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Defending Clinton on Somolia and Bush in Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Monday, September 25, 2006

Glenn Greenwald steps up to do defend Clinton.

The main argument revolves around "cutting and running" after the Blackhawk down incident. The right is arguing that he did just that and because he did so, Osama bin Laden used that as an example to bolster his argument that the US was a paper-tiger who would leave a situation at the first set-back or when it suffered significant casualties.

The left, and Clinton, are arguing (it appears, rightfully so) that it was the right who, in that instance, argued for pulling out now and attempted to pressure Clinton into doing so. Clinton, however, held out for an additional 6 months and handed Somolia over to the UN afterward.

Here's where the irony creeps in. Greenwald, in his defense of Clinton, makes the following statement:
As but one example, President Clinton [Bush] gave a speech on Oct. 8, 1993 [any recent speech], to argue against the demands from the conservative right [liberal left] that we withdraw immediately from Somalia [Iraq] and to explain why it was vital that we stay. This is part of what Clinton [Bush] said in his speech: "And make no mistake about it, if we were to leave Somalia [Iraq] tomorrow, other nations would leave, too. Chaos would resume, the relief effort would stop and starvation [tyranny] soon would return. That knowledge has led us to continue our mission ... Recently, Gen. Colin Powell said this about our choices in Somalia [Iraq]: 'Because things get difficult, you don't cut and run. You work the problem and try to find a correct solution.' ... So let us finish the work we set out to do. Let us demonstrate to the world, as generations of Americans have done before us, that when Americans take on a challenge, they do the job right."
The Powell quote says it very well, and, is the argument those of us saying "finish the job" have essentially been pushing. Seem a compelling argument doesn't it? I've done a little substitution with "Bush" and "Iraq".

Why doesn't the same argument Greenwald puts forward in defense of Bill Clinton and Somolia apply just as well to George Bush and Iraq?
 
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If memory serves, Mark Bowden closes Blackhawk Down by outlining the "face saving" strategy we adopted. More troops were dispatched in response to the ambush but the generals were told that no more snatch and grab missions would be permitted. And, that the operation would be closed out in six moths.

While I don’t have much regard for Bill Clinton or his defense minions, this was the correct choice. There was no way that the rookie President was going to rouse the public to a major commitment in Somalia.

Sometimes the smart tactical choice is portrayed by your opponents (and others) as a "defeat". That’s an unfortunate side effect of Mogadishu. I guess it makes great TV, but it’s not like Isandalwhana. We rescued the Rangers and Delta operators, suffered 18 KIA and lost some helicopters. We lost the battle but retired with our forces intact. Even the Greatest Generation can’t claim to never have suffered a tactical defeat.

 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
"Why doesn’t the same argument Greenwald puts forward in defense of Bill Clinton and Somolia apply just as well to George Bush and Iraq?"

Because its Rick Ellensburg Glenn Greenwald.
 
Written By: Good Lt
URL: http://www.aredphishhead.blogspot.com
Why doesn’t the same argument Greenwald puts forward in defense of Bill Clinton and Somolia apply just as well to George Bush and Iraq?
Because Bush Lied...
Because he’s BusHitler...
Because Iraq is a quagmire of the quaggiest, quag.....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Why doesn’t the same argument Greenwald puts forward in defense of Bill Clinton and Somolia apply just as well to George Bush and Iraq?
Surely you are joking, McQ. ;)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I think if you look back at Bowden’s wrapup on this - as Steve discusses above - the key decision not to fight any further in Somalia was made almost immediately, before there was much chance for feedback from the GOP.

The real errors were how we got into a battle in Mogadishu in the first place, and it is true that there would not have been conservative support for a lengthy war there. But a swift and pointed retribution targeting Aidid’s forces, at least for the purpose of showing that we don’t take a punch lying down, would have been supported fairly universally.
 
Written By: Crank
URL: http://www.baseballcrank.com
If hypocrisy were a capital crime, they could replace every chair in Washington with the electric kind.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
It might be relevant to compare the strategic importance of Somalia with that of Iraq.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Crank -

Agreed, and I just read your takedown of Josh Marshall via InstaGlenn.

