The disrespectful pot shots General Stanley McChrystal and his top aides directed at the Obama administration over strategy in the war in Afghanistan were as unsubstantive as they were immature and arrogant. Obama has dismissed McChrystal as commander of operations if Afghanistan, and the general has even apologized for the remarks he made in the controversial recent Rolling Stone article. Everyone, even McChrystal himself, seems to agree that the criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy were baseless—everyone, that is, besides the right-wing pundits and conservative columnists who continue to espouse the same kind of uninformed rhetoric against the president no matter what he does.

Take, for instance, Mortimer Zuckerman’s recent article, which as the Center for American Progress’s Eric Alterman points out, is filled with groundless assertions and unproven claims. Zuckerman asserts that a "critical mass of influential people in world affairs" have turned against President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan without ever specifically saying who these "influential people" are.  Zuckerman fills his article with the passive voice and words like "seems" and "appears" in order to shirk the responsibility of proving his outlandish claims and criticisms.

In this telling passage, for example, Zuckerman manages to squeeze the word "seems" twice into one sentence: "He has seemed uncomfortable in the role of leading other nations, and often seems to suggest there is nothing special about America’s role in the world." Zuckerman constructs his argument so that nothing can be questioned or proven wrong, but what comes with that strategy is the fact that nothing can be proven right either. What’s worrisome about this is that so many of the criticisms and arguments we’re hearing in the media attacking Obama’s plan for Afghanistan amount to nothing more than empty hot air.

Zuckerman masquerades as an intellectual critic of Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan, but there’s no real evidence or insight to his argument. He and other conservative commentators that share his views take on the pretense of thoughtfulness without delivering anything of substance. His supposedly insightful rhetoric is ultimately no better than the underhanded jabs McChrystal’s aide took at Vice President Joe Biden when he immaturely quipped "Biden? Did you say: Bite Me?"

Originally posted to American Progress on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 06:22 AM PDT.

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