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“A Classic Dick Cheney Modifier”: Ready For The Anniversary, But Never The Actual Day

Dick Cheney won’t let a little thing like the absence of credibility stand in the way of cheap shots, as he hopes to exploit the deaths of Americans abroad for partisan gain.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the Obama administration on Tuesday for its handling of the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, calling it ‘a failure of leadership.’ Cheney said U.S. leaders should have been better prepared for violence on the anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

‘They should have been ready before anything ever happened,’ Cheney told MailOnline exclusively during a party in Georgetown celebrating the launch of a new book by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. ‘I mean, it’s North Africa – Libya, where they’ve already had major problems,’ Cheney said.

Actually, “North Africa” is a pretty big place, as Cheney may recall. To say the Obama administration, the U.S. military, and all U.S. diplomatic outposts in the region “should have been ready” is easy for a failed former official to say from his Beltway home, but in practice, it’s a little more complex. Indeed, we’re talking about Benghazi, Libya, where support for the U.S. is strong and we were arguably less likely to face a violent attack.

But this was the part of Cheney’s harangue that struck me as especially noteworthy.

‘When we were there, on our watch, we were always ready on 9/11, on the anniversary,’ he recalled.

Yes, “on the anniversary” is an instant Cheney classic, because on their watch, they certainly weren’t ready “on 9/11” itself.

George W. Bush received an intelligence briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, at which he was handed a memo with an important headline: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Bush, however, was on a month-long vacation at the time. He heard the briefer out and replied, “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.” A month later, al Qaeda killed 3,000 people.

“On the anniversary,” however, Cheney wants us to know they were ready, presumably everywhere, for everything.

Honestly, isn’t it about time this guy enjoyed a little quiet time?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 8, 2013

May 12, 2013 Posted by | Libya, National Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whoops, No One Told The Right That Their Libya Talking Point Doesn’t Work Anymore

It’s obviously premature to celebrate “victory” in Libya when no one knows what will happen next, or how difficult and bloody the process of state-building will be. (And Gadhafi is not yet actually gone.) But the news is good, and Obama’s strategic approach to the conflict — allowing France and NATO to take the lead to minimize the chance that America was seen as leading another Iraq-style war of aggression — seems to have been the right one. (Strategically. Not necessarily legally.) As Steve Kornacki wrote this morning, this should be the end of the “Obama is too weak to lead” talking point from the right. It should be, but … it isn’t.

Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page takes a break from excusing the criminality of the executives in charge of its parent company to deliver an official house reaction to the developments in Tripoli that starts off cautious and then just descends right back into the exact same lame arguments it’s been using for the last six months:

Having helped to midwife the rebel advances with air power, intelligence and weapons, NATO will have some influence with the rebels in the days ahead. The shame is how much faster Gadhafi might have been defeated, how many fewer people might have been killed, and how much more influence the U.S. might now have, if America had led more forcefully from the beginning.

Planning for this moment is precisely why we and many others had urged the State Department to engage with the rebels from the earliest days of the revolt, but the U.S. was slow to do so and only formally recognized the opposition Transitional National Council in mid-July. The hesitation gave Gadhafi hope that he could hold out and force a stalemate.

Libyans will determine their own future, but the U.S. has a stake in showing the world that NATO’s intervention, however belated and ill-executed, succeeded in its goals of removing a dictator, saving lives, and promoting a new Libyan government that respects its people and doesn’t sponsor global terrorism.

I’m not sure how long the editors of the Wall Street Journal think your average revolution lasts, but assuming Gadhafi’s hold on power is as weak as it appears today, I would argue — as a layman, of course — that NATO’s intervention seems neither “belated” nor “ill-executed.” (I mean, it seems well-executed, in the sense that it seems to have accomplished its goal?)

But it’s the line about America leading “more forcefully from the beginning” that the neocons and GOP hawks will continue to cling to no matter what actually happens in Libya. It’s the same argument BFF Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham used in their joint response to this weekend’s developments: “Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Qaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.”

All-out war! From day one! With the full force of American airpower! One definite way to make a civil war faster and less bloody is for a foreign country to enter it fully, right? (It tends to unite the populace, for one thing!) And conflicts are always less bloody when America drops more American bombs. That’s how we won Vietnam!

There’s no point in countering McCain and the Journal’s arguments with reason, of course, because these are not actually fact-based responses to news, they’re just rote recitations of Republican dogma: Obama weak! (Except domestically, where he is an autocrat.)

And this is the “respectable” Republican talking point. The line from the real nuts — I’m guessing something along the lines of “radical Obama allows Muslim Brotherhood to seize control in Libya” — will begin bubbling up from the sewers to talk radio and Fox News and Michele Bachmann’s campaign soon enough.

 

By: Alex Pareene, Salon War Room, August 22, 2011

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democrats, Foreign Policy, Gadhafi, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Libya, National Security, Neo-Cons, No Fly Zones, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Revolution, Right Wing | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Defection Track In Libya: Pragmatic And Correct

Everybody has questions and anxieties about our policy in Libya. My own position is this: I oppose the policy the Obama administration has described in various public statements. I support the policy the administration is actually executing.

The intellectual, cultural and scientific findings that land on the columnist’s desk nearly every day.

The policy the administration publicly describes is constricted and implausible. The multilateral force would try to prevent a humanitarian disaster from the air, but then it remains maddeningly ambiguous about what would happen next: what our goals are; what our attitude toward the Qaddafi regime is; what an exit strategy might be.

Fortunately, the policy the Obama administration is actually implementing is more flexible and thought-through.

It starts with the same humanitarian purpose. People sometimes think of President Obama as a cool, hyper-rational calculator, but in this case he was motivated by a noble, open-hearted sentiment: that the U.S. cannot sit by and watch tens of thousands of people get massacred when it has the means to prevent it.

President Obama took this decision, I’m told, fully aware that there was no political upside while there were enormous political risks. He took it fully aware that we don’t know much about Libya. He took it fully aware that if he took this action he would be partially on the hook for Libya’s future. But he took it as an American must — motivated by this country’s historical role as a champion of freedom and humanity — and with the awareness that we simply could not stand by with Russia and China in opposition.

In this decision, one could see the same sensitive, idealistic man who wrote “Dreams From My Father.”

As president, of course, one also has to think practically. The president and the secretary of state reached a hardheaded conclusion. If Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is actively slaughtering his own people, then this endeavor cannot end with a cease-fire that allows him to remain in power. Regime change is the goal of U.S. policy.

There are three plausible ways he might go, which inside the administration are sometimes known as the Three Ds. They are, in ascending order of likelihood: Defeat — the ragtag rebel army vanquishes his army on the battlefield; Departure — Qaddafi is persuaded to flee the country and move to a villa somewhere; and Defection — the people around Qaddafi decide there is no future hitching their wagon to his, and, as a result, the regime falls apart or is overthrown.

The result is a strategy you might call Squeeze and See. The multilateral forces ratchet up the pressure and watch to see what happens. The Western nations are reaching out to senior Libyan figures to encourage defection (the foreign minister has already split, and more seem to be coming). There is an effort to broadcast television signals into Libya to rival state TV. In the liberated areas, the multilateral alliance is sending aid to build civil society and organize the political opposition. The U.S. is releasing billions of confiscated Libyan dollars to the opposition to ensure its staying power.

Eric Schmitt had a fabulous piece in The Times this week detailing what the air assault actually involves. It’s not just hitting Libyan air defenses. It also involves psychological warfare inducing Libyan soldiers to defect. It involves messing with Libyan communications systems, cutting off supply lines and creating confusion throughout the command structure.

All of this is meant to send the signal that Qaddafi has no future. Will it be enough to cause enough defections? No one knows. But given all of the uncertainties, this seems like a prudent way to test the strength of the regime and expose its weaknesses.

It may turn out in the months ahead that we simply do not have the capacity, short of an actual invasion (which no one wants), to dislodge Qaddafi. But, at worst, the Libyan people will be no worse off than they were when government forces were bearing down on Benghazi and preparing for slaughter. At best, we may help liberate part of Libya or even, if the regime falls, the whole thing.

It is tiresome to harp on this sort of thing, but this is an intervention done in the spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr. It is motivated by a noble sentiment, to combat evil, but it is being done without self-righteousness and with a prudent awareness of the limits and the ironies of history. And it is being done at a moment in history when change in the Arab world really is possible.

Libyan officials took Western reporters to the town of Gharyan this week to show them the grave of a baby supposedly killed in the multilateral bombing campaign. But the boy’s relatives pulled the reporters aside, David D. Kirkpatrick reported in The Times. “What NATO is doing is good,” one said. “He is not a man,” another whispered of Qaddafi. “He is Dracula. For 42 years it has been dark. Anyone who speaks, he kills. But everyone wants Qaddafi to go.”

By: David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, March 31, 2011

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Democracy, Dictators, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Libya, Media, No Fly Zones, Politics, President Obama, Qaddafi, United Nations, War | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joe Scarborough And The Straw Man Problem

Joe Scarborough has an op-ed in Politico premised entirely on the false premise that left-wingers who once “condemned [President Bush] as an immoral beast who killed women and children to get his bloody hands on Iraqi oil” have now “meekly went along” with President Obama’s Libya intervention.