Great stuff.
 
Written By: Good Lt
URL: http://www.aredphishhead.blogspot.com
I think if you look back at Bowden’s wrapup on this - as Steve discusses above - the key decision not to fight any further in Somalia was made almost immediately, before there was much chance for feedback from the GOP.

The real errors were how we got into a battle in Mogadishu in the first place, and it is true that there would not have been conservative support for a lengthy war there. But a swift and pointed retribution targeting Aidid’s forces, at least for the purpose of showing that we don’t take a punch lying down, would have been supported fairly universally.
I understand all of that, Crank. That isn’t really my argument.

Mine is more of a meta-argument saying, if we agree with Greenwald’s argument defending Clinton in Somolia, why isn’t the same argument applicable to Iraq in the context of the Powell quote?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You missed one key substitution: starvation should be substituted with tyranny. My guess is that this doesn’t apply in reverse because the Left (the far Left, not the typical Democrat) gets really worked up about starvation, but not so much about tyranny.

And Steve is dead wrong: we won the battle (secured the targets and returned them to base), but took casualties doing so. We then threw away the victory by acting defeated (and convincing ourselves we had been defeated). Had we gone out the very next day patrolling as if nothing had happened, and continued doing so, with the only modification being to add in some light armor and AC-130s ASAP, we would have had a good chance of saving Somalia. We did not do that, and it is that failure - winning the battle then throwing the victory away - that was such a compelling recruiting tool for al Qaeda.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
Why doesn’t the same argument Greenwald puts forward in defense of Bill Clinton and Somolia apply just as well to George Bush and Iraq?
It does. However, just because you can make the argument doesn’t make it the argument correct, either time.

I’ve consistently argued here that it is not just a bad idea, but a ludicrous idea, to use the standard "our enemies will take heart" to decide when we will or will not commit force, continue using force, or escalate force in a world situation.

I’m 100% sure that Kim Jong-Il has taken heart from the fact that we haven’t bombed his rotting army to smithereens. Hugo Chavez takes heart from the fact that we aren’t willing to fund proxy armies in Venezuela, like we might have in the 80’s. Amhenedidjad takes heart that we aren’t willing to *nuke* Iran’s nuclear facilities - therefore the choices between conventional bombing and doing nothing both give the regime a good chance of ultimately getting nuclear weapons, in the long run. The Sunni insurgency in Iraq takes heart from the fact that we aren’t willing to deport the entire civilian population in Anbar into fenced-in pens and then carpet everything outside of that with fuel-air explosives.

Osama Bin Laden, if he’s not alive, and his successor, if he is, takes heart from the fact that we don’t have 100,000 troops in Pakistan right now chasing after his a**.

Does the fact that our enemies take heart from us not having used the most aggressive posture possible therefore make it either the moral or the smart thing to do? wait for it............

No.

(except maybe in the Pakistan instance).

Glenn’s trying to defend Clinton by pointing out the dishonesty of conservative critics who advocated for rapid withdrawal then and now lambast him for leaving.
That’s fine. McQ is right to ask if staying the course is equally applicable now.

It’s actually equally inapplicable now, as it was then. Our leaving Somalia in 1993 is in no way related to Bin Laden’s strategic choices. Bin Laden struck us because of his percieved grievances, his megalomaniac ambitions, and because he had the tools and ability to do it. Whether or not he enjoyed seeing us leave Somalia is a carnival sideshow, a demogogic question that uses our visceral dislike of the idea of Bin Laden perceiving us as weak, to confuse our judgement as to the extent to which **it matters**.

You can’t fight a smart war being led around by the nose by the taunts of your enemies. Bin Laden would have enjoyed bleeding us dry in Somalia even more than watching us go.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
You missed one key substitution: starvation should be substituted with tyranny.
You’re right Jeff ... added.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
One obvious difference between Clinton and Bush re "finishing it": Clinton finished and left in 6 months, Bush not so much. How much longer will the public put up with Bush, sweaty Xbox controler in hand, shouting "I just have to finsh this level, Mom"?

