This is a critique of a column in the right-wing Huffington Post by Dan Froomkin and could qualify for “Misleading Headline of the Day” (located on the bottom right of your browser window). But it entails too much ‘splaining, so I’ve bumped it up to a post. David Patraeus is making the rounds to the media to give an update on the Afghanistan War and of course it has brought out the obvious criticism that can be made of any war, it sucks. But in reading Froomkin’s piece, I was amazed at how flimsy the support was for his bold statements. He even refers to his own reporting as if it were now chiseled in stone and a known fact. His column appeared even before Patraeus made his appearance on Meet the Press this weekend. Froomkin starts out with these bold pronouncements…
As Gen. David Petraeus kicks off an extended media blitz intended to make Americans feel better about the war in Afghanistan — or at least give him some more time to fight it — he faces a foe more implacable than al Qaeda, or even the Taliban: Reality.
That reality, increasingly obvious to national security experts and the general public alike, is that no amount of good intentions or firepower is going to advance our fundamental interests in Afghanistan — and that as much as Petraeus might be able to achieve in the next six months, or a year, little to none of it is sustainable and most of it is, even worse, counterproductive.
I have to wonder how he defines “fundamental interests” and whether our military really is relying on the snarky “good intentions” and “firepower”. Our fundamental interests as defined by the Obama defense department is to stabilize the country, diminish Al Qaeda and get the hell out, in a nutshell. By all accounts, the increased drone attacks have been working to weaken Al Qaeda and in watching Rachel Maddow and Richard Engel’s reports from Afghanistan, the goal of stabilizing the country is proceeding on pace, with a hell of a lot to go. By setting up a false target of “good intentions and firepower”, he makes it easy on himself to shoot them down. Go read President Obama’s speech, which is here, and then comeback and tell me that the plan is “good intentions and firepower”. Is Froomkin a Republicans now or is he just taking a page from their playbook?
Froomkin also makes the bold prophetic statement that “none of it is sustainable and most of it is, even counterproductive.” Now you would think that as a writer, if you make that kind of bold prophetic statement you better be able to back it up. How does he back it up? He tells us how “Patraeus can’t say with any confidence that this ‘progress’ can be sustained.” So, because Patraeus can’t see the future, like apparently Dan Froomkin can, it becomes “little to none of it is sustainable”. That is one huge freaking leap from lacking confidence — to little to none can be sustained.
Rachel Maddow has some great reporting about how the mission really has changed and in many parts of Afghanistan, these changes are taking hold.
Of course our obsessive, negative, ratings-whore media have been focusing on the areas that are taking longer and give the impression of doom and gloom. The anti-war people, who I love and support, are doing what everyone seems to do, spinning things to their benefit. I saw General Patraeus on Meet the Press yesterday and as usual, I was very impressed with him. He didn’t say anything different than what the administration has said since the new strategy was formed. I just went back and read the President’s speech when he announced the new strategy and contrary to the spinners, it was a well reasoned, flexible plan that weighed all the potential pitfalls ahead and ways to respond to them. Some on the anti-war left and right are trying hard to rewrite history and to be honest, pronounced the strategy dead before it even began. They all seem to focus on this deadline for “beginning” to bring the troops home next summer. Their small-brain obsessiveness on this one point completely distracts them from weighing anything else. When I heard the strategy explained, I heard them say that they intended to begin withdrawing troops by July of 2011 but would re-access as things progressed. Everyone seems to want to make it a date-certain and are using that as the only benchmark in determining whether the new strategy is working or not. Watch the Rachel clip and others, she and Richard Engel did some amazing work and I trust that they are being truthful.
Here is where Froomkin cites himself as the source for – himself. He is of course obsessing over that date or “deadline” and mixing and matching “significant troop withdrawal” with the Administrations date to begin withdrawing troops. When the new strategy was announced, it was clear that the July 2011 date was for beginning troop withdrawal, no one said “significant” troop withdrawal, that’s just another straw dog that Froomkin sets up so he can shoot it down. Check this out…
Petraeus is said the be starting to hedge on President Obama’s promised deadline of July 2011 for withdrawing American troops.
That’s hardly surprising. As I reported two weeks ago, the timeline for an American troop withdrawal has steadily been growing longer for some time, with Obama’s deadline looking more and more hollow, and the real timeline for significant troop withdrawal — barring a change in course — now extending at least to 2014, if not far beyond.
If you click on that link where he sources himself and read it, you will see a paragraph that reads like this.
“All of these benchmarks are designed to pacify onlookers on the Hill, help to justify our presence in the country, and set unrealistic goals that everyone knows are not going to be met,” said retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a respected military strategist and author. “You’re never going to achieve them. None of this is aimed at extricating American power and forces from anywhere.”
So I thought to myself, respected military strategist, let me investigate. This “respected” military strategist was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. In fact, he consulted with ole’ Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 about an invasion of Iraq. Uh, he doesn’t have my respect, but apparently Dan Froomkin has a lot of respect for him…at least when it is convenient to bash President Obama.
In observing the reactions from mostly the Obama haters on the left, I see all sorts of playing loose with the facts, stretching things, exaggerating things, setting up false equivalencies and using Republican sources when it’s convenient for them…they sure can channel Republicans when they want to.