Now, there are all kinds of things wrong with this argument. For one, there are some massive differences in the two cases. Scarborough describes the Libya intervention as an “invasion,” but that’s quite a stretch given that no ground troops are involved. Libya is a multilateral response to an imminent massacre, while Iraq was neither. Third, and worst of all, those who most fervently opposed the Iraq invasion — the blood for oil folks described by Scarborough — are all opposed to the Libya intervention. Has he not been following the debate on this?

The whole failure of Scarborough’s argument points to one of my professional hobbyhorses, which is the need for opinion journalists to quote the people they’re criticizing. It’s a really simple step, but it’s absolutely vital, one that allows your readers to see if the belief you’re attacking is actually held by anybody influential. If Scarborough decided to find some examples of lefties who were wildly denouncing Bush as a wanton murderer of civilians driven by a lust to steal Iraqi oil who also supported the Libya intervention, he’d have quickly discovered that there aren’t any, and that his whole argument is based on a false premise.

Indeed, at the end of his op-ed, Scarborough does cite one real life-example — Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who he calls “one of the few liberals to take a principled stand.” But she’s not the exception. She’s just the one actual case study he bothered to look at.

Now, calling people out by name is sort of rude, and the most prestigious outlets of opinion journalism tend to shy away from it. I believe New York Times columnists are actually instructed not to argue with each other in print, which leads to these weird “Tell Joe I won’t pass the salt until he apologizes” indirect debates. It’s probably no surprise that a chummy guy like Scarborough would only want to name liberals he praises, while leaving the targets of his criticism unnamed. But this is a habit of opinion journalism that leads to terrible, straw man arguments.

By: Jonathan Chait, The New Republic, March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Ideologues, Iraq, Libya, Middle East, Neo-Cons, Politics, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gingrich’s Next Two Weeks Of Policy Statements Revealed

Two weeks ago, Newt Gingrich said this is what he would do about Libya, if he were president: “Exercise a no-fly zone this evening”.

Yesterday, here’s what Newt said about Libya, where the United States is exercising a no-fly zone: “I would not have intervened”.

After a full day of people making fun of him, the former House speaker — who masquerades as an intellectual policy wonk but who is actually just a master self-promoter — explained himself in a lengthy Facebook post, Sarah Palin-style, that generally made no sense, Sarah Palin-style.

His position seems to be that he would not have intervened, but once the president said, “Gadhafi must go,” the United States had to intervene, to save face, and that’s when Newt would’ve exercised the no-fly zone, if he were president and had made that statement, which he wouldn’t have done.

Also, Gingrich says, now that we’ve done this we should also do it in the Sudan, Syria, Zimbabwe, Yemen and elsewhere, except we shouldn’t do it at all, anywhere.

We here at the War Room have just received, from the future, the next two weeks of Newt Gingrich’s public statements on Libya, and other assorted matters of national import.

“Meet the Press,” March 27

“What the president needs to do is have Congress vote on the use of ground troops in Libya, immediately.”

Neil Cavuto, March 29

“If I were president I’d unilaterally strike Iran right now instead of wasting our time and resources in Libya.”

Facebook, March 29

“My position on Libya has not changed: What the United States should’ve done is invade with a ground force, after receiving congressional authorization, but only if he hadn’t sought United Nations approval, which would’ve changed everything. Under the current circumstances, with the president already having totally blown it, our best option is a surprise airstrike on Iran.”

Human Events.com, March 31

“This is the single biggest foreign policy disaster I’ve seen since, literally, the Battle of Blandensburg, which I am writing a book about. We should pull out now and refocus on jobs, here at home.”

“Good Morning America,” April 1

“Look, if I was the commander in chief, I wouldn’t rest until we had Gadhafi’s head on a pike outside one of his gaudy palaces.”

Facebook, April 2

“Again, I’m distraught to see America so poorly led during this time of great international turmoil. My position is clear: The United States has a jobs crisis exacerbated by the failed policies of our current president, but after we committed ourselves to removing Gadhafi, we forced ourselves to take literally any action at our disposal to make that a reality, as long as we did it right, because if we aren’t doing it right, which we aren’t, but which I would, we should not do it.

“I also apologize to the hardworking staff at ‘Good Morning America’ for the incident with the chair, but I am growing tired of constantly answering such transparently biased questions about my very simple position on the conflict in Libya.”

“Face the Nation,” April 3

“I support gay marriage.”

“Fox and Friends,” April 6

“Gay people should be thrown in jail, forever, if they try to marry each other.”

Twitter, April 6

“deep respect 4 homosexual americans-vow to serve ALL americans if prez-inmate marriage will strengthen national respect 4 traditional family.”

 

By: Alex Pareene, Salon War Room, March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Jobs, Libya, Middle East, Neo-Cons, Newt Gingrich, No Fly Zones, Politics, President Obama, Qaddafi | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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