Obama and the Army Captain: If the Media actually cared.
As usual, the corporate media completely miss the point about Barack Obama's claim, in the Austin debate, to have met an Army captain who said his platoon had been undermanned and underequipped in Afghanistan, because resources had been diverted to Iraq. John Warner questioned the anecdote, as did the Pentagon and many right wing blogs and media outlets (I won't bother with links- if you care, you can Google). Then, Jake Tapper got confirmation from the source. And this is all great fun and a complete distraction from what really matters: Obama's point wasn't that he talked with an Army captain, it was that Iraq distracted us from actually winning the war in Afghanistan. And he was right. He was so right that it shouldn't need anecdotal confirmation from an Army captain to confirm it. He was so right that it shouldn't need any supporting evidence at all. To any thinking person, it's so obvious that it's not even debatable. But I'll offer some other supporting facts, anyway. I've been writing about it, endlessly.
And then, of course, if the media hacks actually cared about the facts rather than the irrelevant minutiae about Obama's source, they could actually look at the report from one of their own most prominent outlets: the New York Times; last August:
President Bush’s critics have long contended that the Iraq war has diminished America’s effort in Afghanistan, which the administration has denied, but an examination of how the policy unfolded within the administration reveals a deep divide over how to proceed in Afghanistan and a series of decisions that at times seemed to relegate it to an afterthought as Iraq unraveled.
Statements from the White House, including from the president, in support of Afghanistan were resolute, but behind them was a halting, sometimes reluctant commitment to solving Afghanistan’s myriad problems, according to dozens of interviews in the United States, at NATO headquarters in Brussels and in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
At critical moments in the fight for Afghanistan, the Bush administration diverted scarce intelligence and reconstruction resources to Iraq, including elite C.I.A. teams and Special Forces units involved in the search for terrorists. As sophisticated Predator spy planes rolled off assembly lines in the United States, they were shipped to Iraq, undercutting the search for Taliban and terrorist leaders, according to senior military and intelligence officials.
Before closing, I need to make one other point. I do think Obama vastly overstates Hillary Clinton's personal responsibility for the Iraq War. In the shrillosphere, it's as if the war is her fault. Of course, many who demonize her for her terrible vote on the AUMF now laud John Kerry, who made the same terrible vote, because he now supports Obama. And, of course, while criticizing Clinton for participating in the distraction from Afghanistan that is one of the countless problems with the Iraq disaster, Obama also conveniently overlooks his own participation, since having taken office, by continuing to vote to fund the war. Of all the sitting senators who sought this year's presidential nomination, Chris Dodd, alone, came up with the correct political strategy by attempting to tie war funding to a firm withdrawal date. To their credit, the other Democratic senators followed his lead; and, of course, John McCain didn't.
So, even Obama partially missed the point of his own terribly important point. Because we know, from Richard Clarke and others, that the Administration was already focused on Iraq, even as the Twin Towers were still smoldering, even though all the evidence already pointed to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We know that no matter how Clinton or Kerry or any Democrats voted, Bush was going to invade Iraq. From everything we know of the Bush Administration's conception of the presidency as a vehicle of near absolute power, there was nothing that was going to stop them from invading Iraq. There is exactly one person responsible for having launched the Iraq War, and that person is Bush. Period. But Obama's campaign politics is also beside the point.
The point is that questions about whomever Barack Obama spoke to about the Iraq War undermining the effort in Afghanistan is utterly irrelevant. What matters is that he was factually correct. What matters is that there is plenty of evidence to prove he was factually correct. If the media actually cared about evidence. If the media actually cared about what is factually correct. If the media actually cared about Bush having lost the war in Afghanistan because he got distracted in Iraq. If the media actually cared about Bush having completely failed to get justice for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks because he decided to invade a country that had nothing to do with those terrorist attacks, had never been involved in any attacks against us whatsoever, had never shown an inclination to attack us, and lacked the means to do so even if they had been so inclined. If the media actually cared.