Monday, November 02, 2009


In an interview telecast (transcript from Think Progress) on Sunday's Fox News Sunday, Rush Limbaugh responded to a question about President Obama's Afghanistan policy from Chris Wallace by claiming

if he cared about victory — remember, he said about Afghanistan victory is not something he’s comfortable with, the concept. It reminds him of the Japanese surrendering on the USS Missouri. It made him very uncomfortable.

He wants to manage this rather than achieve victory. He says these things. I don’t know if people actually listen and have them register when he does.

Almost true- or almost almost true. On July 23, the President told ABC News "I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur." But then he went on to clarify the aims of the U.S.A. in Afghanistan:

We're not dealing with nation states at this point. We're concerned with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Al Qaeda's allies. So when you have a non-state actor, a shadowy operation like Al Qaeda, our goal is to make sure they can't attack the United States....

We are confident that if we are assisting the Afghan people and improving their security situation, stabilizing their government, providing help on economic development ... those things will continue to contract the ability of Al Qaeda to operate. And that is absolutely critical.

No, President Obama is not interested in calling something a "victory" while not achieving victory. Now, in determining the proper course of U.S. policy in central Asia, he remains far more concerned with "contract(ing) the ability of Al Qaeda to operate," largely "to make sure they can't attack the United States."

What would "victory" look like in Afghanistan(or in Pakistan, a nation Rush seldom acknowledges)? Wallace didn't ask him and wisely, Limbaugh never said. Obama's concept of success in the region, ironically but not surprisingly, looks a lot closer than Limbaugh's to that of General Petraeus, whom Rush claims to hold in high regard. Asked by the BBC in September, 2008 "Do you think you will ever use the word 'victory,' the General responded

I don't know that I will. I think that all of us at different times have recognized the need for real restraint in our assessments, in our pronouncements, if you will. And we have tried to be very brutally honest and forthright in what we have provided to Congress, to the press, and to ourselves.

Later elaborating, he explained

This is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory's not war with a simple slogan.

It's not only on GOP TV, unfortunately. Limbaugh and politicians in his party routinely use the word "victory" without defining anything. The term is invoked to stop discussion, to imply their view is the only patriotic one. Rarely are they asked to clarify their statement or define their term, and all discussion stops. Mission Accomplished.

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