Kevin Drum: Not a Crackpot

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has some fatherly advice for all you idiots:

Bottom line: Ron Paul is not merely a “flawed messenger” for these views. He’s an absolutely toxic, far-right, crackpot messenger for these views. This is, granted, not Mussolini-made-the-trains-run-on-time levels of toxic, but still: if you truly support civil liberties at home and non-interventionism abroad, you should run, not walk, as fast as you can to keep your distance from Ron Paul. … In fact, to the extent that his foreign policy views aren’t simply being ignored, I’d guess that the only thing he’s accomplishing is to make non-interventionism even more of a fringe view in American politics than it already is. Crackpots don’t make good messengers.

Well, one thing you can definitely say about Kevin Drum is that he’s no crackpot. No sirree. He knows that in dissent lurks crankery. When he catches the first whiff of deviation from the D.C. consensus, he hightails it back to Broderville. For example:

Kevin Drum, Oct. 17, 2011:

Aside from the fact that Barack Obama did not, in fact, send troops to Uganda in order to “kill Christians,” what should we think about the fact that he sent troops to Uganda in the first place? Needless to say, I’m far more hesitant about sending U.S. troops anywhere than I was a decade ago….

… I’m pretty much OK with this operation.

Kevin Drum, April 1, 2011:

So what should I think about this? If it had been my call, I wouldn’t have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I’d literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he’s smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted. I voted for him because I trust his judgment, and I still do.

Kevin Drum, Feb. 21, 2003:

As much as I’m unhappy about how the Bush administration has mishandled everything, backing out now could have disastrous consequences. And so we liberal hawks hold our noses and hope for the best.

Kevin Drum, Feb. 9, 2003:

I’ve gotten a lot of email critical of my post on Thursday suggesting that Colin Powell had indeed made a strong case in his UN speech. This administration has lied about everything, they ask, so how can you be so credulous as to believe their latest dog and pony show? …

… I am sympathetic to the idea that George Bush has shown himself to be so hamhanded in foreign affairs that there’s little likelihood of success as long as he’s in power. And yet, what’s the alternative? We need to try, and I’m inclined — barely — to give him a chance. Something has to kick start the Middle East into the 21st century, and I don’t see anyone else willing or able to do it. …

So that’s it. I have tremendous misgivings about this war….

Kevin Drum, Feb. 6, 2003:

I am sympathetic to the notion that administrations lie a lot on the subject of war, and I’m certainly sympathetic to the idea that this particular administration routinely lies about anything they think they can get away with. And yet….that leaves us with a problem, doesn’t it? If, a priori, nothing the administration says is believable, then opposition to war simply becomes a religious doctrine. After all, no one else is going to try and make the case.

Now I found all of that in about half an hour several months ago, so those who care to look should be able to find plenty of additional confirmation that Kevin Drum is no crackpot.

Thank Obama for Ending War That Al Gore Wouldn’t Have Started, Says Democrat

Tom Hayden:

On Saturday, the day after Obama’s statement, my heart felt good as I introduced Representative Barbara Lee at a Los Angeles fundraiser. In the lightness of her mood I sensed a burden had been lifted from her heart as well.

Some of the hundred people in the room were baffled by the Obama withdrawal decision—understandably so, after a decade of several wars, a stolen election that led directly to Bush’s Iraq invasion….

This again? Who knew Tom Hayden was such a party man?

A certain jadedness has affected our consciousness after this very bad decade. Some people in the room didn’t believe Obama was actually going to pull out of Iraq. He would sneak in 5,000 manipulative mercenaries to take over from the last of the American troops. And what about those other wars? Wasn’t he worse than Bush? Yada yada yada, ad nauseam.

No, he’s swell, Tom. A real champion of the little guy

Anyone paying attention (which, it turned out, was not too many) could see that Obama was “leading from behind,” in a political sense, on both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Bob Woodward’s history Obama’s Wars, the president is quoted as saying in private, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.” …

The resemblance is uncanny.

We will never know—cannot know and perhaps should not know—what is in a president’s mind, a kind of computer that is storing, retrieving, sending and deleting all at the same time, delivering outcomes that are a mixture of desire, presentation and necessity, all with an inaccessible hard drive. …

Never making a definitive statement, Obama, like the Sphinx…

OK, I’m just going to stop there, but read the rest if you must.

Damn You, Ralph Nader and Katherine Harris!

