Bill O'Reilly Stabs Our Boys in The Back

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TNR's Jason Zengerle remarks on something I've noticed for a while, too. Fox News' bucolic Bill O'Reilly has slowly morphed into something of an Iraq skeptic. He compares this chunk of O'Reilly latest "Talking points memo" to Walter Cronkite's Ho Chi Minh-loving hymn from 1968.

Iraq should be a lesson learned. We cannot ever again put American boots on the ground in a hostile Arab country. Iraq was an optional war. There will always be or there were other ways, I should say, of removing Saddam.

This isn't the first time O'Reilly's dumped on the Iraq war, but it's the first time he used rhetoric that would drive him crazy if it came from, say, Al Franken.

I'm not an expert on what Cronkite's beliefs were before the "mired in stalemate" broadcast, but O'Reilly's crisis of faith is a microcosm of a larger conservative trend. Guys like O'Reilly (or like the pretzels-and-beer Reagan Democrat archetype he wants to represent) never had any interest in the grand goals of the Iraq war. Rebuilding the Middle East, creating a "viral" democracy that would topple tyrannies from Tripoli to Tehran—that wasn't the reason they backed the war. They backed it because they wanted to bring the hammer down on a Middle Eastern country, to wipe those smiles off their faces after 9/11. They also wanted to piss off the wimpy leftists and liberals who opposed the war. The sight of Susan Sarandon locking arms with Berkeley social science majors was more than enough to motivate O'Reilly types into backing, hell, whatever they were marching against. (Of course, you have to consider how many of the original anti-warriors would have backed a war initiatied by Bill Clinton, and were driven to oppose it by hearing O'Reilly, Bush et al argue for it every night on TV.)

NEXT: A Private War on Terror

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  1. “(Of course, you have to consider how many of the original anti-warriors would have backed a war initiatied by Bill Clinton, and were driven to oppose it by hearing O’Reilly, Bush et al argue for it every night on TV.)”

    there is that, of course. so long as it’s the right boot, it’s fine for lickin’.

  2. I think, Mr. Weigel, you are forgetting one of the rather significant reasons those conservatives, and so many others, supported the war: you know, the major reason given at the time, the threat that Iraq would pass WMDs to bin Ladin. You know, “We cannot let the world’s worst regimes threaten us with the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

    If the threat from Iraq had been as serious and imminent as war supporters like O’Really? had been saying at the time, waiting around for “other ways” would have crazy. This is why the neocons pushed their phoney intelligence so hard – because what Bill is saying is so irrefutably true about an optional war, that the case had to be made that this was not an optional war.

  3. “Of course, you have to consider how many of the original anti-warriors would have backed a war initiatied by Bill Clinton, and were driven to oppose it by hearing O’Reilly, Bush et al argue for it every night on TV.”

    Good thing we don’t have to “consider” this in a vacuum. When Clinton did initiate a war, and he and his people argued for it, “anti-warriors” were furious. Have you forgotten the Albright/Cohen “town meeting” appearance before Operation Desert Fox already? Or the protests against the Kosovo war?

  4. Of course that’s true. But with this comment by O’Reilly, I’m interested in the deeper psychological reasons. We’ve known for more than two years that there were no WMD, so that’s not what’s motivating him to say this.

  5. When Clinton did initiate a war, and he and his people argued for it, “anti-warriors” were furious.

    If that anti-war movement and this anti-war movement consisted of the exact same people, you’d have a point.

  6. “Have you forgotten the Albright/Cohen “town meeting” appearance before Operation Desert Fox already? Or the protests against the Kosovo war?”

    The only people I know who were against the Kosovo war were Michael Moore and the Ramsey Clark hard left crowd. It was a bit uncomfortable to go to war against a lawful government on a purely internal matter completely without U.N. authorization and completely against the wishes of many of our allies, and use that war to help put organized crime figures in power in Kosovo, but hey sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I supported that war by the way, Milosevic was horrible and regardless how criminal the Kosovo Albanians are, the world is still better for the war having been fought.

    I would assume that since the war lacked U.N. authorization or support of many of our allies, you were one of the protesters? You seem to be so committed to the rule of the U.N. now that a Republican is in office, I can’t imagine you would have supported a non-U.N. sanctioned war when a Democrat was in office? Nah, Never. Couldn’t be.

  7. joe: i do remember them. they were…sparse.

    abortion is a very lickable boot.

  8. Antiwar.com (which is libertarian/paleoconservative in orientation) was founded to oppose the Kosovo war.

  9. As I recall, there were a lot of right wingers against Kosovo. Although I think that was because they thought it was a way to distract attention from the Lewinsky scandal.