And that, Joe, is what makes a quagmire, when you can’t finish in 6 months and leave. And that is why the next 6 months have been the most critical time in Iraq for the 40 months.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I don’t disagree with the characterization that we won the battle but acted like we were defeated. Clearly the Rangers and Delta did accomplish their mission. I don’t know that taking to the streets the following day would have been such a good idea. Our forces needed time to reconstitute and reorganize and the 10th Mtn Div, the reaction force, had no armor. Relying on the Pakistanis or the Malays (the UN forces) was a non-starter.

Did we have Marines afloat nearby that could have landed with LAVs?

I don’t think we had a good chance of saving Somalia absent a major commitment.
A commitment that nobody championed.





 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
And that, Joe, is what makes a quagmire, when you can’t finish in 6 months and leave. And that is why the next 6 months have been the most critical time in Iraq for the 40 months.

So that whole Reconstruction thing in the US South was a quagmire as was the Occupation of Japan and Germany running from 1945 until 1954 was also a quagmire? So anything that lasts longer than 6 months is something that ought not be undertaken, at least if it involves the occupation of an area and provision of military government?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Cap:
If hypocrisy were a capital crime, they could replace every chair in Washington with the electric kind.
Yeah, yeah, but deal with the argument. Merit? No merit.

Glasnost says "no merit" for either argument. Of course ’nost and I have a disagreement about the bin Laden "paper-tiger" characterization from Somolia.

Obviously I think the argument has merit and have argued such in many posts.

Glasnost:
Glenn’s trying to defend Clinton by pointing out the dishonesty of conservative critics who advocated for rapid withdrawal then and now lambast him for leaving.
Yes and I acknowledge that ... but it has little to do with the defensive argument offered and how it appears Greenwald finds merit in the argument ... at least for Somolia. But apparently not for Iraq.

I’m just wondering why he’s applying it so selectively.

Retief:
Clinton finished and left in 6 months, Bush not so much.
That’s because despite all the rhetoric, Clinton got the 6 months he wanted. Why shouldn’t the same standard be applied to Bush’s situation?

The short answer, in both cases, is because they belong to a different political party than those speaking out against them despite the fact that the argument has merit in both instances.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Greenwald finds merit in the argument ... at least for Somolia. But apparently not for Iraq.
Actually, Greenwald says no such thing. He doesn’t get into the substance of the debate at all.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Yep, Clinton left in 6 months...

And left the problem to fester and stew, which leads us to having to decide again whether and how to deal with the situation in Somalia.

Bang up job there...
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Actually, Greenwald says no such thing. He doesn’t get into the substance of the debate at all.
Then the paragraph means nothing, correct?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Mine is more of a meta-argument saying, if we agree with Greenwald’s argument defending Clinton in Somolia, why isn’t the same argument applicable to Iraq in the context of the Powell quote?"

Because you’d never get the American public to support spending a quarter billion dollars a day long term to overthrow some warlords and occupy Somolia.

Then again, they’d never have agreed to it in Iraq either. Good thing we kept that part quiet.
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Then the paragraph means nothing, correct?
Full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Certainly makes his argumentation coherent to his usual style.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Joe, Were 1000 civilians and 60 of our soldiers being killed by enemy action every month in Richmond, Tokyo, or Berlin? Got any other false analogies you’d like to propose?

Bush has had his critical six months six times over. You know which six months were critical? The first six were. And we screwed those up.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Of course ’nost and I have a disagreement about the bin Laden "paper-tiger" characterization from Somolia.
Since there’s no way to genuinely or conculsively resolve this difference in persepective, this round awarded to you on points for being politer than I was.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Since there’s no way to genuinely or conculsively resolve this difference in persepective, this round awarded to you on points for being politer than I was.
Consider the hatchet buried.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Since there’s no way to genuinely or conculsively resolve this difference in persepective, this round awarded to you on points for being politer than I was.
What are you doing, glas?

NEVER YEILD.

Besides, aren’t you…
I’m just an unpleasant sonofa*itch by nature.
Written By: glasnost
And I was just starting to like you, man.

