Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National security night at the DNC 

I missed Bill Clinton's speech this evening, but the CNN commentariat seem to think that it was very good. John Kerry devoted his talk to national security, and it became obvious watching the post-Kerry chatter that the talking points for the evening were that Obama "was right on opposing the war in Iraq, was right to demand a timeline, was right to emphasize Afghanistan, and was right to call for direct talks with Iran."

Point is, the fretting of Ezra Klein and Andrew Sullivan that the Donks would fail to whack away national security seems to have been misplaced. Sullivan was particularly harsh in his stress:

With the sole exception of Michelle Obama's superb speech, this convention has been McCain's dream. Yes, there's Biden and the chance that someone - who knows? - might actually attack the worst national security record of any administration in modern times. And then there's Obama on Thursday. But the way they have set up the speech all but ensures that Obama cannot defeat expectations. Maybe Obama can overcome the obstacles this setting will create. He will have to be one hell of a politician to pull this one off.

There is a lot there, but I'll pick on the hyperbolic claim that the Bush administration has had "the worst national security record of any administration in modern times." Worse than Lyndon Johnson, who could decide neither to win Vietnam or withdraw from it? Worse than Jimmy Carter, who could not bring himself to retaliate for the kidnapping of our diplomats, and whose most visible response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was to boycott the Olympics? Worse than Bill Clinton, who allowed al Qaeda to stitch its battle flag to terror victories in Mogadishu, at the Khobar Towers, against our embassies in Africa, and against the USS Cole, and failed to respond effectively to any of them (because, respectively, he did not understand what happened in Mogadishu, did not have adequate "proof" and did not want to pressure the Saudis to obtain it lest they increase the price of oil, thought it important to warn Pakistani intelligence that we were going to launch cruise missiles against al Qaeda, and did not want to offend Yassir Arafat)?

Gimme a break.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 27, 11:05:00 PM:

you left off 2/23/93 ... the first WTC attack ... the big one ... the one that set the stage for the others, the one that sandy pants berger had to hid in his undies to cover for Bill on ...

all the left's rhetoric works well for the masses of likely dem voters, but falls short for people with brains.

I maintain that the country gets more 'conservative' in periods of economic difficulty, and most of the people under that while they might personally be sucking hind teet, they're still not 'underserved' enough to get jack from the gov't, and will therefore be footing the bill for some worthless bum  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 27, 11:30:00 PM:

Yes, worse than all those. No break needed.

I'll admit ignorance to pre-clintonian times and so not comment on those earlier, but, it seems to me the word "response" here is really just a euphemism for military action. So George didn't do to bad because he at least "responded"; or some "response" is better than none. The language is misleading.

I also think that the idea here is to assume that all policies or situations which do not produce immediate and obvious results are simply doing nothing. I.e. short sighted.

Oh, and blaming 9/11 on anyone but the perpetrators is just wrong. That even includes poor George (he just screwed up afterwards).  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Aug 27, 11:43:00 PM:

Anon 11:30 - OK, suppose "response" is just a euphamism for military action. What non-military responses did the Clinton administration implement to the Mog, Khobar, the African Embassies, or the USS Cole (they did prosecute the immediate perpetrators of WTC I, to answer the first commenter)? If you read Richard Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies," it is hard to locate even a non-military response.

Anyway, I did not blame 9/11 on Clinton. Who knows what would have stopped it? But I, at least, have a "model" for understanding the enemy, which is that he is going to keep trying to kill Americans until we kill or otherwise interdict him. What was Bill Clinton's model for ending Islamist terrorism against American targets? Ending poverty and injustice in the world?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 27, 11:53:00 PM:

You may be right, and certainly I think there was complacency on all sides before 9/11. But even though you say "ending poverty and injustice in the world" as a joke, Those are in fact ideals that I think would have served us well post attack, from a diplomatic and foreign relations point of view.

I think the initial military action (against the taliban) would have been executed by any acting president at the time. The complaints about Bush have to do with later acts, like whether or not invading Iraq was a wise choice.  

By Blogger Final Historian, at Thu Aug 28, 02:10:00 AM:

"But even though you say "ending poverty and injustice in the world" as a joke, Those are in fact ideals that I think would have served us well post attack, from a diplomatic and foreign relations point of view..."

What is ironic is that actually achieving those things in the world requires the removal, through military force, of people like Saddam Hussein from power. Simply put, as long as autocracies exist, there will always be mass poverty and injustice in the world. That doesn't mean that the Bush Administration didn't make serious mistakes, but we have to have a solid foundation of facts about the nature of the world before we can make those judgements.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Aug 28, 07:06:00 AM:

I think you are missing their point: from their POV, Bush does have the "the worst national security record of any administration in modern times." That is because Bush has effectively defended America, and those guys are all rooting for the other side. If you are anti-American, Bush's record really is awful.

C. Johnson  

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