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John McCain is scoring points on Barack Obama by touting the alleged "success" of the "surge," and Obama is reduced to arguing that there hasn't been "political reconciliation" in Iraq, and that the U.S. should be focusing on escalating (a word he avoids, just as Bush and McCain avoided using it with respect to Iraq) the war in Afghanistan, and increasing the U.S. response to Iran (where Obama continues to lie by claiming that "Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons") and Russia (where Obama also lies by claiming that "There is no possible justification for Russia’s actions" - he should read this article by a Canadian professor of philosophy if he's looking for a "possible justification") and Pakistan.

Why can't he take on the argument directly? Because he's hoist by his own petard, a victim of the fact that, from that start, he never had a principled opposition to the invasion of Iraq. I've written about this several times, but let's look at what he said to the Veterans of Foreign Wars:

"Six years ago, I stood up at a time when it was politically difficult to oppose going to war in Iraq, and argued that our first priority had to be finishing the fight against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan...I warned that war would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East, create new centers of terrorism, and tie us down in a costly and open-ended occupation."

From the start, Obama's opposition to the war has been a "cost-benefit analysis." Not once has he said the war was illegal or immoral. He can't condemn the invasion itself as a war crime that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced millions of them, not only because that would make him persona non grata with the American ruling class in whose good graces he must remain in order to be elected, but also because he simply doesn't believe that.

Take a look at his "rebuttal" to the "success" of the surge:

"We have lost over a thousand American lives and spent hundreds of billions of dollars since the surge began, but Iraq’s leaders still haven’t made hard compromises or substantial investments in rebuilding their country."

So the "cost" of the surge  according to Obama has been entirely to the Americans; evidently no Iraqis have died in that time. But the blame for the alleged lack of success of the "surge," according to Obama, is entirely on the Iraqis.

Obama's lack of principled opposition to the invasion wasn't just words, of course. All along, until (if I recall correctly) the very last vote, he has voted for every allocation of money for the war (not "for the troops," what a load of you-know-what), votes which were a direct consequence of his unprincipled opposition to the war. Because once the war has started, then the only possible objection Obama could make would be the "throwing good money after bad" argument, i.e., a continued cost-benefit analysis. As a result, Obama has a hard time countering McCain's attempt to rewrite the history of the Iraq war as beginning with the "surge," because he too fundamentally accepts the idea that the war on the people of Iraq can be "won" by the United States.

Hoist by his own petard.


Reprinted from Left I on the News

Originally posted to Left I on the News on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 04:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (7+ / 0-)

    I don't expect this post to win me many friends here, but if you want to understand why Obama is fumbling the ball in his attempt to advance down the field against John McCain, these things have to be said.

    Eli Stephens
    Left I on the News

    by elishastephens on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 04:58:56 PM PDT

  •  <sigh> (11+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    Ability is what you're capable of doing..motivation determines what you do...attitude determines how well you do it.

    by MA Voter on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:00:31 PM PDT

  •  DOOOOOMED! n/g (10+ / 0-)

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

    by ticket punch on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:01:02 PM PDT

  •  You are right! (11+ / 0-)

    You have convinced me!  I will vote for John McCain!  Even though he loves the war and would like to stay in Iraq for a hundred years and bomb the shit out of Iran I will still vote for him, because Obama isn't perfect.

    http://icasualties.org/oif/ ** 4144 **

    by BDA in VA on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:04:26 PM PDT

  •  Let's accept the reality of one thing, candidates (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource, abbysomething, LogicaLizE
    can't always say what they feel.  You may feel that Obama is slipping b/c he never took a principled stand on the war because he never said it was illegal or immoral, but you fail to see one very big problem with doing so.  The troops.

    Once you take the stand that the invasion is illegal and/or immoral (which it is) then how do you possibly answer this attack.  "Well, then your saying that our boys and girls in uniform are therefore murderers and criminals."  I understand it is more nuanced than that, but you think he got hit hard for the flag pin thing, whoa buddy, he would never have recovered from that.  You can say that he could give a answer about troops following orders doesn't equal the moral equivalent.... but we all know how nuanced and thoughtful answers don't ever seem to quell sheer ignorance that plays to the patriot gene in America.  He would have never got out of the primary.

