially to a Democratic president.


Johnson: I will tell you the more, I just stayed awake last night thinking of this thing, and the more that I think of it I don't know what in the hell, it looks like to me that we're getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me. I don't see what we can ever hope to get out of there with once we're committed. I believe the Chinese Communists are coming into it. I don't think that we can fight them 10,000 miles away from home and ever get anywhere in that area. I don't think it's worth fighting for and I don't think we can get out. And it's just the biggest damn mess that I ever saw.

Bundy: It is an awful mess.

Johnson: And we just got to think about it. I'm looking at this Sergeant of mine this morning and he's got 6 little old kids over there, and he's getting out my things, and bringing me in my night reading, and all that kind of stuff, and I just thought about ordering all those kids in there. And what in the hell am I ordering them out there for? What in the hell is Vietnam worth to me? What is Laos worth to me? What is it worth to this country? We've got a treaty but hell, everybody else has got a treaty out there, and they're not doing a thing about it.

Bundy: Yeah, yeah.

Johnson: Of course, if you start running from the Communists, they may just chase you right into your own kitchen.

Bundy: Yeah, that's the trouble. And that is what the rest of that half of the world is going to think if this thing comes apart on us. That's the dilemma, that's exactly the dilemma.

Johnson: But everybody that I talk to that's got any sense now they just says Oh, my God, please give us thought. Of course I was reading Mansfield's stuff this morning, and it is just Milquetoast as it can be. He's got no spine at all.

Bundy: Yeah.

Johnson: But this is a terrible thing that we're getting ready to do.

Obama famously dismissed all that back in the campaign when he said:

We're still having the same argument... It's all around culture wars and it's all ... even when you discuss war the frame of reference is all Vietnam. Well that's not my frame of reference. My frame of reference is "what works." Even when I first opposed the war in Iraq, my first line was I don't oppose all wars, specifically to make clear that this is not an anti-military, you know, 70's love-in kind of approach."

We'd better hope that if he's ignoring the lessons of that era, that he at least understands that "what works" isn't escalating out of fear that some rightwing jackass is going to point fingers or that you'll "send the wrong message." Actually, you shouldn't have to know the lessons of Vietnam to know that. It should be common sense.