  10. “Antiwar.com (which is libertarian/paleoconservative in orientation) was founded to oppose the Kosovo war.”

    SR

    Isn’t that pretty much the same people who object to the Iraq war sans Joe and the Kos brigade?

  11. “Bring the hammer down on an ME country?”
    “Wanted to wipe the smiles off their faces after September 11th?”

    Why, those are the kind of categorical assumptions re: certain groups that this website normally frowns on.

    So in the spirit of the above, let me suggest you go with Kissinger, Zbigniew B., Jean Kirkpatrick and Javier Solana and you can all have your little fucking Congress of Vienna for the Middle East and assess how to maintain the balance of power while events pass you by.

  12. “As I recall, there were a lot of right wingers against Kosovo. Although I think that was because they thought it was a way to distract attention from the Lewinsky scandal.”

    That was Desert Fox. The Kosovo War was in the spring of 99 after the impeachment. Desert Fox was in the fall of 1998 during the impeachment. Say what you want about his motives Bill Clinton and Al Gore made a great case for Saddam being a danger.

  13. “Isn’t that pretty much the same people who object to the Iraq war”

    Yes, but you had earlier said: The only people I know who were against the Kosovo war were Michael Moore and the Ramsey Clark hard left crowd. I was pointing out people who opposed the Kosovo war who are not generally affiliated with Moore or Clark (indeed, Antiwar.com has carried a number of columns critical of both of them).

  14. John, how did you ever become a lawyer writing at an eighth-grade level?

    also, which one of these email addresses is correct?

    jckluge@mail2iraq.com
    john.kluge@us.army.mil
    john.kluge@fifth.army.mil
    peleus@aol.com

    …cos, like, you’ve used all of them in the past week.

  15. “Say what you want about his motives Bill Clinton and Al Gore made a great case for Saddam being a danger.”

    But unlike the Bush administration, they took care of the problem without buying into pipe dreams that we could cheaply and easily give everyone in the Middle East democracy, freedom, and a pony.

  16. Jesse Walker,

    “If that anti-war movement and this anti-war movement consisted of the exact same people, you’d have a point.” While “this anti-war movement” now consists of about two thirds of Americans, during the runup to the war and for a couple years after, the two were pretty similar.

    John, “I would assume that since the war lacked U.N. authorization or support of many of our allies, you were one of the protesters?” That war was supported by, endorsed in joint session by, and carried out by, NATO, and organization which is often referred to by the term “our allies.” Oooh, sorry about that “fact” thing, bug guy.

    And since you’re curious, I grudgingly supported that war at the time.

    “Say what you want about his motives Bill Clinton and Al Gore made a great case for Saddam being a danger.” Well, at the time, he WAS a danger. Since you are clearly so concerned about dictators with WMDs and what to do about them, it’s good that the Man from Hope and the Greatest Vice President in American History are there for you to learn from. Seeing as how they actually addressed that issue successfully.

  17. Ah, Bubba, thaks for that little stroll down Memory Lane. How is the democratic revolution sure to sweep the Middle East going? Perhaps there are some stories about Egypt or Syria you could link to…

  18. Joe,

    NATO doesn’t count. NATO can only be invoked as a defensive pact by its members. Neither the former Yugoslavia or Kosovo was a member. Further the conflict in Kosovo did not present a threat to any of the NATO members. The fact is under international law, a war has to either be in self defense or approved by the Security Council, the Kosovo War was not either of those. The Iraq war can legally claim to be the enforcement of UNSCR 1442 dating back to the first Gulf War. Saddam never abided by the terms of the original cease fire and violated other UNSCRs by kicking out the UN inspectors. It is granted still a debatable case whether the U.S. had a right to enforce 1442 without furhter UNSC authorization, but it is at least debatable. By any objective terms, the Kosovo war was much more illegal than the Iraq war. Those are just the facts.

  19. This isn’t the first time O’Reilly’s dumped on the Iraq war, but it’s the first time he used rhetoric that would drive him crazy if it came from, say, Al Franken.

    As someone that watches Bill every night, I must point out how incorrect the above statement is.

    Bill has questioned all aspects of the war since day one.

    I wish folks who bash the show would watch it regularly; they might learn that most of his critics are talking out their asses.

