Stop Lying

by Joshua Foust on 10/13/2008 · 8 comments

We assiduously avoid Presidential politics on this blog—not only are they disconnected from what we care about, focusing on such would distract from our general purpose of drawing interest and advocating for a more rational involvement in Central Asia and the Caucasus. However, there are times when things go way too far when discussing our areas of interest. Like this McCain ad:

Now, this is a rehash of an old charge from last year, in which Barrack Obama said that we need to change tactics in Afghanistan from a “air raid” model to one that kills fewer women and children. As I argued at the time, he was actually right, and both NATO and the U.S. have been trying to change their tactics to do precisely that. More recently, Arnaud de Borchgrave—the editor at large of both the conservative Washington Times and UPI—has admitted much the same:

Afghan-based U.S. Predators occasionally zero in on a local Taliban commander’s mud house in FATA, and kill a number of Taliban fighters – and a number of women and children and old men. This, in turn, fires up anti-U.S. feelings in Pakistan and drives more jobless youngsters into Taliban guerrilla ranks.

So, basically, that ad is a complete, unambiguous lie. What’s worse, it blames Obama for needlessly killing or putting U.S. troops at risk—an appalling charge considering it was the push for Iraq, led in part not coincidentally by McCain, that drew focus, personnel, and resources away from Afghanistan to attack Iraq.

Just so no one pops their stack, I have no intention of voting for Obama, either—I think his policy toward Pakistan is needlessly militaristic, and I worry he just thinks throwing a few thousand more troops at Afghanistan will solve anything. But this McCain campaign spot is just beyond the pale.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Mikey October 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

You won’t vote for either? Now THAT pops my stack. But oh well, to each his own. Just don’t write any more posts calling out McCain’s lies if he becomes president and you didn’t vote for Obama.

Joshua Foust October 13, 2008 at 10:32 am

I will not allow this to turn into a flame war about Presidential politics.

The U.S. has more than two parties, even if only on of the two parties will win the election. If Obama doesn’t appeal to those of us who don’t like McCain and choose to vote for a third party, that’s his fault, not mine.

upyernoz October 13, 2008 at 4:00 pm

isn’t that setting a pretty low bar for “flame war”? all mikey is doing is questioning something you wrote in the post.

but while i will be voting for obama, i do agree that there’s nothing wrong with voting for a third party if you feel that’s where your vote needs to go. people should be free to vote their conscience, even if their conscience leads them to one of those parties that never wins.

Joshua Foust October 13, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Call me over-sensitive. If Mikey was actually flaming, I’d have deleted his comment. I’m just making absolutely sure we all know what the rules are.

Michael Hancock October 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm

I agree with Josh. This isn’t a site that has anything to do with US Politics except where they directly affect Central Asia. While a president’s foreign policy plans might be included, actively campaigning for either candidate here would be… unwise, and unnecessary. With respect to the Robert Kaplan folks at Coming Anarchy, that’s something more up their alley. Who Nathan, Joshua, or myself is planning on voting for has just as much to do with domestic Non-CA[Central Asian] policies as with anything else, and that means it should stay off the blog. Besides, I think people get enough advice on where to place their vote without us stepping in.

That being said, commenting on a ridiculous ad that targets CA policy is totally different, and I am glad Josh diverted our attention to the YouTube cast of it.

Bakinets October 15, 2008 at 4:48 pm

I think this is non-partisan enough to avoid any charges of flaming: Re Obama policy on Pakistan – my impression is that the Obama team back in 2007, in advance of his first big foreign policy speech, scoured the globe for some issue where the Bush administration was arguably “soft” and where the contrasting “tough” approach was not blatantly stupid or irresponsible, so that they could stake out the “tough” approach. The goal was to paint Obama as a guy who judges each issue on its merits, and hey, when appropriate might even be more bellicose than Bush! — rather than just as a pacifist. The winner was this issue of hitting Al Qaeda in Pakistan, a complicated issue that seems very simple in the context of presidential politics. Meanwhile since he was the anti-war candidate on Iraq (running at that time mainly against HRC) he was more or less forced to adopt a more “aggressive” stance on Afghanistan. I don’t think that in office he would have too different an approach than Bush or McCain in terms of striking inside Pakistan without government permission; and on Afghanistan I think he would start from the ground floor and think up a policy, changing his current policy — which is really just a pose — if necessary. That’s my view anyway.

annie October 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I think Obama likely knows foreign policy is is weak spot which is why he chose Biden as VP. Biden has long been a proponent of reeling in Pakistan.

the Obama team back in 2007, in advance of his first big foreign policy speech, scoured the globe for some issue where the Bush administration was arguably “soft” and where the contrasting “tough” approach was not blatantly stupid or irresponsible, so that they could stake out the “tough” approach.

Unlikely. After all he does hang out over there at the senate on occasion. It is probable his exposure on thru mentors and advisors led him to believe this was the nexus of the problem and had to be dealt with. He doesn’t strike me as one attempting to appear ‘tough’. Just realistic which might be a good thing. Sometimes seeming tough isn’t the smartest approach to dealing w/complexities.

ken October 27, 2008 at 5:00 pm

annie – something tells me you have never held a political job inside the beltway.

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