Our ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, wrote a real nice letter to
Obama saying she had decided to withdraw from consideration for
Secretary of State because her nomination was going to be too contentious and
would harm the Presidency. Every intellectual observer knows that scenario is
completely bogus. There is very little doubt that the White House had a hand in
Why? The Democrats' position is that with the fiscal cliff unresolved and other big issues, including still another debt crisis, remaining on the table, President Obama did not need a confirmation battle. Realistically, some said, Susan Rice had little choice but to take her name out of the mix. Many are very skeptical about that last part. Rice has many supporters especially among those who feel a diplomat should engage in straight talk not meaningless rhetoric. Consequently, Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor asks, ""this move raises an obvious question: Did Ambassador Rice jump, or was she pushed?"
The answer is, of course, she was pushed, a calculation made by the President. Moreover, the Republicans have made it clear that Obama's second choice, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, would sail through affirmation in the Senate. What could be clearer? Is it that simple, as simple as the Democrats want it to be?
The answer is in today's politics nothing is that simple, and Obama and the Democrats should know that. They want Republican cooperation and understanding of today's weighty issues that confront our nation so they retreated on one of the most important cabinet posts in the White House. That strategy begs a serious examination.
Some observers have speculated that the Republicans would prefer that Obama nominate Senator John Kerry, leaving the door open for a Republican to win his vacated Massachusetts seat and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate.
It is time to put the Benghazi incident into some perspective, noting that it is Rice's comments on Sept. 16th on Sunday talk shows five days after the raid on American facilities that drew the ire of Republican Senators and caused her dismissal from consideration for SecState. In the Benghazi attack four Americans were killed and there was enormous destruction of facilities housing American diplomats and CIA operatives.
It is patently obvious there was an ulterior motive to this contrived conspiracy. Yet, Obama caved in " rather easily actually. He wants Republican cooperation on other issues facing Washington. The possibility of that cooperation should be examined and that will be done by drawing a comparison between the Benghazi incident and an issue that divided Americans throughout the first decade of this century and still does to large extent.
The war in Iraq launched in March 2003 -- Andrew Lam tried to put this forgettable war in the best light possible when he wrote, "We closed a chapter in Iraq but the fog of war hasn't lifted. Instead one is left with an unsettling feeling, bitterness in the mouth. We lost more than we hoped to gain. It's not defeat exactly, but in an age of perpetual war, it's clearly no victory. And in the end, if there's no clear objective, then isn't killing people objectionable and unnecessary? [emphasis is mine]" That assessment requires a great deal of loss of memory.
As a military historian and an author I can say with a great deal of confidence that when an armed force leaves the battlefield with the issue still in doubt, unequivocally that amounts to a defeat. U.S. forces left the battlefield while the battle for control of Iraq raged on. Indeed, that battle continues today, and it is not going well for Western interests.
The war in Iraq claimed 4,487 American lives, and left another 32,226 Americans wounded, according to Pentagon statistics. According to Iraqbodycount.org, the number of Iraqi casualties ranges between 103,000 and 114,000 during the U.S. occupation. The Congressional Research Service has estimated the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom at around $806 billion dollars. The Iraq Body Count is enormously conservative. Other sources put the civilian death toll at over a million. The CRS's estimate is also very conservative and probably reflects direct costs. For example if one adds the health care of over 32,000 wounded troops and repairs to Iraqi infrastructure the cost to American taxpayers for this military fiasco is well over one trillion dollars. In addition there are over two million displaced Iraqi refugees.
The causes of this war -- e.g. Iraq possessed WMD's, Iraq was associated with Al-Qa'ida, Iraq was culpable to 9/11 -- were bogus and a product of manipulated intelligence on the part of the White House and the Pentagon. These causes were presented to the members of Congress in Oct. 2002, which is a far cry from Sunday talk shows.
With the Benghazi investigation as a backdrop why was there no Congressional investigation into our leaders' performance regarding the war in Iraq, taking into account the disastrous consequences? Because the Democratically-controlled Congress beginning in Jan. 2007 did not want to. They thought it was more important to heal a divided nation. Furthermore, they thought the GOP, considering their vulnerability and culpability, would react with kindness and understanding and help heal the wounds of our divisiveness.
This naïve approach by the Democrats continued into the Obama administration's first term. The Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress and still no investigation on the Iraq war. Were the Republicans grateful for the lack of an investigation into America's leadership that led us into a costly quagmire of defeat? Well, no, not really, they regarded the Democrats naivete' as a sign of weakness. Soon after Obama's victory in Nov. 2008, a prominent Republican stated that the first order of business for the GOP was to ensure that Obama was a one-term President. They stuck to that goal throughout the four years of Obama's first term, virtually paralyzing the federal government. After the Democratic victory in Nov. 2012 with the GOP still clinging to control of the House they won in 2010 they still have not relented, ergo, the Benghazi non-conspiracy.
Obama handed the GOP two victories even before his inauguration. He backed down on Rice after staunchly defending her and offered to the GOP the opportunity to get a Senate seat.