ISIS

David Frum Makes Several Good Points While Arguing Against War in Iraq. I Know, Right?

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Oh, I take it back! |||

David Frum, the man whose War on Terror resume includes coining the phrase "Axis of Evil," writing a book about George W. Bush entitled The Right Man, and trying to drum "unpatriotic conservatives" out of the GOP big tent, became last year one of only prominent tub-thumpers for the Iraq War to issue anything like a public mea culpa (sample line: "Those of us who were involved—in whatever way—bear the responsibility").

So it's not totally surprising that Frum would throw some pre-emptive cold water on President Barack Obama's plan to renew U.S. war in Iraq and start a new one in Syria, but the effect is still jarring. At a time when POTUS's policy looks only moderately distinguishable from that of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)—with the notable exception of seeking congressional authorization, which Obama almost certainly will not—it's strange to read a Bush speechwriter arguing forcefully that "This campaign against ISIS is an emotional reaction without purpose."

Excerpts I found persuasive included this bit on congressional authorization:

It seems like only last year that this president was asking Congress for authority to bomb Assad. Twelve months later, he will bomb Assad's enemies. Why does bombing one side of a war require congressional permission, while bombing the other side does not? The administration doesn't answer, because nobody is asking. Something must be done! This is something! Let's do this!

… and evil bedfellows:

The war against ISIS is a war that will be fought in alliance with Iran in support of Iranian client states: the Assad regime in Damascus and the sectarian Shiite government in Baghdad. Obama forced Iran's special friend Nouri al-Maliki to resign as Iraqi prime minister. That prettied up the Baghdad government's image, but the real power in Iraq remains the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). If U.S. airpower weakens ISIS, it's the IRGC that will command the advancing Iraqi forces—and IRGC cadres who will stiffen the demoralized Iraqi army. In Syria, that same job will be done by Hezbollah.

Yep, this happened. |||

… and unplanned conseqeuences:

This summer, Obama told Thomas Friedman of The New York Times that his greatest foreign-policy regret was not following up on his Libya intervention to ensure a stable transition to a new government. As admissions go, this one was a flabbergaster. Over four years, first in the U.S. Senate, then as a candidate for president, Barack Obama powerfully upbraided the Bush administration for the defects of its plan to stabilize Iraq after overthrowing Saddam. If he hit that point once, he hit that point a thousand times. Yet when it became his turn to overthrow a dictatorial regime, he dismissed his own top critique of his predecessor. He went to war in Libya without any clear idea of what was to come after, or how that was to be achieved. But more incredibly yet, Obama is now preparing another intervention—this one vastly more important—in Syria and Iraq with no clearer idea of what he hopes to achieve than he had in Libya.

Whole thing here. I'll be co-hosting a special edition of The Independents live at 11 p.m. ET reacting to the president's speech with a cast of interesting characters, including ex-Reasoner Michael C. Moynihan. 

NEXT: Liar, Liar, Goodell's Pants on Fire: Cops Say Ray Rice Video Sent to NFL in April

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  1. David Frum Makes Several Good Points While Arguing Against War in Iraq. I Know, Right?

    How much longer must we wait before “I know, right?” falls out of fashion?

    1. I know, right?

      1. I set ’em up; you knock ’em down, eh Welch?

        1. I know. I’m literally dying!

          (I can cite the “basic bitch” vocabulary down to a T. Please don’t ask me why).

      2. OMG I can’t even

        1. Really?? Seriously? OMG…

    2. Waaaaassssuuuuuuuup!

      What, we’re not doing that anymore?

      Where’s the beef?

        1. All that and a bag of chips.

          1. That was heavy, dude.

  2. Earlier today I was watching a 1996 CSPAN video of Frum and Hitch discussing world events and shooting the shit about stuff ranging from Ayn Rand to the quality of care provided by the NHS. Frum was clearly, obviously the more libertarianish of the two.

    1996 really sucked.

    1. Why would you watch that?

      1. Masochism.

      2. I was, for arcane reasons, collecting Hitch quotes re: Randians and Objectivism.

        1. Oddly enough I watched that the other day and couldn’t stop thinking how much a young Frum looked like Ruxin from The League

  3. This summer, Obama told Thomas Friedman of The New York Times that his greatest foreign-policy regret was not following up on his Libya intervention to ensure a stable transition to a new government. As admissions go, this one was a flabbergaster.

    I know! He is doing everything short of wearing a sandwhich board with the words “I AM A NARCISSIST WHO WILL DO ANYTHING FOR POSITIVE ATTENTION!!!!!”, and yet nobody seems to notice!

    It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes, except when the little boy says “that dude is naked!” instead of everybody realizing he is right, they curb stomp him for being a racist teabagger.

    1. (curb stomps tarran)

      1. *urges Epi on while shouting epithets at tarran*

        1. *comments on DailyKos about his secret wishes that ISIS would come and kill tarran for being a racist homophobic teabagger*

    2. That’s not how that story ends? … Must’ve grown up reading the Hippie-Liberal-Douche version, I guess.

  4. Seriously, though, any formerly proud Necon cheerleader during the Bush Administration’s horseshit years that changes his stripes now–is totally fair game for being labeled a partisan hack.