  20. “Of course, you have to consider how many of the original anti-warriors would have backed a war initiatied by Bill Clinton”

    I bet, in a couple of years, we’ll have every opportunity to see this scenario play out live under the next President Clinton. There are going to be plenty of ex-antiwar liberals making suspect arguments for “good wars”, humanitarian interventions in Africa & for deploying troops to the Arctic circle to protect Greenpeace ships, defend glaciers etc. Like in the 90’s.

  21. John,

    Sorry that you’re stuck in 1988. NATO has long outgrown that purpose, as the extended deployment of member states’ forces (France! Germany! Canada!) in Afghanistan demonstrates.

    You seem to have a very poor understanding (no, really!) of your opponents’ beliefs. The support of NATO in Yugoslavia, and utter lack of support from any credible international body in Iraq, isn’t a matter of legalistic quibbling. That support provides tangible benefits that strengthen the conception, planning, prosecution, and endurance of military actions. That’s why I want such support – because having it greatly decreases the chance that we’ll go off half-cocked, provides a bulwark against efforts to turn international public opinion against us (as it has in Iraq, and so demonstrably didn’t in Kosovo and Afghanistan), and reduces the burden on our military.

    OK, just kidding. I wuv the UN because it’s all, like, groovy, man. And they’re for peace, and got black people and stuff. But you already “knew” that, didn’t you?

  22. SM,

    If our actions in Iraq were anything like a humanitarian intervention in Africa (like, say, how our troops saved half a million lives in Somalia by guarding food convoys), or a security action in Yugoslavia (like when our air forces ended a genocidal war and stopped the Serbs in Bosnia, thereby ending the efforts of international jihadists to exploit the situation to establish bases of operation in Europe) then you would have an argument.

    But they’re not, and you don’t.

  23. John is correct that the NATO intervention in Kosovo was illegal. As far as I know, it was also the first overt military strike by NATO in its history. I always figured it was mostly a “justify our existence” move since the spread of communism thing in the charter was no longer relevant.
    I disagree with John that the world is a better place for it having happened. Particularly the Serbia/Kosovo part of the world.

  24. “thereby ending the efforts of international jihadists to exploit the situation to establish bases of operation in Europe”

    Suspect argument number 1.

  25. Jon posted “‘Say what you want about his motives Bill Clinton and Al Gore made a great case for Saddam being a danger.’
    But unlike the Bush administration, they took care of the problem without buying into…”
    Exactly how did Bill and Al “take care of the problem”?

  26. Bill O’Reilly said “There will always be or there were other ways, I should say, of removing Saddam.”

    I may have must it, but did Bill state the “other ways” in which Saddam could have been removed?
    Interesting, in that before 9-11, there was talk of loosening the sanctions if not lifting them all together, with Hussien still in power.

  27. Exactly how did Bill and Al “take care of the problem”?

    Missiles were lobbed, poses were struck, the Iraq Liberation Act was passed, inspection teams were obstructed, and then…not so much, really:
    Timeline of UN-Iraq Coalition Incidents 1991-2002

    But please don’t tell Joe that the Man From Hope did not squarely face and completely solve every international problem presented him while in office.

    Greatest Vice President in American History – that’s just mean. What a way to torture a man over and over and over.

  28. As an addendum…I voted for the Great White Hope Guy both times, and if he could run a third time I’d probably vote for him again, unless the GOP nominated RG or JM, which they won’t. It’s just kind of disgusting, and depressing, to see the state of the Democratic party just 6 years after he left office.

    Blind brand loyalty bugs me, whether it’s coming from Democrats like Joe or Republicans like some on these boards whose handles I can’t think of at the moment.

  29. bucolic Bill O’Reilly”?

    He used to be a hayseed?

  30. What’s on O’Reilly’s i-Pod?

    The Dixie Chicks’, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

  31. The difference between Bill and Walter is that no one believes Bill and EVERYONE believed Walter.

    L

  32. I am interested in what OReilly thinks these “other ways of removing Saddam” were. More talk, inspections, and resolutions? Hahahaha!

    Yes, there were ways to remove him without war. Unfortunately, that would have required France, Russia, and China to be on our side rather than Saddam’s. Since these nations clearly wanted the war (as any of them could have prevented it by convincing the others to turn on Saddam and force him to back down)), and we were unable to accept the status-quo, war became inevitable.

    Seriously, France either wanted the war or is utterly incompetent beyond any level which I could ascribe to human beings, even them. Without his French, Russian, and Chinese backing, Saddam could have been convinced to go into exile and turn the country over to the UN/NATO/whatever. Instead, he thought that his pals in Paris had his back, and tried to play chicken.

    Now we have a big mess, thanks to the wonderful Frenchies.