Of all the daily affirmations liberals tell themselves, none soothes me more than the one about how an Al Gore presidency would have spared us the Iraq War. Why, wasn’t Al suitably smug about Dubya’s “cowboy” act in 2002? Didn’t Michael Moore open Fahrenheit 9/11 with a long rehash of hanging-chad chicanery? Who among us doesn’t yearn for the invention of time travel so that someone might mow down a certain consumer advocate with a sporty Corvair?

And yet … well, there is this from the Oct. 11, 2000, presidential debate:

MODERATOR: Well, let’s stay on the subject for a moment. New question related to this. I figured this out; in the last 20 years there have been eight major actions that involved the introduction of U.S. ground, air or naval forces. Let me name them. Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo. If you had been president for any of those interventions, would any of those interventions not have happened?

GORE: Can you run through the list again?

MODERATOR: Sure. Lebanon.

GORE: I thought that was a mistake. [See below.]

MODERATOR: Grenada.

GORE: I supported that.

MODERATOR: Panama.

GORE: I supported that.

MODERATOR: Persian Gulf.

GORE: Yes, I voted for it, supported it.

MODERATOR: Somalia.

GORE: Of course, and that again — no, I think that that was ill-considered. I did support it at the time. It was in the previous administration, in the Bush-Quayle administration, and I think in retrospect the lessons there are ones that we should take very, very seriously.

MODERATOR: Bosnia.

GORE: Oh, yes.

MODERATOR: Haiti.

GORE: Yes.

MODERATOR: And then Kosovo.

GORE: Yes.

Democrats: Check the fine print.
So Gore had supported seven of the eight “major” U.S. military actions of the preceding two decades. Oh, make that all eight; he must have forgotten that he supported the U.S. intervention in Lebanon too. Less than a week before the bombing that killed 241 American servicemen in Beirut, Rep. Albert Gore Jr. was the subject of a story in The New York Times. He was asked about Lebanon:

Why had he voted to continue the presence of United States troops in Lebanon for 18 months? “The decision to send troops to Lebanon was not well thought through,” Mr. Gore said, “but since they are there and there are now negotiations with the Syrians, it would be a mistake to remove them.

“It’s important to learn the right lessons of Vietnam,” he continued. “A cat that sits on a hot stove won’t sit on a hot stove again, but he won’t sit on a cold stove, either.”

Well, cold stoves can get hot mighty quickly, but that’s no reason for a cat to just steer clear of stoves, is it?

Why am I revisiting all this ancient history? Here’s Al’s old running mate in Tuesday’s USA Today:

No one doubts that the road ahead for Iraq, under even the most optimistic scenario, will continue to be challenging. There is a world of difference, however, between a future in which Iraq’s inspiring but fragile democracy perseveres, versus one in which the country collapses back into civil war, becoming a failed state in the heart of the Middle East.

There is likewise a huge difference between a future in which Iraqis can secure their country for themselves, versus one in which Iran seizes controlling influence over Iraq’s security and politics.

In order to decrease the risk of the worst case scenarios for Iraq and America, our military leaders have long argued that it is critical to keep a small U.S. force in Iraq after this year, since the Iraqi Security Forces still lack key capabilities and the country’s stability is not yet secured. In fact, every military leader I have spoken to in recent years with any responsibility for Iraq has told me we must keep at least 10,000 troops there after this year to ensure that our hard-won gains are not lost.

It is therefore profoundly disappointing that, after all America and Iraq have been through together, President Obama and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could not find the will or the way to reach agreement for a small U.S. force to remain in Iraq after this year, and instead gave up trying.

This decision stands in striking contrast with the spirit of the remarkable men and women in uniform who pulled Iraq back from the brink of chaos just a few years ago, and who refused to give up or accept failure even after all hope was seemingly lost.

This failure puts at greater risk all that so many Americans and Iraqis fought, sacrificed and, in thousands of cases, gave their lives to achieve. It also hands a crucial strategic opportunity to the fanatical regime that controls Iran and that threatens us all.

Rather than trying to portray the failure of these negotiations as a success, the Obama administration could still restart its efforts to reach agreement with the Iraqis to allow a small U.S. force to remain. For the sake of our national security, and all of the blood and treasure we have spent in Iraq, we should do so.

Don’t fret, Joe. Obama’s busy right now. But once he’s safely ensconced in a second term, he might be willing to have a beer summit with the 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee and reexamine this rare lapse in judgment.

Was it the promise or was it the SOFA?

On Friday, October 21, 2011, Mr. Obama, invoking one of his campaign promises, announced the complete withdrawal of all U.S. Troops from Iraq by "the [Christian] holidays." Over the weekend, he and his media arm further spun the story, claiming the deadline had been negotiated by G.W. Bush.

