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August 31, 2010

American Strength Can't Fly on Autopilot or Gauzy 'Victory'
Posted by David Shorr

So I'm listening to Minority Leader Boehner this afternoon and President Obama tonight, trying to put my finger on the essential difference in approach. Here it is. One doesn't think Americans even need to ask what victory means in a war, or what it costs. For the other, American military, economic, strength and international influence are not preserved simply by proclaiming them and assuming the nation's assets are givens, fixed, threatened only by self-doubt. As I listened to the president, I heard an underlying theme of a country facing critical choices: where to draw the line for the American military mission in Iraq, where are the biggest threats to US national security, the steps needed to put our own house in order. 

In a nutshell, these decisions won't make themselves. Nor will America renew itself, Mr. Boehner, by clicking its heels and saying 'there's no place like the USA - there's no place like the USA.' We're actually going to have to do things, and stop doing some other things, and drop the fantasy that slashing taxes, regulation, and government will magically produce prosperity. Which makes these the most ironic and un-reality-based lines of Boehner's speech:

Using campaign promises as a yardstick to measure success in Iraq and Afghanistan runs the risk of triggering artificial victory laps and premature withdrawal dates unconnected to conditions on the ground.

After years of hard fighting – which has come at a high price – we cannot afford to underestimate the impact our domestic debates and political hedging have on decisions made by friend and foe alike.

When it comes down to it, this argument (and I use the term loosely) says that the United States must make limitless commitments, cast aside any questions about the results (or potential blowback), because of our darkest visions of those who want to harm us. Um, who isn't watching conditions on the ground??

There was one very direct point - counterpoint between Obama and Boehner -- their contrasting statements on support for the troops.

Boehner: When we support our troops, we support them all the way – there is no such thing as supporting our troops, but not their mission.

Obama: As we do, I’m mindful that the Iraq war has been a contentious issue at home.  Here, too, it’s time to turn the page.  This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush.  It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset.  Yet no one can doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.  As I’ve said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it.  And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hopes for Iraqis’ future.

Like I say, Boehner declares any question of the worthiness of a military mission null and void. Helluva a way to run a democracy. I've said it many times before, the real valor of military service is the willingness to do whatever the country asks of you. To say that the nation must take its orders from the service of men and women in uniform gets it kinda backwards.



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Like I say, Boehner declares any question of the worthiness of a military mission null and void. Helluva a way to run a democracy. I've said it many times before, the real valor of military service is the willingness to do whatever the country asks of you. To say that the nation must take its orders from the service of men and women in uniform gets it kinda backwards.
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