Media Blog

MSNBC’s Two New Military Analysts

Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann (also note the section highlighted below, where Maddow and Olbermann decide most Americans are too stupid to figure out the difference between Georgia and Georgia):

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO: Hi, Keith.

BERMANN: All right. Both McCain and Obama made statements today. Obama coming off that, the word is (ph) now, a semi-vacation I supposed.
Apart from the policy particulars, what was the difference in the approach? What do we hear about and see about these two men just based on how they took to their podiums today?
MADDOW: What was striking is how consistent McCain is being toward Russia. He‘s taken every opportunity on foreign policy in this campaign to take a confrontational stance toward Russia. And so, as this war has erupted, and as the international community and Senator Obama are reacting by saying “this war needs to be brought to a very swift end. This needs to be worked out in ways other than through force.”
The international community needs to be united to stop these and just solve these problems. There are means other than the way they‘re being addressed right now.
McCain, instead, is flowing ahead with this “Confront Russia, confront Russia, confront Russia.” This is an extension of his wanting to throw Russia out of the G8 and the other sort of belligerent statements he‘s made there. I don‘t exactly know how he plans to back up these threats but he is sticking with this confrontation plan.
OLBERMANN: Well, to that point, though, when it becomes obvious that there‘s nothing with which to back these threats up, given how, essentially impudent we have been rendered, militarily, put on politically by President Bush, what sense does saber rattling by McCain actually make if it is given a second thought by a voter or just a citizen?
MADDOW: Yes, well, it sounds good at first pass, which I think is what he‘s counting on. I think he‘s counting on Americans not being totally clear on the idea that Georgia‘s a country and not just a state. I think he‘s counting on the idea that when America wants to be tough, that we would use our military in every instance.
Honestly, what I think this brings in a very sharp relief is how scary the prospect of a continued Bush foreign policy is—because right now, we could be doing something if the idea of American diplomacy and American international leadership, and American moral authority were something other than a punch line. Then, we really could be doing something here.
But because we don‘t have any of those assets at our disposable anymore after eight years of what the Bush administration has done to them, we‘re left with this empty, “We‘ll find a combat brigade somewhere” rattling that everybody knows, just boaster (ph).
OLBERMANN: Right. It‘s the line from King Lear. “I‘m not exactly sure how I‘m going to avenge myself on you but I‘ll think of something really mean.”
MADDOW: Yes.
OLBERMANN: I‘m paraphrasing Shakespeare obviously there.
(LAUGTHER)
OLBERMANN: But the other point about this, and this is, I guess you sort of touched on this, but like it or not, a lot of voters assume we can win anything.
MADDOW: Yes.
OLBERMANN: . provided we chant, “USA, USA,” loudly enough. When your foreign policy positions reinforce that as McCain‘s do, throughout — not just Russia and Georgia — but throughout the world, when it‘s that way versus the message of nuance and complexity that Obama touched on today.
How does Obama get that message through in a world in which everybody just breaks in to cheers at the idea, “OK, we‘re going to go, we‘re going to fight,” even though there are no troops to fight with, and we‘re not going to take on Russia, and more than what we could do to them, the Russians could shut off the oil spigot tomorrow and we at $7 gasoline?
MADDOW: Yes, and there‘s a reason why Russia is right now, bombing oil infrastructure in Georgia but it‘s nothing to do with military strategy. I think that because it is 2008 and because of what we‘ve been through for the seven years in Afghanistan and going on six years in Iraq, I think that Obama‘s message is much less risky than it would have been before.
Honestly, the neoconservative position is that, “You know, look what we did in Gulf War I, look at those smart bombs, that only took five minutes when we topple, we did what we wanted to do there.” Ever since then, the neocon position has been, that using military force is something that is precise, that has predictable consequences that always gets us what we want and no Americans die. They‘ve got this magical idea of American military omnipotence that we can use our military anywhere to accomplish any sort of objective and there‘ll never be any blowback.
Americans just don‘t believe it anymore. It‘s a fairytale.
OLBERMANN: Yes, and because it‘s been perceived correctly. That strategy works in the game called darts.
MADDOW: Yes.
OLBERMANN: But not in the real world in the game called life.
Rachel Maddow of Air America and MSNBC — as always, thanks for coming in, Rachel.

This is a good one. Bush, for years, has been criticized for seeing Putin’s “soul,” yet now criticizing Russia, as McCain is doing, has become a continuation of Bush’s foreign policy.

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