    …maybe even racist, like, for reals.

    And if that’s not what they are, they should make the case for why this is different–or admit that they were wrong before.

    There were people who supported the Iraq War because they thought Saddam Hussein was somehow complicit in terrorism, and plenty of Americans–six months after we invaded Iraq–still believed that Saddam was personally complicit in 9/11, probably because of the anthrax attack.

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com…..iraq_x.htm

    But everybody else out there who supported the Iraq War on the basis of Bush’s Reverse Domino Theory shouldn’t get to oppose Obama’s War, for free, without repudiating their stupidity the first go ’round.

    They blew waaaaaaaaay too much hot air to get a Change Sides for Free card.

  5. Isn’t there a saying about clocks being right twice a day?

    1. I think it’s

      “A clock is is right twice a day, is a penny earned.”

      I think that’s it.

      1. “If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.”

        1. “If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.”

          SWEEEEEEEEEEEET!

        2. + 1 exploding coward

      2. “People in glass houses sink ships.”

        1. “That’s like closing the barn door after the horses have eaten your children!”

    2. The blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut?

    3. “ISIS is a political football hacking away at the roots of the ship of state.”

  6. I know everybody here likes to hate on Frum, but his history of the 70’s How We Got Here is a pretty good book.

    In it, I first learned the name Hayek. So Frum is, ultimately, how I got here.

    1. I agree. And, he beat most of the academic historians to the argument on the importance of the 1970s in shaping America.

    2. There are time when I say the same thing about Krugman.

  7. Hey, hey, everyone!! I just wanna make sure EVERYONE remembers to remember tomorrow.

    Cause you know what tomorrow is, right?

    Thursday. Tomorrow is….Thursday….

    #neverforget

    *wipes tear from eye*

    1. Pitt-Baltimore?

      1. The Heidi game!

    2. I fucking hate 9/11.

      1. You Know Who Else…?

  8. Isn’t Frum just saying,

    “There is no grand Neocon strategy here, so I think its a bad idea”

    Its not the ‘intervention’ he dislikes, but the lack of

    “grand transformative strategy to perpetually ensure Israels’ security, isolate Iran, and keep oil cheap!”

    If the ‘vision’ were bigger, i suspect he might be on board. thats how the dude rolls.

    On the other hands, if Obama were suddenly pro-Fracking – would we be surprised if Frum insisted we have Federal Subsidized Windfarms?

    1. Frum will reassess his opinion when he realizes that the occasional $1T war on the other side of the planet stabilizes gas at $3.50 a gallon. To do otherwise would be economically unsound.

      Or when Obama gives it the old air-strike try because he knows Americans will freak out if they were to see more soldiers dying under his watch. No matter what BHO does, no matter how offensively stupid or incompetent, the hawks will complain that he should’ve put more Americans in harm’s way. And there’s no way Frum is going to be left out of that party.

      1. To throw the guy a bone…

        I think we’re both a little unfair to him.

        He makes some good points:

        ” Why does bombing one side of a war require congressional permission, while bombing the other side does not? The administration doesn’t answer, because nobody is asking. Something must be done! This is something! Let’s do this!”

        The point being = *what is* our policy re: Assad? Do you actually expect Obama to even say the dude’s name tonight?

        A ‘campaign against ISIS’ cannot be considered without factoring in Syria and Iran. We’re not living in a vacuum.

        We’re not going to be fighting against some abstract ‘terrorists’ who emerged out of the blue, but rather proxies of the larger Sunni status-quo in the region who are afraid of an emergent Shiite power base.

        As noted earlier = We’re sticking ourselves in the middle of a increasinly-hot Sunni/Shia cold war, and we don’t even seem to know which parts of which sides are our allies and adversaries.

        On this point, Frum is correct. And its a better case for staying the hell out for the time being than… something Sheldon Richman wrote about ‘Empire’…

        1. ? This. ISIS(L?) is pure evil, but its important to note that they came to power as a result of the brutality of Assad in Syria and Maleki in Iraq neither of whom deserve our protection.

    1. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…

      1. Stuck in the middle with Jews?

        1. See, you may not be stuck in the middle with Jews. But if you live in some parts of NW Balmer, you are.

          Here’s how you identify them and protect yourself:

          Funny little round black hats? Jews.

          Wearing all black and black hats? Jews.

          Women in skirts but wearing long sleeves all year long? Jews

          Mini-van coming at you while crossing street on foot, 50 mph in 20 mph zone, and obviously having no intention of stopping for anything, woman driver? Jews.

    2. In the face of international turmoil, they become cautious and turn inward, confusing limited government with small government.

      How ever could those people have made such a mistake?

  9. The difference between Iran and ISIS is that ISIS murdered two Americans. But America is not Frum’s primary concern. His primary concern is a different country.

  10. Stopped clock….yada, yada, yada.

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