Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the surge

"You rarely see an interview couch such hopeless inanity in the pretense of not getting an answer to the question, but, what can I say? Couric's a whiz at this. You see the problems coming a mile away when Couric frames the discussion as a response to people "scratching their heads," people "asking why," and people whose "eyebrows" are raised. Such people, of course, do not exist and cannot be named. Tis the beginning of a Straw Man argument, which has sadly become the first resort of many in the press. From there, the line of interrogation is rivetingly unconcerned with substantive analysis of Obama's Iraq War position - it's a silly little trap of false logic, in which Couric attempts to get Obama to admit to the obvious - that 100,000+ troops in Iraq have affected the conditions in the country, and hang a false admission of "Surge" efficicacy around his neck.

Obama seems to understand the trap is being set, but he disappointingly fails to expose it for what it is. In his foreign policy speech, delivered before his trip, Obama did a fine job in differentiating the tactic of the "Surge" as but a thin sliver of tactic within a larger foreign policy strategy that has failed to deliver any of the outcomes that were promised. Even if we could cast the "Surge" as an unqualified success, the overall strategy has netted America four major failures. And within the larger context of a failure to find WMDs, a failure to improve America's security, a failure to thwart or even impede al Qaeda in the wake of 9/11, and a failure to prevent malign regional forces like Iran and Hezbollah from increasing their regional influence, the "Surge" is entirely without relevance - a fourth quarter field goal when you're down four touchdowns.

All of this should have been, and likely is, apparent to Obama, but with Couric, his decision to get Talmudic - to borrow an appropriate term - does him no good at all.

Still, it is Couric who carries the greater malignancy in this exchange, and there's no greater offense than her question, "But talking microcosmically, did the surge, the addition of 30,000 additional troops ... help the situation in Iraq?" WIth that word, microcosm, one can see the main toxin that's embedded in Surge Logic (TM) in high-contrast clarity. That is Couric carrying water for the McCain campaign, attempting to assert that the "Surge" is somehow a "microcosm" of the War in Iraq, the logic being that if we can admit that the "Surge" had any positive effect on the conditions in Iraq, then we must also admit that the War On Iraq was a success.

Against this toxin, Obama needs to come hard with the antidote. Making the Four Failures, outlined above, a central part of the puchback, is an essential first step. Obama would also be well-served to hit back with some Iraq War history - explicating how violence diminished as a result as some pre-Surge events, like the completion of Baghdad's sectarian cleansing, and the Anbar awakening.

And the latter point is critical, because Obama's opponent, John McCain, recently gave an interview in which he either demonstrated a complete lack of awareness of his beloved "Surge" or chose to actively lie about it. The interviewer on that occasion? You got it! KATIE COURIC.
As Ilan Goldenberg wrote, "This is not controversial history. It is history that anyone trying out for Commander in Chief must understand when there are 150,000 American troops stationed in Iraq. It is an absolutely essential element to the story of the past two years. YOU CANNOT GET THIS WRONG."

But McCain did, and Couric didn't offer up any of the same furtive, insistent questioning. The critical difference? Couric's brain is too stuffed full of idiot oppositional talking points and Straw Man arguments to actually know anything about the Iraq War. And that's why the Glory Days of TV News are over."

and oh yeah, speaking John McCain's knowledge on the happenings in Iraq and the Surge's success--


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