;)

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/
Our leaving Somalia in 1993 is in no way related to Bin Laden’s strategic choices.
Glasnost,

I don’t agree. I tend to doubt he would have attacked knowing we would take down the Taliban and invade Iraq. His stratigic choices were made with an expectation of our response. Somolia played into that, as did Kosovo and perhaps even Beruit ’83. Even throw in the ending of Gulf War I (Powell letting the Republican Guard escape, allowing Saddam to fly his helicopter gunships in the south, etc.).

The Japanese attacked us in 1941 knowing full well that we would win if we had the will to fight. They did not think we had the will. I suspect the same is true for bin Laden.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
To follow up my last post:

You can plan your war based upon:

1) What your enemy can do.

2) What you think your enemy will do.

Both Imperial Japan and bin Laden went by number 2, number 1 suggests they don’t go to war with the US at all.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I’ve consistently argued here that it is not just a bad idea, but a ludicrous idea, to use the standard "our enemies will take heart" to decide when we will or will not commit force, continue using force, or escalate force in a world situation.
In Somolia, it wasn’t simply a matter of "our enemies will take heart", but an outright showing of weakness, indicating a lack of resolution on our part. That’s the problem.

Frankly, I wasn’t behind Bush 41 sending the Marines in, but at least the mission was restrained. Clinton goofed by expanding the mission, not supporting the military, then pulling out after getting bit. Of course, we should have pulled out (we probably shouldn’t have gone in), but the way we pulled out provided a lesson for our enemies. After the Blackhawk incident, we needed to make it clear we were not cutting and running. Clinton mucked that up big time.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I’ve consistently argued here that it is not just a bad idea, but a ludicrous idea, to use the standard "our enemies will take heart" to decide when we will or will not commit force, continue using force, or escalate force in a world situation.
In Somolia, it wasn’t simply a matter of "our enemies will take heart", but an outright showing of weakness, indicating a lack of resolution on our part. That’s the problem.

Frankly, I wasn’t behind Bush 41 sending the Marines in, but at least the mission was restrained. Clinton goofed by expanding the mission, not supporting the military, then pulling out after getting bit. Of course, we should have pulled out (we probably shouldn’t have gone in), but the way we pulled out provided a lesson for our enemies. After the Blackhawk incident, we needed to make it clear we were not cutting and running. Clinton mucked that up big time.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Bin Laden sure was cocky about America being a "paper tiger" in Oct of 2001...

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/south/02/05/binladen.transcript/index.html
Q: Al Qaeda is facing now a country that leads the world militarily, politically, technologically. Surely, the al Qaeda organization does not have the economic means that the United States has. How can al Qaeda defeat America militarily?

BIN LADEN: This battle is not between al Qaeda and the U.S. This is a battle of Muslims against the global crusaders. In the past when al Qaeda fought with the mujahedeen, we were told, "Wow, can you defeat the Soviet Union?" The Soviet Union scared the whole world then. NATO used to tremble of fear of the Soviet Union. Where is that power now? We barely remember it. It broke down into many small states and Russia remained.

God, who provided us with his support and kept us steadfast until the Soviet Union was defeated, is able to provide us once more with his support to defeat America on the same land and with the same people. We believe that the defeat of America is possible, with the help of God, and is even easier for us, God permitting, than the defeat of the Soviet Union was before.

Q: How can you explain that?

BIN LADEN: We experienced the Americans through our brothers who went into combat against them in Somalia, for example. We found they had no power worthy of mention. There was a huge aura over America — the United States — that terrified people even before they entered combat. Our brothers who were here in Afghanistan tested them, and together with some of the mujahedeen in Somalia, God granted them victory. America exited dragging its tails in failure, defeat, and ruin, caring for nothing.

America left faster than anyone expected. It forgot all that tremendous media fanfare about the new world order, that it is the master of that order, and that it does whatever it wants. It forgot all of these propositions, gathered up its army, and withdrew in defeat, thanks be to God.
We experienced combat against the Russians for 10 years, from 1979 to 1989, thanks be to God. Then we continued against the communists in Afghanistan. Today, we’re at the end of our second week. There is no comparison between the two battles, between this group and that. We pray to God to give us his support and to make America ever more reluctant. God is capable of that.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://

 
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