Behind the scenes — later paragraphs — we discover that the Pentagon wanted to keep at least 3,000 to 5,000 troops on Iraqi soil. The true number was significantly larger. But they’re all leaving. Why?

It was almost certainly the S.O.F.A., the acronym for "Status Of Forces Agreement."

Obama’s announcement signals that US officials have been unable to negotiate with Iraq’s leaders a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the stationing and mission of American troops on Iraqi soil. Pentagon officials in particular, backed by a number of congressional leaders, had called for leaving a force of between 3,000 and 5,000 in Iraq for an extended period. –Iraq withdrawal: With US troops set to exit, 9-year war draws to close – CSMonitor.com

A key provision of any SOFA is exempting occupying soldiers from the laws of the country being occupied. It was this provision that Iraqi negotiators refused to renew. Thus, for example, once the old SOFA expired, U.S. soldiers who killed an Iraqi could be tried for murder under Iraqi law.

The Iraqis, it seems, found the back door to get rid of occupying U.S. troops.

This would likely work in other countries as well.

But that still leaves the drones.

A Dark Day for Democrats

Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012. Though Andrew Sullivan can be expected to persist in his quest to deploy U.N. inspectors to Palin’s uterus, the nation’s less-cracked Obamatons will have to build a new uber-bogeyman to juxtapose with the Lightworker.

Thoughtful liberal is too heartbroken to castigate Republican misogynists today.
Thoughtful liberal is too heartbroken to castigate Republican misogynists today.
It’s not fair. Why, Andrew just blogged his little heart out about evil Sarah a few hours ago! And what did he have to say about the man who just executed a U.S. citizen without even the pretense of due process?

Obama has ended torture and pursued a real war, not an ideological spectacle. He has destroyed almost all of al Qaeda of 9/11 (if Zawahiri is taken out, no one is left), obliterated its ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found and killed bin Laden, in a daring raid pushed relentlessly by the president alone, capturing alongside a trove of intelligence, procured as a consequence of courage and tenacity rather than cowardice and torture. …

Back in 2001, I wondered if Bush would be the president to win this war, while hoping he would. I wondered if his errors might lead to a successor who learned from them. That hope has now been fulfilled – more swiftly and decisively than I once dared to dream about.

Has your Congressional Rep signed Out-of-Iraq letter?

If your representative has not signed Lee-Jones letter on Iraq, please call his or her office now. The Capitol Hill Switchboard line is 202-225-3121.

The list of current signers to “Bring all U.S. Troops and Military Contractors in Iraq Home by Dec. 31, 2011” is below.

Current Cosigners (80, in addition to Lee & Jones): Baldwin, Bass (CA-33), Braley, Capps, Capuano, Chu, Cicilline, Clark (MI-13), Clarke (NY-11), Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Davis (IL-7), DeFazio, Doggett, Duncan (TN-2), Ellison, Farr, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hanabusa, Hastings (FL-23), Heinrich, Hirono, Honda, Jackson Jr. (IL-2), Jackson-Lee, Johnson (TX-30), Johnson (IL-15), Kaptur, Kucinich, Lewis (GA-5), Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Maloney, Matsui, McDermott, McGovern, Michaud, Miller (CA-7), Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Olver, Paul, Payne, Rangel, Richardson, Rush, Sanchez (CA-47), Schakowsky, Schrader, Scott (VA-3), Serrano, Sewell, Slaughter, Speier, Stark, Thompson (CA-1), Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Waters, Watt, Welch, Wilson (FL-17), Woolsey, Yarmuth

Please send any feedback from Congressional offices to hiscze@aol.com. For member of Congress to sign on to this bipartisan letter or for more information, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office (teddy.miller@mail.house.gov or 5.2661) or Ray Celeste in Rep. Jones’ office (raymond.celeste@mail.house.gov or 6.5241).

Text of Letter:

July 22, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to urge you to hold to our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq that commits our nation to bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this calendar year.

The American people have made it clear that the war in Iraq must end. By wide and overwhelming margins, Americans approve of your plan to remove all the troops from Iraq by the end of this year.

We are deeply concerned to learn that your Administration is considering plans to keep potentially thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the end of this year. Extending our presence in Iraq is counterproductive – the Iraqi people do not support our continued occupation. Remaining in Iraq would only further strengthen the perception that we are an occupying force with no intention of leaving Iraq.

Leaving troops and military contractors in Iraq beyond the deadline is not in our nation’s security interests, it is not in our nation’s strategic interests, and it is not in our nation’s economic interests.

Mr. President, we look forward to working with you in maintaining our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq and bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this year.

Sincerely,
Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

Walter B. Jones
Member of Congress