Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Left and the Taliban Capture

It was pretty funny skimming through left-wing blogs today to see the reaction to the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. One of the the big themes is that this shows how effective Obama is against terrorism, supposedly discrediting criticism by people like Dick Cheney. A typical example can be found in the Washington Monthly. Steve Benen is an always entertaining window into left-wing thought. And although usually laughable, he doesn't come off like raving hate-filled loon, like many of his comrades on the left. Here's how he opens up,

The capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander, is no small matter. It's a "major victory." Given that Baradar is the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the war began, and his role in leading the Taliban's military operations, this is a success that may very well pay considerable dividends for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

That may be true. But if you've ever read Benen's stuff before, or paid much attention to the left in general over the last several years, it's hard to read that without laughing at the shameless hypocrisy on display. There isn't the slightest doubt that if this were 2007, and the capture of Baradar had occurred under Bush, that Benen would be telling us how meaningless it was, how it was just a case of "whack-a-mole," that Baradar would just be replaced by someone else, and that the Bush administration was utterly clueless in its management of the Afghan War. But since it occurred under Obama, it's a great victory. 

The thrust of Benen's article is that Obama should exploit the capture for political purposes, that this episode proves Obama is fantastic on national security -- which apparently only involves operations in Pakistan -- and that all criticism is nothing more than "an aggressive misinformation campaign." On the first -- he need not worry. The administration is more than happy to claim credit for just about anything, even the success of a war the President and Vice-President did their best to undermine when they were in Congress. I'm sure they won't be shy in using the capture for political purposes. Regardless of this success, most criticism of Obama on national security is well-deserved, and not affected in the slightest by the capture of a major Taliban figure.  Some on the right -- those willing to be fair to the president -- have already given him credit for his efforts in the Afghan War. That's why he's received substantial Republican support in that area. But national security is about a lot more than Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since Benen no doubt knows this, I'll just chalk up his assertions to the usual intellectual dishonesty. 

1 comment: