Monday, July 5, 2010

Michael Steele Calls Obama Out for Being Bush Lite

"Out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele referred to our counter insurgency war in Afghanistan as "a war of Obama's choosing" and implying that the effort is doomed to fail:

The McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical. I think it's a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders has with this Administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan ... this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This is not - this was not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. It was one of those - one of those areas on the total board of - of foreign policy of the middle east, that you would be in the background, sort of shaping the, the changes that were necessary in Afghanistan, as opposed to directly engaging troops. But it was the President, who tried to be cute by half, by flipping the script, demonizing Iraq while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well if, if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan. Alright? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan...
I have nothing to add. Steele said it all.


  1. Steele is right, Vig. Absolutely. But, yes, so, too, is the son of a bitch cynical. You know as well as I do, if it was a Republican who was prosecuting this strategy, he wouldn't be criticizing it. He'd be lauding it. This guy is a total pimp/opportunist.

  2. Steele is trying to riff on the advice of a British general to the House of Lords in the early 60's, "do not go fighting with your land armies in China." It's popularly known from the famous quote in The Princess Bride, "never get involved in a land war in Asia." It refers to the period of de-colonization of east Asia (and much of the rest of world) during the 20th century, in which indigenous militant movements defeated European colonists and gained independence. The readily obvious example is the war in Vietnam, devastatingly lost first by the French and later by the Americans.

    You don't get involved in a "land war" because the natives will beat the crap out of your modern tanks and planes with sedge hats and sharp sticks. It's not pretty, so don't even try it.

    I get Steele's sentiment, military adventurism is definitely not a smart policy for the US. But that doesn't really have anything to do with Afghanistan in this context. Yes, Afghanistan is hard to invade, but so is Helsinki, or Fresno, California. Nobody likes an invading army, it's not something special about Afghanistan. The insurgents are not fighting us because they are in Afghanistan, they're fighting us because we are in Afghanistan. That's not our country.

  3. I hope Steel can count...because his days as Party Chairman are numbered.
    I like the Guy, he's entertaining as hell. It just gives Dems all the more ammunition to use.

  4. Steele is a human piece of shit and for that I love him!!! ;p

    The Dems of course never use his bs like they should.

  5. Steele is an ongoing gift. Next he'll accuse Obama of starting the Civil War.

  6. Yes Dusty! You get the irony! Some Republicans, albeit very few, are smarter than Obama's Amen Choir. They have read history and learned from recent experience.

    Former George W. Bush administration national security official and current Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass wrote about Wars of Choice/Necessity, in August of 2009, in part:

    Wars of necessity must meet two tests. They involve, first, vital national interests and, second, a lack of viable alternatives to the use of military force to protect those interests. World War II was a war of necessity, as were the Korean War and the Persian Gulf war.

    In the wake of 9/11, invading Afghanistan was a war of necessity. The United States needed to act in self-defense to oust the Taliban. There was no viable alternative.

    Now, however, with a friendly government in Kabul, is our military presence still a necessity?

    A more radical alternative would withdraw all United States military forces from Afghanistan and center on regional and global counterterrorism efforts and homeland security initiatives to protect ourselves from threats that might emanate from Afghanistan. Under this option, our policy toward Afghanistan would resemble the approach toward Somalia and other countries where governments are unable or unwilling to take on terrorists and the United States eschews military intervention.

    Afghanistan is thus a war of choice — Mr. Obama’s war of choice. In this way, Afghanistan is analogous to Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo and today’s Iraq. Wars of choice are not inherently good or bad. It depends on whether military involvement would probably accomplish more than it would cost and whether employing force is more promising than the alternatives.

    Making this assessment in Afghanistan is difficult. The Taliban are resourceful and patient and can use Pakistan as a sanctuary. It is not obvious that Afghans can overcome ethnic and tribal loyalties, corruption and personal rivalries. No matter who is declared the winner, yesterday’s election is almost certain to leave the country even more divided.

    The risk of ending our military effort in Afghanistan is that Kabul could be overrun and the government might fall. The risk of the current approach (or even one that involves dispatching another 10,000 or 20,000 American soldiers, as the president appears likely to do) is that it might produce the same result in the end, but at a higher human, military and economic cost.

