Joe Scarborough and the Iraq War

Joe Scarborough just wrote a column for Politico in which he discusses the Iraq War. As he acknowledges in the article, he was a supporter.

Like 75 percent of Americans and most of Congress, I supported the war with Iraq. Much of that support was the result of selected intelligence from the Bush administration. The White House suffered a systemic breakdown, with a vice president and secretary of defense more focused on justifying a war than showing the type of caution our troops deserve before being sent to fight in a foreign land.

George W. Bush was also guilty of gross negligence, in part, by failing to reach out to the two greatest living experts on warfare in the Persian Gulf. Eight years later, it is still hard to believe that the commander in chief refused to seek the advice of his father or his secretary of state, who had run a searingly efficient military campaign a little more than a decade earlier — in the same region, against the same dictator. But as Bush told Bob Woodward, there was no reason to ask Colin Powell’s advice because he knew the general opposed the invasion. Bush 43 also told Woodward that there was no need to seek out Bush 41’s wisdom since he had his “Heavenly Father” to consult.

George W. Bush’s decision to remain isolated and willfully ignorant of these great leaders’ insights led to a disastrous war that could have been avoided. Instead, the invasion of Iraq was launched on March 19, 2003. And despite what media outlets and Democratic politicians would like you to believe, the war began with greater bipartisan support than the 1991 Gulf War.

I guess it’s nice to hear Scarborough acknowledge that he supported this fiasco, but this statement is somewhat misleading. Notice how he mentions that 75% of Americans supported the war. If you didn’t know Scarborough’s past, you might assume he was just one of many Americans who went along with the President. But he was much more than that, as he had his own cable show on MSNBC at the time, Scarborough Country, and he used that platform to become one of the loudest cheerleaders for the war. And, he enthusiastically mocked people who were against it. Joe Scarborough contributed to a climate that made it more difficult for rational voices who opposed the war and questioned the Bush/Cheney/Rove propaganda machine on WMD. He didn’t just go along; he helped lead the parade.

It was obvious to some of us that Bush was cherry-picking the intelligence. If you dug a little, there were journalists who were questioning the intelligence, but most people on network television and in the newsroom of The New York Times were either too stupid o


The perils of outsourcing

This story should make every American furious. We have been outsourcing military functions for years under programs initiated years ago when Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense. This process was accelerated under the last Bush administration.

The result is the story we have below.

Basically, according to whistle blowers who just testified before Congress, soldiers in Iraq were getting electrocuted due to shoddy work done in Iraq by KBR. KBR was a subsidiary of Haliburton, and it’s not even a U.S. company – they transferred their headquarters to the Cayman Islands in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes. How patriotic.

I’m getting tired of Republicans talking about wasteful spending now that Obama is president after living through the Bush years. So much money was wasted by that administration, it’s a disgrace. At least Obama wants to invest in health care for people who can’t afford it.


Moronic Republicans

There are so many examples of how this party has completely lost its way, but this news item takes the cake.

A group of 31 House Republicans have introduced a resolution “declaring victory in Iraq,” which is bound to evoke images of “Mission Accomplished” and George W. Bush in a flight suit.

The intention of the resolution isn’t actually celebratory. It’s intended to set a political trap by declaring, six weeks into Obama’s presidency, that all responsibility for the six-year conflict, which was initiated by President Bush on flawed evidence and incompetently pursued for much of his presidency, is now Obama’s to lose.

These guys are complete morons. It’s amazing that they would try to declare victory when we still have 150,000 troops in Iraq and the Iraqi government needs to hide from its own people behind our army in the Green Zone!

This is pure politics, but it’s also dumb politics. The GOP is turning into a sideshow.


The situation in Iraq

With “Fiasco,” Tom Ricks wrote one of the definitive books on the Iraq War, and he’s not optimstic about the situation we face in 2009.

Obama’s first year in Iraq is going to be tougher than Bush’s last year. Three reasons for that: First, three rounds of elections are scheduled in 2009, and those tend to be violent in Iraq. Second, the easy U.S. troop withdrawals have been made, and the pullouts at the end of this year will be riskier. Finally, none of the basic existential problems facing Iraq have been answered-the power relationships between groups, leadership of the Shiites, the sharing of oil revenue, the status of the disputed city of Kirkuk, to name just the most pressing ones. Compounding the problem will be the incorrect perception of many Americans that the Iraq was all but over when Obama took office.

Despite the conventional wisdom that the war is nearly over, Obama’s war in Iraq may last longer than Bush’s, which clocks in at a robust 5 years and 10 months. “So now you back in the trap–just that, trapped,” to quote Big Boi and Dre. My best guess is that we will have at least 35,000 troops there in 2015, as Obama’s likely second term is winding down. (Self-promotional moment: more on all this in my book “The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08,” out Feb. 9 from Penguin Press.)

I have no idea what’s going to happen in Iraq, but I suspect Obama will push hard to change the strategic situation in the Middle East, and he’s determined to wind down this war. Having 35,000 troops there in 2015 would be a disappointment.


Don’t waste your time on “W”

The movie is just as bad as the Bush presidency. Josh Brolin gives an inspired performance, but most of the film falls flat.

The film works best when focusing on Bush’s life story and his rise to the presidency. His relationship with his father was central to his life, and his interactions with his parents and Laura inspired the more interesting parts of the film.

Regarding his presidency, however, all we see are caricatures of the people around him. Scenes are invented based upon public statements we saw in other contexts, but they seem forced and inauthentic. Historians can rightfully criticize the roles of administrations officials like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, but the portrayals of these men in the film are ridiculous.

Someday, we’ll see a serious movie that delves into the disasterous Bush presidency and the march to war, but “W” is not that movie. Oliver Stone goes for a lighter touch, but he doesn’t deliver enough laughs to make this a successfult comedy. In the end, it’s mostly a waste of time.


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