First they’d need something to say…

These two should talk,” sez Rex in re:  Tony Blankley and Jennifer Rubin.

Why?  Each one could probably have written the other’s work, and neither is saying anything that we all haven’t heard (and that many of us have said) over and over again for many months.

Here’s Rex’s key quote from Blankley’s National Review white flag special:

Only self-deception can justify the continued sacrifice of our young men and women in uniform. Given the two presidents in command and their irreversible dispositions toward this war and each other, failure is virtually inevitable.

The above paragraph is bookended by an excerpt from Thomas Paine (The Crisis/Common Sense, November 21, 1778) and a reference to the Roosevelt-Churchill wartime partnership.  I feel confident that, if the National Review had been willing to give Blankley another page, he would have gotten to the Civil War and St. Crispin’s Day.

At another point in the piece, Blankley bemoans the loss of one soldier a day in Afghanistan.  A terrible thing indeed, and intolerable if for no good purpose – but during World War II, on any given day, the Roosevelt-Churchill wartime partnership was losing 1 soldier a minute.  Please, once again for the ages:  Whatever the exercise in Afghanistan is, doomed to failure or doomed to succeed, it’s not that. Comparing Obama-Karzai to Roosevelt-Churchill is like comparing this blog post to… Thomas Paine’s Crisis essays, or maybe Blankley’s article to Churchill on “blood, toil, tears, and sweat…”  (though with an opposite gist).

In an odd way, however, Blankley does come somewhat closer to Paine’s perspective on England vis-a-vis the American colonies.  In that case, one might seek to identify the gutty revolutionaries in today’s historical drama, the people for whom Blankley is speaking, and one might not care especially for the answer. But I’d rather presume that this is not that either.

As for Rubin, Rex points to this quote:

There is no way to “explain” the timeline that will improve this situation. Obama needs to lift it, announce we are in this for the long haul, and commit himself to victory. Anything less is dereliction of his duty as commander in chief to win on a battlefield he defined as critical to our national security.

I suspect that Blankley and Rubin agree entirely about the senselessness of the announced timeline.  Many of us – hapless keyboard generals, sagacious analysts, and eminent military historians – winced at this clunker when Barack Obama premiered his strategic aria last fall.  The only conceptual difference between Rubin’s and Blankley’s current critiques and those offered publicly (including by Rubin and Blankley themselves) within days,  hours, or minutes of the President’s West Point speech is the passage of two-thirds of a year.  Then as now, the paleo-cons believed failure to be certain:  They wanted to hold Obama accountable first, the neo-cons second, for even trying.  The neo-cons preferred to believe that success is or was possible enough for Obama to be held accountable for its absence – and the less said about what they deep-down think of the paleos, the better for comity in the conservative coalition.

A somewhat quieter group never quite believed success or failure as conventionally defined ever applied very well, or even could apply very well, to the entire operation.

5 comments on “First they’d need something to say…

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  1. Because I’m merely an amateur observer,I get to go places the more professional pundits are forbidden. Looking at WW2,I see the keys to success as fourfold,we had:(1)A Declaration of War(2)A Draft(3) Overwhelming Force(4)Solid Support of the Citizens
    In Korea,we had 2&3
    In Vietnam,we had 2&3
    In Iraq,we had 0
    In Afghanistan,we have 0

    The only exception to this formula was The Gulf War where we had 3 and 5 which was universal support from lots of other nations. It did the job against a weak enemy,that we didn’t know was that weak until the war started.

  2. @ fertiziling treefrog:
    I think I understand your view, and the article you link is very interesting – but Lind doesn’t address the timetable issue at all (two or three months before it came up), and I wonder if he wouldn’t see it as a negative. A timetable tends to constrict maneuver in every way except one: It gives a President concerned about holding on to his anti-war base a little more room for political “maneuver,” but probably wasn’t necessary, and comes at the cost of de-stabilizing the real coalition of support for his war strategy (whatever it really is).

    I keep on thinking of that Max Boot post written after the West Point speech, in which he offered support for the Afghanistan strategy premised on the notion that Obama could campaign for it with the same determination and stubbornness he showed on health care reform. Still makes me laugh.

  3. @ CK MacLeod:

    the narrow “political” room for the build-up and announcement that the war was going intensify and likely to enlarge made avoiding an expedience such a fuzzed-up thing taken as a “timetable” seem an appealing one when considered as one of several simultaneous actions, in other foreign and domestic areas, that Obama sought to pursue.

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