Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stupid...Or Super-Genius?

What would torture apologists and Cheneyites such as Marc Theissen and Andy McCarthy say if Barack Obama actually managed to capture and/or kill Osama bin Laden, after the Bush administration failed to do so for eight years?  That's a tough one!  I think it's the context, however, of what Adam Serwer calls "stupid" ideas that McCarthy spouts in an interview excerpted by Conor Friedersdorf.

I mean, think about it.  What would they say if bin Laden is killed on Obama's watch?  I can think of a few lines of attack...

1.  The credit should go to Bush: it was information obtained from torture during the Bush administration that allowed the new team to benefit, even as they dismantled the methods that worked so well.  Problem: first of all, it's highly unlikely that there will be any evidence for the connection; second, the longer into the new administration, the less plausible this attack will be.

2.  bin Laden doesn't matter, and al-Qaeda is still winning.  This one has the disadvantage of being far too responsible.  It's only a half step away from the fully responsible step of praising the president for the good and attacking him for the bad. 

3.  The Theissen thesis: killing them is much worse than capturing them.  McCarthy endorses this brand of lunacy, but recognizes it's small potatoes, and not really useful if the big cheese himself is killed.

4.  Really, what else?  I couldn't have thought of anything. 

But then...I'm no Andy McCarthy:
These days, the vibrant debate in Islamist circles — the circles Obama has courted assiduously — is over whether al-Qaeda has outlived its usefulness, at least when it comes to attacking our homeland. Many Islamist thinkers believe the Islamist movement is making such progress marching through our institutions (and Europe’s) that terrorist attacks at this point are a tactical blunder. They cause a blowback effect that retards the progress of what Robert Spencer aptly calls the “stealth jihad.”
Don’t get me wrong: The Islamists are still supportive of terrorist aims, and they still applaud al-Qaeda’s attacks on American troops operating in Muslim countries. (We don’t seem to get this, but even if we think we are doing humanitarian service, Islamist ideology construes sharia to condemn as acts of war attempts to plant Western ideas and institutions in Islamic countries, and to call for violent jihad in response.) But the Brotherhood and the Saudis will sing no sad songs if the U.S. kills bin Laden or crushes al-Qaeda. In Muslim countries, they’ll use it as propaganda against us; in the West, they’ll pretend that they always condemned terrorism (they do that now — even as they urge the destruction of Israel and attacks against American troops). So Obama knows the Islamists he wants to engage have decided al-Qaeda is expendable. He won’t lose any ground with them by smashing al-Qaeda.
Got that?  By killing al-Qaeda leaders -- by possibly killing bin Laden -- Obama is actively following Islamist plans. 

This isn't stupid; it's genius.  McCarthy's plan is foolproof; it covers not only a lucky shot that hits bin Laden, but a complete victory over al-Qaeda.  All part of Barack Obama's treasonous treachery.  Notice, by the way, that it's only a "vibrant debate in Islamist circles."  Nice touch; if by some chance Obama curtails the drone strikes, or is in any way defeated by bin Laden, then that will presumably prove that the "vibrant debate" was decided in favor of al-Qaeda, and Obama acted accordingly.

Granted, as policy, it's insane.  But as a creative effort to invent a story of liberal Democratic malfeasance that can be spoon-fed to those who want such things, it's a pretty amazing accomplishment. 


  1. I have little doubt that, should the U.S. capture Osama on Obama's watch, it will benefit the president politically, no matter what the Cheneyites say. The question is only how well it will benefit him, and how long the benefit will last.

  2. Remember when prisoners at Gitmo were waging "asymmetrical warfare" against us by going on hunger strikes? Yeah, this reeks of the same logic.

  3. Patriot's Quill:
    They weren't going on hunger strikes. They were "committing suicide."

  4. The entire argument is premised on the assumption the American government can make achievements (in this case killing an enemy on our most wanted list for nearly 9 years).

    So therefore, the discussion is moot. America can't do anything anymore. It can only collect debt and slowly erode as a world power. The congress is inept, both parties are in the pockets of big business and the system itself caters to the highest bidder.

    America is 5 years away from serious economic collapse. We're all fiddling while Rome burns.

    Capture and/or kill our worst enemy? That involves competence, that's the last word I'd use to describe the American government over this last decade.

  5. The only thing for certain is that if Obama killed bin Laden, Joe Barton would apologize to al-Qaeda.

  6. Anon: The idea that a middle-aged dialysis patient could be the United State's worst enemy itself implies a kind of incompetence. I mean really; A state spending trillions on weapons and war-making threatened by sick malnourished men in caves with Kalishnikovs? That such people form the greatest threat to our state, AND that our gov and military are run by, "The Best and Brightest" cannot both be true; such concepts are mutually exclusive.

    As to McCarthy and his statements, this is just business as usual for the Republicans. In Mogadishu, over 1000 enemy dead and 15 American dead and wounded was a "crushing defeat", and attempting to arrest a warlord for stealing food aid was more "Tail wagging the dog" as Clinton tried to distract America from his sex life with "global war". Our purely observer status early on in the old Yugoslavia was "Nation building", and our attempts to bring those responsible for the genocide there to justice dangerous attempts at "World Government". Of course, throwing countless hundreds of billions into building uncounted permanent military bases in the Near and Center East while paying American companies to build and rebuild Iraqi infrastructure, or claiming the right to intervene militarily anywhere in the world at anytime without declared reason, or the right to label citizens and non-citizens alike criminal without trial never seem to earn such harsh appellations from them.

    I suspect that if Bin Laden were to be killed this is precisely the line the Republicans would run with. McCarthy's view of Muslims as some sort of vast conspiratorial group, "The Islamists", at once both boorishly bigoted and laughably infantile, is already shared by vast numbers of Republican pols and voters. In the end, all the Republican party leadership cares about is the electoral health of The Party, and most Republican voters are so caught up in the web of fear, resentment, entitlement and revenge fantasy that The Party and its social allies have wrapped them in that they're perfectly content to, as they do daily in the Tea Party rallies, call the sky Red and the Waters hard.

  7. i suppose it only goes to show the willingness of certain people to twist EVERYTHING in 'reality' to conform to their predetermined narrative.


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