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“Rubio Says Defeating ISIS Has Been ‘Achieved’ In The Past”: Inadvertently Helped Prove Just How Difficult The Current Challenge Is

The debate over U.S. counter-terrorism policy is obviously complex, and in the wake of President Obama’s speech this week, there are no easy answers. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), perhaps inadvertently, helped prove just how difficult the current challenge is.

As Amanda Terkel noted, the Florida Republican has been urging President Obama to be even more aggressive in confronting the Islamic State – beyond the 150+ airstrikes the president has already ordered – but in an NPR interview, Rubio seemed to stumble onto the broader problem.

“Absolutely it’s a realistic goal. It’s been achieved in the past,” said the senator when asked by “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep whether “defeat” was truly possible. “This very same insurgency was defeated during the Awakening in Iraq. This is the same group that was driven out by Sunnis, who then reconstituted itself in Syria when that became an unstable and ungoverned space. … But no matter how long it takes, we need to do it.”

As Simon Maloy explained in response, “There you have it. According to Rubio, we can absolutely defeat a terrorist insurgency because we have already defeated the same insurgency that we now have to defeat. Again.”

Right.

The point wasn’t lost on NPR’s Inskeep. “There are connections between this group and earlier extremist groups in Iraq,” the host told the senator. “They were battled for years and pushed back, but here they are years later. This could just be something that goes on and on, couldn’t it?”

Rubio replied, “It could, but that’s not – I mean, that’s just reality.”

Well, yes, I suppose it is, but the point is reality isn’t as easy as simply deploying the U.S. military to take out bad guys. On the one hand, Rubio believes it’s “absolutely” realistic to think we can “defeat” ISIS terrorists. On the other hand, Rubio also appreciates the fact that “reality” tells us violent radicals like these can be squashed temporarily, only to return.

I’m not trying to pick on Rubio, per se, but rather, his rhetoric is a helpful example of the underlying tension in the broader discussion. The Florida Republican is confident that fully defeating ISIS is “a realistic goal,” even while the senator realizes that it’s “just reality” to acknowledge a complete ISIS defeat may not be possible.

Rubio added that the U.S. mission against Islamic State must continue, “no matter what it takes” and “no matter how long it takes.”

And under Rubio’s vision, that would almost certainly be a very long time, pursuing an endpoint that remains on a perpetual horizon.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 12, 2014

September 13, 2014 Posted by | ISIS, Marco Rubio, Middle East | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bin Laden Death Photo Coverage Is Media’s New Birther Moment

On Tuesday morning, counterterrorism official John Brennan was interviewed by NPR’s Steve Inskeep  about the death of Osama bin Laden. For about eight minutes, listeners were  treated to a serious and in-depth exploration of the circumstances surrounding  bin Laden’s discovery and demise.

But then, right at the  end, Inskeep couldn’t help himself. “In a few seconds, Mr. Brennan, why haven’t  you released photos of Osama bin Laden?” Inskeep asked. Over the final  minute of the interview, he repeated that important question four times.

And you couldn’t help  thinking: Here we go again.

Wasn’t it just, like,  hours ago that the media had assumed a posture of deep introspection about  their role in fueling outlandish conspiracy theories?

On one hand, there were  people like Shepard Smith of Fox News urging the media to “look in the mirror”  because questions about President Obama’s birthplace were “a load of crap” and  journalists “knew it from the very beginning.” (Amen.) On the other, there  was Bob Garfield of NPR’s On the Media arguing that the attention paid  by the media to Donald Trump’s birther claims was necessary to help the public  distinguish between a “carnival barker” and a “responsible leader.” (Oh, I get  it: Loons raise loony questions, the media repeats them over and over  again, and, in so doing, exposes them to an audience far larger than the loons  ever could have dreamed of reaching on their own, and thus we need the media to  help us identify the loons. Wow, what an indispensible service.) No consensus,  perhaps, but at least they were grappling with the question.

Not anymore, evidently.

Just  hours after President Obama addressed the nation, no less than J. Michael Waller  posted a blog entry opining that bin Laden should be displayed naked in lower  Manhattan, then chopped into bits and dumped into the New York City  sewers because while he may be dead “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Who’s J. Michael Waller you ask? Who cares! Questions have been raised!  The public needs help identifying the carnival barkers! Summon the media!

So, there was Inskeep  pressing Brennan. The Chicago Sun Times editorialized that a photo should  be released to stop the conspiracy theories. The Associated Press moved a  story headlined “Wanted: Visual Proof that the U.S. got him.” (Though you might  reasonably ask why, given that the proof detailed in the story included DNA  evidence, photographic identification, bin Laden’s wife apparently calling out  to him by name during the firefight, and “[t]ellingly” an al Qaeda spokesman  calling bin Laden “a martyr” and offering “no challenge to the U.S. account of  his death.” Mighty suspicious!)

In fairness, there are  differences between the birther stories and whether the United States should release a  photo of bin Laden. To be sure, the latter has actual foreign policy and  national security implications, and, now that the administration has decided not  to release a photo, it may be that serious issues, rather than the increasingly  hairbrained ideas of conspiracy theorists, will drive the media’s coverage  but … I’ll believe it when I see it.

If the media would like us  to believe it has serious, as opposed to sensationalistic, intentions when it  covers a story like this, the nature of the coverage has to change.  Raising a baseless charge again and again, day after day, and concluding that  you’ve done your job if “both sides” of the story are represented does everyone  a remarkable disservice. The reason: It gives the media’s imprimatur of  legitimacy to a charge that is baseless, and it leaves the impression that  there are two sides to an issue that is, in fact, indisputably settled.

Instead, if the media is  going to give such issues any coverage at all, it should turn its camera in the  opposite direction, focusing on the people who cling to preposterous beliefs  and asking what that tells us about them, our culture, and our country.  That may be a worthy journalistic pursuit, but we’ve seen very little of it.

Of course, there may be a  bright side to all of this: The secret to getting media coverage has been  revealed.

Therefore, I would like to  announce the following: I believe the moon is made of elephants.

Media: Come and get me.

By: Anson Kaye, U.S. News and World Report, May 5, 2011

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Birthers, Foreign Policy, Homeland Security, Journalists, Media, National Security, Politics, President Obama, Press, Pundits, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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