    •  Oh please (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gabriele Droz, corvo, Cassiodorus

      That's complete nonsense. The responsibility for the war lies with the politicians who started it, not with the grunts.

      Eli Stephens
      Left I on the News

      by elishastephens on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:07:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're exactly right (0+ / 0-)

      Some of us are old enough to remember Vietnam. We probably had more reason to be there than we have reason to be in Iraq. But that war got labeled as unjust and immoral and the ones who suffered were the returning vets.

      Let's wait until all our troops are HOME and situated before we "label" the war.

      Obama is only 2 months younger than I so I'm absolutely positive he DOES remember. And as viciously anti-war as I've been since the first inkling of an Iraq invasion (which is to say late 2001), I've vowed NEVER EVER again to mistake the poor folks in uniform for the evil politicians. THAT is exactly why Obama has watched his language, just as I have.

      SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! BRING THEM THE FUCK HOME!

    •  You are right (0+ / 0-)

      And the other thing is that Americans don't respond positively to messages that imply or directly state that "America sucks".

  •  Thanks for Playing (10+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
    By larrymadill at 2008-08-20

    If at first you don't succeed, your name is not Chuck Todd.

    by Larry Madill on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:05:34 PM PDT

  •  I smell a rat..... (0+ / 0-)

    It appears to me there are several posters in Daily Kos lately, just huffing and puffing About Sen. O.  Would this have anything to do with the e-mails being sent to delegates just before the convention?

  •  Prepare to meet thy doom, troll.... (0+ / 0-)

    Kos in battle

    "And if you vant a second opinion -- you are ugly too!"

    by sagesource on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:33:38 PM PDT

  •  You are too young to remember Vietnam (0+ / 0-)

    Obama is not.

    Go away and grow the fuck up.

  •  I have to grudgingly agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elishastephens, corvo

    at least a little bit.
    Camp Obama is doing a monumentally poor job of dealing with this issue... there has to be a reason for it.

    This is as good an explanation as any I have heard.

    "As God is my witness, I thought wingnuts could fly".

    by Niniane on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:41:37 PM PDT

  •  Bad Timing! You've your stake in the ground... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for the postmortem to be held after election day and hopefully after we enjoy celebrating a Democratic success.

    For now, the primaries are over, it's time to support the Democratic candidate, emphasize Obama's strengths and vision, and relax.

    Detailing weaknesses from a Democratic perspective can and will be fodder for desperate opponents. As for people here, they will either think you're a traitor or already understand and agree. What's to achieve? Nothing valuable imo.

    HR 676 is the best health reform proposal worth my vote.

    by kck on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:48:45 PM PDT

  •  You're confused. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother of Zeus

    His 2002 speech had plenty of principle.  Just not the one you want, namely, pacifism.  You can't make his principles disappear just because they are not categorically anti war.

    "For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician--erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure"-Newsweek.

    by Inland on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:58:24 PM PDT

    •  Not "pacifism" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, Cassiodorus

      Obedience to international law would do just fine.

      Eli Stephens
      Left I on the News

      by elishastephens on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:15:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, he wasn't unprincipled (0+ / 0-)

        he just didn't articulate your favorites.

        Accusing someone of being unprincipled just because he didn't rattle off one of your favorite principles is pretty shitty.  It's pretty much a lie, isn't it.

        BTW, here's Obama's two thousand two speech.

        Anyone finding any petards in their can point them out.

        "I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil.

        I Don't Oppose All Wars

        I don't oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.

        I don't oppose all wars. After September 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.

        Opposed to Dumb, Rash Wars

        I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

        What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

        That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

        On Saddam Hussein

        Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.... The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

        But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors...and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

        I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

        I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

        I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president.

        You Want a Fight, President Bush?

        You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

        You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that...we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

        You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

        You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

        Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair."