  33. Chad – here is a question. How bad does the Iraq war have to go before Bush supporters give France credit for saying that it was a bad idea? I mean, we got freedom fries and much boiling blood over France because they didn’t back the war. Now that almost nobody here thinks that it was a good idea, isn’t it time to back off?

  34. the relevant O’Reilly stab in the back is his (now twice repeated) claim that the US surrendering POW’s massacred by the Nazis at Malmedy were in fact war criminals who shot unarmed surrendering germans. there is at least one survivor still around, I really think he should go on O’Reilly’s show. this is a truly, bizarrely slanderous thing to say, especially as he’s been using it to justify Abu Ghraib and Haditha. my WWII vet grandad and fox fan (only started after the stroke, which speaks for itself) is righteously pissed. somehow preview doesn’t like my html so here is the url
    http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/06/01.html#a8537

  35. I would have given France credit for coming up with a good idea. They didn’t. Saying ‘your plan sucks’ is childishness.

    Yes, this plan sucks, and so did all of the alternatives that were on the table. The non-sucky alternatives required that France be on our side, which would never happen. France WANTED the war, as far as I can tell, and I suspect the primary reason was that mud in the face of America is worth more to them than Iraqi lives. Perhaps they didn’t want the war, but in that case, they sure are stupid. Even I give them more credit than that.

    Just imagine how France could have been the hero if in February 03, they had announced a plan to offer Saddam and all his goons exile with immunity and a massive French-led UN-peacekeeping/inspection mission (with no US or UK troops) to replace Saddam’s regime with a democratically chosen one and clean up any possible WMD issues. Back this with the French/Russian/Chinese threat to back the war if Saddam defies, and you almost assuredly avoid war while achieving regime change and disarmament verification.

  36. SM,

    Both the Iranian government and Al Qaeda were supporting the Bosnians with men, training, and equipment, and attempting to recruit jihadists by depicting the war against the Serbs as a war for the defense of Islam.

    Terry, “Exactly how did Bill and Al “take care of the problem”?”

    After Operation Desert Fox, the Iraqi government disposed of its entire stock of WMDs and dismantled their chem, bio, and nuclear programs, in an effort to avoid additional attacks by us and Britain. That’s why there were none in 2002, when you so eagerly accepted Bush’s assertions that there were.

    stubby, “But please don’t tell Joe that the Man From Hope did not squarely face and completely solve every international problem presented him while in office.” Actually, I think Clinton’s foreign policy largely sucked. Rwanda, Sierra Leone, sucking up to China. He just happened to get Yugoslavia and Iraq (in some ways) right. The only blindness here is your lazy assumption that my comments supporting something the Clinton administration did equates to absolute support for everything they did.

    “Now we have a big mess, thanks to the wonderful Frenchies.” Damn you, France! If it wasn’t for France, we wouldn’t be in this mess! LOL.

    “Saying ‘your plan sucks’ is childishness.” And yet so very, very true. Can you think back far enough to remember what “true” means?

    Politics of projection, anyone?

  37. I think its a good sign that even folks like O’reilly have to, at some point (years of it beating you over the head) acknowledge reality. But there is still that 35% who approve of GW…

  38. Ken,

    Something like a quarter of Republicans approve of the way George Bush is handling Iraq in particular.

    Think about that. If you had a dozen a Republicans in a room, there would a couch full of them talking about how well George Bush has done in Iraq.

  39. “Both the Iranian government and Al Qaeda were supporting the Bosnians with men, training, and equipment, and attempting to recruit jihadists by depicting the war against the Serbs as a war for the defense of Islam.”

    So it turns we went into Yugoslavia to defeat the islamics & deny them a “base in Europe” (Hmm … Mission Accomplished), sort of like we went into Iraq to spread democracy. Not bad, joe – two more years to President Hilary’s reign and you’re already rehearsing the apologia.

    BTW – what happened to suspect argument number 0 ie anything involving the Serbs always leads to World War thereby justifying intervention. Did that go out of fashion or what ?

  40. “Not bad, joe – two more years to President Hilary’s reign and you’re already rehearsing the apologia”

    Umm – I take that one back.

  41. “Bill has questioned all aspects of the war since day one.

    I wish folks who bash the show would watch it regularly; they might learn that most of his critics are talking out their asses.”

    As someone who watches Bill on and off (once I realized that he was funnier than the Colbert Report…Steven just doesn’t quite have the knack for dadaist absurdity)…I must say…

    The inability to discriminate between faces and asses can lead to many embarrassing situations… blush much?

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