    All of which makes Afghanistan not just a war of choice but a tough choice. My judgment is that American interests are sufficiently important, prospects for achieving limited success are sufficiently high and the risks of alternative policies are sufficiently great to proceed, for now, with Mr. Obama’s measured strategy. But the administration, Congress and the American people (who, recent polls suggest, are turning against the war) must undertake regular, rigorous assessments of whether these efforts are bearing fruit or are likely to. If it appears they are not, the president should roll back the combat role or withdraw militarily.

    If Afghanistan were a war of necessity, it would justify any level of effort. It is not and does not. It is not certain that doing more will achieve more. And no one should forget that doing more in Afghanistan lessens our ability to act elsewhere, including North Korea, Iran and Iraq. There needs to be a limit to what the United States does in Afghanistan and how long it is prepared to do it, lest we find ourselves unable to contend with other wars, of choice or of necessity, if and when they arise.

    Finally, givern this recession, the USA cannot afford wars of choice; we should confine ourselves to wars of necessity.

  7. Thank you for your article. A gaffe caught on camera during a fundraiser last night in CT. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele ticked off President Obama, Hope you will continuo your informative post

  8. Got to love the man, he has the best comic routine since Rodney Dangerfield, the trouble is he just does not know it.

  9. Yes, but the fact that he affords us much-needed comic relief from the Republicant side should not preclude the fact that he occasionally hits on the truth.

  10. Ron Paul's 4th of July's Statement:

    I would like to congratulate Michael Steele for his leadership on one of the most important issues of today. He is absolutely right: Afghanistan is now Obama's war. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was out in front in insisting that more troops be sent to Afghanistan. Obama called for expanding the war even as he pretended to be a peace candidate.

    Michael Steele should not resign. Smart policies make smart politics. He is guiding the party in the right direction and we are on the verge of victory this fall. Chairman Steele should not back off. He is giving the country, especially young people, hope as he speaks truth about this war.

    I have to ask myself, what is the agenda of the harsh critics demanding this resignation? Why do they support Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama's war?

    The American people are sick and tired spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year, draining our economy and straining our military. Michael Steele has it right and Republicans should stick by him.

  11. I agree with Dusty. Everything else that could be said about the hapless Steele has been said.

  12. Aw shucks Truth! ;) Some of the comments are very wordy here...lets just say that Steele is a rube more times than not.

    Remember: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.

  13. I don't know guys. If Lieberman and McCain don't like the fellow, I'm inclined to take his back!

  14. What the U.S. has done in Afghanistan is NOT a "war of necessity". It is an act of vengeance and the ongoing hangover from said act of vengeance.

    Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but it seems to me now that the correct response to 9/11 re: Afghanistan would have been a thorough bombing - I mean, INTENSELY thorough - of Al-Qaida sites in that country, and then - having given the figurative middle finger - America moving on with its own affairs.

    This war of occupation was and is a very bad move because (mainly) it's an al-Qaida recruiting tool.

    Whether you can "win" shouldn't enter your considerations about whether a war is just or right; by that kind of reasoning, any big schoolyard bully is behaving justly because he can dominate his victims.

  15. *sigh*
    I left a comment, and it disappeared. I'll try to recount what I said in my original comment.

    The war in Afghanistan is NOT a war of necessity. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but it seems to me now that the best response to 9/11 re: Afghanistan would have been simply bombing the shit out of Al-Qaida sites in Afghanistan and then America moving on with its own affairs. The worst response was/is occupying Afghanistan and thus fueling Al-Qaida recruitment. I can't see how the U.S. needed to "act in self-defense" by invading and occupying Afghanistan.

    Steele seems a bit confused about right and wrong. If I'm reading his comment correctly, he's saying the occupation is wrong because you can't win a ground war in Afghanistan. Whether you can "win" a war has nothing to do with whether that war is just or right. Justifying a war by saying it's winnable is like saying a big schoolyard bully is behaving justly because he can dominate his victim; it's an argument devoid of even a smidgen of morality.

  16. lots of Ah Ha! moments with this guy, eh? Nice. Have to come back tomorrow and read latest post. Hope you've been catching Maddow over in Afganistan? Some good stories.... lots of eye opening clarity too.