        "For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician--erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure"-Newsweek.

        by Inland on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:51:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, my "favorite" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          Obeying international law...it's not required, it's just "my favorite." Ri-i-i-i-ight.

          Eli Stephens
          Left I on the News

          by elishastephens on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 07:18:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obama said obedience not required? (0+ / 0-)

            That's the thing about purity trolls: they just keep upping the ante.  

            Obama doesn't list your principles the way you like, so you call him unprincipled. Then you decide that if he doesn't list obedience to international law, he must be AGAINST law.

            That way, he's hung on his OWN petard, right?  Not just on the stuff you made up.

            Purity trolls are such a bore.  

            "For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician--erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure"-Newsweek.

            by Inland on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 07:44:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, it's just "purity" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassiodorus

              Sorry, Obama has had more than five years to mention the words "international law." In this context, they have never come out of his mouth. He didn't just "happen" to not list that "principle," which is not my principle, it's the principle which governs the behavior of all the countries of the world.

              Or is supposed to.

              By the way, Obama's "all options are on the table" with respect to Iran is also, in and of itself, a violation of international law (and would become a bigger one if those "all options" were actually exercised). This is not a mere pedantic exercise; this is the future and people's lives we're discussing here.

              Eli Stephens
              Left I on the News

              by elishastephens on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 08:04:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's the purity checklist. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ticket punch

                He didn't just "happen" to not list that "principle,"

                First he has no priniciples. Then he doesn't list them the way you want.  Then the fact he doesn't list them the way you want means you get to call him whatever you like.  Sure seems like purity trolling.

                This is not a mere pedantic exercise; this is the future and people's lives we're discussing here.

                Actually, it was the future and people's lives Obama was discussing in 2002.  You decided to skip over than and engage in the pedantic examination and talk abou petards and compare to a checklist...and lying in order to make a point.

                I'm just guessing that nobody's lives are going to be saved with the approach of your diary.  

                "For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician--erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure"-Newsweek.

                by Inland on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 04:50:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  What pecentage of the population supports the (0+ / 0-)

    war in Iraq again?

    McCain just flushed his own campaign by his appearance at the FBF on Aug 16th, 2008.

    by shpilk on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:02:03 PM PDT

  •  How about we let folks decide for themselves (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, rachelmap, Inventor

    whether there is any "principle" in the speech?

    Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.

    The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

    My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.
    I don’t oppose all wars.

    After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

    I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

    What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

    That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

    Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

    He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.  But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

    I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

    I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

    So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

    You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

    You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

    You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

    Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

    The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

  •  I Don't Happen To Think The Diarist.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ticket punch, ceebee7

    Is a concern troll. But I also do not think this diary is worth a bucket of warm spit, either.

    He is just engaging in one of the most favored parlor games of Democrats--premature wise words about why we lost.

    Not that we have lost yet, of course.

    And, at some other blog, I am extremely confident that someone is saying that if Obama was just a little bit more supportive of the war effort, he'd be winning this in a walk.

    Oh...we are just AWESOME at fashioning circular firing squads, aren't we??!!!??

    "You share your young with the wolves of the nation...
    Theres nothing left til you pray for salvation"
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club "American X"

    by Steve Singiser on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:37:56 PM PDT

  •  Who's really in charge? (0+ / 0-)

    This is the question this diary struggles to ask.  Its critics have, for the most part, missed the point by a mile.

    He can't condemn the invasion itself as a war crime that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced millions of them, not only because that would make him persona non grata with the American ruling class in whose good graces he must remain in order to be elected, but also because he simply doesn't believe that.

    The selection process for US Presidents is bound to elect imperialists, simply because the selection process is ultimately controlled by the elites, the media, the defense establishment, and the shadow government.  Now, some imperialists are better than others, as Obama is better than McCain.  But if you want to end imperialism, though, you have to dare to criticize it, and to criticize the imperialists who voice it too.

    Is that so hard to swallow?

    "The freeway's concrete way won't show/ you where to run or how to go" -- Jorma Kaukonen

    by Cassiodorus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:14:17 AM PDT

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