6 thoughts on “For The Record

  1. I know it’s trite by now, but What If Bush Had Done This? and constantly blamed Clinton for all his problems, starting with the 9/11 attacks? Lord knows, it would have been “pretty darn accurte,” but he didn’t. Why would Obama get a pass on such undignified behavior? If Goldberg is offended, then I’m with him. Besides it’s being offensive, it sets a precedent for future presidents, which cannot help but be divisive.The point is, all Presidents “inherit” problems from their predecessors. Adams “inherited” a crisis with France and GB from Washington, Jefferson “inherited” the Barbary Pirate situation from both Washington and Adams and so forth. What if Jefferson’s first inaugural wasn’t about

    Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

    but about the problems he had “inherited?” If he had done this, I doubt we’d be here today debating Obama’s lack of taste and his overweening pride. You say that this whining is “pretty darn accurate.” Let’s see:

    Right, and why follow that one up? It’s not like a high-profile Senate report demonstrated over the weekend that the Bush administration allowed Osama bin Laden to escape the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, a crucial mistake that allowed al-Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan. It’s not like the Bush administration in 2002 refused to allow U.S. troops to perform peacekeeping operations that would have preserved the initial post-Taliban order, even as President George W. Bush issued an ultimately hollow promise for a new Marshall Plan in Afghanistan. It’s not as if later that year the Bush administration had its regional military commander focus intensely on an entirely elective second war fought for ultimately incorrect premises. It’s not as if security and governance deteriorated in Afghanistan for years while the Bush administration declined to increase troop levels or even focus on the Pakistani safe havens for al-Qaeda that the 2001 Tora Bora failure yielded, even as ground commanders publicly stated the war could not be won without dealing with them. And it’s certainly not like the Bush administration passed an unfinished war off to its successor in year eight amid record levels of insurgent violence.

    Senate (i.e., John “I was for it before I was against it” Kerry) report:

    Rather than allowing bin Laden to escape, Franks and Rumsfeld could have deployed American troops already in Afghanistan on or near the border with Pakistan to block the exits while simultaneously sending special operationsforces and their Afghan allies up the mountains to Tora Bora. The complex mission would have been risky, but analysis shows that it was well within the reach and capability of the American military.

    1. Pure speculation based on hindsight. “The complex situation would have been risky?” What risks? How would an all-out effort to “get bin Laden” have affected the overall effort to defeat the Taliban? This is not covered in Kerry’s so-called analysis but it’s the key” question any historian would ask. Just saying “we coulda we shoulda” doesn’t cut it as “analysis.”2. Kerry fails to explain why “getting bin Laden” should be such an overriding concern. Al Qaeda would have continued to exist even if he were captured or killed. In fact, nobody can be sure that he’s alive even today, when they’re raising such a hue and cry over “getting him.”3. “An entirely elective war fought for ultimately incorrect premises.” Is Ackerman referring to the WMD debacle, yet again? This is just unbelievable. The “ultimately incorrect” phrase gives the game away: another exercise in hindsight. To mount a serious critique, Ackerman (and anyone else) must deal with the incomplete set of facts that Bush had to base his decision on at the time. This is just standard for any historical analysis. Otherwise, you’re just using hindsight, otherwise known as the “historical fallacy.”
    What does “elective war” mean? Can anyone really define this in a serious way, instead of just using it as a club to bash Bush? All wars are “elective.” There is always “one last thing” to do before going to war. There is always a point where decision-makers must draw the line and decide. This point is not given to them by circumstances, as the “war of necessity” phrase suggests. It is decided-upon.
    The phrase “elective war” suggests a war of aggression. It suggests warmongering. This is not the case with Iraq. It is a war to protect US national security as surely as the Civil War and WWII were. I mention these wars because they were mentioned by Obama in his famous 2002 anti war speech. He said he opposed the war in Iraq because he didn’t know how long it would last or how much it would cost. On the other hand, he declared he was no pacifist because he supported the Civil War and WWII, presumably because he knows how long they lasted and how much they cost. However, using his criteria for judging the war in Iraq, if he were transported back to 1861 or 1941, he would have opposed these wars as well because at the time the length and cost of those wars were “undetermined,” to use his phrasing.

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    • Uh… I’m pretty sure the “blame Clinton” game was pretty much one of the favorite little things Goldberg et. al practiced during the Bush years, and it was implied more than once by the Bush Administration that it was the “old attitudes” that had gotten things wrong. Not to mention the whole restoring dignity to the office shtick, etc. Presidents have been blaming predecessors since time immemorial.

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      • 1. Aren’t you talking about Bush’s campaign?

        2. If NRO was blaming Clinton during the Bush years, it doesn’t affect my argument in the least. I’m talking about Presidents blaming their predecessors. For example:

        Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq War drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention – and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

        Note the passive voice and the not-so-veiled swipe at Bush. However, in the next sentence,

        Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end.

        We get the active voice. Now it’s Obama himsel(ves) who is responsible for success in Iraq. It’s clear to anyone who pays attention that Obama “inherited” success there, but that doesn’t count.

        This is just one example out of many by Obama himsel(ves). Give me some by Bush and I’ll concede the point. Of course, Presidents may try and change long-standing policies and thus refer to the past in general terms. That is hardly blaming anyone. It’s called innovation and doesn’t count.

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  2. Can we please please please just stop snarking on NRO posts? I mean I know sometimes you guys need to relax with some easy prey, but c’mon…this is like sending the Yankees to play in the local tee ball league.

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